I had a few posts in which I noted that it appeared to me that corn ethanol (as opposed to the sugar cane variety) is a hoax being perpetrated on the American public. That conclusion came about as a result of my failure to see how the numbers could work out to make the use of corn ethanol viable as a fuel without being subsidized forever.
This story in Business Week makes a point I hadn’t even considered:
Pushed into it by the corn growers’ and ethanol refiners’ lobbying organizations, today the EPA is starting to go through the public comment phase on increasing the level of ethanol in our gasoline from 10% to 15%. Time and time again we have heard from these groups, who now claim that there is zero scientific evidence that a 15% blend of ethanol would do any damage whatsoever if the mandate for ethanol were raised. As with all statements made by vested interests, few outsiders have actually taken the time to look and find out whether this statement was true.
In fact, it’s false.
Not one mechanic I’ve spoken with said they would be comfortable with a 15% blend of ethanol in their personal car. However, most suggest that if the government moves the ethanol mandate to 15%, it will be the dawn of a new golden age for auto mechanics’ income.
One last thought: Most individuals who have had to repair their fuel systems in recent years never had the gasoline tested to see if the ethanol percentage might be the problem. Today most repair shops and new-car dealers are still not testing for ethanol blends. They’re simply repairing the vehicles and sending their unhappy and less wealthy customers on their way. But, where dealer and repair shops are testing the gasoline, ethanol is becoming one of the leading culprits for the damage.
Sadly, when a truly bad idea is exposed today, Washington’s answer is to double-down on the bet, mandate more of the same, and make the problem worse. Only this time around motorists will be able to gauge the real cost of ethanol when it comes time to fix their personal cars.
Sadly, like subsidies for tobacco, another product that just isn’t good for us, I don’t think this is gonna die.