The Ethanol Debacle

Published September 13, 2013

The government mandated blend of ethanol in every gallon of gasoline is a full-fledged disaster and neither Congress, nor the Environmental Protection Agency shows any indication of either repealing or abandoning it.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial said, “A strong candidate for the most expensive policy blunder of recent years would have to be the mandate to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply. Last month even the Environmental Protection Agency essentially acknowledged that the program is increasingly unworkable and costly to consumers. The EPA just won’t do much to fix it.”


Some future historian will calculate how many trillions this nation wasted when it passed a law in 2007 that was supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to save the Earth from global warming and to provide a domestic energy source to compete with OPEC oil.


Implicit in that calculation will have to be the millions, if not billions, of automobiles whose engines were ruined by ethanol. Another element of the calculation is the way the cost of food at home and around the world was increased needlessly by requiring approximately 42% of the U.S. corn crop be used for ethanol production. It is more than the amount of corn used to feed livestock and poultry nationwide.


Only an environmentalist would think it was a good idea to burn food as fuel instead of permitting corn to be used as part of the nation’s food chain and for export. As a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, Bob Beauprez of Colorado, noted in a Washington Times commentary, “The ethanol mandate has sent corn prices skyrocketing, harmed cattle and poultry producers, forced refiners to waste money on ethanol credits, and hiked food prices worldwide.”


The ethanol mandate is so crazy that, not just corn must be sacrificed, but “cellulosic” ethanol, made from switch grass and wood chips, is also required. It isn’t even being produced despite the law, but the EPA continues to levy fines against oil company refineries for failing to buy and use a fuel that doesn’t exist. The cost of that is, of course, passed along to consumers.


In January, the D.C. Court of Appeals struck down the EPA’s 2012 cellulosic mandate as unrealistically high. The EPA has announced that it is reducing the 2013 cellulosic ethanol mandate to a mere six million gallons.


In order to remain in compliance with the requirement to blend ethanol, even though refiners are producing less gasoline than the law mandates, they have been forced to purchase ethanol credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). The price of these RINs has climbed from seven cents in January to a high of $1.43 in July. All this does is increase the cost of gas at the pump without having a single good reason for the existence of the ethanol blend.
Determined to force ethanol into our fuel, the EPA granted a partial waiver for the sale of E15, a motor fuel that contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, approving it for use in 2001 and later model cars and trucks. The Wall Street Journal noted a survey by AAA found that “only 5% of vehicles are approved for higher levels of ethanol under manufacturer warranty.”


All this waste and stupidity comes from three decades of lies about global warming and the supposed need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The President continues to lie about global warming/climate change despite the fact that Earth has entered its seventeenth year of a cooling cycle.


The EPA continues to distort the nation’s and the world’s food supply so far as corn is concerned. It continues to ignore the damage ethanol inflicts on auto and other engines. It ignores the needless increase in the cost of gasoline to the consumer.
Americans are afflicted with a government that is indifferent to the facts about ethanol and the EPA remains intent on punishing Americans for their use of gasoline.