EPA Approves E15 Ethanol, pleasing nobody. Or did they?

The US EPA proves once again that it does not have anybody’s interest, not to mention our country’s environmental interest, at heart. In a puzzling decision, they decided to endorse E15 ethanol fuel as an increase above E10 (whew! what a relief) as an approved fuel for use in all cars made after 2007. What?! Even the ethanol supporters shrugged about this one. Who cares? An extra 5% approved for cars less than 3 years old? What kind of market demographic is that?

The petroleum industry was slightly more petulant in their response: The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association said the decision was all about politics and that the EPA was asking consumers to “pump first, ask questions later:”

EPA’s unwise and premature decision to allow the sale of gasoline with higher levels of ethanol may be good politics in Corn Belt states on the eve of the midterm elections, but it is bad news for every American who owns a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, lawnmower, chainsaw or anything else powered by gasoline.

The ethanol industry has won a victory today by convincing the federal agency charged with protecting our nation’s public health and environment to disregard public safety and environmental issues and instead base a major policy decision on inadequate engine test data that has not been made public or reviewed independently. The American people are the losers today because EPA has violated President Obama’s 2009 commitment to them to put science ahead of politics

What a childish and unsurprising response from Big Oil.  Yes, we know you don’t want anybody tapping into your market.  We know you don’t want this “new fangled biofuel” stuff messing with your product stream.

Could you stick your head any farther into the sand and pretend that we’re not handing over billions of dollars every week to the Arabs, prices are going higher every quarter on foreign oil, and America needs to come up with a solution to retard or stop our dependence upon countries that hate us?   Maybe ethanol and biodiesel aren’t the answer, but they are at least a bridge to get us out.  Both are a drop in replacement for petroleum.

Environmental groups don’t seem to love ethanol  either. Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Kate McMahon says ethanol actually leads to more greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA’s own studies.

The only thing ‘green’ about ethanol is the color of the cash subsidies handed to it by Congress,” added McMahon.  “With this announcement, the Obama administration is bucking its own scientific findings in favor of maintaining President Bush’s failed energy policies, which increased the consumption of bad biofuels like ethanol, instead of promoting truly sustainable alternatives.”

Increased blends of ethanol in gasoline could increase emissions of toxic air pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide, when burned in engines not built to withstand more ethanol.  This danger applies to the vast majority of engines currently in service, from cars to boats to lawnmowers.

Note she couldn’t be bothered to actually state any “sustainable alternatives“.  All practical fuels pollute the air when burned.  Hell, wood pollutes when it burns.  It’s just that some fuels pollute less when they are burned.  That’s the idea for biofuels, at least from an environmental standpoint.  But that’s not really the best part about biofuels.  The best part is that they are domestic.  We need domestic products, domestic jobs, and a domestic economy.  Ethanol and bioidesel can help fuel that (pun intended).

To the EPA, Friends of Earth, and the Petroleum Industry: Find something better.   I’ll buy it.  Until then, shut up and try to help our country instead of putting your own self interest first and mucking up the facts about what the problem is and how to solve it.   The short version, for the obtuse:  “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”.

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