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Industry associations lost their last appeal

The Obama administration has been pushing to reduce the amount of oil that we consume within the United States. This has resulted in a big push to increase the use of alternative fuels and rules forcing automakers to become more fuel-efficient. The alternative fuel push lead to the EPA’s decision to approve a gasoline blend that uses more ethanol for 2001 model year vehicles and newer.

However, many automotive manufacturer associations continue to assert that increasing the percentage of ethanol in fuel could harm some vehicles. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the Outdoor Equipment Institute, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association jointly filed a petition this week seeking the Supreme Court to overturn EPA's plans.
 
These associations all lost a previous appeal when the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that none of those trade associations or parties had the legal standing to challenge the EPA's approval of E15 fuel.

These groups are hoping that the Supreme Court might overturn the lower court's ruling.

"It is not in the longer-term interest of consumers, the government, and all parties involved to discover, after the fact, that equipment or performance problems are occurring because a new fuel was rushed into the national marketplace,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The EPA first cleared the way to bring E15 fuel to gas stations around the country in June of 2012. Current gasoline blends available at stations around the country can have up to 10% ethanol.

"Today, the last significant federal hurdle has been cleared to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15)," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in June of 2012. "This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy and today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advances that goal."

Some states are also up in arms over the increased ethanol proposal. The state of Maine has pledged to ban the sale of E15 fuel within the state if at least two other New England states agree to ban the fuel as well.

Source: Detroit News



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By Mint on 3/27/2013 10:46:18 AM , Rating: 1
E15 is NOT a mandate.

It is an approval to give consumers an option to use E15. We're not going to have every pump put out only E15; in fact, I bet that it will only find limited application for a long time.

There is a ethanol mandate since 2007 as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard, but this filing isn't about the mandate. It's about shutting down the option of E15.

Shane, I appreciate that your article body is more truthful than Jason's on this subject, but the title is still misleading.




By DanNeely on 3/27/2013 11:01:17 AM , Rating: 5
E10 wasn't obligatory either; but the only way for the fuel refiners to reach national must use XXX ethanol was to replace almost all the non-ethanol gas with the ethanolated version. The only gas station in my area that was a holdout stopped advertising ethanol free gas on its sign about 2 years ago.


By Mint on 3/27/2013 11:14:05 AM , Rating: 2
I understand that, but this challenge to the Supreme Court has nothing to do with the RFS mandate. We've actually pretty much reached the long term RFS target of corn based ethanol anyway.

Only if cellulosic ethanol pans out will refiners be forcing E15/E85 on people, but it looks like it won't and thus the EPA keeps revising those targets down.


By Argon18 on 3/27/2013 6:01:38 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. It's insulting that this gov't official would claim ethanol gives consumers "a real choice" at the pump. There is no choice at the pump today, nor will there be in the future. I'd love to have the option to buy pure gas with zero ethanol, but I don't have that option. Ethanol is a wasteful expensive Big Corn scam that is hugely harmful to the environment. Corn requires a massive amount of pesticides, and fertilizers, far more than most other crops, and this has been poisoning our ground water, our lakes, and our rivers and streams for a long time now. Using Corn for fuel is idiotic.


By swhibble on 3/28/2013 11:10:07 AM , Rating: 2
You may have the option...

If you're anywhere near the coast, stop by a marina sometime. They have pure petrol you can fill your car up with.


By JediJeb on 3/28/2013 7:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
The question is what do you consider "pure" gasoline?

Gasoline with no additives was already a problem in engines back in the 1920s when tetraethyllead was first introduced. This was used to raise the octane enough to allow increases in compression ratio to give better power and economy. When it was phased out alcohol and Methyl-tertbutylether(MTBE) was introduced. MTBE has now been banned in most places because it contaminates ground water supplies so the shift was made to Methanol and Ethanol.

I do not promote forcing E15 into production, but to complain that you must have no ethanol, then what will we use for the anti-knock additive? Are we ready to go back to low compression engines just to stop using ethanol, or if we change what is added will it be even worse for the environment?


By Noya on 3/29/2013 6:06:59 AM , Rating: 3
quote:

The question is what do you consider "pure" gasoline?

I do not promote forcing E15 into production, but to complain that you must have no ethanol, then what will we use for the anti-knock additive? Are we ready to go back to low compression engines just to stop using ethanol, or if we change what is added will it be even worse for the environment?


You're grossly misinformed on fuel.

Back in the day, on the West Coast we had 87, 89 and 91 octane. It's now watered down with ethanol (E10) that can really vary up to about 15%. At E15, it will no doubt vary up to 20%.

In EU, Au, Jp they have 95 (and even 98) octane available (using the same Ron/Mon formula) with no ethanol added.

This is basically an "invisible" tax on us as it lowers mileage and also increases the price of everything else that corn goes into (processed "food" and any low-to-mid grade dairy and meats). If they're still getting subsidies, it's basically like we're getting taxed three times more on E10/E15 fuel (lower MPG, subsidy, food prices) vs. undiluted fuel.


By Dorkyman on 3/27/2013 11:04:56 AM , Rating: 4
It is an "option" that will soon be forced down out throats due to the fed's forcing refiners to buy up increasing quantities of ethanol.

I want a rollback so that even a 10% mix is an option, not a requirement. Autos running pure gasoline get MUCH better fuel economy, and there's another benefit--corn otherwise slated to go into fuel can be diverted to other uses, such as (horrors!) feeding the world.


By Mint on 3/27/2013 12:06:11 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It is an "option" that will soon be forced down out throats due to the fed's forcing refiners to buy up increasing quantities of ethanol.
First of all, this challenge has nothing to do with that forced quantity. It's only about outlawing E15. Secondly, the targets for corn ethanol barely go up from here on out to 2022. The other targets keep getting revised down.
quote:
Autos running pure gasoline get MUCH better fuel economy
If you call 3.7% "much", okay then.
https://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/fact...
I could care less about some uncontrolled study by some forum poster. Real studies all peg it at 2-5%, and E10 also costs a few percent less (even with corn subsidies gone), so it's a wash. When MTBE was found to be an awful pollutant, we needed another oxygenate anyway.
quote:
corn otherwise slated to go into fuel can be diverted to other uses, such as (horrors!) feeding the world.
No argument from me there, but at this point I think we've opened Pandora's box. Corn prices now effectively have a cost floor tied gas prices, so even if we removed the mandate (which, again, isn't the topic of this article), it's not going to help the starving at all.

It's not a supply limitation, as we've had corn production grow rather than food consumption fall, and the subsidies are now gone as well, so I'd guess that it was inevitable for corn prices to eventually hit this point anyway.


By Dr of crap on 3/28/2013 12:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
Um, sorry but the corn used to make ethanol is feed grade corn and is not used for food. We eat the sweet corn, not feed corn. So yes after the consumption of corn for ethanol is reduced the sweet corn planted could go up, but the corn used for ethanol can't be used to feed anyone. And if you think I'm way off, try some feed grade corn. It tastes very bad. I couldn't eat it!


By superflex on 3/28/2013 1:19:01 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you think beef prices have shot through the roof. Feed corn not being used for feed drives up costs.


By HammerStrike on 3/28/2013 4:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but "sweat" corn is a very small subset of the overall corn crop and is only applicable to actual corn (or corn kernels) that humans consume whole - corn on the cob, or frozen corn from the from the freezer isle.

Vast majority of corn is regular "feed" corn that is either used to feed livestock or converted into food products that go into processed goods - mainly corn starch and high fructose corn syrup.

Diversion of of any corn, regular or "sweat", from the food chain to alternative uses increases the demand for corn, which increases corn prices. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, the market price per bushel of corn has gone from $2 in 2005/6 to about $7 today. Corn is one of the major food crops, and an increase in it's price affects anything that uses corn, which is a majority of the entire food supply.

Even if all the corn used for ethanol had no food value, we would still be diverting arable land that could be used to grow other food stocks, which would shrink the supply of those crops and, by definition, increase the price. Not to mention the environmental impact from all the peticide/herbicides/fungicides, fertilizers, etc we use to produce a substandard, inefficient and unwanted form of energy.


By JediJeb on 3/28/2013 8:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
According to the US Dept of Agriculture, the market price per bushel of corn has gone from $2 in 2005/6 to about $7 today.


What most people never take into consideration is the farmers. Yes there has been a large increase in corn prices in the past decade, but what most never post is that in 1970 the average price per bushel of corn was in the $1-2 range. For 35 years the price of corn never rose, yet the cost of fuel farmers use along with everything else rose quite a bit ($0.50/gallon for diesel versus $3.00). In 1970 a farmer with a few hundred acres could easily support a family of four in an above poverty manner. Now even when a farmer has over a thousand acres the cost of living usually means either he or his wife must work off the farm to supplement their income just to break even and keep their family above the poverty line.

If we revert the price of corn back down to $2 per bushel, either farmers will switch to growing something more profitable or go bankrupt and quit farming. Where will we be if farmers begin to stop farming and work other jobs? I don't see anybody going into farming now days who were not raised on a farm to begin with. If we try to hold food prices low and not allow things like corn to increase in price, should we also force farmers to keep producing while earning less and less just so the non-farm population can continue to have their cheap food? To me that would be turning farmers into state sponsored servants of the people. If that is allowed, why don't we also force auto workers to work for less money just so we can have cheaper cars, or computer programmers to work for less money so we can have cheaper computer software?

Sorry I didn't mean to get so off topic, but I get fired up when people go on about how our food supply is going to fall apart if we don't force all farm ground to be used to produce edible food or that we force farmers to help keep prices down for other people while having to give up their right to actually be profitable and strive to be more than just poor farmers.


By MadMan007 on 3/27/2013 1:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, although 'much' better is a stretch. At least in terms of consumer pricing it's a wash...10% better mileage for 10% higher price. Fewer stops for fuel would be nice I guess and I would still prefer to have the option.

Ethanol in vehicle fuel needs to go away more for the other reason you said...it's just stupid to use food as fuel. Plus we're having this great oil boom in the US, promoting ethanol as 'home grown fuel' to tug on the patriot heartstrings is no longer necessary.

I'm glad this has gone to the Supreme Court though where it's not going to be influenced by lobbying.


By Mint on 3/27/2013 3:17:39 PM , Rating: 2
No matter how well the US oil boom does, every gallon of alternative fuels creates local economic activity in place of imports.

I agree with you that this benefit isn't worth the cost of turning food into a fuel, but unsubsidized ethanol from corn now costs ~$2.50/gallon and we can't reverse history. Demand will remain no matter what. I just hope we can figure out the elusive cellulosic ethanol.


By MadMan007 on 3/28/2013 8:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
We can 'reverse history' when it's an artificial construct that was only recently created.

Regarding the oil boom, maybe you haven't heard the full extent of it, but there are detailed analyst reports of possible energy independence about ten years from now. That would mean no imports.


By Reclaimer77 on 3/27/2013 5:57:32 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah E10 was "optional" too. When's the last time you saw a gas station that didn't have that garbage? I can't find any in my area without it!

quote:
We're not going to have every pump put out only E15; in fact


That's what you people said about E10!!!


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