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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. (KG)?  Blame corn ethanol.

I. Corn Ethanol is Rolled Back

That's what a government sponsored study says [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 (H.R. 3199; PDF) in the House has silence a bid by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to put more ethanol at the pump -- for now.

Corn ethanol handouts
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 [1][2][3].  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.

The EPA hoped 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 (R-Tex.) [contact]           Rep. James Sensenbrenner [contact]
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) [contact]       Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) [contact]
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Mary.) [contact]    Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) [contact]
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) [contact] Rep. Michael McCaul, Sr. (R-Tex.) [contact]
Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-Geor.) [contact]   Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Flor.) [contact]
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) [contact]         Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) [contact]
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virg.) [contact]         Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alab.) [contact]
Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Mary.) [contact]    Rep. Randy Hultrgren (Ill.) [contact]
Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) [contact]   Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) [contact]
Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) [contact]

And opposed by (7: 6 Dem., 1 Repub.):
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) [contact]
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) [contact]
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) [contact]
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Mary.) [contact]
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) [contact]
Rep. Ben Luján (D-N.M.) [contact]
Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) [contact]

[source -- votes]

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, stating:

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 Growth Energy, 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 jobs
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.

Sources: U.S. House, EPA, Growth Energy



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RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 4:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Secular values under attack"? First off, secular is the opposite of "values".


WTF. For this statement to be true. Values must be the same or indistinguishable from religious activities or activities directly inspired by religion.

But the truth is quite the opposite. Many of the values you yourself hold dear are created/established by a mainly secular document (the Constitution).

quote:
The greatest modern Democrat of our time was a Roman Catholic. I mean, come on. Did it hurt America one bit?


Potentially not. But to think that all "religious" people have the same level of observation of religion is flawed assumption in that statement.

Rick Santorum is on record saying he views George Bush as the "First Catholic President of the United States" and that he considers a distinction between "private religious conviction and public responsibility" of public elected officials as causing "much harm in America"

I think that's an indication that Santorum at least would bring significantly more acknowledged religious thought process into governing that JFK.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 5:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But the truth is quite the opposite. Many of the values you yourself hold dear are created/established by a mainly secular document (the Constitution).


Yes and the Constitution makes it pretty clear what a President can and can't do. Maybe if we got back to that, we wouldn't have to worry about someone's religious beliefs.

I just don't buy all the fear mongering from the atheist's that it's some terrible thing if a President has religious beliefs. Last time I checked, this was America. And you have a right to religion.

I've seen many many President's come and go, and not once can I recall a time where their religious beliefs impacted anything. Certainly not me personally. But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.

Prejudice and bigotry takes all forms.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 5:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I've seen many many President's come and go, and not once can I recall a time where their religious beliefs impacted anything. Certainly not me personally. But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.


Come now, this is sheer driven. One needs to look no further than President GW Bush to see a case where his religious views impacted governing choices. He vetoed several bills related to Stem Cell Research despite clear majorities for approval in both the public and both houses of Congress.

quote:
Prejudice and bigotry takes all forms.


Agreed.

quote:
But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.


Maybe if nearly every Republican candidate didn't spend so much time courting the religious vote, there wouldn't be the scare tactic.

In the case of Santorum, he's pretty much said he intends to mix religion and politics on numerous occasions, so it seems well justified.

For Ginrich, "he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular."


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
The Government can't ban gay couples from marrying according to the constitution, but that's now how it is in practice isn't it? This is just one of the MANY dangers of electing a religious president...They can always amend the constitution according to their own beliefs.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 6:11:19 PM , Rating: 3
LOL A President cannot Amend the Constitution. He can't even propose an Amendment. At no point does the President have a role in the formal Amendment process.

See this is the kind of radical fear-mongering I'm talking about. There is NO "danger" of something like that happening.

You people sound no better than the "birthers" or those who said Obama was going to bring Islam to the White House. Can't you see that?


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 6:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They can always amend the constitution according to their own beliefs.


No. Read.

The Constitution amendments require ratification by 3/4 of existing states. This is of course after 2/3 of both Houses of Reps vote to propose the amendment.


RE: ethanol
By Spuke on 2/8/2012 5:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry Rec, but I'd rather have Obama than a bible thumper and Santorum is the closest candidate to that. Santorum will NOT get my vote. I'm open on Gingrich and Romney.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 5:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
Well of course he won't because he's not going to get nominated lol. I think that's pretty much a no-brainer at this point.

I'm not saying vote for Santorum. I'm not even saying I like him. He articulates Conservatism great, maybe the best of all three. Then he says things in other areas that are ill advised. Argh, this is why I hate when religion comes up on the Internet. People get SO freaked out.

Frankly I think the next President, hopefully, is going to have his hands full undoing all of Obama's crap. There just isn't going to be time for anything else anyway.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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