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Not Satisfied with Gluttonous Profits and Environmental Catastrophe, the Oil Industry Works Overtime to Malign Alternative Fuels

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What qualifies as gluttonous profits? How about 8,000%! *

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

Originally published May 8, 2010

May 8, 2010: Late yesterday, Friday afternoon, I received a curious email from someone purporting to be with a website called; an online entity that I've always felt was nothing more than a petroleum oil industry sponsored bully pulpit. They take the position that alternative fuels are scams and that there is no possibility of America (or other countries) ever achieving “energy independence.” Ironically, their stated motto is “Leading the debate. Beating the Street.” In practice, however, it appears that they don’t engage in debate at all, but rather the dissemination of lies and distortions, at least as far as alternative fuels is concerned.

EnergyTribune introduces its Editor-in-Chief, Michael J. Economides, as being a PhD professor of engineering, author of numerous peer-reviewed papers and “among America's leading energy analysts.” Given the misinformation that they present about alternative fuels and technologies it makes one wonder what rating system is being used to claim Mr. Economides as a leader.

In any event, the subject of the email was “Automakers' Concerns with E15.” It read, “Nicholas Hollis thought you might find the attached link article of interest…form fitted for The Auto Channel. Click to Energy Tribune- The Threat of E15.”

SIDE NOTE: The story’s byline claims that its author is with the ‘Ethanol Transparency Project,’ a sponsored program of “The Agribusiness Council.” After perusing information about The Agribusiness Council I would say that its name is as ill-conceived in describing its real purpose as “National Socialism” was to describe Hitler’s Nazi Party. On their website, the Ethanol Transparency Project champions the elimination of distorted information regarding alternative fuels.

Thinking that the email was a legitimate news tip and that the story would be something of interest to The Auto Channel, I read it (I do have a nasty habit of actually reading, although I admit it can be a troublesome habit to those people who would prefer that you just accept their sound bite or headline rather than details and facts).

The central points of Hollis’ article are that tests results show that e15 ethanol will damage many car engines and that the “auto industry” is urging the EPA to delay raising the allowable alcohol blend in gasoline from a current 10% to 15%. (Reports that high level alcohol ethanol will damage engines is completely untrue - See February 2009 NREL Report)

Well, the story was interesting, not because of what it said, but because of what it didn’t say. It didn’t say, for example, who in the auto industry is urging the EPA to delay. It didn’t name a single company or a single individual. The story also did not say what tests were done, to which vehicles, when, and by whom. Nor did it say what kind of damage was sustained. There was no supportive data or information of any kind. The story was merely one large bogus threat sound bite designed to denigrate a viable alternative fuel versus gasoline’s dominance. In contrast to the name of Mr. Hollis’ organization, there was no transparency in this story. It is just an exercise in obfuscation. In contrast to the Ethanol Transparency Project’s efforts to eliminate distortion, it merely uses distortion of the truth against ethanol. (Read the article at

Now, you might ask, “What’s the big deal, it was only an insignificant article published at the end of a long week filled with dismal news about the economy, the environment and new threats of terrorism?”

The big deal is that this article was published as the lead story on the front page of a website that, by virtue of having as its Editor-in-Chief an ‘industry leading analyst,’ gives this hatchet-job importance that is far beyond its journalistic worth.

So the next question is why was the story published on this particular Friday afternoon? I think the answer is partially because of the disastrous news about the BP Oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, which has again elevated the argument against petroleum oil products. If oil industry lackeys can convince enough people that there is no viable alternative to gasoline then we are left to believe that catastrophes such as oil spills and oil-induced wars are necessary evils that we just have to accept.

The other answer regarding the story’s timing is that this weekend is the Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Industry exposition in Las Vegas. This is the largest and most important annual event of its kind in America. The Auto Channel has covered it extensively in the past. There is sure to be a great number of pro-alternative fuel stories hitting the national press, so what better time to plant vicious lies to try and mitigate the positive news.

Except for those people who make gluttonous profits from petroleum oil, it is in everyone’s best interests to destroy OPEC and the ruling hierarchy of the gasoline companies. Energy independence from foreign dictators and terrorism supporters can be had, and there are economically viable alternatives to gasoline that are available right now. Alcohol (ethanol) is one, and it may be as close to a viable single source solution to oil as is possible.

*Gluttonous profits: it cost the Saudis a bit less than one dollar to suck a barrel's worth of oil from the ground. So, at $80 per barrel they make a profit of more than 8,000%.

For more information and science about ethanol and other alternative fuels click on the links below:

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report - Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Vehicle Evaluations (Feb 2009)
Alcohol and Driving Do Mix
2008 Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Conference in Las Vegas