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39% of all corn produced in the U.S. goes to ethanol production   (Source:
House to vote next

Lawmakers in Washington are working hard to write and pass laws that would have fuel efficiency standards in the U.S. changing drastically in coming years. While some in Washington support the new standards for vehicle efficiency, others oppose the standards. Along with mandating better fuel economy across a carmakers fleet, Washington is also seeing green and renewable fuel alternatives for vehicles.

In the U.S., ethanol has been added into the fuel we run in vehicles for years. Ethanol is as high as 10% in fuels today and some that are against ethanol, which is derived from corn, claim that the biofuel is increasing the price of some food items in America. A report published by the GAO claims that the use of ethanol has driven the cost of some food items up as much as 20%.

With all of Washington in cost cutting mode in an effort to shore up the federal budget lawmakers are looking at everywhere money can be saved. One place that some in the Senate want to save money is by repealing the subsidy on ethanol. The Senate voted Thursday 73-27 to end a $0.45 per gallon tax credit on ethanol-blended gasoline starting on July 1. According to those that support the repeal, the subsidy cost taxpayers $5.6 billion last year.

Growth Energy, and ethanol association, CEO Tom Buis said, "The Senate missed an enormous opportunity to take real action on deficit reduction and energy policy when it failed to put oil subsidies and giveaways to the same test as ethanol."

On the other side of the coin, Kate McMahon coordinator of biofuels campaigns for Friends of the Earth said, "Senators scored a win for the public and for the environment by voting to end this $6 billion giveaway." She continued saying, "[the Senate delivered a message] that the ethanol industry's days of living high off the taxpayers' hog have come to an end."

The effort to end the ethanol subsidy now goes to the House for voting. White House spokesman Jay Carney says that the Obama administration supports a reduction in the ethanol subsidy, but does not support a full repeal. Some claim that 39% of the corn produced in the U.S. is currently going into fuel tanks. With the costs to reach the proposed 62mpg regulations for fuel economy reaching nearly $10,000, some automakers are calling for the removal of ethanol from gasoline. Ethanol is renewable and greener than petroleum fuel, but reduces fuel economy.

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RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/17/2011 6:27:45 PM , Rating: 3
And, as far as I know, those batteries are still made with rare earths -- rare earths we can no longer mine in the US because our businessmen and politicians decided it's "cheaper" to get them from China.

China, now that it controls the entire rare earths market, has already threatened an embargo and, as far as I know, is restricting their export. People say we're still in Afghanistan (and will be for decades or more) because of its untouched cache of rare earths. Perhaps, but what are we supposed to do right now? From what I've read it will still take years to get our mines back in operation here. If it takes that long to reopen existing mines, I imagine it will take quite a bit longer to get anything out of Afghanistan.

So, our politicians decide to cede the rare earths market to a hostile China. Then, as China is beginning to hold us hostage over rare earths, the US subsidizes hybrids (and now all-electric cars which are even more dependent upon batteries). The tax break for buying diesels is gone, and we still don't have any of the most efficient diesels in our market, including vehicles made by Ford and GM.

Something smells quite rotten to me. Now that I just read about all the Chinese junk parts the military has been buying I am convinced that our political-business nexus is so corrupt that the US is not far from fully becoming merely a shell game for "globalized", not national, interests. Even our military is buying Chinese junk parts.

Maybe some of these newer all-electrics have transitioned away from reliance upon rare earths for their batteries, but I haven't heard much about that if that's the case.

What I'd like is a small very efficient well-made American-made clean diesel car that has no Chinese parts in it at all. And, our fuel standard needs to improve. 40 cetane is not ideal, and the lubricity standard of 520 contradicts even engine manufacturers' 460 max standard.

RE: Duh
By FishTankX on 6/20/2011 10:09:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'd just like to add that rare earths aren't generally used in battery manufacture, they're used in the production of the electric motors linked to the batteries.

RE: Duh
By jabber on 6/20/2011 12:41:56 PM , Rating: 2

Would you buy a 5 year old Prius or a VW Golf?

Would you buy a 10 year old Prius or a VW Golf?

What is the deal re. second hand values of electric cars that need new batteries every few years?

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/21/2011 12:00:19 AM , Rating: 2
Would you buy a xx year old Prius or a VW Golf?

Seriously? You're not really familiar with the reliability record of VWs that circulate in the US, are you?

Years wouldn't concern me on either Prius, unless it's at the rust-through stage. Only miles are a concern. And with that atmosphere of fear I suspect they might sell for decent prices.

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