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Big Oil's Anti-E15 Campaign Filled with Gross Exaggerations and Misinformation +VIDEO

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The people who rammed lead down our throats for nearly a century, and denied it was harmful, have a new story to peddle

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

AUTO CENTRAL - May 16, 2012: A bit more than 18-months ago, the EPA issued a study finding and held a teleconference to announce that after evaluation they determined that E15 engine fuel (15% ethanol mixed with 85% gasoline) had the same effects on spark-induced internal combustion engine vehicles manufactured after 2007 as E10 engine fuel (10% ethanol mixed with 90% gasoline), which in a word were "none."

   • Listen to the complete October 2010 EPA press conference

The oil and gasoline industry, along with all their paid politicians and media personalities became apoplectic. They issued press release after press release denouncing the EPA announcement in which they repeated their tired rhetoric about how harmful ethanol can be to automobile engines and challenged the EPA's authority to take on the study and then pronounce E15 ready for prime time. Big oil claimed that the EPA did not do sufficient testing and that their results were premature. They threatened, among other things, that they would sue the EPA.

Four months later, in January 2011, the EPA extended their E15 pronouncement to include all passenger car and light truck gasoline-engine vehicles manufactured for model years 2001-2006, thereby giving the green light to all such vehicles manufactured from 2001 on.

   • Read more about EPA's January 2011 Waiver

The oil-gasoline lobby had a sh-t fit. They re-circulated all the press releases they used four months before, added some new vitriolic condemnations, and made good on the promise to sue the EPA.

Again, Big Oil claimed that millions of vehicles would be damaged and that the EPA waiver was made without sufficient testing and that it was premature.

Today, the American Petroleum Institute and two auto manufacturer associations held their own teleconference to officially announce the finding of a study that they preliminarily released several days ago. This study, which was conducted by a private organization called Coordinating Research Council, studied the use of E15 in eight vehicles and found that two of the vehicles suffered from pitted valves, leaks, and loss of compression. A former member of CRC joined the Big Oil panel to present these results and explain the technical aspects. Using the study's results the group unanimously stated that their earlier criticism about the EPA results was correct, that the EPA was premature in issuing the waiver.

Listen to today's complete press conference

Not only did I listen to the press conference live, I participated in it. In my opinion this study and its findings are irrelevant, immaterial, off-base, wrong, and/or entirely fraudulent. The study and its findings continue a long history of oil industry misdeeds that were and are designed to keep America and most of the world enslaved to gasoline.

Let me take this point-by-point:

The EPA Waiver
The EPA took on the study of E15 because they were requested to do so by members of the ethanol industry. They didn't do it because of some New World Order socialist conspiracy to control our lives (I acknowledge that the EPA has been guilty of this, but this study didn't originate with them). Either because the request originated from an outside source, or because the EPA lacks the authority to mandate the use of E15, they did not mandate its use, they merely made a recommendation that it could be used without undue harm. They also recommended that additional warning labels be placed at filling stations to alert consumers to the fact that this fuel from an E15 pump was E15 fuel, as compared to E85, regular gasoline (E10), diesel, plain water or compressed air. Currently there are other similar labels on station pumps, so this label wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

The EPA's study was not conducted unreasonably quickly. The original request to test was submitted in March 2009. The preliminary findings were released in September 2010 - 18 months later. That period of time is at least as long as the study time conducted by CRC to dispute the EPA findings.

In today's anti-E15 press conference the Big Oil spokespeople stressed that CRC's study was conducted by experts. They used the word "experts" again and again, as if to say that the EPA relied merely on the opinion of monkeys. The EPA's study was based upon the work done by the government's testing laboratories - the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Argonne National Laboratory. I tried to ask the panel if they felt that the two U.S. labs were less expert or if they didn't have experts, but I was cut off before I could ask the question.

I can assure you that both government laboratories have experts, too. Oh, and by the way, when the EPA did the test they also tested E20 just see if perhaps E15 represented some invisible line that if broken would have disasterous effects. E20 proved as harmless to the tested engines as E15. How do I know this? During the October 2010 press conference, I asked if they tested any other blend levels at the same time. You can hear it for yourself if you listen to the press conference via the link above. (Argonne and NREL have actually been studying ethanol for years.)

So, knowing about the E20 test, you might ask, "Why didn't the EPA recommend E20, too?" I also asked that question. The answer was that they (the EPA) were only asked to test E15, so that's all they are responding to. The E20, as I mention above, was just used as a control of sorts. The significance here is that if the EPA wanted to force the evil ethanol monster on us, as API contends, they would have gone straight to E20. That information is only available to the world because the question was asked.

In addition, to support the findings of the government labs, Ricardo Laboratories - perhaps the worlds most prestigious private testing lab - conducted their own independent study of E15 and not only arrived at the same EPA conclusions, but they broadened their acceptance of E15 to include vehicles manufactured as far back as the 1994*.

   • Read about the Ricardo Study

Moreover, ethanol is not a new engine fuel. In fact it was used in the very first internal combustion vehicle in the 1820s. Up until the time when General Motors scientists invented the use of leaded-gasoline, ethanol was considered the better fuel. What the GM scientists sought to achieve with the invention of leaded-gasoline was a fuel that mimicked the performance qualities of ethanol. Gasoline didn't become the dominant fuel because it was better than ethanol, it became the dominant fuel because GM, the world's largest auto maker, found a way to make billions of dollars of profit by promoting their new patented product. GM was given a mighty assistance in achieving fuel dominance by partnering with John Rockefeller's oil-gasoline companies. Rockefeller then delivered the fait accompli to the contest when he gave millions of dollars in bribes to politicians to vote for Prohibition, virtually wiping ethanol from the field of competition.

Ethanol, and various blends of ethanol-gasoline, have been studied, tested and used in America and around the world for more than 150 years. To say that studies using ethanol are premature is as much of a joke as when the oil-gasoline industry and its political lackeys told us that leaded-gasoline was not harmful (Joe Biden once testified before Congress that leaded-gasoline was not harmful to humans).

Pitting Valves, Leaks and Loss of Compression
The anti-ethanol crowd likes to say that ethanol damages engines. They say it as if gasoline had no negative effect on engines. The panel members in today's anti E15 teleconference repeated this over and over. The truth is that gasoline damages engines. Gasoline causes pitted valves; gasoline can leak, engines that run on gasoline can experience compression loss. If you don't believe me, drive by any engine shop and look to see if they are working on any vehicle engines. These aren't engines that have been using ethanol, these engines are damaged because engines deteriorate over time, and gasoline damages engines.

Furthermore, if it wasn't for mixing ethanol with gasoline any higher compression engine (all modern engines) would blow apart because of the knock caused by straight gasoline. During the years that tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline the knock was quieted. When leaded-gasoline was finally legislated out of existence, the options were to go back to mixing in ethanol or methyl tert-butyl ether, aka MTBE. When it was finally realized that MTBE was another poison, and it too was eliminated, the only real solution reverted to the original solution, ethanol.

I've run across a few knuckleheads online who promote freedom of choice by saying that we Americans should be allowed to choose to not use gasoline with ethanol. It makes me laugh because if their gasoline didn't have any ethanol in it their engines would really experience damage. By the way, this freedom of choice has nothing to do with the Open Fuel Act, which truly would give us a choice in deciding which fuel to use.

Gasoline Engines Not Made for E15
Perhaps the only comment I heard during today's press conference that I agreed with was when one of the speakers said that gasoline engines were not made to run on E15. That statement is exactly correct. However it's a completely irrelevant and immaterial point to make.

The fact that a gasoline-optimized engine can run on any other fuel other than gasoline is absolutely remarkable. It's a testament to how fantastic ethanol is. Just think: if we were ever faced with the apocalyptic future, as envisioned for example in the Mad Max Road Warrior movie, we wouldn't have to hijack remnants of gasoline to run our gasoline-powered motor vehicles, we would just make ethanol out of almost anything regardless of where we are. We wouldn't need to drill thousands of feet below the surface with expensive equipment, we could simply ferment whatever grows and then use a stone age technology to distill it into alcohol.

The serious point I'm making here, and it's a point that most people overlook, is that ethanol isn't the perfect fuel for a gasoline-optimized engine because the engine is optimized to run on gasoline, not because ethanol is not as good or better. In an engine that is optimized to run on ethanol (with proper fuel injectors, appropriate spark timing, and greater piston compression), ethanol will perform equal to or better than a gasoline-optimized engine. Furthermore, if you tried to use pure gasoline or E10 in the ethanol-optimized engine your results would probably not equal the results of pure ethanol or a high ethanol-gasoline blend in a gasoline-optimized engine.

What we need is a fuel whose source and availability is not dependent upon foreign interests; a fuel whose success doesn't contribute to the war chests of terrorists and terrorist regimes; a fuel that doesn't poison us; a fuel that can be produced inexpensively; a fuel that can be produced in any geographic region. And we need a fuel like this right now, not 50 years in the future. Ethanol is that fuel. Ethanol's cousin, methanol, also meets these qualifications, particularly if the methanol is produced from easily sourced waste materials (not from CNG). Being able to power our vehicles from a fuel produced from an increasingly endless supply of human excrement is better than any Star Trek fantasy we can imagine, because it's doable right now.

As The Auto Channel opined in June 2008, we need legislation that mandates the end of new gasoline-powered vehicles. If you live in fear of a New World Order controlled by the people who occupy the United Nations building in Manhattan, you should be equally afraid of the people who occupy the OPEC headquarters in Geneva and their minions who are housed in the API office building in Washington, DC.

• SEE ALSO: No New Gasoline-Powered Vehicles...

* Why did Ricardo Labs only okay E15 for vehicles manufactured since 1994? In the early 1990's nearly all auto manufacturers changed certain metal and rubber components that were susceptible to corrosion from ethanol, in order to allow ethanol to be used without any harm. Typically any ethanol-gasoline blends with higher ethanol levels are not recommended for use in cars manufactured prior to about 1991-92. In any event, the great preponderance of vehicles on the road today were manufactured after the mid-1990's.