Cruzing on Empty

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Ethanol – corn alcohol – won’t take you as far as a gallon of gas.Cruz lead

But that doesn’t mean it is isn’t powerful stuff.

Politically powerful stuff.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is feeling the heat right now as the ethanol lobby pressures him to openly commit to expanded support for federal ethanol mandates – a kowtow every recent presidential candidate from both parties has done up to now.

The ethanol lobby’s potency derives not only from the money it has and the campaign contributions it can make (or not) but also from the fact that – in a presidential election  year – the Iowa Caucuses are critical.

And Iowa is a farm state.

Cruz has at least criticized the federal Renewable Fuels Standard – the law behind the force-feeding of ethanol alcohol down the gullets of Americans and their cars.

But The Lobby is very persuasive.


And we are not talking “family farms” here but rather, enormous agricultural combines that exploit the family farmer by applying artificial economic pressure (via government subsidies) to divert food crops to ethanol production. Corn that  would otherwise be used to feed people – or animals that feed people – ends up being used to make ethanol, which is then mixed with gas in various concentrations.

Currently, 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes to ethanol production – up from just 10 percent as recently as 2005.

Most of the unleaded gas available in the United States is actually 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. This fuel is labeled “E10” gas.

Which would be ok … if that’s what the market wanted.

But it’s actually what the government (and corn lobby) want.

And now they want more.corn lobby

Specifically, they want ethanol concentrations upped to 15 or even 25 percent (E15 and E25). And they want whomever is nominated and ultimately elected president to make it so.

Big money – and big pressure.

Cruz recently stated that “market access (for ethanol) is critical” and even gone so far as to argue that anti-trust laws be “vigorously enforced to ensure that the oil and gas industry cannot block access to the market for ethanol producers.”

But ethanol has never been blocked from entering the market. The problem is just the opposite. Ethanol producers want a “market” created for their product – enforced by government. They want to suppress the market’s verdict about ethanol, bypass the preferences expressed by Americans for gasoline rather than ethanol-adulterated “gas.”oily Cruz

They want ethanol forced down our throats – and into our tanks.

Ethanol sounds good – superficially – because it is “renewable” and produced here in America. The problem is that a gallon of ethanol-laced contains less energy than a gallon of straight gasoline. Your car’s fuel economy goes down on ethanol and ethanol-blend fuels – by as much as 5-10 percent vs. straight gasoline because the engine has to burn more ethanol-adulterated fuel to get the equivalent energy out of it vs. a gallon of pure gasoline.

So, Cruz’s statement (in a recent op-ed) that ethanol “could prove quite popular with American consumers” is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of ethanol as a fuel.

Similarly his statements regarding octane.

Ethanol can be used as an octane enhancer, but unless an engine was designed to operate on high octane fuel, using high octane fuel will usually result in reduced fuel economy. Octane is just a measure of a fuel’s burn rate, not its quality. High-octane premium is just the ticket for high-compression/high-performance engines designed for such fuels. But most cars are designed to run on regular (lower octane) unleaded – and so ethanol’s octane enhancing properties are irrelevant.ethanol pump

And ethanol in higher concentrations – such as E15 and E25 and E85 (15 percent, 25 percent and 85 percent ethanol, respectively) will cause physical damage to engines and fuel systems not specifically designed and built to handle high-alcohol-concentrations.

Alcohol is by nature corrosive – and it attracts moisture. If you read your vehicle’s owners manual you will find explicit warnings about using any gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) unless the engine was designed for it – and an advisory that any damage resulting from its use will not be covered buy the vehicle’s warranty.

So, Cruz is misinformed, minimally, when he states that “the EPA – through regulations used in vehicle emissions tests – imposes a hard wall against mid-level ethanol blends such as E25, making it largely illegal to sell gasoline with higher blends of ethanol.”ethanol warning label

The fact is that even E15 – 15 percent alcohol – would be disastrous for millions of vehicles currently in service. And not just for them, either. Virtually all the lawn mower, chainsaw and recreational power equipment (e.g., boat) engines currently in service cannot handle ethanol concentrations higher than 10 percent.

Neither can the infrastructure.

Pipelines and tanker trucks and the in-ground tanks where fuel is stored generally can’t stand up to higher-than-10-percent ethanol fuels. The fuels would have to be transported and stored separately – which involves duplication of effort – which adds another layer of artificial (government-imposed) costs.ethanol label 2

The only “hard wall” limiting ethanol concentrations in fuel is the limitation imposed by how much damage to our cars and wallets we’re willing to tolerate for the sake of the corn lobby.

Cruz would be taking a political risk to say so openly – especially ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. But – as Donald Trump has shown – the public is desperate for straight-talking leaders who will stand up for them rather than serve as water-carriers for the “interests” that seem to own the government and use it for their benefit.

Cruz has said he favors an “all of the above” policy when it comes to fuels – and that Washington “shouldn’t be “picking winners ands losers.”

Exactly so. depends on you to keep the wheels turning! The control freaks (Clovers) hate us. Goo-guhl blackballed us.

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  1. In the wake of the financial crisis, many thinkers have started questioning a growing number of aspects of basic previously settled economic formalism.

    Read more at:

    Exploring gambles reveals foundational difficulty behind economic theory (and a solution)

    The Economist’s blind spot: Dynamic versus Static problems

  2. i am a corn farmer in iowa. i have run e10 in every gas motor on my farm since it has been available. only problem was one chainsaw. now, ethanol production only removes the starch from field corn(not the sweet corn you can eat). corn is 2/3 starch so 1/3 is leftover as hi protein supplement put back into feed for animals. there is no shortage of starch in the world but we are running tight on protein. i have a 1981 f150 6 banger that has untold miles on it cuz the odemeter quit @150k. engine has never been touched. its diet has been 90% e10 since new. and i dont know where the idea that it takes a gallon of diesel fuel for a gallon of ethanol came from. i know this can be an emtional issue for some, but dig a bit deeper on your reseach. the mandate is from the epa. might want to start there. thank you for your time.

    • Hi Uncle,

      One factor (personal experience here) in re ethanol in older vehicles is whether the vehicle is regularly used. If it’s not, I have always had issues. Probably from a combination of water in the fuel and chemical changes to the fuel (and degradation of rubber/plastic). I have also personally dealt with ethanol-caused/accelerated physical destruction of castings/fuel lines, metal tanks and so on.

      But, ultimately, the problems ethanol causes – or doesn’t – or the benefits it offers – are not the issue.

      The issue is crony capitalism; mandates and subsidies.

      • Spot on Eric about subsidies.I have worked in Fuel business for
        thirty years.

        Its a “Amish Whore House” of kick backs,and under the table deals!

        Nobody ever mentions all the fueling equipment it ruined too.
        Underground Tanks, and so on.

        • “Nobody ever mentions all the fueling equipment it ruined too.
          Underground Tanks, and so on.”

          Virginia’s fuel statutes include a waiver for boats. It seems that ethanol degrades fiberglass fuel tanks, causing fuel leaks. There’s also a waiver for gasoline powered aircraft. If ethanol was safe for all fuel systems, no such waivers would be needed.

          Without the ethanol mandate, GMO corn would be worthless. It’s unfit for consumption, whether for humans or for any animals raised for food.

          • They can’t even put in the nation wide matrix of underground
            pipeline network too.Has to be railroaded/ trucked in and mix at
            at local Fuel jobbers.

          • Aircraft need an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) to operate on automotive gasoline, which is issued for the specific aircraft type (model); and it’s added to the airworthiness certificate. As far as I know, all the STC’s were issued before the ethanol mandate; but they specify the fuel that that airplane, with that particular engine can use. Therefore using a fuel that is differently formulated invalidates the STC; that is way aircraft need a waiver form the FAA. (But only if they are certificated by the FAA: experimental (home-built) aircraft can run on whatever they can burn.

      • eric, first thing I lost was a new Stihl chainsaw engine. It melted the rubber fuel line and leaned it to the point of galling. Only a $350 fix. It’s worked its magic on the wife’s car too. Right there in the owners manual it says “Do not use fuel with more than 5% alcohol”. “Doing so may cause damage to the engine and fuel system”.

      • Eric, until the US military packs up and leaves the Middle East, get off your ethanol mandate and crony capitalism kick. Those aircraft carriers and fighter jets in the Persian Gulf are the biggest subsidy in the world!!!!!

        • Martin,

          You’re evading the issue by trying to claim an equivalence that doesn’t exist. People want gas – and pay for it freely.

          Ethanol has to be force-fed to people. What does that tell you? Like the Tesla electric car, ethanol exists only because the government props it up.

          PS: The chief reason for the aircraft carriers in the Middle East is not oil but Israel.

          • So Eric,you’re partially right about Israel but was the overthrow of Mossedegh(sp) by the CIA in 1953 about Israel or the price and control of oil. Was that overthrow a subsidy of sorts? It was the beginning of where we are today. I read on Lew Rockwell that our Syrian problem is about getting a natural gas pipeline from Quatar to Europe to stick it to Russia.

        • eric, I second that emotion. Quit sending all those weapons of war over there. Send some to me so I have some parity next time they come for me. Nobody likes continually being outgunned.

          Here’s a paragraph from the latest Fred:

          In high school, we learned that the government consisted of three branches, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. This was at least sometimes accurate, intermittently, a little. Times have changed. The actual branches are more like the President, Israel, the corporations, Wall Street, the media, and the federal bureaucracies.

  3. Time to put an end to this ethanol craze. No more government handouts to these welfare farmers in Iowa.
    Ethanol is one of the great scams being played on America. The ethanol lobbyists can shove a corn cob up their a** for all I care. And I really don’t give a d*** about what the people of Iowa think either.
    End ethanol.

  4. Smarter people than me have written about why ethanol is superior to gasoline when engines are DESIGNED to burn it.

    I like the idea of telling Big Oil to get stuffed… unfortunately clovers believe the Bravo Sierra they’re told about having travel to foreign lands to kill goatherds when the truth is soldiers are only being maimed and killed for oil and lithium.

    Will Big Oil presstitutes still be able to sell the same marlarky if engines are designed to burn alcohol and North American farmers are growing all of our fuel?

    • Hi Dave,

      Sure, but the fact is most car engines in service (and virtually all power equipment and boat engines) are not designed for high-alcohol fuels.

      Some race cars run alcohol – and they run well on it. And street engines set up for it also run well on it.

      It’s still less efficient than gasoline. Less energy content in a given volume; costs more to produce (energy and money).

      Ethanol derived from sugar cane is another matter – but (once again) government (not “Big Oil”) has shut that down for the sake of crony capitalist cornholios.

  5. Holey Underwear! Using an energy source derived from a FOOD source has to be one of Guvmint’s biggest follies. Next thing you know, they’ll develop a hydrogen fuel cell and use up all the water… oops! Everyone on Earth is scrooood by the Hew Hess Hay.

  6. Society is like a Rubik’s cube. Some think the red side is the most important one to solve. Others prefer to be a blue or one of the team greens. Some of my friends are white side supremacists.

    All of them are a pathetic angry mob of Borgs pakleds and daleks all arguing and fighting wars over which colored side is the most important. Reading news articles opening over whether to rotate the front face or rotate the right side for optimal piece placement.

    Anarchy says the colors are irrelevant. It’s meaingless to discuss Such insignificant criteria. You need men who understand algorithms. And also commutators. Once the first side is completel you proceed to the middle. You need to follow a specific recipe so your earlier order does not revert to random chaos.

    Finally you have the bottom to solve. Usually you invoke memorized moves in a doggedly methodical manner. First the edges then finally the bottom corners.

    I don’t get people who are proud they can’t solve twisty puzzles like rubiks or society, I can solve one with a hammer they chuckle moronically.

    Guess I’m surrounded by rubes who take pride in their ignorance. Who gloat over making big moves. With no concept of how poor their global spatial reasoning truly is. And how wrong their frame of reference is when they only care about 9 squares instead of all 54 and their myriad aspects and the infinite plethora of cubes to be found throughout the universe.

    • My genius cousin couldn’t stand his not being able to do a Rubik’s puzzle till he finally did. I never solved it either having limited time with his cube, a boring PITA for me. I spent my time solving mysteries of how much wad for a certain amount of a certain type of powder behind a certain weight projectile resulted in the cheapest, cleanest and most consistent load. I applied this to vehicles too which he always dissed, said the factory didn’t mean it to do those things I wanted. Oh yeah they do, just not for what I paid for this car. Twice the price and that Corvette will have these parts on it straight from the showroom.

      He finally buys a ‘Vette, a 300 HP 350 auto for god’s sake. He wouldn’t race me. He said my car was made for quick take-offs which was as untrue a statement as he could make. I pointed out that one of the things a “Vette’s rear suspension was capable off with the great weight distribution was traction in spades and would leave my car in the weeds in the first 60 feet. He never raced me, a good thing for a memory he wouldn’t have wanted.

      He bought a book to learn to do a cube quickly. I bought a dual point distributor.

    • Tor, now you’ve done hurt my feelings. I have never gave a tin plated shit about a Rubik’s cube, and now that makes me a retard. You might just as well have busted me upside the head as to have said such as that. 😉

      • Sorry brother. I can’t really verbalize anything I do with my hands. Or jobs I do. I have my own way of doing everything minor or major that will get a boss or owner cussing up a storm in a minute if he sees me.
        But the end result is passable.

        I won’t work with anyone who speaks much English or comes checking on me while I work. I tried using a kids puzzle for a reference because hearing others opinions about what I do or don’t gets my bp elevated and not in a fun and exhilarating way

        Puts me in a bad way cause I never sing the Klingon song of honor and accomplishment. I stipulate for the record I am not a master of anything and claim no bona files. But I think the shame of being stupefied by a 10 year olds puzzle should give us cause for pause.

        Course my cube is handcrafted using depleted plutonium and it spins at 4000 foot candle btu’s per cubic zirconia. It has quad overhead cam injector attenuators too Not your dads boring hasbro polyvinylesterchlorophyl by along shot.

        I mean can Ted Cruz solve a simple test puzzle or is he just useless hot air words and empty promise. If trump spends a billion will he acquire the ability to solve one or not

        Or can he even maintain his own motorcycle or limo if pressed to. Or build an additional room on to his mansion on his own.

        Point is in the current dysfunctional situation we should eschew even one second regarding the art of politics

        It is only the science that matter. The point isn’t that Ayn rand was found in error. The point is the scientific discussions she made commonplace are now completely abandoned and forgotten

        I am what she called a context dropper and I get that makes me nearly impossible to follow but liKe Sir Waters once pled hey you out there in the cold getting lonely getting cold can you hear me. Hey you don’t help them bury the light don’t give up without a fight

        • About Cruz, I kind of doubt he could even gas up his car. He’s almost as “in touch with reality” as his little pal W. Such is the quality of political candidates in these modern times.

          If the Lord hadda meant for us to vote, he woulda gave us candidates. That ain’t my own slogan, though. I read it somewhere.

              • Hi Phillip,.

                That business in NJ would – by itself – preclude my ever living in such a place. Having to allow some Guido to manhandle your car. It’s degrading.

            • “It’s illegal in NJ to gas up your own car.”

              I know it, BrentP. When I lived in Delaware, I’d be gassing up at a self service pump and some guy would ask for help purchasing gas. “I’m from Jersey” was what he’d say. I’d also see people with Jersey plates sitting in their cars, waiting for an attendant at self service pumps.

              ‘Course, Cruz is “from Jersey” by the same reasoning W was “from Texas”.

  7. Eric, I read in your article that 40% of the corn crop goes to the ethanol plants. I think that is pretty accurate(all of my corn crop goes to the ethanol plant that I am part owner) but does it bother you that you don’t mention the fact that 1/3 of all those bushels go back out as distillers grain which is a superior feed ingredient for livestock. Dairys,cattle feedlots, hogs etc love the stuff. Look up “founder” that is what happens to cattle when they eat too much shelled corn. Like I told you before, I’ve been using E85 in my 2012 Ford Focus that is Flex Fuel and getting 30 mpg. Been using 30% in older (1992,1995, 2000) vehicles with no mod’s or problems and E10 in a 2 cycle Lawnboy for at least 15 years. You all should stop using the word “subsidy” because ethanol doesn’t get any just the mandate that oil companies use a certain amount each year. Here in Iowa we still get E0 87 oct, E10 87 and E0 91. The E0 87 is a blend of 84 suboctane and 91 that comes up the pipeline. 10% ethanol brings the 84 up to 87. E0 87 costs 30 cents more than E10 87 and there is no subsidy involved. 91 is usually 70 or 80 cents more than E10 87.

    • Hi Martin,

      A mandate amounts to the same thing as a subsidy. For example, we are forced to buy car (and now health) insurance. Which means government creates “demand” that would not exist otherwise.

      If a vehicle is FlexFuel then it is designed for high alcohol concentration fuel; fine. But if not? Millions of cars in service are not FlexFuel. Those vehicles are subject to significant damage/problems as a result of using ethanol alcohol fuels. Older, carbureted vehicles especially.

      Whether you’ve had problems (or not) using E10 in your power equipment doesn’t change the fact that many manufacturers of such equipment specifically warn against using E10 (let alone higher concentrations).

      Bottom line, if corn ethanol is so fabulous why is it necessary for the government to force-feed it to us?

    • Martin,

      While the federal ethanol subsidy ended, that doesn’t mean that ethanol is no longer subsidized. Corn is heavily subsidized, US ethanol is made from corn, ethanol is mandated (people are forced to buy it). Therefore, ethanol is subsidized.

    • Martin, I also farm in Iowa. The corn / soy culture has destroyed, yes destroyed the productivity of our soil. If you don’t believe me no-till into some pasture and see the difference. I’m not saying corn subsidies are solely responsible for this. People being short sighted contribute to most of it. We have 88 CSR ground in rotated pasture. We fly on cover crops on every no-till cropped acre. After 20 years of this, as we dig to check seed placement there are earthworms clogging the seed trench.

      Other points on ethanol: Distillers fed cattle grade lower than cattle fed other protein sources. Distillers has been linked to explosive foam in hog confinement manure pits. And, yes, a mandate is a subsidy, just like a tax break.

      Ethanol fascists should concentrate on ending oil subsidies such as the oil depletion allowance that Cruz never mentions and military protection of the shipping and production of oil. Just think of the lives and cash that could have been saved if the oil business were responsible for all their costs. They might have done things differently if oil was not touted as a replacement for patriotism and the whole cost reflected at the pump.

      On a recent Thanksgiving trip we went 50 more miles on a twelve gallon tank of real gas than a tankful of crap gas. It adds up.

      While I’m here; Cruz’s call for the use of anti-trust laws (along with his support for Israel as if it was the 51st state reveals he’s just another pretender.

      • When did corn subsidy end? The feds require crop insurance to grow it. When you have the insurance, you are assured of a good price. Two years ago Congress upped the ante(maybe 3 years ago)so that cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and wheat farmers would be assured of a good “harvest” whether they had a seed sprout or not. It’s the new way to use politics to get new leased or bought land and the subsidy(called set-aside) on it. If it has no subsidy, you can take your crop subsidy for other ground and apply it to that newer ground. As you raise it every year, even on the non-subsidized land, you then are given subsidy for that land. You can buy the subsidy from others too.

        It’s not like we didn’t learn every in and out in the USDA schools, as if any of us needed to learn. Farmers in this hit or miss country with no water, actually desire to get disaster payments for too wet to plant, no rain, hence no crop, hail or storms that lay it down. They make more money if they don’t have to harvest. This past year many farmers had land they couldn’t get in to plant due to huge rains. They were tickled when the planting time was extended and the rain kept on. You can’t plant in ground you can’t get a tractor across. They can get their disaster payment many months ahead of time in that scenario.

        Corn is cheaper than it’s been in over a decade, resulting in cheap beef and pork although it affects every animal price. Subsidy is the cause of CAFO farming. You can’t lose, you can’t even go broke. Stick your nose where it gets brown, use your political(family)contacts, and be ready to to do a lot of reach-arounds and you’ll be in like Flynn as long as you stay in the loop, go to church and all the other bs involved. It helps like hell to be born into it.

      • Corn subsidies in general march on as always but the specific cash allotments for ethanol ended a couple years ago. I’m sure the various interests are getting the same or more money as ever with it just classified differently, I just haven’t kept up to learn how. There’s so many ways to extract money from us they just shift when the public gets angry enough that one of them has to be shut down or expires and can’t be renewed.

    • “You all should stop using the word “subsidy” because ethanol doesn’t get any just the mandate that oil companies use a certain amount each year.”

      OK, drop the act. Nobody is really that stupid. The mandated use of methanol is a defacto subsidy. If bio-fuels were worth using, their use wouldn’t need to be mandated by federal law.

      You wouldn’t go shopping for ethanol to use it as an engine fuel if your local Gas’n’Go wasn’t forced by federal law to sell it, would you?

  8. Interesting how any one managed or controlled item is so entangled with every other aspect of our economy. I never knew diesel fuel prices are higher because of the amount used to manufacture ethanol. THAT explains why diesel is so high these past ten years. It should be well below the cost of the cheapest regular. Still, at least diesel is a fairly stable fuel product, and most any diesel engine can burn whatever is out there. I’ve dealt with a lot of problems from customers who have no clue how EtOH fuels can destroy small engines, perticularly two strokes… chainsaws, outboards, etc. After fixing their problems, I often tell customers to find non-ethanol fuels and use only them in such engines. If they can’t find any, make sure you remove the fuel supply line ((easy to do with outboards, simply pop off the fuel hose at the engine at the quick-disconnect) or dump the remaining fuel in the tank (chainsaws, weedwhackers, etc) then let the engine idle till it dies. That way no fuel is left in the tool to go sour, draw water out of the air, corrode carburetters or fuel tanks, turn to gum, rot rubber/plastic parts. Amazing how much trouble some stupid gummint whackjobs can cause by sucking up to some special interest groups with money.

    Seems the concept of a truly free market is all but dead.

    • “I never knew diesel fuel prices are higher because of the amount used to manufacture ethanol.” While that does explain some of the difference, I don’t think that is the bulk of it. The big difference is more likely the EPA’s ultra-low sulfur mandate. Of course I have no way of knowing for sure how much is to blame on either, but they are both the result of gunvermin meddling.

      • Of course sulfur removal was blamed and it surely added a tiny amount to the cost(remember, it’s valuable on its own) but the price of diesel had surpassed gasoline before the “Do not use in vehicles made before 2003” or whatever the date was, maybe 2005, came into play.

        People have recently spoken of the price of gasoline on this forum. It’s always been a bit of a sore spot that fuel is cheaper everywhere but where it’s made. I’m smack dab in the middle of 2 big refineries and we’ll never see the low prices of east coast and fairly much anywhere else excepting Ca.

        The closer to the wellhead, the higher the price….a mantra I’ve heard my entire life…..and it’s true.

  9. My late model and expensive Honda snowblower explicitly forbids use of any gasohol greater than E10. E10 has damaged some of my older machines, and E15 would be the death of them all. But as long as Big Ag and Big Brother are happy, who are we peons to complain?

  10. It never fails to amaze me how these pols trip over each other to pander to a tiny population that will have zero impact on the final outcome of the presidential election. Most major U.S. cities have more residents than the entire state of Iowa. No offense to any Iowans here, but as someone commented earlier it’s a giant scam foisted on motorists by Archer Daniels Midland and the crony congresscritters. The science is clear that deathanol is a net loser for energy and the environment but big Agra won’t let that get in the way of its millions of (your) dollars. A boat-owning friend had to replace his entire fuel system due to deathanol damage; maybe this is how the PTB plan to get all the old cars off the road and force us into state approved modes of transport.

    • It’s because these states are first and most voters are just looking to cast their vote for a winner. Because see if they don’t vote for a winner that makes them a loser or some nonsense. So whomever wins the first few states are the only ones in the running because of this human behavior.

  11. “a kowtow every recent presidential candidate from both parties has done up to now”

    That’s disappointing from Ted. I hope Rand isn’t included in that list.

  12. The ethanol mandate is an outgrowth of a much greater and more insidious problem in U.S. Clean Air regulations promulgated during the late 1990’s early 2000’s time period. This is the result of the Clean Air Act of 1990 signed into law by George HW Bush.

    The CAA designated Ozone non attainment zones and tighter regualtions on ground level ozone. The US EPA decided that it would attack ozone levels by mandating that gasoline sold in those areas be reformulated. At first, only large metro areas such as NY, LA, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta were effected by the regulations. Gasoline refiners complied by adding MTBE to gasoline. MTBE was a lower cost additive that had the same effect as adding 10% ethanol.

    The effects of MTBE and all other oxygenates were to lower the available energy content of gasoline through oxygenation, or a “pre burning”of the gasoline. People complained. In the 2000-2001 time period, many larger cities were experiencing spikes in gas prices due to the effect of the oxygenation mandate on fuel supplies. At a time when gas prices were $1.30-140 a gallon, prices in large cities with ozone mandates were in the $2.00-2.50 range. So, the oxygenation mandate caused a disruption in supply and reduced fuel economy and performance at the same time.

    In 2004 or so, MTBE was banned from gasoline sales. Ethanol took over.

    In the mid 2000’s the ozone non attainment zones were slightly expanded to larger areas. Fuel price spikes were still common due to allocation concerns.

    In 2009-10, the ethanol mandate was imposed. Now the entire nation would experience the same issues that were confined to larger metro areas with Ozone issues.

    As a result we are where we are today, however, the ethanol mandate, as bad as it is on its own, is not at the heart of this. It is reformulated gasoline. RFG lowers engine operating temperatures, and thus efficiencie, increases the O2 content of exhaust gas, fooling the engine computers into believing less fuel has actually been burned, therefore causing the engine to dump more gas in (to achieve stochiometric ratio 14.7:1) and still causes problems upstream at refineries.

    The Clean Air Act has cost this country trillions, yet no one really has a clue about it.

  13. Here in Iowa , the only ones caring about ethanol subsidies are corporations and their presstitutes. The few farmers I ever knew understood that the vast majority of subsidies went to the corporate farms. The man on the street has other issues they’re worried about rather than farming , although the popularity of the Bern may end up eventually affecting the subsidies through the back door.
    I will admit that living in the city skews the demographic I’ve lately come into contact with toward the Blue Team.

  14. The only corn derived ethanol that should be consumed is that imbibed. Any of the rest of this is only done through Government coercion. The possibility exists that an economically viable ethanol production path exists; probably through enzymatic or microbial biosynthesis, but until then drink ethanol and burn gasoline!

    • “The possibility exists that an economically viable ethanol production path exists”
      But the place a free market would start looking would be with biomass that was not otherwise useful, or at least not edible. Such as the waste from sugarcane pressing. Or from hemp after harvesting the seed for oil. BTW, the hemp oil may be a viable source for biodiesel.

      • It does exist. sugar cane can be used to make market viable ethanol and is. The entire process is fueled by the sugarcane plant so the result is an energy positive process. This is why the initial set of ethanol laws had steep import tariffs. It was well known that ethanol could be made cheaper where sugar cane can grow.

        • Longer term, though, it is still probably not viable as everything comes out of the soil and energy dense crops such as sugar (cane or beets) or corn tend to use up the soil nutrients pretty quickly. TANSTAAFL.

          • This is often hard to explain to the average person. Biofuels must possess intrinsic energy in the form of various exothermic processes that can be exploited. In an endothermic path these have usually been locked up by the process of photosynthesis. They must than be exploited by a process that yields an overall benefit. Essentially anything that consumes much energy other than that yielded by photosynthesis is a net less than zero proposition. This is why you cannot distill a rock into ethanol. Or most likely switchgrass, cellulose, waste products etc. either. The energy is gone. Yeast do not work for free. There is a reason why cornstalks stand all winter and the corn is gone.

            • Cotton stalks stand for years….most likely cause cotton is a tree. Most anything that breaks down with water is capable of making ethanol. Just ask people who make white lightning with tumbleweeds. Fermentacion de cactus juice es mury bueno.

        • Which is why Brazil (one of the biggest if not the biggest sugar producers in the world) is able to make ethanol work as a fuel.

          • When you get right down to it, ethanol is a + energy form if you don’t have to plant whatever it is you distill……excepting of course, Wild Turkey, all hail the turkey.
            One reason ethanol works in some place like Mexico for instance is northern Mexico ain’t where it’s made. Pass over the Rio Grande and it looks like Texas with a few things many won’t notice like the lack of huge John Deere tractors and $70,000 pickups but the landscape, the same. Get down there in the tropics though where crap grows so fast it’s a race to see which will choke out the other. When all you need to do is harvest and there is no EPA hovering over your every move, burning some of the stuff you harvested to distill the rest is done cheaply.
            You have to remember this is a place where 3 golf balls added inside a big rig tire is what is called “balancing”. To be honest, it works on this side of the border too.

  15. Couple of other quick points:

    1. As Al Gore himself has admitted, it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol that the same gallon contains in energy. Since most of that energy to produce ethanol comes from burning hydrocarbons, it actually produces less pollution to burn 100% gasoline than to burn gasoline adulterated with any percentage of ethanol.

    2. Since the production of ethanol is relatively independent of the price of crude oil (the cost of oil being only one of the components in the total cost of ethanol production), the price of ethanol will fluctuate independently of the price of oil. Thus with the recent drop in oil prices, and the resulting drop in gasoline prices, ethanol is under no obligation to drop similarly in price.

    I recall two years ago travelling through Illinois where nearly every gas station had biodiesel and E85 gas as well as E10 gas (no real gas), I noticed how much cheaper, dramatically cheaper, E85 was than E10 at the pump. At the time, it was around $1.00 cheaper on average. So if 87 octane E10 gas was selling for $3.80/gal, the E85 would sell for about $2.70/gal. Realize, of course, that the $1 difference in price was effectively the government subsidy applied to that particular fuel. It didn’t actually cost that much less per gallon. Illinois was simply ripping off its taxpayers to pay the difference between the selling price and the actual price.

    Fast forward to today, when a typical gallon of E10 gas here is less than half of what it was 2 years ago (running around $1.45/gal most places where it used to be closer to $3.80-$4). Through whatever market processes remain intact, the low price of a barrel of crude oil today has translated into a much lower price of gas per gallon. Even if only 90% of that gallon is gasoline, it probably accounts for the majority, if not all, of that price drop. Almost none of it, if any, can be attributed to a drop in ethanol prices. Thus when it comes to E85, only 15% of that gallon is actual gasoline. Even if gasoline cost $0/gallon, the maximum price drop we would see on a gallon of E85 is 15%. That’s a lot less than the roughly 40% price drop we’ve seen in E10 gas.

    So either they have to increase the subsidy on E85 gas to make it price-competitive, increase the taxes on real gasoline to make it less competitive, or some other funny business must take place. Either that or, coincidentally, ethanol prices have dropped precipitously for other reasons that I have not heard of.

    Gotta love living in a manipulated economy.

  16. The Iowa primary just shows how much the political “process” has degenerated. Good luck to you if you come out against any farm subsidies there. You may as well not run. It’s made to insure nothing changes.

    You may want to eliminate other people’s taxpayer handouts, BUT MINE are good for society. Farmers may be against the welfare state or military industrial complex but god forbid farm subsidies be tossed out too.

    They talk about how important their industry is. That everyone needs food etc. What a load of cr@p. If your that important, why aren’t you able to make a living without putting your hands in tax dollars?

    But they aren’t the only ones (though their handouts are more costly then most). Many people think, my congressman is ok, its the other guys congressman that is the problem. So they continue to vote for them.

    That’s why they won’t ever get rid of the handouts.

  17. Ethanol also cannot be transported by pipeline either. So it must be moved by tank truck or trains.

    Kind of ironic that they force the less “safe” practice (trucking and trains has a higher accident rate then pipelines) in our “safety at all costs society” that we have now.

  18. Hi Eric,

    Ethanol subsidies/mandates are a perfect example of why GovCo should never be empowered to engage in grand projects to achieve some seemingly noble goal. These subsidies exist solely because of crony capitalism and rent seeking. “America’s ethanol requirement destroys the environment, damages car engines, increases gas prices, and contributes to the starvation of the global poor. It’s an unmitigated disaster on nearly every level.” – Reason Magazine, The Ethanol Disaster.

    Even if we imagine that the architects of these programs have good intentions (a far fetched assumption, I know), once implemented they cannot be turned off. Once the pigs are at the trough, they will not be denied. Most enviros now recognize the bad consequences of the “renewable fuels mandate” but still clamor for more GovCo control. “Sure, that program turned out to be a boondoggle. Sold to us as good for the environment, sustainability, etc…, it turned out to be just another corporatist scam that enriches the politically connected at the expense of the environment and the poor (and everyone else not so connected). So, the answer is to give them more power.”

    Does it never occur to the climate change hysterics that the damage caused by one, relatively small, program will pale in comparison to the damage caused by empowering GovCo to reduce global CO2 emissions? I know that the politically connected do not suffer from the delusion that their agenda has anything to do with “saving the planet”; they’re in it for power and money. But, the rank and file really believe this shit. The same person can wax eloquent about the failure of the drug war, the unaccountability of the justice system, the corruption of crony capitalism, the preferential treatment of the elite, etc… and still propose handing over more power to the very institution that creates all of those problems.

    GovCo, “we make cognitive dissonance respectable.”


  19. Wait, Cruz is out against ethanol subsidies, and Trump is on record calling for an increase in the ethanol mandate. This article implies the opposite…

    • Hi Chris,

      Cruz is saying that he’s against it.. but also for it… typical politician.

      He worked for The Chimp, don’t forget!

      • He can be for a mandate but against a subsidy. Never mind that both transfer our money to the corn corporations. Just the usual shuck and jive. They don’t care what it is called so long as the money flows from A to B.

      • If by whiskey… One of the greatest and most revealing political speeches of all time and well worth looking up. But here it is:
        Noah Sweat, Congressman from Missouri said, “My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, this is how I feel about whiskey:

        If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

        But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

        This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”

      • eric, I read an article yesterday about this subject. The author sought a corn farmer who wasn’t politically crazy, one who didn’t go bonkers on the subject. He said he might vote for Cruz but he knew nearly everybody else in ag would not. They speak of the current price of corn which has been down and dropping even more for the last year. They now produce so much corn there is a glut so as with anything, the price will fall. But eliminating the corn subsidy would cost an estimated 8,000 jobs, a drop in the bucket.

        Contrast that with depressed oil prices. Texas lost 25,000 jobs in the first quarter of last year but the loss of jobs was by no means over here. While not all of those jobs were oil workers, dang near every one of those jobs had something to do with the oil workers even though some might have been in any industry. Things have gotten bad now. A guy I know who was a pusher was busted down to driller and then rig hand and is now unemployed. But before pushers were busted to driller and so on, lots of rig hands were let go and lots of people in various types of exploration support were let go. A major pipeline company we do a lot of work for recently dropped to 5 day weeks.

        The ethanol industry uses nearly a gallon of diesel for each gallon of ethanol produced, spiking the price of diesel for the last decade or more. This comes back to haunt everybody who uses diesel and even the few farmers who produce something other than subsidized crops.

        Of course, subsidized crops are a scam when those same acres could produce a great deal of what’s imported and could produce enough hemp to affect several industries.

        If it were a free market, hemp would take over the production of paper, alternative fuel, cotton(imported, since domestic cotton is crap not being long staple), pharmaceuticals, and bite into the synthetic fiber industry.

        It would appear that in this country we’ll never need to worry about the free market till there’s a global catastrophe that destroys the infrastructure.

        • A Wawa station that sells ethanol-free gasoline recently opened near me. Now I don’t have to buy the additive to keep the booze from ruining my lawn mower, and my car is getting better mileage. I could smell the booze in the E10, and the gas without ethanol has a smell that evokes pleasant memories of my dad gassing up the boat on the water-ski trips we went on at Lake Shasta when I was a boy.

          • Did you ever see bigfoot out there by Lake Shasta? I hear that’s one of his hangouts. You have a better chance of seeing bigfoot in your lifetime than an honest politician.

            • Your question reminded me of a joke some guys played one summer we were there. One guy got on another guy’s shoulders back in a cave and put on a gorilla mask. A third guy in on the gag led three others into the cave with a flashlight pointed up. When the flashlight beam hit the gorilla mask nine feet up, their imaginations did the rest.

              • Hi Doug,

                I live out in the Woods of rural Virginia; I’ve long had this idea – which I’ve been smart enough to not act on – to get a sasquatch outfit, hide in the trees, and then run across the road when a car comes by…

        • Eight,
          You said:
          ” They speak of the current price of corn which has been down and dropping even more for the last year. They now produce so much corn there is a glut so as with anything, the price will fall. “

          I am continuously amazed and apalled at the stupidity of humans. They act like time is a constant… What has been, must be, FOREVER. Despite the fact they see changes every day, and even acknowledge them – they are dissonant about the actual flow.

          E.G., “island erosion.” Historic documents show the island’s been moving for the last 200+ years. About a foot each year. But it LOOKS the same to the timespan of a human. So, as it “has always been, so it must always be.” Nevermind that 20 years ago, the island was 20 feet south, and you just didn’t notice the change…

          Economics works same way. Corn prices should NEVER go down, even if there’s a glut on the market.
          But if there’s a shortage, prices should go UP, and that’s the new normal, and they must never fall from there, because we got “rich” when prices went up!
          No adjustment down. Just the psychotic Ever Upwards.

          No intelligence. No common sense. No economic theory or understanding.
          And no interest in learning (unplugging from the Matrix.)

          • “Corn prices should NEVER go down, even if there’s a glut on the market.
            But if there’s a shortage, prices should go UP, and that’s the new normal, and they must never fall from there”
            I lived in Iowa in the mid-70s, when a lot of the crop farmers (as opposed to the hog or beef men) were on the ‘Corn-Miami/Soybeans-Nassau’ rotation. Beans at the time were about $8/bushel, but I met men who had beans in the bin they could have sold for $12, but they were holding for $13 when the price went south on them.

            • Did they then rage about the improper prices…? 😉
              No, they merely complained they had “lost money” by not selling when it hit $13… Because it was supposed to hit $13 so they’d score more than the “idiots” who sold at $8 or $12… 😉

              My mother invested in oil a while back.
              She still hasn’t stopped complaining about how much she “lost” when the prices went south.
              Mind, she sold at a profit… Made money even after fees…