Is the Ethanol Mandate Dead?

There's a glimmer of hope that America's bio-fuel boondoggle may soon come to an end?

While on the face of it the bio-fuel mandate may have made sense back when we imported a large percentage of our petroleum from nations that weren't exactly our friends, leaving us open to petro-extortion, the conditions have changed and we now know that bio-fuel, specifically ethanol, is a loser on many fronts.

To this point, US farmers have been diverting more and more of their corn crops towards ethanol refineries to satisfy EPA mandates stemming from the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard. In 2006, before that standard went into place, just 23 percent of America’s corn crop went towards producing ethanol. That number rose to 43 percent last year.

Corn ethanol fails every test a biofuel could hope to pass. It doesn’t lower emissions; it raises them. It also raises the global price of corn, starving the world's poor and possibly inciting riots. But EPA mandates are propping up this boondoggle. Producers are scrambling to snatch up biofuel credits to meet the federally-mandated quota this year because neither supply nor demand will be sufficient to produce the more than 13 billion barrels of ethanol required.

The EPA is also pushing to raise the ethanol content in gasoline to 15%, but both auto manufacturers and refiners are pushing back, each for different reasons. Ethanol already causes all kinds of problems in vehicles with 10% blends. Those problems will get worse if the content is boosted. The refiners have no love of ethanol either because of many of the same problems, though their biggest gripe is that it raises the cost of fuel. So why is the EPA pushing for even more ethanol in gasoline?

Because gasoline demand has fallen and there are numerous tank farms filled with ethanol they can't sell. It has nothing to do with 'saving the environment' or 'weaning us off foreign oil'. As to the latter excuse, we now import most of our foreign oil from one of three countries – Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela. Very little if any comes from the Middle East or Africa. And with the oil boom in the US it is likely that our foreign oil imports will fall even more until it virtually disappears...unless the EPA or the President step in and strangle domestic oil production (unfortunately, a likely scenario).

If you've read any of my other posts about ethanol, you know I have never been a fan of its use in fuel. It has caused all kinds of problems with my boat, my lawnmowers, chainsaw, brush saw, and a host of other gas-powered small engines. It decreases fuel economy in vehicles, has all kinds of storage problems, and in the end serves no useful purpose other than to give the EPA more control and feed the coffers of the ethanol and rent-seeking corn producers. It doesn't do what 'everyone' said it would do. It's a scam. It's time to end it.