Another nonsensical government regulation

Yesterday, the EPA decided, over the objections of most automobile manufacturers, that it would “allow ” a mixture of 15% ethanol in all gasoline sold in the United States for all model year 2001 through 2006 cars.  Last October it did the same for all model year 2007 and later.  By now you know that the word “allow” in government speak means “mandate”.  But, how we got here, as well as its consequences, is yet another example of what I will call, “bureaucratic blinders”.

Years ago the EPA decided that America needed a fixed number of gallons of ethanol in our gasoline each year.  And, that fixed number of gallons, per EPA regulation, has been steadily increasing over time.  We started out with a 10% mixture of ethanol in our fuel, but, over time, a 10% mixture didn’t get us to the mandated number of gallons of ethanol.  So, to attain the mandated number of gallons, our fuel will now contain 15% ethanol.

Meanwhile, also  per government mandate, our cars have become more and more fuel efficient, and so we are consuming less and less fuel, and thus less and less ethanol.  Logic would dictate that the EPA would revisit the original rule and mandate less and less total gallons of ethanol consumption to match our greater fuel economy, but, government is far from logical.  And so, we all run the risk of voiding our car warranties in order to meet an EPA standard that no longer makes any sense.

But, the effect of the EPA’s rules is even more damaging, this time to our economy.  Ten years ago 7% of our corn production was devoted to ethanol production.  That number rose to an astounding 39.4% in 2010.  That translates into less corn available for food, and a resulting higher price for corn.  Although you may think you are not affected by this, you are.

Corn is used as feed for animals.  So, as corn prices rise, so too does the price of beef and chicken, as well as the price of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, and anything else that is produced with corn.

The irony here is that recently none other than the EPA,

…has found that ethanol production has a minimal to negative impact on the environment.  Even Al Gore, once an ethanol evangelist, now says his support has more to do with Presidential politics in Iowa and admits the fuel provides little or no environmental gain. [emphasis supplied]

And, were that not enough, last December our “lame duck” Congress threw another $5 billion in tax subsidies to ethanol.

The movie clip Jim uses each day to open his show comes to mind.  “Do you know what a zombie is…”

Posted in


The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Dimsdale on January 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Let us also consider that this might be a means of getting older vehicles off the road.  Older vehicles, boats, small engines etc., are all very intolerant of this bastardized fuel, and as such, will have even more problems than they are having with E10.


    So we turn food into fuel that is less efficient, produces no significant gain in emissions, drives the price of most food through the roof and destroys the fuel systems of perfectly good engines?


    Genius!  /sarcasm


    And we let these feebs run our government/jigger with our health care/control our schools etc.?  What are we thinking?


    I don't understand how they are allowed to run around without chaperones/keepers/handlers!

  2. joe_m on January 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Always an informative read, thanks SOS.

    Wonder what the environmental impact is for all the failed seals because of ethanol in the fuel?

    Leaking seals leaking oil and gasoline all over our roads. Betcha they didn't figure that in.

  3. sammy22 on January 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Far easier to beat-up on the Executive Branch than on the Legislative Branch. The EPA is doing what Congress has legislated, no more, no less.

  4. kareyk on January 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I just bought a new car- 2011.  In the manual it states "Do not use gasohol containing more than 10% ethanol, and do not use gasoline or gasohol containing any methanol.  Either of these fuels may cause driveability problems and damage to the fuel systems.  Discontinue using gasohol of any kind if driveability problem occur.  Vehicle damage or driveability problems may not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty if they result from the use of 1: Gasohol containing more than  10% ethanol.  2. Gasoline or gasohol containing methanol.  3.  leaded fuel or leaded gasoline."  Now, what the hell am I supposed to do?

    It's only a matter of time before the dates are moved forward.

  5. Dimsdale on January 23, 2011 at 7:47 am

    You are right, sammy.  No issues on blaming all the incompetents down there.  But the Øbama administration is facilitating this farce with its unilateral regs on CO2 etc., so their hands are far from clean.

  6. sammy22 on January 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

    If you go west of, say the Delaware River, you find cars (even rentals) which run on Flex fuel, which any gas with up to 15% ethanol. Of course, New England is a very special place.

  7. johnboy111 on January 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    also the poor landscaper with all those small engines[weed whackers and leaf blowers]that just burn out with this "crap" fuel…your prices are going up people to cover my costs.

  8. JollyRoger on January 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I lost at least 4 MPG with E10, so my mileage will go down even further while my fuel taxes will go up…  And as the dollar gets weaker, the fuel costs more; so the fuel taxes go up even further…  And since there's a democrat president, and all of the liberal media are in favor of higher taxes and $7 per gallon gasoline, the media won't be playing their violins about gas prices like they did when Bush was President.  If in need of a scapegoat, the media will just blame Palin- she and Alaska are just greedy oil-mongers!

  9. winnie888 on January 24, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Holy crap…for once I'm ahead of the curve.  My Ford Taurus sedan is a flexfuel car.  How I managed to fall into this lucky(?) bit of fortune, I'll never know.  🙂  At least when our other car's engine blows up from the E15 we'll have something to fall back on.

  10. NH-Jim on January 24, 2011 at 4:15 am

    What is this costing US?


    <a title="Consumer Reports: EPA Announces limited Use of E-85" href="; rel="nofollow">The destruction of older auto engines, small engines (grass trimmers, lawn mowers, etc.) is just what the "doctor" ordered.


    1.  What a brilliant way to get the economy on the mend; for all the hundreds of millions of internal combustion engines that will be destroyed from this "snake oil" will need replacement (on our dime, of course.  Just consider it yet another tax).  Well, one way the EPA will resolve this is to have separately labeled pumps, <a title="Consumer Reports: Safeguards at the Pump" href="; rel="nofollow">E-10 for Pre-2007 engines & E-85 for 2007 & later.  Does anyone recall the change over from leaded to unleaded in the 70's?


    2.  Refiners who follow the "mandate" of <a title="Consumer Reports: Gov't Support for Ethanol" href="; rel="nofollow">E-15 will receive a federal tax credit of 51 cents per gallon (also from our pocketbooks and wallets).  This credit is designed to artificially raise the cost of ethanol for the farmers/ethanol producers and is supported by the farm lobbyists.


    Let's go further.


    3.  But, despite the this tax credit, E-85 production costs 70 cents more per gallon than gasoline.  (Once again, out of your wallet.)


    4.  The feds provide significant tax credits to auto manufacturers who build E-85 flex-fuel vehicles.  (Open your wallets, folks)


    5.  <a title="Consumer Reports: Gov't Support for Ethanol" href="; rel="nofollow">Read the article for the twisted logic of Flex-fuel vehicles and the CAFE standards. (Paragraph 5)


    Are you broke yet?

  11. Dimsdale on January 24, 2011 at 5:30 am

    E15 is like the "cash for clunkers" program, except this time, the government isn't doling out checks, just regulations.

  12. Law-AbidingCitizen on January 24, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Another of the Great Lies in action: "Hi, we're from the government and we're here to help you!"


    Whether you wanted it or not, needed it or not, here is the government playing the "do-good nanny state" guiding us poor know-nothings with their imposed rules and regulations. And, all their rules and regulations just make a mess of everything and we get to pay for it.


    Wait 'til spring and we start getting our regionally-blended "boutique" fuels that are formulated by region from some unknown and undisclosed formula to (supposedly) lower emissions. Of course the price of gasoline will go up and up and emissions will be down only because fewer gallons will be purchased simply because the price will be out of reach for many Americans. Thus only p[roving the governments point, ". . . that putting 15% ethanol into the gasoline has brought down emissions." (Conveniently ignoring all other factors.)


    How come this doesn't happen with Republican governments? Hmmmm?


  13. sammy22 on January 25, 2011 at 5:32 am

    And what flavor of Party was in charge from 2003 to 2009 when all this ethanol stuff was enacted?

  14. SeeingRed on January 26, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Sammy22 – you have a snarky answer for everything, don't you?  Bottom line is that the ethanol craze, supported by our 'government' is more than a joke on so many levels.  What angle to you have to defend its use?

    You're obviously a Lefty of giant proportion.  Are you an environmentalist?  If so – see Algore on the efficacy of E in our gas.  Are you a farmer receiving subsidies?  Are you a unaffected by the increase in every day staples as a result of the subsidies and 39% of our corn production going to make E?  Can you talk for a minute on the logic of destroying small internal combustion engines/fuel systems as a result of using E in gasoline?  How about telling us how gasoline leaks by the millions caused by the failing of rubber and plastics-based fuel system seals is a good thing for our environment?  You know – like MTBE was?

    It doesn't matter WHO was in the White House – the fact of the matter is that we know about the out-of-control train now.  I'll bet you would have had some nice things to say about The Final Solution had you lived during the early '40's?

  15. Tim-in-Alabama on January 26, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I went to my local Chevrolet dealer last week to have my pre-government and union takeover Silverado serviced, and while I waited, I picked up the 2011 Silverado sales flyer. It boasted of the 15/22 mph mileage of the truck's FlexFuel 5.3 L V8. That's pretty good mileage for a strong performing engine. My non-FlexFuel 5.3's best mileage was between 20 and 21 before fuel was adulterated with ethanol. However, there was a footnote in the sales flyer. When used with E85, the new Silverado's fuel mileage plummets to 11/16 – that's a 27 percent drop in highway mileage. So the government is promoting a fuel that is less efficient at the same time it demands higher MPG standards. Brilliant!

    No matter who is responsible for the ethanol boondoggle, it's time to end it. Our government is subsidizing and mandating a fuel that costs more energy to produce than it delivers; damages older vehicle and small equipment engines; takes food out of the people and animal supply chain; and basically just sucks for most of the nation.

  16. sammy22 on January 26, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Guess what SeeingRed, I lived in the early 40's in a country that had a REAL fascist dictatorship AND I survived. The sky is not always falling.

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