The Problem With Ethanol

Do we really need Ethanol and the politicians who support this boondoggle? From Jennifer Barry at Global Asset Strategist:

In the alternative energy debate, it’s important to question if ethanol is a good idea at all. It lowers fuel efficiency in cars by 30% over the same amount of gasoline. If you are using 10% ethanol gasoline…, it shaves 3% off your mileage even if it doesn’t negatively impact performance. If you switch to E85 fuel, your car will require about 1.5 times as much fuel per mile, and your fuel pump and injectors will have to be larger to allow an adequate amount of energy to reach the engine.

Senator Thune of South Dakota, a major ethanol producing state, claims that ethanol saves the consumer 50 cents per gallon. However, the lower fuel economy overrides that benefit. Ethanol can corrode steel and polymer engine parts that were designed for gasoline, so your repair costs may climb as well. U.S. taxpayers also have to shoulder the cost of ethanol subsidies, so government intervention is hardly free. If the subsidies disappear while mandates remain, the direct cost will jump substantially as well.

Ethanol creates new transportation and safety hassles as well. It can’t be moved via pipeline, so it has to be shipped via ship, truck, or railcar. Transportation opens up opportunities for accidents and fires. Unfortunately, most fire departments lack the training and specialized supplies necessary to meet the unique challenges of ethanol blazes. Ethanol vapor is more flammable than gasoline, and its nearly invisible flame can’t be extinguished with water.


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