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Verleger said that oil prices would be $15 to $40 a barrel higher than they are today without ethanol added in

A new analysis shows that American consumers are saving anywhere from millions to even trillions of dollars annually at the pump thanks to ethanol blends.
According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) -- which presented information from former Ford and Carter administration energy advisor Philip Verleger -- American consumers are paying between 50 cents and $1.50 per gallon less for gasoline due to the addition of ethanol blends (such as E15, which is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline). 

The analysis further said that consumers are saving from $700 billion to about $2.6 trillion annually on gas because of ethanol. 

Verleger said that oil prices would be $15 to $40 a barrel higher than they are today without ethanol added in. 
“Had Congress not raised the renewable fuels requirement, commercial crude oil inventories at the end of August would have dropped to 5.2 million barrels, a level two hundred million barrels lower than at any time since 1990,” said Verleger. “The lower stocks would almost certainly have pushed prices higher. Crude oil today might easily sell at prices as high as or higher than in 2008. Preliminary econometric tests suggest the price at the end of August would have been $150 per barrel.” 

AAA said the national average is about $3.50 a gallon and the cost per barrel is around $100-$110.

E15 in particular has been a hot topic this year. In August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) froze a planned bump in ethanol levels that was set for next year. The freeze came after state efforts to ban E15, and House debates on whether to cut the blending requirements entirely.

In 2012, only 4.55 billion bushels of corn was used to produce ethanol, which was down from 5 billion bushels in 2011.  About 13.33 billion gallons of ethanol was produced last year, missing the goal of 15.2 billion gallons.

Ethanol opponents say the use of ethanol blends takes away from the nation's corn crops, and livestock farmers saw the cost of feed inflated by having to compete with ethanol. In addition, environmentalists say corn ethanol produces more emissions over its life cycle than oil.

Furthermore, ethanol can damage many old vehicles (and even some new) on American's roads because parts in the engines made of rubber, plastic, metal, and other materials aren't made for high ethanol blends. 

Later in August of this year, big oil firms filed a request to cut the ethanol target for 2014. The EPA announced that refiners must blend in 18.15 billion gallons during 2014 under The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007's (EISA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) terms. The oil industry, however, wants that target to be slashed 3.35 billion gallons to a total of 14.8 billion gallons. 

Source: Ethanol Producer

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RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By StormyKnight on 9/25/2013 11:20:31 PM , Rating: 3
Yes. I'm on my 4th tank of ethanol free gasoline in my '13 Malibu. Where I was getting anywhere from 29-31mpg combined before, I've got solid combined fuel economy of 35mpg, 34.7mpg and 35.9mpg the last three tank fulls. Now to be clear, 80%-85% of my driving is highway and I normally drive 55mph-60mph. After this last fill, I'm going to crunch some numbers. The fuel I'm using is midgrade 90 octane from Marathon. The price has not fluctuated like the regular unleaded brands and stays at $4.499/gl.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By freedom4556 on 9/26/2013 3:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote: the regular unleaded brands and stays at $4.499/gl.
Yikes. I just paid $3.40 / gal in the midsouth for premium.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By StormyKnight on 9/26/2013 11:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol free premium?

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By FITCamaro on 9/26/2013 8:51:18 AM , Rating: 2
Before I sold my Chevy Cruze Eco I tried a tank of ethanol free premium (always ran premium in it) and saw 0 mileage difference. The weather was largely the same between the two tankfuls so it wasn't like one I was running the AC a lot and the other not. If anything I tried to conserve fuel more when running the ethanol free gas.

I'm not saying this is the case with all vehicles though.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By Monkey's Uncle on 9/26/2013 9:44:12 AM , Rating: 2
Did you normally use the 10% ethanol stuff in it?

I doubt there would be a mileage difference with that as well. E85 though has 85% ethanol which you need to run a little richer (don't have the exact ratios needed offhand, but the ECU handles the ratios automagically). You won't get as much mileage out of E85.

Could the Cruze Eco handle E85?

Kinda curious though: Why run premium on your Cruze? It certainly doesn't need the octane and unless you are getting the ethanol-free stuff you really aren't getting away from ethanol.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By Brandon Hill on 9/26/2013 10:43:32 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you put premium in a Cruze Eco? It takes regular unleaded and putting anything above spec is a waste of money.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By Mint on 9/27/2013 9:20:39 AM , Rating: 2
All these people claiming 10% mileage loss either don't know how to run a controlled experiment or are fudging their numbers.

The only way you can get 10% reduced MPG is if the ethanol has ZERO energy. Unless your engine is running really rich for no reason, there's no reason for this to happen.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By rountad on 9/27/2013 9:54:16 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's the only way.

I'm not saying that their numbers are accurate, but consider a case where one of the combustion properties had to be changed across the board to deal with the ethanol additive.

E.g. running a 12:1 Air Fuel ratio instead of a 14:1 ratio

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By Mint on 9/28/2013 2:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
That why I said, "unless your engine is running really rich for no reason". 12:1 is rich.

RE: Doesn't Make Sense.
By splenet on 9/28/2013 5:53:54 PM , Rating: 2
You see, I'm not sure that you have understood the word rich. The border between rich and weak is stoichiometric, and, excepting faults, petrol engines will be running at stoichiometric for a lot of the time (there are conditions like deccel fuel cut-off where this doesn't apply, but that isn't relevant to the point, here).

But stoichiometric isn't a constant ratio, as it depends on the nature of the fuel. In particular, the amount of oxygen in the fuel makes a big difference to the amount of external oxygen you need for complete combustion.

As you are trying to completely burn the fuel, you might re-act 'Well d'oh' to this information that having oxygen inherent in the fuel reduces the need for oxygen from another source, but it is a big factor).

So, the theoretical air requirements, in kg/kg units (basically mass per mass in any consistent mass units) are:
'Regular Gas' 14.8
Premium Gas 14.7
Ethanol 9
Methanol 6.4

(Those regular and premium numbers are for pre-alcohol mandate fuels, although there is probably a little alcohol in that 'premium' fuel. And none of these numbers are exact - the alcohols tend not to be pure, depending on production method, and the 'Gas' numbers are for blends, but none of this makes a difference to the big picture.)

Now, given that 'rich' are 'weak' are relative to that number (or, more exactly, the number for the mixture of hydrocarbons that you are using, which won't be just one hydrocarbon) you can't just say that 12:1 is rich: it would be for fuel without any alcohol, but put a substantial percentage of alcohol (and I do mean substantial) in it, and suddenly it is weak.

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