May 8, 2009

Mythbusting higher ethanol blends

Here is a great article from Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association.

It explains many questions (myths) associated with raising the ethanol blend rate from 10 percent to up to 15 percent. EPA is taking comments on that proposal now. (Click here for more - and to lend your support.)

To give you an idea - here are a couple of myths - but for a whole lot more, follow the link above.

Myth: “The biofuels industry is trying to mandate more ethanol.”

In fact, the application for a waiver does not require a mandate. This is an effort to allow the industry to move beyond the artificial 10 percent cap. This does not require more ethanol, it would allow more ethanol to be blended into conventional gasoline on a voluntary basis. Which in turn would help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Myth: “Higher ethanol blends can cause problems for small engines and marine engines.”

Fact: This reminds me of times past when the ethanol industry was in its infancy and was blamed by many mechanics for every ill that occurred to an automobile. For a time, one could think that all autos were going to instantly stop because of a 10 percent or less ethanol blend. Some in the boat industry and small engine industry are trying to head public opinion down that same path. Fortunately, we have a real life example to look at regarding the impact of higher blends on small and marine engines. Fueling stations in Brazil sell only gasoline blended with ethanol or 100 percent ethanol. In Brazil, the current required blending level of ethanol into conventional gasoline is 25 percent. Boats, motorcycles, lawn mowers, chain saws and the like all operate on a fuel that is blended at 25 percent ethanol or above in Brazil. There have been no massive engine or consumer safety issues, nor has it put the industry in demise.

Myth: “Higher blends of ethanol will damage U.S. autos.”

Once again Brazil is a real laboratory to dispute this myth. Pure gasoline is not sold for vehicle use in Brazil. Twelve companies from around the world manufacture flex-fuel vehicles in Brazil, including the U.S. “Big Three.” This is certainly something that could be done here in the U.S and can be done without great cost to consumers and with many benefits. Just this month the top four automakers in Brazil – GM, Ford, Fiat and Volkswagen – announced that together they will distribute 2 million free booklets explaining the benefits of ethanol for consumers who buy their flex-fuel cars in Brazil. These four automakers account for 80 percent of the auto market in Brazil.

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