Posted August 27, 2014
There was an interesting article last year from Ian Boyd, a chief scientific adviser in the government of the United Kingdom. In it Boyd looks at the role that science plays in public policy, including this clarification and warning:
Strictly speaking, the role of science should be to provide information to those having to make decisions, including the public, and to ensure that the uncertainties around that information are made clear. When scientists start to stray into providing views about whether decisions based upon the evidence are right or wrong they risk being politicised.
This comes to mind with a recent Huffington Post article lauding a proposal that would require Chicago service stations to offer E15 fuel, authored by Michael Wang and Jennifer Dunn, scientists with the Argonne National Laboratory.
Wang and Dunn write that mandating E15 – containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply – is a “step in the right direction,” because of its environmental benefits. Actually, the Chicago ethanol mandate would be a giant leap backward for consumers, small business owners and, yes, the environment.
Posted August 20, 2014
Other voices continue to weigh in on the higher-ethanol blend fuels, E15 and E85. Three associations representing independent petroleum marketing companies and fuel retail outlets have written the White House, expressing concern for the fuels’ compatibility with the nation’s vehicular fleet and consumer acceptance.
In separate letters to John Podesta, White House counselor for energy and climate policy – the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) in one and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in another – the associations caution that pushing more and more E15 and E85 into the fuel supply could cause problems for retailers and consumers.
Posted August 19, 2014
It is challenging to strike a balance between traditional energy sources, such as coal, oil and natural gas, and emerging renewables like wind and biomass. The Virginia Energy Plan, updated every four years by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, serves as a guide.
Posted August 15, 2014
Helmets off – as in motorcycle helmets – to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) for conducting an E10 fuel giveaway at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month in South Dakota.
We know Big Ethanol prefers ethanol in stronger doses than E10 (up to 10 percent content), but RFA must realize its efforts to get more of the higher ethanol-blend E15 into the nation’s fuel supply has risks with certain audiences.
Take motorcycle enthusiasts. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has been direct in its concerns about E15 in the fuel marketplace:
Inadvertent misfueling with E15 (15 percent ethanol by volume) fuel is a significant concern to AMA members. E15 use can void manufacturers’ warranties, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that E15 can damage engines. Although the EPA has approved its use in 2001-and-newer light-duty vehicles – which include cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles – the EPA has not approved its use in the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation. … Preventing these inadvertent misfuelings has been one of the AMA’s main concerns, because a vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs on the road and trail in the United States today are not designed to run on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. And many older machines favored by vintage motorcycle enthusiasts have problems with any ethanol in the fuel.
Posted August 15, 2014
Posted July 29, 2014
We posted a couple of times on a Chicago proposal to require city service stations to carry E15 (here and here). The good news is that this bad-news idea looks like it’s stuck in first gear. Local reports say a City Council committee took no action Monday after a marathon hearing ran out of gas (their pun, not mine).
The discussion included an E15 claim that’s worth another dose of debunking – that NASCAR’s use of E15 proves its suitability for your car or truck. Michael Lynch, NASCAR’s VP for green innovation, spoke at the hearing:
“We’ve been running now for six million miles, Sunoco Green E15 – which is exactly the kind of street fuel that is being proposed here – with great performance, and no issues whatsoever.”
Sigh. The what’s-good-for-NASCAR-is-good-for-the-family-car line, seemingly impermeable to fact, is a special favorite of the ethanol crowd (that’s Sen. Al Franken joy-riding the ethanol wagon, here). Previous posts debunking the NASCAR comparison here, here and here, but with racing’s 6 million-mile milestone approaching, we’ll take another shot.
Posted July 28, 2014
Chicago’s two largest daily newspapers both are editorializing against a proposed ordinance that would require the city’s gasoline stations to offer E15 fuel – a bad idea we debunked last week.
The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune cite a number of similar reasons for opposing the E15 mandate: research showing vehicle engines could be damaged from using a fuel for which they weren’t designed or warranted; significant cost impacts on small business owners who would have to retrofit filling stations to accommodate mandated E15; and skepticism for E15’s promised benefits.
Posted July 24, 2014
Reading content produced by opponents of the oil and natural gas industry, you see a lot of distortion, misinformation, myth and falsehood. Yet, it would be hard to identify something as packed with baloney as the supporting arguments for an idea that’s being advanced by a pair of Chicago aldermen – mandating that all of the city’s self-service gas stations offer E15 fuel.
Backers of the soon-to-be-voted-on proposal have a website, www.cleartheairchicago.com, that’s basically a clearinghouse for corn ethanol industry sophistry, trumpeting E15 as the elixir of cleaner air, reduced oil imports and lower gasoline prices – taking advantage of the public’s earnestness for all three. Unfortunately, the promises they attach to E15 are like so much snake oil.
Over and over we’ve rebutted Big Ethanol’s E15 arguments – underlying the special interest’s work to prop up the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use. A number of them are repeated to support the Chicago proposal: E15 is cleaner and cheaper than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. It’s acceptable for use in U.S. vehicles and is actually better for them than E10. E15, they claim, is about promoting consumer choice.
Posted June 27, 2014
Count the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) among those cautioning that rising ethanol mandates in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could negatively impact consumers. In a new analysis, CBO says RFS ethanol requirements by 2017 could cause an increase of 13 cents to 26 cents per gallon in the price of E10 gasoline, the most common vehicular fuel used in the U.S., a rise of 4 percent to 9 percent, and an increase of 30 cents to 51 cents per gallon in the price of petroleum-based diesel, or 9 percent to 14 percent.
Posted April 30, 2014
In seeking regulatory certainty, compliance with rules and deadlines and policies that acknowledge market realities, industry is hardly being unreasonable. Unfortunately, these are scarce in EPA’s setting of new ethanol use levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Let’s start with deadlines. Under the law EPA was supposed to tell refiners by the end of last November how much ethanol would have to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply this year. Four months into the year, refiners are still waiting. That’s regulatory uncertainty.
Market reality? EPA continues to signal on cellulosic biofuels that the 2014 mandate will have no connection to actual commercial production – setting up an absurd situation where refiners could be penalized because a “phantom fuel” doesn’t exist in commercial volumes necessary to satisfy the mandate.
Hello, EPA, can we talk?