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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 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.

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