• Feb 21st 2011 at 2:02PM
  • 38

Over the weekend, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (286 to 135) to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from using federal money to cover the costs of raising the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent (E10) to 15 (E15) percent.

Last October, the EPA announced that E15 was safe for use in 2007 or newer vehicles. Then, in late January, the EPA approved the biofuel for use in model year 2001-2006 vehicles. Well, without funding to back the move to E15, the EPA's approval could prove meaningless.

John Sullivan (R-OK) introduced an amendment to the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR), barring the EPA from using appropriated funds to boost the ethanol content of gasoline. As Sullivan stated:
The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address important safety issues raised by the 50 percent increase in the ethanol mandate issued over the past year. Putting E15 into our general fuel supply could adversely impact up to 60 percent of cars on the road today leading to consumer confusion at the pump and possible engine failure in the cars they drive.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry, responded to the House's vote with this statement:
Last night, political science trumped physical science. The fact remains ethanol is a thoroughly tested, safe, and effective motor fuel. Americans spend nearly $1 billion a day importing oil, often from hostile regions of the world. If the chaos in the Middle East teaches us anything, it should be that America must forcefully begin down the path of energy self-reliance. Increasing the use of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol is the first, and arguably, the easiest step we can take.
The House has denied consumers choice in the type of fuel they use. Instead, they have chosen to continue giving oil companies a virtual monopoly over the fueling system. Our dependence on imported oil is neither safe nor sustainable. As the world's largest oil companies tell us they can't find new sources of oil, this House measure would seek to relegate future generations to a preventable future of oil dependence.
Currently, the Senate is working on its own rendition of the FY 2011 CR. President Obama announced that he will veto the House's version of the CR if it hits his desk.

[Source: Detroit News, Renewable Fuels Association]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      If what you suggest happens, "taxpayer leeching" for fuels won't end. It will just be that gasoline will hold a monopoly on leeching the taxpayers, and will have an unfair market advantage due to the continued "taxpayer leeching".

      Let me make a prediction. You will defend yet again the unintended (intended??) consequences of passing specific legislation like this as if it isn't your problem.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope this stops the corn ethanol insanity. Corn based ethanol makes no economic, environmental or scientific sense. And if drives up food costs and harms engines, particularly older engines by dissolving seals and gaskets not designed for ethanol use.

      Recent tests generally dismiss any air quality improvements and the energy in versus energy out ratio is just marginally above 1:1, so it does not reduce imports.

      Except for being totally absurd, corn ethanol is an idea whose time has come. Of course, should sustantial and meaningful improvements in efficiency occur making it 5:1 or 10:1 energy iv versus energy out, then I could change my mind. Until then, stop subsidising and mandating a failed idea that is now just a farm subsidy.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Richard -

        How can putting E15 into newer 2007+ engines hurt older engines? Is there some sort of "second-hand smoke" effect like with cigarettes that I'm not aware of?

        It would be illegal under the E15 regulations to put E15 into the older cars you are talking about.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Nixon: personal attacks just because someone disagrees with your views.
        Typical of many on this site.

        10% didn't make sense, so let's move to 15%.
        Explain that logic.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ah! It's the Red Scare argument! Are you also afraid that Communism is going to spread from Vietnam to the United States? I guess your return to Cold War thinking shouldn't surprise me.

        I see Nerd, we should fight current laws that don't do something, because you are paranoid that some future law MIGHT do it.

        I'm sorry, we don't legislate in this country based upon paranoia. Unless you are Joe McCarthy.
        • 8 Months Ago
        answer to Nixon:

        How would 15% ethanol harm older engines ???

        Come on; you know they'll eventually mandate 15% ethanol across the board, if they get this approved.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The House uses a lot of words to basically state: We (Oil$ & Us) do not like it when You (consumer and money-tap) use less oil. It leaves less for our third and fourth mansions ,not to mention eroding our year-end bonuses.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm glad this was blocked. I'm sick and tired of getting worse gas mileage due to the E10 that was already shoved down our throats. Without government subsidies, ethanol would be far too expensive for the general market. Plus, it is made from food so our food prices go up. The real solution to our transportation needs is electricity, which is cheaper, locally produced, and better for the environment even if the electricity is produced by coal. Ethanol is an expensive waste of time and money and we need to end the experiment now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What I love about the Renewable Fuels Associations response is it panders to the same 'political science versus physical science' debate.
      They should have been addressing the claims of how ethanol adversely affects engines and increases maintenance and failure problems.

      Of course they could also address how making ethanol from soybeans is actually more efficient than using corn but the corn people have the better lobbyists.
      Of course the corn people will never admit that.

      Just like the next guy I would love to reduce our dependence on foreign produced oil.
      Especially when those same countries that like us as customers have no problem stabbing us in the back, right after they deposit the checks.
        • 8 Months Ago
        cory -

        The "claims of how ethanol adversely affects engines and increases maintenance and failure problems" has already been widely addressed by the RFA and many other folks.

        RFA republishes the "Changes in Gasoline IV - the Auto Technician's Guide to Spark Ignition Engine Fuel Quality" right on their website:


        They have plenty of studies available there:
        Comparison of California Reformulated Gasoline to Federal Reformulated Gasoline
        April 1997
        RFA Information Paper #970401
        Driveability and Performance of Reformulated and Oxygenated Gasolines
        April 1997
        RFA Information Paper #970302
        Lubricity of Reformulated and Oxygenated Gasolines
        March 1997
        RFA Information Paper #970301
        Compatibility of Reformulated and Oxygenated Gasoline with Fuel System Materials
        February 1997
        RFA Information Paper #970201
        Use of Reformulated Gasoline in Aircraft Certified to Operate on Automotive Gasoline
        May 1997
        RFA Information Paper #970501
        Changes in Gasoline & the Classic Auto
        May 1996
        RFA Information Paper #960501
      • 4 Years Ago
      This great news! By ever more accounts oil production is peaking while demand in countries like China and India hasn't even begun; anti western islamists are taking over the middle east joining up with an ever expanding anti western oil producing axis that includes countries like Venezuela and Russia so what possible use could bio fuels have for us? A glorious future lays ahead of us and all thanks to Big Oil bribing every man and his dog/pig to make sure their next quarters profits are secure! The system really works! Long live "democracy"!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great, so now we can get back to the business of getting all our gasoline from oil.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Alternative fuels are a great idea. That fact alone does not make ethanol even a good idea. Everything needs to be considered including cost of production, environmental impact of production as well as consumption, as well as side affects. Ethanol fails miserably in all categories. Biodiesel is almost four times more efficient to produce, and generates nearly twice as many BTU's when consumed. When used in a modern diesel engine it even burns cleaner than ethanol. So, why the push for ethanol? The answer lies in money. Follow the money and you will see why we have ethanol in our fuel today.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Instead of throwing money to the agri-business lobby, can we bring back the biodiesel production tax credit? Since the biodiesel production tax credit expired, nearly all of the locally available biodiesel is gone. The last one near where I live is a fleet cardlock station that only dispenses B20.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Stacey -

        good news for you, the biodiesel tax credit was extended through 2011 last December.

        "H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The legislation, among its provisions, retroactively extends the biodiesel tax incentive through 2011. "


        Check with your local B20 station. Mine is already back to selling B20.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Thanks, Nixon. I must have missed that bit of news! I'll keep my eye out. Unfortunately, the local biodiesel coop actually closed down a few months after the credit expired. So far, the closest biodiesel retail outlet is 30 miles away, the next closest is about 120 miles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So if the EPA steemrools this through, what kind of gas am I supposed to get for my Pre-2001 vehicle? What about my lawn mower, or my chainsaw (which has to additionally have oil added to it...)? Is it going to make those blow up? All of the corn subsidy stuff aside, have these questions been addressed?
        • 8 Months Ago

        First off, if you fill your lawn mower with E15, you will be breaking the law under the E15 regulations. If the gas station KNOWINGLY sells you E15 for you to put in your lawn mower, they will also be breaking the law under the E15 regulations.

        Small engines aren't included in the E15 regulations. Only flex fuel vehicles, and 2007+ cars and trucks can use E15 under the new E15 regulations. So don't break the law and you will be fine.

        Even if you were FORCED to take a single tank of E15, it isn't like your car will explode. You will go on your merry way and fill up the next tank with whatever you normally buy and nothing will happen to your car. The long-term corrosive effects of ethanol won't come into play at all with just a 5% increase in ethanol in a single tank of gas. E85 is a different story due to O2 sensors readings being thrown off, but don't confuse the effects of a 5% increase in ethanol with a 75% increase in ethanol.


        As for your idea that E15 will somehow displace all E10 pumps -- did that happen with E85? E85 has been out there for years, and I have yet to hear about a single gas station that has dumped their E10 pumps just because they got E85 pumps.

        Big gas stations who added E85 pumps will likely be the same stations that will add E15 pumps. Since there is no mandate in the E85 or the E15 regulation, I would suspect that all the same stations that don't sell E85, won't sell E15 either. I would guess that small stations would probably switch to blender pumps. That way they could dispense E85, E15, and E10 all from a single pump.
        • 8 Months Ago
        OK so you are telling me that every gas station in America is going to have the E15 gas pump and still have the standard gasoline pumps? I don't think most stations will be willing to pay for the extra pumps. If I drive up to a pump and all there is is E15 and I have a 1995 Accord, what am I supposed to do? Or if I roll up to my local station to get some gas for my lawn mower and all there is is E15, how am I supposed to get the non-E15??
        • 8 Months Ago
        Lamar -

        This regulation is only for 2007+ cars. It has nothing to do with your pre-2001 car. You would be prohibited from putting E15 into your pre-2001 car according to the E15 regulations.

        The only way this regulation would impact your pre 2001 car would be if you were a criminal and violated the law.

        These regulations don't mandate you put anything in any year of car at all. It just allows anyone who DOES want to sell or buy E15 to legally buy or sell E15 for their 2007+ vehicles.

        Right now it is ILLEGAL for anyone to buy or sell E15 for any non-flex fuel car. This regulation simply removes that legal restriction. Why are you against de-criminalizing the sale of E15?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Bob Seeley --

        Either your car is a 1985 or older car, or you don't understand your warranty. All cars sold in the US have been required by law to be E10 compatibile since 1986. Any car still under warranty at this point DEFINITELY is covered when burning E10.

        Stop spreading FUD.
        • 8 Months Ago
        All I know is that there is six filling stations in my town, and I cannot buy gasoline anywhere here that doesn't contain ethanol. Too bad that my warranty specifically says not to use anything but premium grade non-leaded gasoline that contains NO ethanol. I'm just SOL.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A step in the right direction. Likely a sign that the major ethanol taxpayer leeching will end after the current stay of execution.
        • 8 Months Ago
        What would be nice is to finally stop subsidizing ethanol that is produced from corn at the very least, due to the huge inefficiency and ecological issues of heavy oil, water, and pesticide use and waste of food and put that toward diesel and biodiesel. =)

        Unfortunately, we will never get the government to admit that even E10 is harmful to all the older vehicles already on the road. On the Corvette forum its known to affect the lining on the fuel meter, and in the aviation industry where extensive testing is done, E10 invalidates all auto-gas certificates due to known issues w/ plastic and rubber components and the problem of high water absorption rates affecting performance and fuel tank longevity.

        Mandating E10 should be illegal and an OPTION at most.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If what you suggest happens, "taxpayer leeching" for fuels won't end. It will just be that gasoline will hold a monopoly on leeching the taxpayers, and will have an unfair market advantage due to the continued "taxpayer leeching".

        Let me make a prediction. You will defend the unintended (intended??) consequences of passing THIS specific legislation, as if these unintended consequences aren't your problem.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I love it! In the next couple of years as gasoline goes to $3.75 and then $4.00 a gallon and we go back into a deeper recession without growing supplies of ethanol to keep gas prices from climbing (Francisco Blanch stated to The Wall Street Journal that ethanol was keeping the price of gas DOWN about 15%) and more people get laid off, it will be fun to see people scream and say: "How can this happen? Where's the leadership?!"

      LOL! LOL. I'm invested in oil so I won't mind paying much more for gas as my profits will far exceed my extra costs for gas. How 'bout you suckers? Gonna profit from rising gas prices? Gonna keep your jobs when the economy tanks?

        • 8 Months Ago
        We are all gonna profit from the rise in gas prices, because the rise in gas prices will push us into new technologies, not into wasteful, ineffective corn ethanol. We will buy higher mpg vehicles, more hybrids, and more plug ins. Rising gas prices, not prices kept artificially low thanks to government welfare to corn farmers, will be a good thing in the long run.
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