Ethanol supporters say they're digging in their heels and will do whatever they can to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse a recent proposal to reduce the minimum levels of ethanol required in the domestic fuel supply, the Des Moines Register says.

Groups such as the Renewable Fuels Association say they may consider legal action to fight what was a victory of sorts for anti-ethanol entities such as the automakers and Big Oil. Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association are among others that have joined that fight against an ethanol-reduction mandate.

Ethanol advocates are responding to the EPA's proposal to reduce the level of ethanol and other renewable fuels in the domestic fuel supply. The 2014 ethanol requirement would be cut from 18 billion gallons to 15.2. Anti-ethanol groups say the reduction is needed because the US has hit a so-called "blend wall," in which the reduction of overall driving and improvements in fleetwide fuel economy has made it more challenging for the US to meet biofuel minimums. These same groups have argued against the widespread use of a 15-percent ethanol blend (or E15), saying it's potentially damaging to engines. Meanwhile, ethanol advocates will use the EPA's 60-day comment period to hammer home their argument that broader ethanol use cuts foreign-oil dependency, helps US employment and reduces refueling prices.


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  • 21 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 7 Months Ago
      @ Allch Chcar Like 'grumpy', I think your motives are well intentioned, but why would you attempt solve the problem of one undesirable fuel, by forcing the use of an even more undesirable fuel, at great economic and social disadvantage ? I'm sure if you did a little reading into the disastrous environmental impact of US corn based Ethanol production, you would join the rest of the world in calling for the end of the mandate.
      JP
      • 7 Months Ago
      Ethanol from corn is a dead end. Period. Screw the corn lobby.
        Allch Chcar
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JP
        And Oil is a permanent solution? We use Corn because it's both commonly grown and cheap source. The cost is the most important since Gasoline in the US is among the cheapest (due to low taxes) in the world.
        EVnerdGene
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JP
        I can't screw the corn lobby. Where am I going to get my campaign funds?
      grumpy
      • 7 Months Ago
      Using a food source to produce fuel is a terrible idea... just look at the level of food inflation due to ethanol production. Plus, it's not like corn just grows like grass. It grows due to oil intense fertilizers and of course tractors. It's not the "natural" fuel that it's PR machine wants you to believe. http://reason.com/blog/2013/02/27/want-cheaper-food-end-the-ethanol-mandat http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/science/earth/07cassava.html?_r=2&hp&
      Marcopolo
      • 7 Months Ago
      @ Brent Jatko Your lecturer was quite right. Unfortunately, the logistics of crops like switch grass and waste produce very little fuel and at great cost. In general, there no bio-fuel feedstock is capable of any producing significant quantities of economic fuel in the US.
      Marcopolo
      • 7 Months Ago
      What Danny KIng fails to mention, is that opposition to US corn based Ethanol, is not just auto-makers and "big oil". The overwhelming majority of motorists also detest the ethanol mandate. But far more importantly, the majority of environmental movement and respected advocates, both in the US and internationally, are now calling for the abolition of US corn-based ethanol on environmental and humanitarian grounds. This is not a just a fight between Big oil and Big Agriculture, but rather a fight between everyone and the very powerful, well funded, politically entrenched, Corn farming/Big Ag/Ethanol lobby. The RFA is fighting a losing battle tying to shore up support for an environmentally harmful, uneconomic, obsolete product. But, as I always say, let the consumer decide. End the Ethanol mandate Today !
        Letstakeawalk
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Even the venerable former VP Al Gore has changed his tune regarding ethanol from corn. From a fierce advocate, he has become ardently opposed to the fuel. "Al Gore says his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies while serving as vice president was a mistake that had more to do with his desire to cultivate farm votes in the 2000 presidential election than with what was good for the environment. "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Gore said at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece ... On reflection, Gore said the energy conversion ratios -- how much energy is produced in the process -- "are at best very small." "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee," he said, "and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president." http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/al-gore-i-was-wrong-about-ethanol.html
          Marcopolo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @ Letstakeawalk Well sourced ! I guess when Al Gore no longer effuses about ethanol, it's pretty well had it's day.
        Allch Chcar
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Anyone who says the Ethanol mandate is unpopular is an Oil guy. Anyone who says the Ethanol mandate is popular is an Ethanol guy. It is absolutely a fight between big Oil and big Ethanol. Nice try though.
          Marcopolo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Allch Chcar
          Allch Chcar Al Gore is an "Oil guy " ! ????
        Brent Jatko
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I recently attended a lecture and heard that ethanol is a net negative in terms of energy yield per energy input when accounting for the loss of land to corn planting. Better to use butanol made from switch grass and corn waste. An additional benefit is that butanol, unlike ethanol, does not absorb water, saving possible fuel system issues.
      transpower
      • 7 Months Ago
      The ethanol program should be voluntary, not mandatory. Let the market settle this issue.
        Joeviocoe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @transpower
        The 'market' doesn't give a crap about national borders. The 'market' would have us continue to hemorrhage our economy to foreign powers that have more petroleum than us.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          All that being said about economics of petroleum.... I agree with the majority opinion on Ethanol. I think that some environmental programs SHOULD BE MANDATED... since the market doesn't always decide what is best for national economies (but rather global). But Ethanol has had plenty of chances already.. and they failed to make economic sense and failed to stand on its own.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          --"If Canadian oil is not counted as an import,..." Yeah... and that is NOT how you do accounting. We cannot count on the Canadian government to pay our bills.... so we cannot count Canadian Oil as "not an import". --"For the first time in decades the North America is pretty much energy self-sufficient." Yeah... too bad The U.S. is NOT exactly the biggest country in North America. ------------------------------- Look, I am glad that U.S. Oil production is up. I really am. The question of sustainability over the coming decades is debatable. So we will see if the hype matches the reality. But the biggest change over the last 5 years... hasn't been U.S. oil production. It has been the change in rhetoric! The rhetoric has somehow convinced people that Canada is now part of the U.S. economy. How many times will they change the statistics to reflect the new term "North America"... in order to mislead people into drawing a false equivalence to "Domestic" production. We still hemorrhage money, true, not as fast... but it still goes into another country's economy, NOT OURS. Yes, it is cheaper to import from a neighbor using a pipeline, rather than ship it in tankers. But we haven't "solved" oil imports as this new narrative implies. Also, since petroleum is fungible... the effects of the Middle East production is seriously downplayed by the statistic of direct imports from the Middle East. An example: If Middle East production were to take a dive because of some geopolitical conflict (as it does)... your rhetoric implies that we may take an 11% reduction AT MOST. This is false. Other continents depend on Middle Eastern supply of oil more than the U.S. now (good)... but those countries will then place a higher market demand on petroleum, which Canada will then redirect some of their production to meet. Simple market dynamics. And since Canada is NOT a territory of the United States.. they are under no obligation to continue to sell oil to the U.S. for the same price... which could have been the case if we were REALLY INDEPENDENT and could inact a price freeze. So although your statistics are nice to give us a warm fuzzy feeling... they do NOT tell the whole story. We are still dependent on sources that do not supply us oil directly... if they still hold a large share of global supply.
          Marcopolo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Joeviocoe Joe, you bring up a popular but largely out-of -date argument. Even as recently as five I would have agreed with you, but in the last few years the idea that the economy suffers from oil importation, has been rendered obsolete by recent developments. For the first time in decades the North America is pretty much energy self-sufficient. The balance of energy power has definitely shifted in favour the US ie; US domestic production 40 % Canada 18 % Mexico 8 % Persian Gulf 11 % Africa 10 % South America 10 % Other 3 % But, what you also have to consider is the US also exports petroleum products, which constitute value added export earnings from it's importation of raw material. If Canadian oil is not counted as an import, The US earns more by exporting oil products, than the total cost of it's oil imports. ( by a ratio of approx 3; 1 ! ) http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_wkly_dc_nus-z00_mbblpd_w.htm In addition, the US exports machinery, food, technical services, and an enormous range of US products to oil exporting nations (especially the middles east). But the icing on the cake, is the US is the principle destination of investment for Middle Eastern petro-dollars. The US economy would actually be worse off is the US ceased to import oil ! Not a popular statement, (especially for those who hate the oil industry) but true, and by 2015, US domestic energy supply will actually exceed domestic demand. This new state of affairs has caught most people by surprise. It has allowed the US to forego it's interests in pro-American oil producers, and allowed the PRC to take control of counties like Ecuador’s oil sector. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/china-buys-out-ecuador-oil-2013-11 But my main objection to US ethanol, is environmental, the economic argument against US is also valid, but like Al Gore my objection is environmental.
          Marcopolo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Joeviocoe Thank you for your reply. Much of what you say is true, but I invite you to consider three points. 1) While I agree Canada is an fully independent nation, with it's own policies and objectives, the two nations are economically heavily intertwined and interdependent. From a generalised economic viewpoint, neither nation would be inclined to upset such a great trading relationship. 2) The expression "petroleum is fungible" (I think you mean oil ) , is a popular remark, but meaningless in reality. There are only only relatively small variable market's for "spot' oil, often with quite variable prices. Most large nations (and even small ones) have long term oil contracts, often the trade terms are concluded by a battering system. (such as Iraq & PRC, or the PRC and Ecuador etc ). 3) Far more binding to the US than the need to import oil, is fear of losing those favourable trading markets for US industry and commerce. You keep concentrating on an oil fear of US imports, without taking into account the rise of US exports, both to oil rich counties and the growth of US value added export products. You must agree that if the US imports a barrel of oil, refines the contents into other products, and exports those products for 20 times the value, the US economy prospers !. If the US employed your scenario, and stopped the importation, the US economy would be the loser ! The world has changed, but you seem still stuck in a 1974-6 time warp.
        Allch Chcar
        • 7 Months Ago
        @transpower
        The issue is lack of choice though. Gasoline w/o Ethanol might be rare but you'd be even harder pressed to find an E85 pump unless you live in a Corn state. I laugh at anybody who doesn't realize how much of a monopoly Gasoline has in this country. If it wasn't for the RFS we wouldn't have any choices besides the exact same Oil based Gasoline sold from 10 different convenience stores. There's no legitimate reason that every car and truck can't be made flexfuel to run on a variety of fuels. Not just Gasoline and E85 but Ethanol, Butanol, and Methanol.
          Marcopolo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Allch Chcar
          @ Allch Chcar No here's an idea, to end you dependence on gasoline, buy an EV, or a GM Volt ! No more gasoline, (or only a little), problem solved. In addition, you can invest in some solar panels and free your self of gasoline, and the even more environmentally disastrous ethanol ! ( I prefer Volt, but the Leaf's great, BMW, Fiat and even Ford all have EV"s available, and if your can afford a Tesla model S, you will have made a great investment, both for yourself, and the planet. Forget both environmentally harmful fuels.
      grumpy
      • 7 Months Ago
      Also, I notice that you argue for Ethanol because Oil is not a "permanent solution". I can't imagine you mean to imply that corn is a permanent solution... Even to it's biggest supporters, ethanol is at best a stopgap until non-combustion based transport becomes viable. It is purely a subsidized market (twice actually-- Corn is subsidized and so is the refinement to ethanol), so clearly it is not viable in the long term. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle... ya know.
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