Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted November 11, 2013
The cost of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hurts American businesses and consumers as ethanol production drives up food prices, higher-ethanol blend fuels get less mileage than conventional gasoline and higher blends can damage to engines both large and small.
The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) and others associated with classic cars are especially concerned with the impact on engines that weren’t designed for fuels containing ethanol – much less higher-ethanol blends – at a time when ethanol-free fuel is getting harder to find because the RFS-driven ethanol “blend wall” is forcing E0 gasoline out of the market, reducing choice for consumers. More on ethanol and the RFS from their perspective.
Posted November 8, 2013
The U.S. Department of Energy’s flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) fleet apparently isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A recent inspector general’s report found that DOE has been fueling its FFVs with regular gasoline instead of E85, eliminating many supposed environmental or cost benefits of having a fleet of cars that can use fuel containing up to 83 percent ethanol.
Two of DOE’s sites leased 854 FFVs at an additional cost of $700,000 over a comparable conventional fleet. In 2011, the managers of the cars were granted waivers for more than 75 percent of the vehicles so they could be filled with conventional fuel, “a practice that provided little or no environmental or economic benefit,” the IG said.
Here’s the significance in the ongoing debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use: Although the ethanol lobby keeps touting the benefits of FFVs and E85, the situation with DOE’s FFV fleet illustrates the fact that even the government, which was mandated to use the product, didn’t want to use it. This is consistent with the experience of the general public, which hasn’t accepted the use of E85 in their FFVs.
Posted October 31, 2013
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 84 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide, is closely watching public discussion of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandates and the push for wider use of E15 fuel. That’s because the small engines its members build and supply aren’t designed for higher ethanol blends. A look at E15 from OPEI and others in the small-engine sector.
Posted October 28, 2013
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) talked last week about a recent survey from Harris Interactive that showed: “… more than three-fourths of Americans fear that E15 fuel may damage car engines and fuel system components, the American Motorcyclist Association reports. Also, more than two-thirds of those surveyed believe that using more corn for ethanol production could force up food prices …”
Here is more on E15, from the AMA.
Posted October 7, 2013
It lurks on every car or truck dashboard, the little indicator light that indicates potentially big problems with your vehicle’s engine. If you’re like me, a glowing “check engine” light elicits a groan, a facepalm and maybe some choice words – if not instant fear that the engine might conk out right then and there. In any case a visit to the repair shop is in my future. There, my mechanic will try to figure out what the heck could be causing the “Malfunction Indicator Light” (MIL), to come on. It might be a problem, or it might be a false alarm, in which case you’re still out the time and inconvenience of a wasted trip to the mechanic.
Things to keep in mind as we revisit the issue of E15 fuel and falsely illuminating MILs, because research indicates that fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol could cause check engine lights to falsely illuminate.
Posted September 18, 2013
In a piece in Forbes, contributor Michael Lynch writes that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is “one of the worst-designed government policies since we had caverns full of surplus cheese.” Yeah, that’ll leave a mark.
Yet, Lynch's characterization is on target in the case of the broken, out-of-touch RFS – with its ever-rising mandates for ethanol use that are propelling us toward the refining “blend wall” and potential harm to consumers and the broader economy. Bob Greco, API’s group director of downstream and industry operations, detailed the “reality gap” reasons the RFS should be repealed in a conference call with reporters – reasons that also back industry’s request that EPA reduce the total renewable fuels volume requirement to a level below 10 percent of overall gasoline demand for 2014.
Posted March 14, 2013
Posted January 30, 2013
Earlier this week API highlighted new research by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) on serious potential problems with vehicle fuel systems when operated on E15 fuel – gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.
In addition to CRC’s research, we want to call attention to a recent paper from Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) that was published by the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE). This study examined the effects of E15 on malfunction indicator lights (MIL), also known as “check engine lights.”
Posted October 15, 2010
coordinating research council department of energy domestic energy e15 energy policy environmental protection agency epa ethanol ethanol blends fuel fuel blends gasoline over regulation e20 emissions control equipment
Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 14, 2010