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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 xyzCoder on 6/17/2011 8:28:24 PM , Rating: 3
People always seem to forget that diesel is a type of hydrocarbon that simply has more energy in it than gasoline (let alone the ethanol mix we current run off of).

The other HUGE factor is the size of the vehicle. I don't doubt that the cars with 80+ MPG are quite a bit smaller/lighter than Americans are willing to buy.

As well, one mustn't forget air quality controls, which frankly are lower in Europe, to a noticeable degree if you consider the air quality in their cities, IMO. The extra tight emissions regulations we have in the US cost us in yet more MPG.

So, although I agree that our hybrids are maybe absurd, I don't think diesel is the answer. Personally, I see biofuel from algae as the best candidate.

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/17/2011 11:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Your link somewhat contradicts you, while you are making a claim based on volume we don't necessarily care about that, gas is higher based on weight though they are very close.

Historically it is correct that americans don't pick the smallest lightest cars to get highest fuel economy, even though they are usually, substantially cheaper too which is one of the few reasons any of them sold at all in the US.

RE: Duh
By Solandri on 6/18/2011 6:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
Your link somewhat contradicts you, while you are making a claim based on volume we don't necessarily care about that, gas is higher based on weight though they are very close.

Problem is people are comparing gasoline MPG to diesel MPG as if they're equivalent. MPG = miles per gallon - i.e. volume. If we measured mileage based on miles per pound, then you'd be right.

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/25/2011 8:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
^ True, we measure based on MPG, BUT, when it comes to fuel economy they would tend to consider the weight tradeoff because that effects the achieved MPG.

Thus, we don't really care about energy density per gallon, if cars shifted to diesel then the mandates and costs per mile would just shift to take it into account. What supposed "green" minded people and the government are trying to do, is no matter how good the MPG is, try to push people to make it better.

It's arbitrary... even if today we had only 20MPG fleet average, they'd still try to push just beyond what the industry was expected to achieve without that push. MPG doesn't matter, true efficiency and cost does.

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