Republican House Panel Blocks EPA's Plans to Force E15 on Americans
February 8, 2012 10:17 AM
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(Source: Center for Environment and Commerce)
Vote is cheered by environmentalists, jeered by corn coalition
Don't like the price of your shopping cart at The Kroger Comp. (
)? Blame corn ethanol.
I. Corn Ethanol is Rolled Back
That's what a government sponsored study
[PDF]. The 2008 study found corn ethanol demand was responsible for jacking up food prices on some corn heavy items an estimated 20 percent or more. What's more, automakers say that the use of higher ethanol blends will
shorten the life of engines
, causing hundreds of millions in warranty claims. And several studies have even indicated that ethanol
increases atmospheric carbon emissions
, when one of the key goals of alternative fuels is to go "carbon neutral".
Yet the alternative fuel's proponents claim that it’s tantamount to defending the nation. They point to instability in top U.S. oil supplying regions like the Middle East and Venezuela, and hoist corn ethanol as the U.S. sole alternative to trade with these dangerous parties. They also say that ethanol is boosting a core sector of the U.S. economy -- the farming industry.
But as public support for the fuel wanes, for better or worse it appears the critics are winning. A key vote (
; PDF) in the House has silence a bid by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
put more ethanol at the pump
-- for now.
The federal handouts are finally ending for corn ethanol. [Image Source: AP]
The recent rollbacks began with a back and forth game of political theater; the House and Senate finally killed the multi-billion dollar ethanol subsidy [
]. That left only the EPA's fuel-blending mandates, which have promoted ethanol by mandating that gasoline at the pump be blended with a certain level of ethanol.
to roll out E15 this year, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. This is the highest ethanol blend that has ever been pushed out on the mass market. Today most of the fuel sold in the U.S. is E10 -- a lower ethanol blend of 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gas. The EPA claims that it knows more about cars that the companies that designs them, insisting that the automakers don't know what they're talking about and the high-ethanol blend
would be harmless to engines
II. House Vote Derails E15
But the House Science Committee on Wed. passed a proposal by
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
(R-Wisc.) to defund the EPA's push for E15, leaving it essentially dead.
The resolution was supported by(19: 0 Dem., 19 Repub.):
Rep. Ralph Hall
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Lamar Smith
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett
Rep. Frank Lucas
Rep. Randy Neugebauer
Rep. Michael McCaul, Sr.
Rep. Paul Broun, M.D.
Rep. Sandy Adams
Rep. Ben Quayle
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann
Rep. Scott Rigell
Rep. Mo Brooks
Rep. Andy Harris, M.D.
Rep. Randy Hultrgren
Rep. Chip Cravaack
Rep. Larry Bucshon
Rep. Dan Benishek
And opposed by (7: 6 Dem., 1 Repub.):
Rep. Sam Johnson
Rep. Jerry Costello
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. Marcia Fudge
Rep. Ben Luján
Rep. Hansen Clarke
While the bill shoots down the E15 blending, it does leave the door open to ongoing research by the
National Academy of Sciences
. It orders evaluating ethanol's benefits versus risks as a priority for the government research funder.
III. Passage Earns Praise, Condemnation
Rep. Sensenbrenner cheers the passage,
I am pleased that the Committee voted today to put science before politics. When it comes to a decision of this magnitude that would impact every American who owns a car, boat, or lawnmower, we must base our decisions on sound science, not political expediency. The Administration has fast tracked E15 without considering that increasing the percentage of ethanol in our gasoline will cause premature engine failure, lower fuel efficiency, and void vehicle warranties. In small engines, E15 is downright dangerous and the EPA has no credible plan to stop mis-fueling. If ethanol is going to be the ‘fuel of the future,’ then there should be no problem conducting independent, comprehensive scientific analysis of its effect on American drivers.
The bill earned the Republicans praise from an unlikely ally -- environmentalists. The group
Friends of the Earth
opposed the bill, which it saw as pushing a dirty fuel. The group, which has referred to corn ethanol as a "con" in past press releases, wrote a
letter of support
[PDF] for the resolution to defund E15 and bump funding for E15 impact research.
Tom Buis, CEO of corn ethanol producer coalition
blasted the bill
, though, stating:
This is a waste of time and a waste of taxpayer dollars. No fuel blend has been tested as thoroughly as E15. No fuel blend has undergone the level of scrutiny E15 has – and passed the tests like E15 did. They’ve been looking at E15 for more than three years. Now Rep. Sensenbrenner wants to move the goal posts again – a move that would only add more red tape and regulation. This would do nothing to help the American consumer, but only continues our reliance on the OPEC monopoly.
Domestic ethanol creates American jobs. Foreign oil drains American money out of our economy – and puts it to work in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Caracas. We want jobs in American cities. Only American industries – like U.S. ethanol – will create those jobs. Foreign oil costs American families more money at the pump, hurting the consumers. Let’s not create more hurdles and regulation that prevent those jobs from being created.
Ethanol producers say the fuel creates "green" jobs, and that the new resolution hurts Americans. [Image Source: RFA]
Growth Energy claims that past studies indicating higher net life cycle carbon emissions were flawed. It claims that the E15 enforcement would have created 136,000 jobs and cut carbon emissions by 8 million metric tons. The group says the resolution adds "red tape", a slightly ironic phrasing, given that the resolution was a move to strike a piece of government regulation.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
2/8/2012 11:14:38 AM
Agreed, with a preference to Biodiesel and natural gas.
"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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