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Should the U.S. government cut subsidies for corn ethanol? Comments by Ford CEO Alan Mulally hint at that, saying the government should support "one technology" (electrification), rather than spreading funding.  (Source: Hollandtown: Holland Farm: Corn Harvest)

More controversial is the proposal to block states like California from self-governance when it comes to setting stricter fuel economy standards.   (Source: treehugger)

Alan Mulally saved his company from bankruptcy, while peers GM and Chrysler went through government takeovers and restructuring. Mr. Mulally warns that the auto industry is seeing slowing sales this quarter.  (Source: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Executive would like to see states banned from setting their own arbitrary standards

Ford Motor Company (F) CEO Alan Mulally is one of the most respected figures in the auto industry today, having been the only head of a member of the "Big Three" U.S. automakers to save his company from bankruptcy in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.  However, his new comments will certainly be considered controversial by politicians, lobbyists, and citizens alike.

I. Block States From Self-Governance of Fuel Economy?

Mr. Mulally met early Tuesday morning with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Dayton, Ohio); Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph, Michigan), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn, Mich.), a key supporter of the Detroit automakers. 

Later in the afternoon he attended a meeting co-hosted by Reps. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls, Mich.); Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland, Mich.); and Jeff Duncan, (R-Laurens, S.C.); with Rep. Hansen Clarke, (D-Detroit, Mich.) also in attendance.  He also met with Bill Daley, the White House chief of staff, and David Plouffe, senior adviser to President Barack Obama in a separate session.

At the meetings Mr. Mulally urged lawmakers to take Congressional action to implement a single consistent fuel economy standard and block states from proposing their own stricter standards.  

Despite the fact that Congress is indeed preparing a new set of fuel economy standards, which would extend the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) through 2025, the proposal to strip states of the right to regulate their own standards to a stricter threshold is controversial.  

First, opponents argue that it strips states of their right of self-governance.  This is a place where Republicans, in particular find themselves in a philosophical dilemma.  Their party has recently run on a platform of state rights, but they have traditionally opposed letting states regulate their own emissions, with former Republican President George W. Bush moving to block California and other states from doing so.

Second, the decision would run afoul of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling 
in the case Massachusetts v. EPA, which concluded that states had the right to set their own stricter mandates.  The ruling allowed California to effectively sue the federal government and force it to stop obstructing its standard.  In the wake of the suit, President Obama instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to allow states to set their own standards.

The issue will likely be pushed.  Even as the U.S. debates the future of CAFE, California, the nation's most populous state, is moving to set its own stricter standards for 2025.  It will likely be followed by several other states that adhered to California's previous emissions policy, adopted by President Barack Obama for the entire nation.

II. Ford: Back "One Technology"

Mr. Mulally also urged members of Congress to back "one technology" if they were serious about alternative energy vehicles.

Ford Motor Company officials did not specify what this "one technology" was, but most construe it to mean electrified vehicles.  Ford has been less enthusiastic than its peers about the "other" leading alternative vehicle technology -- ethanol fuel.

The potentially implied proposal to ditch federal subsidies of ethanol and corn farming is a controversial one -- among corn farming states, at least.  Farmers have grown fat off billions in yearly government subsidies, with a major chunk of it coming from ethanol grants and mandates.  In total corn farmers drew $73.8B USD from 1995-2009 from the U.S. federal and state governments.

The pull of the corn farmers is particularly strong in the U.S. Senate, where the numerous low-populous farm states have a much larger representation.

The proposal may also target other alternative fuel technologies -- such as compressed liquefied natural gas (CLNG), which some say could supplement traditional petroleum, much like ethanol.

III. Ford in Trouble?

One thing mentioned by Mr. Mulally may trouble Ford investors.  He would not comment on Ford's Q2 2011 sales, but did say that the market is "slowing down … it's a little less than what we hoped for at the beginning of the year", according to The Detroit News.  

That could be a trouble sign as Ford and other automakers had seen strong sales over the past couple quarters.

If the American automakers are indeed starting to struggle once more, that could make the debates over ethanol and emissions even trickier.  After all, the automakers say that a strict 62-mpg standard could "kill" the American auto industry.  And any money in ethanol subsidies will likely come at the expense of government funding of electrification efforts, which the automakers will likely need to satisfy CAFE.



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To Corn or not to Corn
By SiliconJon on 6/1/2011 12:18:24 PM , Rating: 4
Should we use our food as fuel? How many bushels of corn does it take to replace a gallon of gasoline? And how much energy does that equate to? Granted reducing toxic externalities is obviously worth two in the bush, but perhaps that's path is better laid elsewhere.

It seems obvious that using even more precious food or water to fuel our relentless, unchecked consumption habits is a bad idea. But then again, since Monsanto has toxified our corn crops through ignorantly arrogant genetic modification maybe that's all the corn is good for now...

Yeah, I know - grow something else, or corn that doesn't produce its own internal pesticide, but this is humanity - we don't think that deep.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, lunch.




RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By RjBass on 6/1/2011 12:26:42 PM , Rating: 1
I have to agree and disagree all at the same time. Yes I think we should stop production of corn based ethanol, but I don't think we should totally abandon ethanol. Instead we could import a much more pure form of ethanol made from sugar in Brazil. Unlike the Mideast, Brazil is a true ally, and they actually like the U.S. We could import their ethanol for cheaper then we can produce it here. It is also of a higher grade so it gets better mileage. Of course the big three would then have to also bring to the U.S. the engines that they manufacture in Brazil that can use the ethanol better without destroying the engine. But that is a different argument.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By MrBlastman on 6/1/2011 12:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Forget ethanol. I think the whole idea is silly. Instead, I prefer dreaming about further adopting algae that poops out oil (well, generates it).


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By michael67 on 6/1/2011 1:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
With already food shortages all over the world, and supply at his limits, its imo greasy to use food as full.

India for exampled, that one of the biggest food producer in the world is having its water table lowered every year by 5~10cm (2~4"), and the water is getting because of it more salty every year, giving less crop yields, and the need for more water again.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8197287.stm

Algae on the other hand can be even and preferable grown in the desert because of the abundance of sunlight, but is still problematic, and they are still looking engineering the perfect algae.

I see till we get things like fusion working, only solution in Thorium based nuclear power plants.

And there is world wide enough Thorium for at least 500 years (some estimates enough for over 2000 years).

And yeah yeah Japan was bad, but modern nuclear power plants, are not comparable whit the old ones.

And Thorium based power plants are mouths saver by default and also harder to be used for nuclear bombs.

Because thorium does not sustain chain reaction, fission stops by default if we stop priming it, and a runaway chain reaction accident is improbable.

Weight energy ratio is also higher, 200x that of uranium, and 3,500,000x that of coal.
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Tho...

If the EU, N-America and Asia country's put there heads together and start at least serious research on the reactors maybe we can avoid the biggest problems we are facing now in 10~20 years.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Reclaimer77 on 6/1/2011 2:20:36 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
With already food shortages all over the world, and supply at his limits, its imo greasy to use food as full.


Hunger is caused by, mostly, mismanagement and poor infrastructure. It's a common misconception that "world hunger" is because there's food shortages. This isn't the case, in reality. North Korea, for example. Is there a food shortage? No. Then why are their people starving? Because their government spends 30% of their GDP on the military and they have no consumer driven economy to speak of.

quote:
I see till we get things like fusion working


You mean if, right? I think we'll have a perpetual motion machine before we have fusion reactors. For nearly 50 years we've been hearing how we'll have sustained fusion reactors that can power the world, and not ONE of the major physics roadblocks have been solved yet.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By wiz220 on 6/1/2011 4:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
and not ONE of the major physics roadblocks have been solved yet.


You really need to do some research on this, your comment is far from accurate. Yes, a commercial grade fusion reactor is probably 50 years off, but the first reactor aimed at generating a net gain from fusion is already under construction with the follow up plant (DEMO) already in the planning stages. DEMO will be the first fully operational demonstration plant for fusion power.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEMO

http://www.iter.org/

Furthermore, it looks like NIF could beat them to net energy gain by a large distance.

https://lasers.llnl.gov/

Advances in fusion research don't seem to grab headlines these days but that's a good thing IMO. They have been working steadily without public scrutiny or media hype and advances have definitely been made.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Reclaimer77 on 6/1/2011 6:52:26 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Yes, a commercial grade fusion reactor is probably 50 years off


They said that 30 years ago! Just saying.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 7:15:51 PM , Rating: 5
They were using an iClock and they were holding it wrong.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By yomamafor1 on 6/2/2011 1:04:48 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Hunger is caused by, mostly, mismanagement and poor infrastructure. It's a common misconception that "world hunger" is because there's food shortages. This isn't the case, in reality. North Korea, for example. Is there a food shortage? No. Then why are their people starving? Because their government spends 30% of their GDP on the military and they have no consumer driven economy to speak of.


No. There is a food shortage in the world, and is the primary reason of world starvation. This is why we donate food and funds to poor countries all over the world, and genealogists and biologists continue to work hard to genetically modify foods so they can be produced faster and cheaper.

In North Korea, there IS a food shortage, that's why North Koreans only eat 700 cal per day, while you ingest more than 2500 cal per day. From various reports, over 220,000 people died from starvation ever since the 1990s. The only reason North Korean continue to survive is due to international aid. This is the reason why North Korea is playing the nuclear bomb game: to get more attention and international aid from other countries.

I think you really need to improve your common knowledge before casually casting your uneducated opinions as facts.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2011 1:22:02 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
In North Korea, there IS a food shortage


It's extremely hard to grow crops in North Korea, so maybe instead of spending 30% GDP on nukes and tanks, they could be IMPORTING food? There's not some mystical food shortage, it's not a depleted resource. It's self inflicted in their case.

quote:
hat's why North Koreans only eat 700 cal per day


Aren't you leaving out a HUGE factor? They eat 700 calories a day because the average North Korean can't afford to eat more. They get paid next to nothing, if they are lucky to be paid at all.

quote:
No. There is a food shortage in the world, and is the primary reason of world starvation. This is why we donate food and funds to poor countries all over the world


Wait, there's a world food shortage but there's enough so that countries can donate food to other countries? You contradict yourself.

I stand by my statement. Regional food shortages are NOT because the world doesn't have enough food. It's because of poor planning, bad infrastructure, and the lack of a thriving economy.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2011 1:25:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think you really need to improve your common knowledge before casually casting your uneducated opinions as facts.


Yeah, so do you. Here's a good start.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4072280.st...


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By yomamafor1 on 6/2/2011 2:38:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's extremely hard to grow crops in North Korea, so maybe instead of spending 30% GDP on nukes and tanks, they could be IMPORTING food? There's not some mystical food shortage, it's not a depleted resource. It's self inflicted in their case.


Why spend 30% of your GDP on importing food, when you can spend the same amount of money on nukes, and the neighboring countries will donate food to you for free? You get free food, AND modern weapon. I agree it is self-inflicted, but again, did average North Korean ever have any choice?

Also, food is not a resource. It is a product that has to be produced from resources that are depleting and getting more expensive. When the cost of production is higher than the price you can pay for, food will not be produced, and there is a shortage.

quote:
Aren't you leaving out a HUGE factor? They eat 700 calories a day because the average North Korean can't afford to eat more. They get paid next to nothing, if they are lucky to be paid at all.


They can't afford food because their wage is lower than food. Then why is food so damn expensive? Because there is a shortage of them (Econ 101). If food is readily available, why are people being starved? Why do rich countries like the US and western Europe donate hundreds and thousands of tonnes of food to North Korea?

quote:
Wait, there's a world food shortage but there's enough so that countries can donate food to other countries? You contradict yourself.


Do you really insist on being right, that you choose to play word games? There IS a world food shortage as a whole. However, there are a few very fortunate countries (like US) that do not (yet) have widespread food shortages. So we do donate a portion of our food supply to some selected countries. That doesn't mean there is no world food shortage.

This is similar to claiming that although the unemployment in US right now is hovering around 9%, but since Iowa City, IA can't hire enough people, and must relocate workers from other states, so therefore unemployment in US doesn't exist. It is oxymoron.

quote:
I stand by my statement. Regional food shortages are NOT because the world doesn't have enough food. It's because of poor planning, bad infrastructure, and the lack of a thriving economy.


When people are so poor that they can't afford for the food to be produced, regardless of reason, it IS food shortage. I never linked North Korean's food shortage to the world food shortage (it was a mere counter argument for your "world food shortage does not exist), but it does contribute to the world food shortage, isn't it?

What's the reason there is a world wide shortage of food? Because not enough food is being produced. Sure, if you dedicate all arable land to food production, you might be able to feed everyone. But the question is, can everyone afford for the necessary amount of food to be produced?

http://asasya.com/images/World%20Food%20Supply%20M...

Tell me again there is no food shortages world wide.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By MungaIT on 6/2/2011 11:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
FYI Genealogists don't do what you think they do. I would be very surprised if they started researching the family history of algae.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogy
I think you mean Geneticist.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Targon on 6/3/2011 8:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
Food shortages can be caused by many things, but people being stupid is the one source that we should not encourage. People who keep having children when they can barely survive on their own is a prime example. This applies to people on welfare as well as in the third world, but that is for another discussion.

Ethiopia is a prime example where people have been feeding the starving children for decade after decade. Poverty, starvation, etc. Now, if they can't feed themselves, and they have no resources to trade for help, then if we let the population naturally decrease due to the starvation, they SHOULD eventually get to the point of being able to feed themselves. Helping people so they can eventually help themselves is a noble goal, but if you help them and as a nation they simply won't put in the effort to break the cycle of starvation and poverty, it's their own fault, and they should have to live with it.

Grow food, get help growing food, set up an infrastructure that the native people can support, and if they can't handle the maintenance of a basic infrastructure of growing food, and then planting new crops, should the world go on feeding them?

If a population grows too much with too little self control to not have children when they can't afford to take care of the children, should we feel sorry for them? Those in "wealthy countries" are in better shape because the vast majority do not have more children than we can provide for. In larger countries, there are also less wealthy areas, and perhaps we should be more concerned with THOSE areas that are in our control than about parts of the world that are just a waste of resources.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Einy0 on 6/1/2011 12:52:35 PM , Rating: 2
I've considered this idea before. After much contemplation my biggest issue is the question can Brazil produce enough ethanol if the U.S. also gets ethanol from them? If they can and maybe barely can what will the demand do to the ethanol market?


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By RjBass on 6/1/11, Rating: 0
RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By DanNeely on 6/1/2011 2:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
Brazil's ethanol production is a small fraction of what would be needed to move the US economy off gasoline.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/1/2011 5:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, and we can't grow that much sugarcane up here to make it cost effective. Ethanol is a no go for the US. Best bet would be electric backed by nuclear and an upgraded grid.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By LordanSS on 6/1/2011 9:10:19 PM , Rating: 2
I am brazilian, and I can tell you we can barely produce enough ethanol for ourselves, let alone export.

The main issue until very recently was that Ethanol production was not regulated the same way Oil production was for us. That left a big loophole in our production system, allowing the ethanol refineries and sugar cane producers to shift their production towards sugar itself when international market prices for the commodity went up. That's what happened to us last year, and there was a severe internal shortage of ethanol, driving prices sky high.

Ethanol production will now be watched by the same agency that controls the oil, so hopefully this issue will not happen again in the future. In the end, the refineries and farmers just wanted more bang for their buck...

Meanwhile, at the gas pumps here in Rio de Janeiro, regular gasoline is up to $7 (seven US dollars) per gallon - or more, if you don't look hard enough. And this because Brazil should be self sufficient in Oil production. But that's a long story to tell, heh, and not directly related to this topic.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By sleepeeg3 on 6/1/2011 1:44:50 PM , Rating: 3
No.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By Netscorer on 6/1/2011 1:59:28 PM , Rating: 1
What about rain forests, aka planet lungs? By driving demand on sugar ehtanol, we would effectively kill millions of acres of rain forest that would be cleared for farming. I sincerely doubt that it would be beneficial for the whole planet in the long run. Besides, what you are effectively arguing is that senate would kill subsidies to the internal farmers in favor of subsidizing foreign country economy. Not going to happen.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By RjBass on 6/1/2011 2:05:39 PM , Rating: 1
As it stands, Brazil can produce enough sugarcane to feed their need for food, exported food, ethanol and exported ethanol and still have way more then enough to spare. The continuing deforestation is driven by cattle farmers, other crop farmers and sugar farmers trying to get in on the action. If Brazil would step up and send out their military (the 2nd largest in the Western Hemisphere) to stop the deforestation, then I think the matter would be resolved with both Brazil, the U.S. and the rest of the world being happy about it.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 2:16:46 PM , Rating: 2
This is off-topic, but the rainforests are not the "planet lungs". They are totally dwarfed by the ocean by several orders of magnitude.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:32:24 PM , Rating: 1
Not to worry, BP is working on them as we speak.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 6:46:14 PM , Rating: 5
I think that natural oil seeps release far more oil into the ocean than BP.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 7:04:28 PM , Rating: 1
So it needs no help from BP and its dispersants.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 7:23:27 PM , Rating: 1
Apparently some rater thinks that the more dispersants are in the ocean the better?

Eat a lot of gulf shrimp oh wisest of raters?

</sad commentary>


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
By driving demand on sugar ehtanol, we would effectively kill millions of acres of rain forest that would be cleared for farming.

Such clearing occurs for many reasons, including creating grazing land for cows and the reason you mentioned.

The question is which use is the most efficient.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By shiftypy on 6/8/2011 8:40:15 AM , Rating: 2
We shouldn't destroy rainforests for number of reasons, but they are not lungs.
Most vegetation on earth will produce just as much oxygen as it takes for it to decay. In rainforest both processes are simply extremely accelerated.
Only swamps and tundra forests actually fix CO2 into the ground.


RE: To Corn or not to Corn
By CZroe on 6/1/2011 10:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
You do know that corn/maize would never naturally have existed without humans and, thus, there is no "tainting" of the crop's natual genes, I hope. It is an unlikely cross-breed of plants that many say would never have happened naturally and that the ancient Central Americans knew what they were doing.


Why
By Dr of crap on 6/1/2011 12:26:34 PM , Rating: 3
"Mr. Mulally also urged members of Congress to back "one technology" if they were serious about alternative energy vehicles."

On this he is wrong.

We need to back all forms of different possible alt. energy that can move cars down the road. Who's to say what might happen in one or more of these and become the dominant player.

Electric cars, IMHO, is not one of them. They have a small niche and that is all. Why not get others more money, like CNG, which is more viable than EV will ever be.




RE: Why
By bah12 on 6/1/2011 12:58:52 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
We need to back all forms of different possible alt. energy that can move cars down the road.
Agreed, but as long as "us backing" them means R&D not subsidies. Subsidies are not effective. If we put 50% of the costs of the subsidies into R&D instead, we'd be way better off and out a lot less money.

Put my tax dollars into research, let the market decide if the results of that research are viable.


RE: Why
By Aikouka on 6/1/2011 1:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
I feel the same way, bah12, and amusingly enough... I was actually talking about this with someone earlier! I'd really prefer to see tax dollars pushed more toward research and development rather than providing tax credits for hybrid vehicles. Essentially, we shouldn't be propping up technology that can't sustain itself. If people consider hybrids too expensive without the tax credit, the R&D could be (partially) allocated toward lowering the cost of some of the components or even working out a cheaper method of fuel savings.


RE: Why
By chick0n on 6/1/2011 8:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
sorry, that just won't happen, cuz the government always decides what "they think" we want, not what we really want.

they should just get rid of all subsidies, including REGULAR GASOLINE. and spend all those money into R&D. but hey again, they always give us what they wanna give us, not what we actually want, so they can all keep partying everyday while we work our ass off to pay for them.


RE: Why
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RE: Why
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 2:15:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well, once the taxes are collected from you, you're no longer free to direct how the $ are spent. This is part of the problem with these subsidies. Whether some gov't agency directly does the R&D, or it is a subsidy to a private company to do R&D doesn't really matter that much. Non-subsidized companies have a competitive disadvantage, and so you'll get the non-optimal solution favored by some beaurocrat whose motive may just be to help some of his friends or secure a better paying job after leaving the gov't.


RE: Why
By rbuszka on 6/1/2011 1:08:49 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently you're not even the doctor of 'crap', because nobody with a Ph. D would close their eyes to the fact that every major technology transition is a one-to-one move, not a one-to-many move. Eventually, consumers will demand that the industry standardize on a single technology before they will adopt it. We essentially have one vehicle technology right now, and a couple that are still (by the numbers) on the lunatic fringe. Hybrid vehicles aren't a true technology transition because they simply add another technology (batteries and electric motors) to the existing one (a gasoline engine and a mechanical drivetrain), which dilutes the effectiveness of the new technology. We need to move from one vehicle technology to another vehicle technology, and in order to do that, we need to pick the new vehicle technology that has the most technical merit.

The surest way to kill alternative fuel efforts is to spread those efforts among all available technologies so that customers and investors have no idea which one to invest in so they won't be left out in the cold when the entire industry standardizes on one technology. Because so many separate players (vehicle manufacturers, refueling stations, parking providers, car dealers, the federal government) all need to be able to cooperate for the whole system to work, we need one technology that we can agree upon as the way to go. I personally like the idea of compressed natural gas, simply because of its abundance and the minimal cost in adapting the existing technology, but I think that electric vehicles ought to get the investment so they can grab a larger amount of market share.


RE: Why
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 2:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
Who decides what technology has the most merit? How will that person know
1) How to meet the diverse needs of 300M people
2) What business models will allow companies to be profitable to meet these needs

Technocrats suffer from the "knowledge problem".


RE: Why
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:36:05 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Technocrats suffer from the "knowledge problem".

And they think they resolve that by listening to lobbyists and often having them write the laws.


RE: Why
By Dr of crap on 6/2/2011 11:06:19 AM , Rating: 1
I disagee with your one tech statment.

I can see EV being used for in town traffic.
I can see CNG or pure ethanol for long haul driving.
Maybe these second fuel source cars as the second car.

Yes you need to standardize the way that the car is fueled up. And there might even be a dominant fuel, but there can also be the other fuels that have their area that works best for.
A RX8 has a different type of engine, yet it sells. We can have different types of engines and fuel to burn/use. The market will tell us which works and for whom.

This isn't the Dems against the Reps.
We can have more than two choices for the fuel that moves us around.
What I'm saying is lets give R&D money to all alternative fuel possiblites and see which ONES work out the best in the market they make the best choice for. Some will choose EVs, some will choose CNG, some gas.


RE: Why
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 2:11:38 PM , Rating: 1
Of course he wants this. It shields him from having to compete in the market. If everyone is forced to only produce what Ford is already tooled up to produce, it is easier for Ford to compete. This is precisely why no technology should be "backed" specifically. The gov't funding research only to this failed ethanol fuel only crowds out research into viable alternatives. Because the gov't and any other centralized organization will not have information about all of the R&D taking place in the world, as well as the needs and desires of the end-users, the likelyhood of any gov't backed solution being close to optimal is about 0. BUT, the gov't can force us to consume sub-optimal solutions while a free market would not be able to do this for long as better solutions would replace sub-optimal solutions. The best products at the best prices happen when both the buyer and seller freely agree to the transaction.


RE: Why
By Targon on 6/1/2011 4:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
The issue is more about where to put R&D money, so Ford doesn't need to do R&D for: Flex Fuel, EV, fuel cells, etc. With all of these different areas, it makes it VERY difficult to know what to work on. I hate this idea that you have 10 percent ethanol, the threat of 20 percent ethanol being forced down our throats, possible EVs(which may not even have a standard way to plug them in at a "refueling station), fuel cells of various types, etc. The sooner there is a solution that doesn't require a different version for every state in the country, the better.

California and New York had their own unique fuel blends for a while, and while more and more states have jumped into the game of forcing fuel additives, it makes it hellish to design an engine that will not have problems in one or more states. You have the "PZEV" states, then you have the others, gas is a moving target, and if you buy a car today, E10(10 percent ethanol) is what the auto makers need to target, which means putting a 20 percent ethanol blend in will make for worse fuel economy than if the engine were designed and tuned for THAT percentage of ethanol.

I wouldn't mind if there were a federal "every state has the same gas formulation", and more of a push to eliminate forcing auto makers to make special versions of their cars for these select states.


RE: Why
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:29:11 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The sooner there is a solution that doesn't require a different version for every state in the country, the better.

But you don't know if the only solution is diversity. It seems that way right now.


RE: Why
By Targon on 6/2/2011 11:52:35 AM , Rating: 2
Auto makers right now is forced to sell two versions of every car, one for PZEV states and one for others. Making it where some states require E20(20 percent Ethanol) will add yet another version, and just adds to the complexity of the order and manufacturing process. Looking for new solutions is a good thing, but when each state can implement arbitrary rules, what that is going to do is cause the auto makers to eventually abandon making cars for certain states, and that is not good.

The federal government already is pushing all sorts of requirements, so having states like California and New York pushing yet more requirements is just going to hurt the auto industry as a whole.


RE: Why
By wookie1 on 6/2/2011 1:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think that every state having the same gas formulation works very well, at least with these oxygenated fuel requirements. In AZ, the hot summers require different additives that aren't ideal in other climates. But, maybe you're onto something if you meant that maybe all states ditch the oxygenated fuels and just run gasoline.


States Rights
By Reclaimer77 on 6/1/2011 12:31:56 PM , Rating: 4
I'm usually a supporter of states rights, but on this issue, this guy nails it. It's absurd to me that the whole nation has to follow the standards set by 1 of it's 50 states. I'm looking at YOU, California. It effects industry and the quality of lives of EVERY citizen, because it becomes a de-facto nation wide standard.

Of course I'm also against giving the Federal Government exclusive power over these standards.

There is only one solution. Keep Federal emissions standards, but completely REMOVE fuel economy standards. That way pollution is held in check, but WE can choose what we want to drive and auto-makers and scientists can do their jobs, not people in Washington who don't actually have to live with these mandates. Or faceless people 3,500 miles away in California who do NOT represent me, but think they can sway me on what vehicle I should drive. We have emissions standards AND we have the EPA. CAFE seems redundant and irrelevant.

It's not the 1970's anymore. The age of passenger cars getting terrible mileage is NEVER coming back.

quote:
Mr. Mulally also urged members of Congress to back "one technology" if they were serious about alternative energy vehicles.


With all due respect Mr. Mulally, it's not the role of Congress or the Federal Government to pick winners and losers in industry or "back" one technology over the other. Reading between the lines, one can only assume the "one tech" he's wanting backed just so happens to be the one his company is invested in. That's nice, but what about those who are not providing the "one technology"? I guess they get paved under the road to 'progress'.

I appreciate the position he's in. But it seems he's all too willing to hand over more power to the Fed as long as it benefits him and his investors.




RE: States Rights
By ketchup79 on 6/1/2011 12:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
I was about to reply but you stole my thunder. Nice post.


RE: States Rights
By BernardP on 6/1/2011 2:40:49 PM , Rating: 2
States wanting to set their own standards is mainly a reflection of too many politicians wanting to look greener than their neighbors.


RE: States Rights
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 7:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
States wanting to set their own standards is mainly a reflection of too many politicians wanting to look greener than their neighbors.


quote:
States wanting to set their own standards is mainly a reflection of too many politicians trying to get in the limelight or to justify their useless existence.


Fixed it for you.


RE: States Rights
By ender21 on 6/1/2011 3:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
"It's not the 1970's anymore. The age of passenger cars getting terrible mileage is NEVER coming back."

What constitutes "terrible mileage"? Or is that a matter of opinion? All the H2s I see on the road are pegged at about 8MPG, and most of the other SUVs I see are anywhere from 12-17.

In my *opinion,* anything less than 20 is "terrible mileage."

I don't see too much legislation coming out of CA Reps requiring you to buy one car over another. Or to even buy one at all.


RE: States Rights
By Reclaimer77 on 6/1/2011 3:26:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What constitutes "terrible mileage"? Or is that a matter of opinion?


Why is public opinion any less valid than Washington?

By the way, the H2 is NOT a "passenger car". It's an SUV.

quote:
I don't see too much legislation coming out of CA Reps requiring you to buy one car over another. Or to even buy one at all.


Are you an idiot? If California sets a standard, than everyone has to meet this standard or they aren't allowed to sell cars in that state. That's DIRECT market manipulation no matter how you slice it.


RE: States Rights
By Targon on 6/3/2011 8:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
Auto makers make different engines for those states, though they would prefer to make one engine that will work for all states. That is the problem here, and the big thing is that not only do you have emissions standards, you also have gas formulation requirements that are different for different states. If an engine has been designed with 10 percent Ethanol as the target, one or more states forcing E20 down our throats will reduce our fuel economy while the cost at the pump will stay the same.

Fuel economy went to hell when states started to convert from MTBE to Ethanol, and even now, there are questions about what gas formulation a given car is really designed for.


What ever
By Kurz on 6/1/2011 12:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
The rest of the states are doing the sensible thing and keeping to one standard which is easier for them to enforce and cheaper for their businesses to operate under.

California should be able to dig their own grave ever deeper. They choose to be the odd duckling and their citizens eat it up. Though that doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to set their own standards.




RE: What ever
By FITCamaro on 6/1/2011 12:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
My attitude is that Ford should just produce vehicles to the US standard. If California doesn't want to let those vehicles be sold there, so be it.


RE: What ever
By bah12 on 6/1/2011 12:52:36 PM , Rating: 3
Problem is that is a philisophical argument, worth very little in the business world. Similar to the "if the EU keeps fining MS they should just pull out" argument.

Of course at some point that may make sense, but from a business decision it would be unwise to lose that big of a market because you morally disagree with it. Not saying Ford can't, just that it would be awfully short sided for them to do so. Fortunately most businesses are not ran off of emotional reactions, and Ford will do what is in their best interests (as they should).


RE: What ever
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My attitude is that Ford should just produce vehicles to the US standard. If California doesn't want to let those vehicles be sold there, so be it.

And you know what? The states can still have their laws by simply limiting the worst offender models or the worst offender engines. Ford and the rest would still have plenty of cars to see in any state.

Actually for all the complaining about CA they often were just a year ahead of constantly tightening federal regulations 4 decades ago. Detroit sold essentially 2 models of engines for many years without all the whining. It was also necessary in the 70's to exceed the federal requirements in order to sell cars not only in CA but also Japan. Selling globally is something we need to be competitive at and other other countries may implement more restrictive regulations than what we have. The fact that may not currently true has limited value.


RE: What ever
By ender21 on 6/1/2011 3:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it was California + 15 other states. Or at least 15 other states joined in the petition to have the EPA ruling overturned:

NY, Mass, Conn, Delaware, Ill, Maine, Maryland, NJ, Oregon, AZ, New Mexico, RI, Vermont, Washington, & Penn.


False choice
By wookie1 on 6/1/2011 2:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
The article presents a false choice between federal and state CAFE rules. The option of ditching CAFE is not presented. Why do we need to restrict what consumers can buy? How could the gov't really understand the vehicle needs of 300 million people? Why don't we leave it up to the consumer to choose the vehicle that provides the best compromise for them? Delivery businesses have different needs than small families, which are different than large families, different than other businesses, etc. Why try to craft one rule to fit all people?

Imagine if this were a rule about the minimum R rating of insulation in your home. What if the gov't said that all homes must be insulated to withstand the winters in Barrow, Alaska? How would you feel about the extra cost of this if you lived outside of Barrow, especially in someplace like San Diego? Why couldn't you be left to choose what insulation you wanted to suit your local climate and budget?




RE: False choice
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 7:13:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Delivery businesses have different needs than small families, which are different than large families, different than other businesses, etc. Why try to craft one rule to fit all people?

You really believe there are zero exceptions on such rules? Have you bothered to do any research on commercial vehicles?

Jets can use as much as 7 gallons of fuel per mile, yet they are efficient. Buses work the same way on a smaller scale. You think buses are going to be viewed like VW bugs?


RE: False choice
By senbassador on 6/2/2011 8:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
"Why do we need to restrict what consumers can buy?"

Well, isn't that kind of the purpose of having a government? The government already restricts that you can't smoke pot, and that you have to be at least 21 to drink alcohol, and 18 to buy cigarettes. What if a consumer wanted to purchase some child porn or dog fighting videos. But like you said, why do we need to restrict what consumers can buy? Where do you want to draw the line?

"Why don't we leave it up to the consumer to choose the vehicle that provides the best compromise for them?"

Well, for one, using gasoline and emitting exhaust from your vehicle DOES affect other people around you, just like excessive 2nd hand cigarette smoke can potentially harm others besides yourself. Economists call these things externalities. Not that I am pro-big government or anything, I just don't think you can make blanket "why don't we leave it up to the consumer..." statements, when the consumer is doing things that can harm other people around them. Hey, why can't the consumer buy an AK-47? You see where this is going.


RE: False choice
By fxnick on 6/2/2011 11:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
...the consumer CAN buy an AK-47...just saying..


Ethanol is a crap fuel
By bildan on 6/1/2011 3:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol fuel exists for one reason - it makes farmers filthy rich. It's a massive farm state boondoggle - one we can't afford.

That's not to say all bio-fuels are bad. Butanol works just like gasoline and can be mixed with it in any ratio. Yeasts and bacteria can be engineered to produce it. Even better would be an iso-octane-butanol mix.

Unfortunately for corn farmers, producing really useful biofuels requires bioengineering expertise they don't have and probably can't acquire.




RE: Ethanol is a crap fuel
By YashBudini on 6/1/2011 5:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's a massive farm state boondoggle - one we can't afford.

Well many states seems to have their own special brand of workfare and/or nepotism, often the former exists to fulfill the latter. This is just another example of modern day "US opportunity." Not working, but finding a way to make a fast & easy buck.

The bad thing about corn driven ethanol is that lobbying has made it illegal to import sugar cane to create ethanol, which would be a more efficient process, but one that challenges and scares corn growers. If every you've taken an economics course and heard of examples of "mob rules" this certainly is a major one. This clearly is not capitalism at work.

It's to the point I'd rather see a Sunoco type setup for ethanol use, let me choose how much of it to mix into my gas or not to use it at all. Meanwhile create vehicles (any kind) that run almost exclusively on ethanol and leave the rest of us alone.

Farmers are always going to choose the profitable crops. Since ethanol caught on a lot of farmers that were growing more marginal crops, like hops, have switched over. Microbreweries suffer accordingly as do their customers. The government has made it worse; in some cases farmers are paid to grow more marginal crops with a subsidy, they now grow more profitable corn and keep the subsidy as well. That's what's wrong with government, the main idea and implementation may have been correct, but eventually the whole thing gets corrupted and not addressed.

While R77 is at least partially correct about management causing starvation I see no reason not to count every person who dies from a lack of food as another reason eliminate all farm subsidies. If you truly believe in smaller government, as opposed to giving it just lip service by saying cut sibsidies to all states except mine, then you would vote for such a change.

Yeah, I know, like that's ever going to happen.


I've said it before...
By Shadowself on 6/1/2011 7:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
The CAFE standards need to go away COMPLETELY -- both at the Federal and State levels.

If the governments want to get people to buy more fuel efficient cars start taxing gas guzzlers and start giving rebates/incentives on highly fuel efficient cars. Base this in a standard of ONE type of fuel and one method of economy rating (e.g., mid grade gasoline and miles per gallon) and convert all other vehicle efficiencies (e.g., electric) to that one standard (e.g., so many miles per kW-Hr equals so many miles per gallon).

If a company wants to only build and sell cars that get ONE mile per gallon and people want to buy it then they pay a hefty tax to do so. That is the buyer's choice. They are using up a resource and poluting at one mile per gallon. They can to pay because of that choice. However there is no one telling the car manufacturer that they can't produce that car.

If the buyer wants to buy a car that gets 75 MPG then they can get a rebate/incentive. They use less and polute less. No one is tellig the car manufacturer that they must produce these cars. If people want to buy them then manufacturers will build them.

In between there could be a band (could be as wide as 15 - 45 MPG) would have no additional taxes or incentives.

Now... if an individual state wants to have a different band (say make the zero tax or incentive band go from 25 to 55 MPG) then they could do that ON TOP OF the federal set of taxes and incentives. The state band (and taxes & incentives) would be 100% independent of what the Feds do.

Thus if you're in a very restrictive state and buy a vehicle that gets 10 MPG you pay additional taxes to both the Feds and the state. If you buy a vehicle that gets 20 MPG there is no tax or incentive from the Feds but there is a tax from the state. If you buy a vehicle that gets 50 MPG there would be an incentive from the Feds but none from the state. Buy a vehicle that get 65 MPG and you'd get an incentive from both the Feds and the State.




By Philippine Mango on 6/2/2011 3:42:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If a company wants to only build and sell cars that get ONE mile per gallon and people want to buy it then they pay a hefty tax to do so. That is the buyer's choice. They are using up a resource and poluting at one mile per gallon. They can to pay because of that choice. However there is no one telling the car manufacturer that they can't produce that car.

That's how the current CAFE standards work you artard.. These federal fuel economy standards do not prevent any auto manufacturer from producing a vehicle that gets fuel economy worse than a certain figure.. all it does is "tax" them for every .1mpg under the designated figure they go. The more you go under the figure, the more you pay.. And then on top of that, we have the gas guzzler tax which is a penalty assessed on top of any CAFE penalties the company may or may not be assessed. If this wasn't true, why is it you can still buy a CAR rated at 14mpg today? (Cadillac CTS-V with the 6.2L engine and supercharger) or a Bentley (8mpg) or a Ferrari Scaglietti (11mpg)? Automakers obviously don't like CAFE standards because it forces them to make fuel efficient vehicles. If the fleet of vehicles they have gets below the designated figure, they get penalized and in a market that has very small margins, any cost increase is a big penalty to them which is why they do what they can to avoid them..(At least all the big manufacturers try to)


It's complete ignorance
By Beenthere on 6/1/2011 12:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
It's complete ignorance to have state mandated fuel economy or emission standards in this day and age. It raises the cost to develop cars (and fuel), and consumers pay for the political grandstanding.

Ethanol has always been a lie and again consumers pay for this foolishness while a few in the corn belt reap huge profits. It's complete insanity.

Ford more than likely wants to end their flex-fuel development to push EVs. Unfortunately EVs only make sense for city dwellers. Hybrids are the most practical for eveyone else.

It's worth noting that our politicians are destroying America day-by-day.




I'm confused
By sleepeeg3 on 6/1/2011 1:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
So the federal government can regulate emission standards and the states can also. Yet the federal government can regulate illegal immigration, but the states are not allowed? How does that work?

Isn't there something in the Constitution about the powers not delegated to the Federal government being reserved for the states/people? Sounds familiar...




Ethanol Joke Special
By Raiders12 on 6/1/2011 1:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with him 100% on picking one technology and quit favoring and subsidizing the least efficient. Its proven Ethanol burns 30% less efficient than gasoline, and all its done is make some farmers rich, and food prices going up.

Biodiesel from Algae would be a good start.




By Hafgrim on 6/1/2011 2:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its not so complicated for you Ford.... Add the Plug-in Ford Focus Battery Electric QUICKLY to your line up or face the consequences. Better hurry Ford, no more stalling anymore...

Ford Focus ELECTRIC or bust!!...




The real reason
By Pessimism on 6/2/2011 9:30:56 AM , Rating: 2
The real reason he wants one CAFE standard is to cut costs. It is already costing automakers a lot of money to improve efficiency on their vehicles, and building region specific vehicles to comply with varying emissions standards by state increases cost even more. The consumer is unwilling to swallow this cost. Most people would rather drive 50mpg early 90s civic hatchback egg cars that would kill them instantly in a collision to save a few dollars.




perhaps off topic
By senbassador on 6/2/2011 8:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if this is off topic, and maybe even a dumb question, but what about people that reside in one state, and then take a road trip. What happens when I have to cross a state that has a higher standard than the one I am in and my car doesn't meet that standard. Do I have to drive around that state, and ironically use even more fuel? I know that states honor each others driver's licenses, even though they might not have the same standard to pass the exam / keep your licenses, but would they honor one another's MPG certifications.




Ethanol is a joke.
By overlandpark4me on 6/2/2011 8:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the stupid subsidies.You don't raid your own food supply for fuel. Dairy is going up mainly because of this.
You want to make it without pissing me off at the grocery store, go ahead. It burns worse than gas, and is harder on an engine than gas. "Winner".




States rights?
By gamerk2 on 6/1/2011 2:33:04 PM , Rating: 1
So...the party of "states rights" again turns to Federal regulation when it means business can save a pretty penny?




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