American Elephants


The Mystery and Magic of Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard by The Elephant's Child

10020841+1ethanol092114Back in the dim reaches of the 20th Century, when scientists discovered the eternally expanding global warming grant proposal that gave them prestige; fun world conferences; better furnished departments; assistants and best of all they became Climate Scientists instead of just some PhD in an obscure part of the science building—the IPCC was founded, the EPA was founded and equipped with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, so someone or other decided it would be a good idea if we started adding large quantities of Iowa corn to our gas tanks as a biofuel called Ethanol.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the first Renewable Fuels Standard that required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012. The idea was that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing reliance on imported oil.

Sounded like a good idea. But ethanol has also raised the cost of driving. It seems that the renewable fuel has cost drivers an extra $83 billion to fill their gas tanks while doing little if any good for the climate. 40 percent of the corn grown in the United states goes into ethanol.  Current ethanol blends produce fewer miles per gallon, so drivers pay more to go the same distance.

Ethanol adds more CO2 to the atmosphere than it eliminates by replacing fossil fuels. Beyond that it has led farmers to plow up more land to grow corn.  And thanks to shale gas and fracking, America no longer needs renewable fuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil. We are the richest oil producing state in the world. Farmers and ethanol producers were hoping to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline to 15% or more, but automobile engines cannot take that amount without damage.

If we replaced the 18 billion gallons of ethanol required under the EPA’s 2016 RFS, it would reduce the oil glut and improve the nation’s carbon footprint even more. Nevertheless, this is an issue in the campaign in Iowa. You will be hearing about corporate welfare.


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