For those keeping score in the battle between advocates and opponents of higher ethanol blends in gasoline (fuels such as E15, which is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline), chalk one up in the "advocates" column. Earlier this week, a US federal appeals court upheld last year's decision to allow public sales of E15 and denied a request from oil and food trade groups to look at possibly reversing the decision, Reuters says.

The court backed a 2-1 decision made last August that said claims from groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association were "speculative." Naturally, ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy called the decision "a major victory" while opponents, including the American Automobile Association, weren't as sanguine.

Last June, the Environmental Protection Agency allowed public sales of E15 as a way to help cut foreign-oil dependency. Since then, the debate over whether higher ethanol production and use does more good or harm to the environment has intensified, as opponents say higher ethanol blends may both damage engines and trigger food price spikes and shortages. Late last year, AAA went as far as to publicly request that the government suspend E15 sales, an idea that has spread to Maine. Earlier this week, the AAA reiterated its stance that E15 sales should be withheld until more research is done, since the group worries that engines may be damaged and vehicle warranties voided by the biofuels.


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  • 24 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sorry but government mandates like this are not necessary when you have a functioning property rights system, which fixes the problem of externalities of pollution being ignored and not factored into the price of things. If there is a societal benefit to something, then the harm of something is not being considered. Start considering the harm and factor it into the price and people will naturally make the best decisions. It would also be foolish to think that government ought to make your buying decisions for you. They often do a very poor job.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      @ raktmn Not living in the US, I can't access AOL, nor do I use facebook. The difference in typeface seems to be created between the availability of either Yahoo or Google as access portals in various parts of the world, and laptop v/s Desktop. But it's not within my control. I was never a member of the US armed forces ! As I have written several times, I was forced to leave the Australian Army where I had just graduated in law, and was looking forward to a long career as a Army lawyer, due to the death of my both my uncle and father in the same year. As a result, I discovered I was responsible for not only my younger brother, but a colossal tax debt (death duties) on an estate he was far too young to manage. I joined a merchant bank's fledgling venture capital and business finance division, because it seemed the fastest way to make money. I was lucky. "Investment analysts" were still relatively new, and specialised finance products like fleet leasing, self-managed equity capital equipment finance, etc were just becoming popular. In that era, having access to both UK Capital, and the rapid expansion of the deregulating Australian economy with access to Asian markets, it was difficult not to succeed ! Like most farmers sons, I inherited my interest in our UK property, and having been brought up on a farm in Australia, wanted my children to experience the same lifestyle. It's not uncommon for Australian businessmen, to also own farming properties. (There used to be considerable tax advantages). My interest in the environment came as the result of my late wife's passion for ecology. (We met as the result of her being a member of a group of demonstrating Uni students, disrupting the AGM of a mining company my employer was financing ! ) . At her prompting, I started arranging equity investment for environmentally beneficial businesses and products. One of these companies was an EV manufacturer/ importer. The investment proved unsuccessful, and I was forced to take control and reorganise the business. I also watched with disgust as Vectrix Ltd, first large scale EV maker of modern times, squandered nearly a billion dollars in capital (some of which I helped raise) as the result of incompetent and extravagant management. Unlike you, I have no 'party political ideology', I owe no allegiance to any particular political party. I believe that positive environmental outcomes, require broad-based popular support. It requires the co-operation of all sectors of the community. Governments, attempting to impose policies on an unwilling populace, always fail. Environmentalists, should be able to come from all walks of life ! Those who attempt to confuse environmental policies with political ideology (right or left) are only doing harm. If you look at every issue as being back or white (or red and blue) you will never see green ! I hope that satisfies your curiosity.
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is naive to believe American business operate "in free and open competition" economy. For examples, the Federal government legislates minimum wage; provides farm-dairy price support; guarantees home mortgages and student loans; grants oil depletion allowance tax breaks; bail out Too-Big-To-Fail WallSt banks; takes equity in private enterprises even to the level of nationalization; and empowers a Central Bank to artificially establish an interest rate rather than the open market. With much precedence, the Federal government policy that provides incentives to ethanol producer is neither extraordinary or controversial. Consumer choice is also limited by Big Business. The concentration of economic power has never been so great and to so few mega corporations since the Industrial Revolution. Big Oil, Big Banks, and Big Industry dominate major and critical business sectors of the domestic economy and in some cases, the world economy. For examples, Microsoft Windows; Intel CPUs. It would be also naive to think consumers have economic 'rights' to "choose ethanol blends at the consumers(sic) own risk." Whatever are those 'rights' they are severely handicapped by not just Big Business, but by government policy in pursuit of public safety-welfare and national interest. For examples, the FDA limits the choice of certain drugs; the FCC restricts the maximum number of TV and radio stations per owner; the FAA requires all aircrafts offered for sale to have certification of air worthiness; and the FTC prohibits the advertisement of cigarettes via TV and radio commercials. Contrary to the Sojourn of Asia, the argument over ethanol is not about consumers having the right of choice as consumers already have several choices: buy the regular blend gasoline with minium ethanol additive or buy the blend with a maximum 10% ethanol or buy the proposed blend with maximum 15% ethanol. The real conflict is between the petroleum industry and the producers of ethanol who are the proxy for a government energy policy that seeks to reduce dependence on foreign oil. As to allegation that ethanol production is part of the government catering to the farm interest at the expense of the oil industry, it is without merit. In fact the government permitted the petroleum industry's using tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) as a gasoline additive for more than 70 years despite knowing that hundreds of tons of lead is spewed from vehicle tailpipes into the air poisoning nearly the entire population. When TEL was finally banned, the government caved-in to the petroleum industry, once more, allowing the refinery to blend MBTE , a potential carcinogen, as a gasoline additive that has poisoned groundwater creating superfund sites. Only after California and New York banned the use of MBTE, and subsequently, 20 other states followed suit that the government reluctantly acquiesced to the use of ethanol as a gasoline additive.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sigh. The mentality with this is bizarre. Some group wants to mandate it. Some group wants to ban it. I say let it sell on it's own merits. If it damages cars, then nobody will sell it, and they'll take the lawsuits. The sellers will evaluate the risk before doing so. If there isn't any kind of economic benefit, then nobody will buy it. But if it's good then let it be sold. I know, i know. Stop being such a crazy libertarian 2wheel. Go back to your Ron Paul shrine and here's a one way ticket to Somalia.
        carney373
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Nobody's mandating E15!!!! The EPA is merely PERMITTING it to be sold, after having banned it for years.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        @ 2 wheeled menace Let the consumer decide ! It sounds so simple doesn't it ?
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      But if there is a societal benefit (although less a personal benefit), does anyone really expect individuals to put aside their own good for the good of everyone else? That's why govt mandates ARE necessary from time to time. That being said, I do not believe there is a societal benefit to E15, especially if it is made from corn. I do believe ethanol in general (and that would include E15) is worthwhile if made from waste/non-productive sources. If someone could make ethanol from my garbage & yard clippings, sure I'd use it to run my lawn mower (if it was set up for it) or run my water heater.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are you saying this "as a stock analyst" like you described yourself in a recent Tesla blog? Or as a "US Army Lawyer" like you claimed to be in the corporations as HOV passengers blog? Maybe it is your job as a "farmer in Australia" or a "farmer in the UK" that gives you these ideas. Perhaps your job as a small EV conversion manufacturer, or your other job as an EV fleet manager in Australia that gives you these ideas. Maybe it is your job as an EV fleet manager in the UK. All these EV jobs, and yet you never have any actual personal experiences to share, like lots of other verified EV owners like Peder Norby and his ActiveE. You do always have lots of pro-oil company propaganda readily available all the time to repeatedly post over and over. Interesting how you reinvent yourself for every need, from stock analyst to farmer to fleet manager to army lawyer, marco polo. Or is it Marcopolo? Or is it marcopolo? Or Marco Polo? I think your image in the mirror is your biggest problem. Look to yourself before you start casting stones.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      IMHO the of issue of Ethanol sales and production, is not whether ethanol should be produced or sold, after all it's should be the right of the consumer to choose ethanol blends at the consumers own risk. The issue is whether a government should continue to mandate the use of a inefficient, uneconomic fuel, simply to gain the vote of powerful US farm and Ethanol industry vested interests. The growth of EV technology, discovery of vast reserves of natural gas (the technology to extract it cheaply) renders the failed Ethanol fuel technology, obsolete. In addition, studies inn Guatamala etc, have begun to raise serious concerns about the harm the US Ethanol industry inflicts on it's poorer neighbours. By all means, grow and sell Ethanol. Just do so, in free and open competition, not reply upon government concern to force an unwanted, and uneconomic product on US consumers, for political gain.
      Electron
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's heartening to learn that Big Oil lost another battle in its war on ethanol. The war will go on though, there is just no way that the oil industry is going to stand idly by while ethanol tries to steal a rather substantial 5% of its market. Every year ethanol can be delayed means billions in extra profits for the oil industry, well worth filling up the old war chest for.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Electron
        @ Electron 1-16, You never tire of posting this nonsense. Outside the US, 'Big Oil is the major investor in the Ethanol Industry. Big Oil is not concerned about Ethanol taking market share since Ethanol blends are sold by the oil companies at the same profit margins. Since 1996, the main problem for oil companies, is not demand, but meeting supply ! (or don't you accept oil depletion) ! Exxon, the most optimistic of the major oil companies, estimates that the oil industry will be unable to meet demand by 20% in 2055-65, Chevron, Shell and BP, are far more pessimistic, citing the slowing rate of extraction technology. The decision by Iraq to sell to Russia, instead of the US and Mexico's rapid depletion is of far greater concern to US oil interests, than Ethanol. The 'Oil' petitioners represented by the API, were smaller 'downstream' organisations, involved the transport, storage, and retailing of E15. Their complaint was based on increased costs and the legality of the waivers. The Federal court rejected the petitioner's, primarily on the basis that the petitioners lacked standing. The court ruled that the remedy of 'review' of the 'partial waivers' by the EPA, had not been exhausted by the parties. As a result, the court was being asked to rule on an administrative matter contrary the the doctrine of separation of powers. The court also ruled that that the petitioners had failed to prove that the EPA waivers, 'compelled' the oil petitioners to sell E15. This was a majority Judgement by Chief Judge Sentelle, and Circuit Court Judge Tatel, with Circuit Court Judge Kavanaugh dissenting . (Circuit Court Judge Kavanaugh's opinion, will be used as ammunition in the ongoing political fight). The Federal Court of Appeals, has put the whole issue back where it should be decided, in the court of public opinion, and the legislature. Ethanol actually helps harms the adoption of EV technology. The investment in Ethanol would be better spent on encouraging oil fuel replacement, instead of helping prolong ICE technology and use. Over time the growth of Natural Gas will destroy both the environmental and economic case for Ethanol. I would prefer to see NG reserved for heavy vehicles and base load power generation. It would be cheaper, and more effective for the US government to abandon the Ethanol Industry, and divert the same food production capacity to feeding America's poor neighbours in return for preserving their rain forests. Better economically, Better morally, and environmentally.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Name any oil company that has researched alternative fuels without being paid to do it by some government grant or tax rebate. Name any oil company that has brought an alternative fuel into large scale production without a government mandate or support program. Your heroes wear no clothes. They take public money in order to hedge their private profits in the distant future when they've extracted as much profits as possible out of petroleum. More Privatizing Profits while Socializing Costs. The moment they decide the ever increasing cost of exploration and drilling new wells isn't as profitable as selling ethanol to people, we'll see a new study every month extolling the benefits of ethanol for gas engines. We won't be able to watch an hour of TV without hearing ads about how great "Ethanol with Exxon EcoLube Additives" is for increased engine longevity.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marco Polo
          And lets not forget, Big Algae won extra handouts from the government on the fiscal cliff bill, so that is a victory for Big Algae, and now Big Agri won a victory for Big Ethanol, over Big Oil. Big Union suffered a defeat to Big....what....Big Non-Union, and Big Sugar continues to destroy the Everglades in Florida. Big Agri, which created child killing GMO foods and GMO corn so they can make more profit with Big Ethanol, using way to much water to fight Big Oil, which is supported by Big Government, where, due to global warming, Big Environment is making huge $$ planting trees, hand in hand with Big Logging. Come on Big Socialism, come up with other designations of evil beyond simply putting 'big' in front of it. You guys used to be so creative....
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      For your grudge downvoting consideration: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/an-8-year-megadrought-in-the-amazon ;) fuel < food needs + heat & drought = crisis & :'(
        bluepongo1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bluepongo1
        I read it was 114 degrees F/ 45 degrees C in Sydney, Australia the other day.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @bluepongo1
          @ bluepongo1 That's why back in 1906, Australian poet, Dorothy MacKeller, wrote the poem, learned by every Australian school child," My Country " , including the verse; I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of drought and flooding rains, I love her far horizons, I love her jewel sea, Her beauty and her terror - The wide brown land for me! Dorothy Mackellar wrote this poem in 1906, while visiting the UK. She was homesick for her brothers' farm near Gunnedah, in north-eastern New South Wales. In 1906, the population of Sydney, was under half a million. Industry was virtually non-existant. It would be very surprising if the temperature of 2012 in a city of nearly 5 million, with air-conditioning, towering buildings, heavy industry etc, didn't record higher temperatures. But the difference in the recorded temperatures between Dorothy MacKeller's time, (45.3) and 2012 (45.8) is hardly significant, and could be attributed to nothing more than improved accuracy in recording instruments.
      Reggie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nothing against E15 personally but when rolls out in the UK thats all you will be able to buy and fill-up with in most places, it will send perfectly serviceable cars to a very early grave. What an absolute disgrace and waste. You should be able to buy non ethanol fuels at all petrol stations, we have just got E10 and you are not getting the choice of anything else other than ethanol to buy in a lot of places in the UK, in countries like German they do get the choice and they have shunned ethanol on mass, and the German government has had their parts felt and have been told to sell more ethanol as they are not meeting the EU requirements.
        Electron
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Reggie
        Yes, I also think people should have a choice. Of course to make a responsible decision the prices of the various products should be an accurate reflections of cost to society, so in the US that would mean adding another $5 or so to the price of regular gasoline to reflect the cost of oil addiction to the economy, energy security, oil diplomacy, the environment and so on. That should give people a proper incentive to re-evaluate the stock they put in the FUD that is disseminated about E15's harmful effect on their engines.
      west
      • 1 Year Ago
      Considering that E10 already costs me about 10% on fuel economy, I'm not to interested in seeing that increase to probably 15%. Not only does the lower fuel economy shorten my tank range, but it requires me to actually buy that much more fuel and more often whic in turn wastes more fuel by adding more fuel stops. This is before even getting into any long term affects on engine components!! I think it's time for big car business to get involved but the trouble is the damage is probably only in the later years well after a warranty is expired. Currently I only buy pure gas and use the pure gas App to find stations!!!
        carney373
        • 1 Day Ago
        @west
        The whole point of higher fuel economy was not a higher MPG number for its own sake, but cleaner air, an economy safer from oil shocks, and a better national security situation with less wealth flowing to extremist regimes. Fuel economy is a MEANS, not an END. If that end can be better reached with a different means, one in which we switch more and more to an alternative, cleaner-burning fuel that keeps our money here at home, then we should embrace it instead of mindlessly obsessing over MPG numbers. As for "damage", nonsense. Extensive EPA testing has proven that E15 is harmless in cars made since 2001, just as E10 is harmless in cars made since the mid 1980s. It's perverse to use "pure gas" - going out of your way to use planet-fouling, economy-crashing, terrorist funding jihad juice. Our enemies thank you for being a useful idiot.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let the anti-ethanol Super Trolling begin!
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        Five minutes ago, everyone here hated Big Ethanol due to low energy vs. production costs, use of land, use of water... But one Fox News report and now ethanol is the savior of all mankind. War with east Asia indeed....
          Allch Chcar
          • 1 Day Ago
          @EZEE
          What article are you referring to? Last I heard, Fox News only reported negative news on Ethanol. Not everyone listens to Fox News.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        @ raktmn The long running BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who, is based on character who keeps reincarnating himself. This devise allows the various actors who play the Doctor to retain some degree of credibility . You have obviously taken this method to heart, and each time you lose credibility, re-invent yourself with a new identity. I know you're not a fan of free speech, but criticism of the Ethanol industry, is not "trolling" (super or otherwise) !
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