ETHANOL FUEL - Is Biden's Mis-Administration Turning the Final Screw on Ethanol's Coffin?
Our Evolved Ethanol Opinion & Position
By Marc J. Rauch
Author of THE ETHANOL PAPERS
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
In light of the latest news that the EPA is backsliding on its lukewarm support of ethanol, and the Biden Mis-Administration's refusal to respect or honor previous support of ethanol fuel, we present this overview.
Bob Gordon and I continue to believe that ethanol fuel is the only sensible near-term and medium-term solution to the real and imagined problems we all face related to energy independence, air-borne health risks, pollution, man-made climate change, the job market, and general financial well-being.
However, we are not optimistic about ethanol fuel's re-emergence into the international discussion.
There is nothing wrong with internal combustion engines, except for the filthy fuels that has been primarily used to power them (gasoline and diesel). The engines work great, they move vehicles as fast as is needed for short and very long trips, there are plenty of people already trained in maintaining them, the existing refueling infrastructure is extensive, and there are many ancillary industries with millions of employees who support their families because of their jobs.
We do believe that electric vehicles will be, or can be, the vehicles of the future. But a big question is the same question that was first posed about EVs more than a century ago: When will that future arrive?
The only thing needed to keep internal combustion engines relevant until that future arrives is a fully tested, safer, healthier, cleaner, less expensive, easily accessible, and domestically produced fuel. That fuel is ethanol.
In addition to ethanol being all these things, it can be used right now, today, in every single internal combustion engine regardless of the age of the engine or its manufacturer, whether it's flex-fuel or not, and with no modifications necessary to the existing engines. More to the point, I'm not just meaning the use of E10 or E15, I'm talking about blends from E30 to E50. Some engines might require slight modification to use the highest blend levels E70 to E95, but most of those modifications could be made very simply and cheaply. Internal combustion engine vehicles running on high ethanol blends are as clean or cleaner than EVs and hybrids.
To build new engines that could truly optimize the characteristics of ethanol, engine manufacturers could accomplish this almost immediately with little or no additional cost to building the engines.
BEYOND THE BASICS
Something happened, something that has stepped in the way and shunted aside ethanol, taking it out of serious contention as the solution to the problems set forth above. It's made ethanol's future uncertain and made Bob Gordon and I pessimistic.
In short, we believe this is because of two major factors: The ethanol industry stakeholders, and the automobile industry.
In the first instance, ethanol stakeholders vested themselves in the hands of advocacy groups who moved too timidly and too slowly. They were too worried about pissing off the oil industry (who they say is their biggest customer), and politicians (who they think they have to rely on to advance ethanol's usage). The problem is that the oil industry has no interest in doing anything that is beneficial to America or the population at large, they only do what is good for them. Politicians are primarily driven by where election campaign funds come from. They should be worried about the voters, but as long as voters are kept in the dark about issues (such as the truth about ethanol) then the voters don't raise any significant concerns and the politicians are allowed to continue as normal to just seek out the biggest campaign contributors - the oil industry.
Meanwhile, the main ethanol advocacy groups have carved out really nice, cushy jobs for themselves and they don't go out of their way to rock the boat or to change the status quo by teaching the public, and consumer influencers, the truth about ethanol (which would then lead to putting pressure on the politicians to wake the hell up). Instead, what they and some of the larger ethanol stakeholders have done is to sidle up to the alarm of man-made climate catastrophe in the hope that they can ride its coattails under the premise that ethanol fuel will stave off the impending doom.
It is true that ethanol fuel is far cleaner, safer, and healthier than gasoline and diesel, but moving from E10 to E15 will not have the real desired effects - it's not enough. Ethanol fuel usage should elevate to much higher blend levels (E40 and above), or to replace gasoline almost entirely by mandating E85 and higher blends. But, a very large part of the AGW alarmist industry doesn't like or believe in the use of ethanol, so they are not helping advance the usage of ethanol fuel. Moreover, although pollution and health risks are caused by the use of gasoline and diesel fuel, man-made catastrophic climate change as prophesied by Al Gore and the Swedish teenage troll is a fraud. Ultimately, as the public tires of the scare-tactics and compulsory financial burdens related to chasing the fantasy called Green New Deal, allying themselves with the climate-change fraud will backfire on ethanol fuel by casting the impression that it, too, is a fraud.
In regard to why the automobile industry has moved away from ethanol/alcohol fuel blends to power the next generation of automobiles, a la the Flex Fuel vehicle movement from a decade and a half ago, and have now embraced electric vehicles so fanatically, it's purely a matter of financial life or death.
New light-vehicle sales (cars, pick-ups, SUVs, and vans) are stagnant. They've been stagnant for nearly half a century. For example, despite the U.S. population increasing by about 50% from 1976 to today, annual new light vehicle sales have stayed pretty much the same every year. As the graph (from Statista.com) below shows, new vehicle sales remained in the same yearly range. Median and average sales per year stayed at a little over 14 million units.
Automakers desperately need a paradigm shift, in fact, they a windfall. They need something that breaks sales out of the rut. They need annual sales in the U.S. and other traditional markets to increase 50%, 100%, 200% per year, year-to-year. The only way to accomplish this is if a significant part of the existing on-road fleet changes out over each year. New audio systems won't be enough reason to stimulate the turnover; new upholstery fabrics won't do it; re-designed LED headlights are not the seismic innovation that cause millions of vehicle owners to literally abandon their fully-functioning internal combustion engine automobiles for something new. There has to be a totally revolutionary, life-changing, hair-restoringly wonderful, fountain-of-youth transformative event. Unfortunately, magic wands and Aladdin's lamps are in very short supply.
But, with a few well-placed government edicts, and presidential executive orders banning the production of new ICE vehicles, along with eventually banning re-sales of older ICE vehicles (something we believe will eventually be threatened, if not actually enacted by the government), it could be possible to force sales growth in America up over the 20 million mark to 25 million, 30 million, maybe 40 million new vehicles per year. This would surely give the automakers the windfall that they need.
In addition, the sales tax revenue would be just what federal and state coffers need to try to recover from years of terrible mismanagement (from both political parties). Therefore, state governors and state legislators are adopting premature, ill-conceived regulations that they hope will take the pressure off them to do their jobs properly and earnestly.
From our small corner of the world, we're trying to keep the ethanol fuel solution alive solely because we believe it is right for America and the world. Unfortunately, we get no support from the ethanol industry itself to make it happen, and we see no one else with the cojones to step into the ring. Ethanol is good for Americans!
The links listed below will help to further explain our position, and how it has evolved to this point.