Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

Posts tagged “oxygenate”

By Russ Finley on Mar 18, 2012 with 12 responses

Clearing the Air On Ethanol Mandates

A regular commenter on the R-Squared blog made some reasonable, articulate, and civil comments under my previous post. Rather than address them in the comment field I’ve opted to give my response (which got rather lengthy) in a new post.

If the EPA doesn’t want to up the blend wall, there’s plenty of demand for ethanol around the world. It’s an excellent oxygenate, if nothing else. And there’s no shortage of smog filled cities.

Nobody is arguing to remove the freedom to blend corn ethanol into fuel as an additive if desired by refiners. A 2004 CARB study showed that ethanol actually increased smog forming emissions relative to non-oxygenated gas by 45%. Two years later the EPA dropped the requirement to oxygenate gas. Modern cars can meet very strict emissions standards in a variety of ways.

The official stated goal of ethanol mandates is to reduce dependency on foreign oil, not smog. Although, spending billions to create a corn ethanol refinery infrastructure to replace a modest portion of our oil with a fuel that itself derives 70% of its energy content from fossil fuels seems like a rather (pick a word) way to accomplish that goal. A corn crop can be seen as just one of many steps needed in a process to convert diesel, natural gas, and coal into ethanol.