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Thursday, October 21, 2010

EPA approves E15--Bob Dinneen unsatiated

Bob Dinneen, head of a very well-funded corn ethanol lobbying organization, has a new press release in the Huff Po green blog which begins by claiming:

Other nations, including Brazil, with at least as many older vehicles on their roads, allow higher levels of ethanol blends with no discernible damage to their cars and light trucks.

In reality, unlike American cars, cars in Brazil where ethanol blends have been 22% since 1993 are all designed to run on that higher blend. According to Wikipedia:

"All Brazilian automakers have adapted their gasoline engines to run smoothly with these range of mixtures, thus, all gasoline vehicles are built to run with blends from E20 to E25, defined by local law as "Common gasoline type C". Some vehicles might work properly with lower concentrations of ethanol, however, with a few exceptions, they are unable to run smoothly with pure gasoline which causes engine knocking, as vehicles traveling to neighboring South American countries have demonstrated.."

Next he tells us about a study conducted specifically "for" his lobbying organization and paid for in part by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board:

In fact, the internationally recognized automotive-engineering firm, Ricardo, Inc., recently conducted a study for the Renewable Fuels Association [my emphasis] that used EPA's own engineering assessment methodology to determine the efficacy of E15 in vehicles MY2000 and older [not exactly true, the study went back only 6 years]. The report concludes: "... the adoption and use of E15 in the motor vehicle fleet from the studied model years should not [my emphasis and note they did not use the term "will not"] adversely affect the vehicles or cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner when compared with their performance when using the E10 blend that is currently available."

Hmmm, who to believe? An organization chartered to protect the environment or a company that designs fuel systems for the car industry? Your call. According to the Ricardo study:

Six automotive manufacturers were identified as representing the overwhelming majority of vehicles sales for the study period, and the top selling platforms of these manufacturers thus became the focus of the Ricardo study. This approach enabled Ricardo to carry out engineering analysis without individually inspecting or testing each of this very large number of vehicles.

...this study demonstrates for the first time that raising the blend ceiling to E15 is "likely" to have a "negligible" [my emphasis] impact on vehicles manufactured between 1994 and 2000.

That's right. They only actually physically tested a handful of cars. In other words, if a 15 percent blend screws your car up immediately, or slowly over time, too bad for you because they never said it wouldn't, they said the higher blend is "likely" to have a "negligible" impact.

Bob goes on to tell us that EPA mandated labels on gasoline pumps to warn consumers that they are about to put a 15 percent blend into their cars "will ...confuse gasoline marketers, retailers and consumers.."

I own four cars (because my family has four drivers--myself, my wife, and my two daughters who are still in school). Half of our cars are quite a bit older than the study covered using statistical methods. What about all the poor people in America driving older cars, Bob? Is your organization going to pay their repair bills, (assuming the Ricardo study is correct, which is not "likely")?

...while making it more difficult for the nation to transition from imported oil to clean-burning, American-made renewable fuels. As it says in Scripture, "For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?"

Above Dinneen(along with quoting scripture that references violence), continues to claim that corn ethanol can scale up to the point of replacing imported oil. It can't. Using a third of our corn crop it barely displaces five percent of our gasoline use. And this fuel is not what you could call clean. In addition to being the major cause of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone:

"..Due to its ozone effects, future E85 may be a greater overall public health risk than gasoline.."

"health costs are $469 million for gasoline and $472–$952 million for corn ethanol, with the higher totals coming from coal-fired production."

"..would likely worsen health problems caused by ozone, compared with gasoline, especially in winter.."

Although his overarching concern appears to be national security, below he plays the global warming card:

On the environmental front, according to an analysis conducted by the EPA, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 61 percent, compared to gasoline.

Actually, according to this NRDC article:

At its worst, lifecycle GHG emissions from corn ethanol exceed those from gasoline in all three scenarios. At its best, corn ethanol is not that much better than gasoline on a climate basis, and certainly not good enough to warrant the soil degradation, water resource depletion and water pollution it continues to cause.

Bob continues distorting reality:

On the economic front, the US ethanol industry supports nearly 400,000 jobs

Actually, according to this NRDC article:

" some estimates, fully 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the jobs were already there... But US farmers would have been growing crop any way thanks to domestic agricultural subsidies and just exporting more than we do today. Thus if there’s any significant job creation in agriculture, it’s probably internationally where farmers are trying to make up for the higher level of exports our farmers would have been able to supply."

Next, Bob tells us ethanol paid $15.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes. What he does not tell us is that those taxes would have been paid by the gasoline the ethanol replaced, so no new income was generated as he suggests.

When it comes to energy security, the production of a record 10.75 billion gallons of ethanol last year replaced 364 million barrels of oil that would otherwise have been imported from unstable nations with unfriendly governments, such as Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran.

America has not imported any oil from Iran since the hostage crisis during the Carter administration and 10.75 billion gallons barely represents five percent of our gasoline use. Considering that it took about a third of our corn crop to do that it's easy to see that corn ethanol can't scale up enough to provide a modicum of energy security.

Meanwhile, the Blend Wall also stands in the way of developing the next generation of biofuels from feedstocks such as woodchips, corncobs, native grasses, and even garbage.

The above quote is a beautiful example of what Orwell called "doublespeak." In reality, it is thanks to corn ethanol that there is little market left for alternative versions of ethanol. It has hogged the entire market up for itself. The greatest impediment to alternative forms of ethanol corn ethanol.

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