Reality Smacks Down Ethanol

In recent days, the EPA has decided to cut the amount of cellulosic (non-corn based) ethanol refiners are required to blend into gasoline.  After fighting and ignoring court rulings limiting the amount of ethanol to what could actually be produced, the EPA has finally given into reality.  It cut the required use of cellulosic ethanol to 6 million gallons, less than half of the previously required 14 million gallons.  The EPA is also decided to reduce the overall amount of ethanol used from the 18.15 billion gallon target previously established.  How much the overall cut would be and how this will effect mandated levels beyond 2014 is still undetermined.

This goes to show just because you mandate something, doesn’t mean it will come to pass.  The limits on cellulosic use stem from the fact that despite government mandates, the technology still doesn’t exist to make cellulosic ethanol easily produced.  The second limit is a result of the fact that American’s have determined, and fuel stations reflect, that they just won’t take that much damaging ethanol in their fuel.  Gas stations it cities aren’t widely moving to an E-15 blend from the current E-10.  And gas stations in more suburban and rural areas aren’t buying ethanol tainted fuels at all.  Why?  Ethanol can damage automobiles and fuel tanks and lines at stations and reduces fuel economy. 

Now would be a perfect time to end the ethanol mandate and subsidies entirely.

Comments (20)

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  1. Lloyd says:

    EPA is really trying to get a bit too involved in everything. They create more problems and cost that we taxpayers bear the brunt.

    • Dewaine says:

      Right. Damaging vehicles and distorting markets both hurt people, particularly the poor. Just another example of ridiculous regulations hurting the most vulnerable.

  2. Cabaret says:

    Ethanol mandates are terrible. One of the worst examples of government interference.

    • Dewaine says:

      I agree, although, I think damage of the magnitued is much more common than we think, the effects of ethanol mandates are just easily seen.

  3. Cory says:

    I didn’t know that it was damaging to engines

    • Baker says:

      It is bad for the environment too.

      • Dewaine says:

        With that in mind: incompetence or corruption?

        • JD says:

          Gotta be incompetence.

        • Jack says:

          I don’t understand why the EPA can’t just stick to a policy and follow through, plus there are substantially better forms of ethanol such as switch grass ethanol that the EPA has tested and proven to be better…Incompetence

          • Sterling Burnett says:

            Jack, the EPA can stick with a policy its goals even if the goals are impossible to meet. In this case, it chose reality. Switch grass is one form of cellulosic ethanol. While one day, it may be feasible on a large scale at a reasonable price, as I point out, that is not the case today. Kant argued that “ought implies can.” I just wish all government regulators and lawmakers would take that dictum to heart.

            • Boswell says:

              Exactly Sterling, Popular Mechanics Magazine claims: “And since cellulose is tough and fibrous, it requires heavy-duty enzymatic decomposition processes to convert the plant matter into simple sugars that can be fermented into ethanol. These processes consume large amounts of energy and are so pricey that a study in Bioresource Technology last year concluded that cellulosic ethanol won’t be competitive with gasoline unless oil prices remain above $90 a barrel.”

            • Jack says:

              While you are probably correct on the efficacy of switch-grass ethanol, my problem is not with the EPA quitting the project if it fails. My issue is more based on the EPA not researching projects heavily enough ahead of the time before getting taxpayer dollars, and completely wasting it on R&D that is not even remotely ready for subsidization or implementation.

        • Boswell says:

          Definitely Corruption.

        • David says:

          INCOMPETENCE and CORRUPTION, about prohibiting the unbridled, brutal and dynamic competition that emerges in free markets.

          If you create the perception of crisis BEFORE technology produces viable solutions, then you can steer the solutions to favor your vesting.

          These are interesting times, an era of corporatism, fascism, forced markets and force-pleasing. And it can’t end soon enough.

  4. CRS says:

    And about time.
    A victory of reason over lobbiests.

  5. Steward says:

    Don’t know much about ethanol but it is really apparent that the EPA didn’t even take the time to seriously study this issue before introducing its own mandate.

  6. Dr. Steve says:

    The only justifiable reason to convert corn into alcohol is to drink it!

    As an owner of a 1963 Tbird I try to find alcohol free gas whenever I can, especially when I put it up for winter.

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