« Agriculture

The future of Ethanol in American vehicles

by Dan Cash

I think the reason that guy talks to us from under the car he’s working on, is because he can’t look us in the eye - - or else he can’t resist smiling - - when he tells us those horrible possibilities if we use ethanol-fortified gasoline.  He goes on to suggest, although he doesn’t actually claim, that such a practice may even void the warranty on our new car.  You know the one - - you’ve seen him on TV, probably heard him on radio, too.  He includes the claim that “Triple A” has provided this expression of concern.  We’re supposed to assume “Triple A” is the American Automobile Association, although he doesn’t actually say that in so many words.

There’s more than just one organization or group of people and/or associations who don’t like ethanol, and other biofuels, for very self-serving reasons, although that’s never the main point in any protest, or demand for reversal of the Renewable Fuels regulations.  This aforementioned guy, by the way, and his message are sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute- - -and we should give “Big Oil” a courtesy nod for having the guts to acknowledge the involvement.

I’ve been paying attention to the renewable fuels debates for some time now, because the number one renewable fuel is ethanol, and the number one source of raw material for ethanol production is corn and corn is agriculture, and - - well, you get the picture.

Other than the reference “possibly voiding the warranty . . . . . .” Nonsense, our petroleum mechanic - - and almost surely he’s an actor, portraying a mechanic, doesn’t offer any further negatives regarding you and I using renewable fuel in our vehicles.

It does occur to me that “Big Oil” is mounting a frantic effort to slow down the current federal campaign through the Environmental Protection Agency basically, to move us all to cleaner-burning motor fuel.  (remember when it was all about freeing us from dependence on foreign oil producers?)

There’s recently been increased Congressional support for legislation supporting an open fuel standard.  The commentary from Renewable Fuels Association’s Bob Dineen contends 76% of Americans recently surveyed want manufacturers to produce vehicles that run on fuels other than oil.  Here it is expressed more certainly- - - “. . . . .   .vehicles that would run solely on non-petroleum based fuels or in addition to petroleum based fuels.” The proposed legislation would require that capability of 30 percent of vehicles produced in 2015, up to 50% of those produced in 2016  and beyond.

I’m just sure the American Petroleum Institute claims would be much more vehement, if they were only slightly valid.  But they aren’t. API, like Don Quixote, is tilting at windmills.

Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached atkhguenther@att.net. He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.