• Oct 14th 2010 at 7:00PM
  • 13
Supporters of the EPA's decision yesterday to approve ethanol blended up to 15 percent in gasoline – and to be used in model year 2007 and newer cars – were the first out of the gate with statements of approval. Today we get the backlash.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), while supportive of using more biofuels in vehicles, said the EPA is "missing an opportunity" by limiting E15 to cars made in the last three or so years. Calling the 2007 dividing line, "scientifically unjustified," the RFA's president and CEO, Bob Dinneen, said:
This decision continues to leave the market artificially constrained and further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization.
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association went much further (to no one's surprise). NPRA's executive vice president and general counsel, Gregory Scott, said in a statement that the EPA:
abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation's public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency.
That's actually kind of clever, but the rest of the statement (available in full after the jump), isn't exactly credible. For one thing, it calls gasoline "safe," when the big picture is not at all that simple.

Then we have the Brazilians – specifically, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) – which believes that the EPA's decision means it is time for American ethanol producers to give up trade protection and compete without subsidies. Joel Velasco, UNICA's chief representative in North America, argues that America's ethanol tax credit and import tariff should expire as scheduled at the end of the year to "help lower gas prices, save taxpayers money and provide Americans with greater access to advanced renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol." Nothing like a good biofuel turf fight.

[Source: UNICA, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, RFA | Image: ALAIN JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images]


EPA Decision Should Signal End to Ethanol Subsidies and Trade Protection

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision today to allow 15% ethanol blends for 2007 and later model vehicles, an increase from the current 10% blend already approved for all vehicles, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued the following statement. It should be attributed to Joel Velasco, UNICA's Chief Representative in North America.

Many U.S. ethanol groups have argued recently that after 30 years of tax credits and trade protection they are ready to compete without subsidies provided the government grants them greater access to America's fuel pumps. With the EPA's decision to increase ethanol limits by 50% for newer vehicles, that day has arrived.

The attention now shifts to the U.S. Congress where lawmakers are debating what to do with the 30-year-old ethanol tax credit and import tariff that cost $6 billion annually. Allowing these subsidies to expire as scheduled at the end of the year will help lower gas prices, save taxpayers money and provide Americans with greater access to advanced renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol.

As we indicated in our comments during the agency's rulemaking, Brazil has decades of successful experience blending ethanol with gasoline at 25% concentrations. Brazilian ethanol is primarily sugarcane ethanol – a renewable fuel that is typically less expensive and cuts greenhouse gases much more sharply than other ethanol options. Allowing other alternative fuels like sugarcane ethanol to compete fairly in the U.S. would save American consumers money at the pump, cut dependence on Middle East oil and improve the environment.

Brazil took an important first step to build an open and global biofuels marketplace by eliminating its tariff on imported ethanol through the end of 2011. UNICA is asking the Brazilian government to make the tariff elimination permanent if the U.S. Congress will do the same and drop the tax on imported ethanol. As the world's top producers of ethanol, the United States and Brazil should lead by example in creating a free market for clean, renewable fuel.

Consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs. The same principle holds true for the renewable fuels market where competition will create a race to the future and generate better alternatives for consumers. Americans will benefit from having more options – like sugarcane ethanol – available at the pump, and that's why the U.S. Congress should follow-up the EPA decision by allowing the ethanol tax credit and import tariff to expire on December 31, 2010.

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing nearly two-thirds of all sugarcane production and processing in the country. Sugarcane ethanol is currently effectively unavailable in the United States, due to an elaborate system of subsidies and trade barriers erected by the U.S. Congress. This current policy expires December 31, 2010. More on sugarcane ethanol at www.SweeterAlternative.com.

NPRA Criticizes EPA Decision to Increase Ethanol in Gasoline

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, issued the following statement criticizing the decision announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency to approve the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) for late-model cars, up from the current limit of 10 percent ethanol (E10):

"The Environmental Protection Agency today abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation's public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency. EPA's unwise and premature decision to allow the sale of gasoline with higher levels of ethanol may be good politics in Corn Belt states on the eve of the midterm elections, but it is bad news for every American who owns a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, lawnmower, chainsaw or anything else powered by gasoline.

"The ethanol industry has won a victory today by convincing the federal agency charged with protecting our nation's public health and environment to disregard public safety and environmental issues and instead base a major policy decision on inadequate engine test data that has not been made public or reviewed independently. The American people are the losers today because EPA has violated President Obama's 2009 commitment to them to put science ahead of politics.

"EPA is asking the American people to pump first and ask questions later, and to become guinea pigs in a giant science experiment that involves their vehicles, their gasoline-powered equipment, and their safety. Instead of rushing to judgment to announce this decision today, EPA should have required the completion of thorough and objective scientific testing of increased ethanol in gasoline to protect millions of Americans.

"Our nation's domestic petroleum refiners are committed to manufacturing safe, reliable and clean gasoline, and we will continue to oppose any EPA actions that could endanger the safety of the American families, farmers and truckers we serve every day. We take the confidence Americans place in our products – demonstrated by the millions of times each day that consumers purchase gasoline and diesel fuel – very seriously, and we will consider every option available to reverse EPA's ill-considered and politically motivated decision."

NPRA members include more than 450 companies, including virtually all U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers. Our members supply consumers with a wide variety of products and services used daily in their homes and businesses. These products include gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, lubricants and the chemicals that serve as "building blocks" in making everything from plastics to clothing to medicine to computers.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Even if there wasn't a tariff on foreign ethanol, Brazil would have to massively increase its production to make a dent in US fuel use. Last year the US produced ~10.7 billion gallons of ethanol, compared to ~6.5 billion for Brazil. Total gasoline usage in 2009 was ~137 billion gallons for the US.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ethanol can be made in worthwhile quantities from over 17 plants grown worldwide. Latin America can be the source for the US, Africa for Europe, and South Asia for Japan and the rest of East Asia.

        Also, ethanol is not the only alcohol fuel. Methanol can be made from coal, natural gas, or any biomass at all, including crop residues, weeds, detritus, trash, even sewage. I doubt the world will run short of those things soon.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I can't keep up, on one corner is the EV tree hugger greenies, on the other is the ethanol lobby further down is the Hydrogen group and last is the big oil cartel...What do they all have in common? all are fighting for the market share and driven by profits...but like most infomercials they all have catchy slogans and claims....
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Choose who you would like the profits to go towards. Which is it?" thats an under statement if I did not know of one...is that how you feel about everything you consume? Did you buy made/grown in the USA;TV? Computer? Cell phone? Car? cloths? seafood? etc etc? or are you just being spiteful to one particular industry?

        Personally I have no sides when it comes to fuel....First of all it's not charity, im not just given my hard earn money away..I am getting something in return which is their cheap fuel..It's an even trade..Their resources eventually will soon run dry? right? or atleast thats what the greenies say...so it's a win win because the US of A is capable of producing renewable energies if it comes to that once their resources run dry..

        so whats really your point? are you just being spiteful?

        Like I said I take all these claims by all the big players with a grain of salt just like infomercials they all have catchy slogans and claims.....

        • 8 Months Ago

        It's time to pick a side of who you want to stand behind.

        Do you want to stand behind the Foreign countries (OPEC/Russia/Hugo Chavez) who own the vast majority of the world's remaining oil reserves?

        Do you want to stand behind US renewable energy made right here in the US?

        Choose who you would like the profits to go towards. Which is it?
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ethanol at 15%! The sky is falling!
      The true price of gasoline imports and securing them is not clear, as it doesn't seem like we can calculate the military investment, special ops and all that sillyness. So its kinda hard to argue since we don't have the facts yet.
      As for using ethanol, well Henry Ford started off fueling his vehicles with it. Its a clean fuel in comparison to petroleum based hydrocarbons. F1 engines and other race cars use alcohol fuels for their purity. The only mechanical issues for vehicles, boat ICE's and generators using ethanol will mainly be replacing hoses and gaskets. Some of the materials used ( a few kinds of metal alloys, and a few types of plastics) will surely create problems down the road. Boat ICE's have an issue due to the fact that ethanol will take water from the air and hold it in the fuel tank, fowling the engine, so a very good airtight seal is advised or some kind of mechanism to separate out water from boat fuel. Also, most ICE's today are not optimized for ethanol, so they obviously are inefficient, go check-out Ricardo's claims in its development where an ethanol burning engine is delivering similar performance and efficiency as a diesel ICE. Sure, the growing and refinement of Ethanol are still issues to over come, but technology seems to be on the right track to mitigate all that. These are big and complicated changes that don't happen at the speed of a sci-fi tv show. Alcohol based fuels will have their place.
      Change is the one constant, the future is bright.
      Personally, I hope to have an EV that I can hook up to my PV array.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm as big a fan of alcohol fuel, and defender of ethanol, as anyone can find, but I still say this push for E15, and the resulting backlash, wasn't worth it.

      For the same money, time, effort, and finite attention from policymakers, the ethanol lobby could and should have pushed instead for a simple requirement that all new gasoline cars sold in America be flex-fueled, able to run equally easily on alcohol fuel as on gasoline.

      That would neatly sidestep the FUD and whining. Drivers of older gasoline cars could still fill their tanks on planet-fouling, economy-wrecking, terrorist-finding Enemy Fuel, and each year more on more of us would have fuel choice.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why is it that ethanol opponents keep citing the same stale facts from the late 1990's and early 2000's when the ethanol industry was just getting its feet wet? I have driven over 100,000 miles on E-85 in my 2001 S10, and had no issues. The engine got taken apart and I was told the inside looked brand new.

      The facts are food prices increase with oil prices (you know the stuff used to transport and package food products). The corn used for ethanol is not food - it is distilled and the byproduct is animal feed - which is what the corn would have been used for anyway.

      The ethanol industry has had huge improvements in the last 10 years - and will have many more improvements in years to come.

      If your going to bash the stuff at least get your facts straight.
      • 8 Months Ago
      So they say gasoline is safe, huh? I dare them to say that to the faces of the family of the tanker driver who so tragically lost his life recently when the truck overturned and burst into a giant fireball. Or to those who must battle in enemy territory to keep the oil flowing. Or to those whose children have come down with asthma caused in part by the high ozone levels from gasoline-fueled cars. Or the gulf coast residents who can no longer fish their shores due to the Great Oil Slick of BP. Not so safe now, is it?
      • 8 Months Ago
      10% Ethanol was STUPID --- So let's raise it to 15%. = BRILLIANT

      1. Farmers are subsidized
      2. Refiners are subsidized
      3. We have a import tariff to make Brazilian ethanol cost more in the US - - - why?
      3. And has made our food cost more, and has caused food shortages.
      4. Less energy content in ethanol vs. gas - significantly less ~30%
      5. Several studies (like a Cornell Univ) argue that it takes more fossil fuel to farm, transport, and refine ethanol than the energy content of the final ethanol (A NET ENERGY LOSS)
      6. "there isn't one grain in the world sold in the free market" includes Brazil
      7. EPA studies show that by using ethanol, VOC and NOx emissions increase. California's ARB wants to stop using it, but the EPA won't let them.
      7a And more pollutants - from the petroleum products used to make the ethanol, and then when the ethanol is burned - a significant overall increase from no ethanol use.
      8. Uses lots of groundwater, and more fertilizer (also petrochemical based) run-off into wetlands and rivers.

      Bryce's book GUSHER OF LIES
      chapter 12 entitled THE ETHANOL SCAM
      has 222 footnotes. I looked them over. Pretty credible sources including about 1/3rd from our own government agencies.

      Now, start screaming and tell everyone how Bryce is a moron, and financed by the oil companies, and a _________ slimebag.
      If you are open-minded you will read both sides of the argument like I did.
      Being a scientist, this one made more sense to me. Sorry.

      The EPA is a sorry bureaucracy perpetrating a SCAM on the American taxpayer

      ps. My boater friends hate it. Scream about it. Screws up their engines and fuel tanks.
        • 8 Months Ago
        You keep lazily copying and pasting the same nonsense, long after I've refuted it point by point several times. You've done it now for the second time in two days.

        Therefore you do not operate in good faith, willing to change your mind in the face of evidence. Instead you ignore evidence.

        But for the record, and once again, here we go.

        1 and 2. Who cares? If the lowest cost fuel the most important concern? Plus, you're an EV nerd. EVs are more expensive and are heavily subsidized too.

        3. The motivation of the import tariff is to build up the US ethanol industry in the face of cheaper foreign competition. I don't agree with this policy, since my top priority is breaking free of oil, but it has an understandable rationale.

        4. Ethanol has somewhat lower per-volume energy content, yes. So what? So you'd need to fill up, say, three times a month instead of twice a month, assuming fuel tanks remain exactly the same size rather than being a bit bigger in future to accomodate it? Anyway, if that gains us an economy free of 2008 style oil shocks, we're better off.

        5. The Cornell study you mention is by David Pimentel. He and his partner T. Patzek, a former Shell executive, are isolated in the peer-reviewed literature. Look at this chart – no other modern-day writer on ethanol shares their conclusions about ethanol’s energy balance:

        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/pdfs/43835.pdf (page 4).

        Not only that, they have had the humiliation of their methodology being publicly corrected:

        Pimentel is an entomologist, not an expert in energy issues or agriculture, but, like Noam Chomsky, he is best known for extreme writings far outside his field of expertise. He has made the crazy claim that pollution is to blame for 40% of all world deaths. He opposes all beef production and all modern agriculture (such as the Green Revolution that has saved billions from death), wants to slash the US standard of living by half, and even rails against dogs and cats.

        That hasn't stopped oil-funded "free market" think tanks from spamming his papers into the public debate long after they've been refuted in the refereed literature over glaring flaws like using out-dated statistics, assuming all corn is irrigated, etc.

        6. Your "point" here is obscure. Anyway, oil is even less of a free market, being totally dominated by OPEC. By contrast, no cartel controls world grain prices.

        7. Other evidence shows that NOx emissions decrease under ethanol, and most importantly, ethanol vapor interacts with NOx at less than a tenth of the rate of gasoline vapor, and it is the interaction that causes the problems.

        8. These calculations falsely assume that ethanol is irrigated.

        9. Bryce's book is full of howlers. He rants about "Big Corn" without being aware that the biggest ethanol maker is a farmer-owned cooperative. It's like a defense analyst being ignorant of the existence of the US Army. He complains about ADM's political influence when they are only the 85th biggest donor, and their biggest contribution to any one politician totals a laughable $57,000 over SIXTEEN YEARS. Meanwhile Saudi princes are buying up big blocks of both CNN and Fox News, endowing Middle East studies chairs in prestige universities and think tanks, awarding high priced jobs to former officials (or just outright gifts, like a new Jaguar for Colin Powell the week after he retired from being Secretary of State) - and also fund thousands of extremist madrassas that have radicalized millions.

        PS - We can just mandate that future boat engines be flex fueled, able to handle any blend of ethanol and gasoline, including pure ethanol, so your short-sighted friends can play with their toys without fouling the water and air, ruining our economy, or funding terrorists that are trying to kill them and their families. THAT is something to scream about.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Carney, facts don't matter sometimes. You are trying to refute EV Nerd Genes green religion with facts and it simply won't work. But the one positive thing that arises from your efforts is that those that have not yet been fooled will see the obvious shortcomings in the arguement from the radicalized environmentalists. And I consider myself to be an environmentalist, but it doesn't keep me from recognizing even a great idea can be taken too far.
        But I still wish they would start mixing butanol into the gasoline rather than, or in addition to, ethanol...
      • 8 Months Ago
      "EPA.... abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation's public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency."

      I wonder what it was called when we were cutting gasoline with MTBE. I guess Cancer Promotion Agency doesn't have the same ring to it ;)

      This debate should be interesting to watch. But i think something is to be said about our oil supplies ( and Canada/Mexico's ) here. We import the majority of our oil, thus options like this 'look good' in order to further increase our energy security. It beats more risky drilling or buying more oil from Saudi Arabia, nonetheless, it sucks. We are just in a bind.

      I bet sugarcane doesn't grow well here. I wonder what the opposition to buying from Brazil is? I mean, we buy oil from Iraq, Nigeria, even Venezuela already. Brazil is more friendly and less of a conflict zone than those places.
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