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The EPA claims that automakers are lying, and that E15 is perfectly safe for engines.  (Source: Hemmings Blog)

The EPA is trying to sneak E15 -- a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gas -- into the pump.  (Source: MPR News)

Corn ethanol gives worse gas mileage and, according to some studies, more air pollution than gasoline. It also raises food prices.  (Source: Dave Reede)
EPA: What could go wrong?

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, testifying to Congress on Wednesday implied that automakers like Ford Motor Company (F) and Toyota Motor Company (TYO:7203) were lying when they said higher ethanol blends could corrode seals, fuel lines, and engine components, voiding warranties.

I. EPA -- We Know Better About These Cars Than the People Who Built Them

The EPA is convinced that it knows about the risks better than the automakers who built and tested the cars.

At issue is the question of whether the EPA can authorize E15 fuel -- a 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline -- mix to be sold at pumps, with special stickers to warn customers.  E10 fuel, which contains a smaller 10 percent fraction of ethanol, is currently mandated by many states.  Approving E15 would clear the way for states to possibly mandate it as the exclusive fuel.

Margo Oge, director of the agency's Office of Transportation and Air Quality office, claims that her researchers conducted "extensive" tests using E15, which showed, "no unusual damage was found compared to control vehicles tested with normal gasoline."

Thus far General Motors Comp. (GM), who produces E85 (85 percent ethanol) capable FlexFuel vehicles, has been the only automaker to voice enthusiasm about the proposal.  The rest of the major U.S. and foreign automakers have complained that E15 could destroy engines in cars produced in 2001 or later.

Essentially, both sides are calling the others a liar in the dispute.

II. Ethanol Opposition is Solidifying

There are signs that opposition to the proposal is mounting in Congress.  Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) blasted the measure, stating it wasn't a "science-based decision".

Overall, while green technologies like cellulosic ethanol seem promising, the case for the U.S.'s current ethanol supply -- corn ethanol -- isn't particularly compelling.  Corn ethanol has been shown to raise food prices and delivers worse gas mileage (ethanol exclusive engines can deliver better mileage, but mixed engines deliver worse performance when burning ethanol).  

Some studies have also shown that it produces more polluting gases, such as nitrogen and sulfur-containing compounds, than gasoline over its life cycle, thus deteriorating air quality.  Similarly, it produces more carbon emissions than gasoline.

Still, farming states have managed to push corn ethanol onto the nation.  The move paid off for a lucky few -- corn farmers grew wealthy the recipient of billions of dollars in subsidies and the politicians they donated to were reelected. 

However, the good times for corn ethanol proponents appear to be coming to an end in the U.S.  Just weeks ago the U.S. Congress repealed the $5.6B USD in incentives for corn ethanol.

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RE: They're both Wrong
By SPOOFE on 7/8/2011 2:04:03 PM , Rating: 2
You guys upset about the food thing need to chill out.

Why? It was a lie. It was sold as eco-friendly, when it's actually worse for the environment than not doing it at all.

[quote]While Corn ethanol is horrible idea, Hunger is in no way tied to ethanol production.[/quote]
It's perceived to be, and that's enough to kick off revolutions. If nothing else, the biggest country in the world bragging about wasting food on an even more wasteful fuel would piss off anybody that goes to bed with a grumbling stomach.

RE: They're both Wrong
By Targon on 7/8/2011 3:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see how it is the responsibility of ANY nation to feed the people of another nation. If a country can't satisfy the needs of its own people, then it deserves to fail. The biggest problem is that the US Government is BROKE, and is running at a deficit, with a large debt, so why should the government be spending ANY money on things that don't have a long-term benefit to the people of this country?

This means, if another country has a natural disaster, aid should come from individuals, not the government. If another country needs our help with a war, that country SHOULD pay us for expenses in some way, shape, or form, including paying us in oil and other natural resources. This attitude of "save the world" is why there is so much starvation in the first place, because starving people have a declining population, not an increasing population. Smaller populations take less resources to feed.

Now, those who are wealthy and want to help, then fine, they can help, but expecting the government to go even further into debt to save other countries without asking for payment is idiotic.

RE: They're both Wrong
By shabodah on 7/8/2011 4:22:18 PM , Rating: 2
It has been proven that corn ethanol is not environmentally friendly. However, that only makes logical sense, as growing corn itself, it not environmentally friendly. It is one of the worst crops a farmer could grow.

It really seems to me that someone in the government and oil industry wanted to prove ethanol as a failure, so everyone would stick with oil. There is NO BETTER example of how NOT TO DO ethanol than with CORN.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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