Home > Legal Issues, Solution-Problem, Unintended Consequences > Great moments in unintended consequences, ethanol edition number 9,567

Great moments in unintended consequences, ethanol edition number 9,567

What more can be said about ethanol?  It creates greater amounts of greenhouse gases than gasoline, it pushes up the cost of food, it often takes more energy to create than you get from burning it, it causes massive distortions in the marketplace, and it costs billions upon billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies.  Both radical environmentalists and conservative Republicans have banded together to highlight the myriad flaws in logic and politics implicated by the ethanol mandate.

Which is why it’s good news to see carmakers finally get in on the act.  Usually government patsies, the carmakers are finally starting to push back with a lawsuit against the EPA for mandating E15, or a 15% ethanol mixture in gasoline.  According to Autoblog’s Jeff Glucker,

The fight against E15 is heating up as a group of automakers have joined together to file a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to make available higher blends of ethanol for newer vehicles.

The groups are looking to overturn the EPA’s decision to grant a partial waiver for E15. Besides the environmental and possible vehicular effects that E15 can cause, the idea that the EPA can even grant a partial waiver is also being questioned.

In other words, this isn’t a lawsuit that would cure the problem.  Best case scenario, it would somewhat curtail the power of the unelected bureaucrats at the EPA and slow the as yet uninterrupted rollout of ethanol.  However, given the regulatory climate lately, these are not insignificant goals.  While we wait for momentum to build for the removal of ethanol subsidies, which will take cooperation from more or less every politician not in the corn belt, the least we can do is throw up every obstacle possible.

Also of interest to me, as a classic car owner, is the fact that E15 damages engines.  Of course, ethanol is corrosive to any engine, but modern cars have been built to better cope with its deleterious effects.  Less than a decade ago, however, no car was built to run on this poison, and God help you if you own a classic.  According to Popular Mechanics:

Just about every gallon of gas pumped today contains as much as 10 percent domestically produced ethanol. Gummed-up fuel systems, damaged tanks and phase separation caused by stray moisture infiltrating fuel systems have plagued many consumers since this mixture debuted, and the problems will only get worse if government policy to increase the proportion of ethanol to gasoline is implemented.

Sounds like the basis for another Washington success story to me.  Read the Popular Mechanics article to see how your engine is being eaten from the inside.

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