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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: die corn ethanol diiieeee!!!!!!
By cmdrdredd on 7/8/2011 4:03:48 PM , Rating: 0
oh, and for what it's worth, e15 is nothing. 95% of non-flex-fuel gasoline vehicles can safely run e15 with nothing more substantial than a new fuel pump, a new fuel filter, and perhaps a couple of new o-ring gaskets. it's NOT a big deal.

Lol so you expect me to go out and replace perfectly good and working pumps and all that? THAT IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL YOU RETARD!

RE: die corn ethanol diiieeee!!!!!!
By inperfectdarkness on 7/8/2011 4:37:19 PM , Rating: 1
i can spend ~$100 and have my car's fuel system e85 compatible in less than 1 hour. (fuel pump $75, filter $15, o-rings ~$10).

i repeat, it is NOT a big deal. i know because i've done it to several cars, and helped a few others do it as well. your comment might as well be "she's a witch, burn her!" for all the lack of intelligence it demonstrates.

RE: die corn ethanol diiieeee!!!!!!
By QuimaxW on 7/8/2011 5:42:46 PM , Rating: 4
This is a big deal in my car.

Fuel pump = $80 (that's the cheap one, others go up to $150+)
Fuel filter = $10
O-Rings = $5
Ok...less than $100 in parts, if I buy them myself. This is easily $200 if my mechanic orders them.

Now to the labor:
Fuel pump install...4 hours. IF everything actually comes off and nothing is rusted on, ect. The entire fuel tank needs to be dropped to do this.
Fuel filter...1 hour, it's buried somewhere deep in the engine bay. Still assuming everything actually comes apart as it should.
O-Rings...yea, that's another 3-4 hours, they are under the intake manifold. Oh yea, the injectors often break when they are pulled and need to be cut out the hard way.

Totals @ $85/hour my mechanic charges:
Parts: $100 (we'll assume I bought my own)
Labor: $680 (we'll assume it only took 8 hours)
Total: $780 + tax and shop charges, ect.

That's about 80% of my car's resale value, IF everything goes properly. Oh yea, the car works FINE right now and you're telling me it's not a big deal to spend nearly $1000 dollars on it?

By inperfectdarkness on 7/9/2011 8:18:57 AM , Rating: 1
if that's how much your car is worth now, you won't be driving it in 5 years anyways.

By animekenji on 7/9/2011 7:50:44 PM , Rating: 2
You also have to reprogram the computer because a computer programmed to burn pure gasoline will not automatically adjust to E85, so you're the one who looks like an idiot now. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I work in Ford parts and the part numbers of the computers for Flex fuel vehicles is not the same as for ordinary gasoline powered vehicles and the two are not interchangeable.

RE: die corn ethanol diiieeee!!!!!!
By chick0n on 7/10/2011 7:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you miss the point.

Why would I want to use something that's known to be garbage, produce less energy, higher emission and most important is, it cost more ?

Fuel Pump/Filter/Gasket is not the only issue, you forgot the fuel delivery pipe, Fuel injectors, Rack, and most important, the engine itself. Look at Brazil, their cars are "designed for Ethanol" right? but their cars breaks every 3 years. what problem huh ?

Renewable Energy is good but obvious Ethanol is not the answer. The only reason it's still here because the Corn lobby is bribing people left and right, but now the government is really out of money Let's just hope this Garbage crap die ASAP.

EPA can go suck it, keep taking money from lobby. Oh yeah.

By iowafarmer on 7/10/2011 9:01:08 PM , Rating: 2
There is a corn checkoff promoted and mandated by the government.

They collect $.0075 per bushel sold. So lets just say on the 2010 12.5 B Bu crop there was less than $120 million collected. It's suggested that most of the money is spent on administration, research, promoting exports and education. Their operations are a matter of public record. I'd really like someone to point out to me why they are unable to at least educate the public about their food supply and the current state of ethanol produced with corn.

lately it has been reported that some ethanol plants are salvaging wheat damaged by unfavorable weather conditions for current production.

Currently all farm ag subsidies are decoupled from production. Subsidies paid to farmers provide no incentive to raise one crop over another. Most farmers I know would rather the public relations subsidy nightmare for farmers would just go away. The subsides are just large enough that it pays a farmer to go to the local FSA office to report his business secrets. The government also supports federal crop insurance to protect insured farmers from crop failures and losses. The USDA reports are public record as is the farm census if you are interested in looking into the information farmers and agribusiness are reporting to the government.

You would thing the farm lobby wouldn't make it so hard for the public to gather current, accurate, information about issues important to farmers and agriculture. How wired seems to have come as close to publishing close to accurate information about the current state of US ethanol production is remarkable:

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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