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Effort to Derail Latest E15 Decision is Faulty Wired

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Crossing negative wires result in a short-circuited story

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

Two months ago, the now infamous and debunked anti-ethanol study (Environmental Outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard), written by assistant scientist Tyler Lark and a handful of academics at the University of Wisconsin and two other institutions, was publicly published. This study was nothing more than the rehashing of the David Pimentel-Tad Patzek mythology that claims the production and use of ethanol fuel is environmentally dirtier than gasoline and requires far more energy to produce than the energy it provides.

The Pimentel-Patzek work was debunked almost immediately after it was published more than 15 years ago. However, the debunking, which included significant opposition from Tad Patzek's fellow professors at UC Berkeley, didn't deter the oil industry from promoting the untrue information. Unfortunately, the sheer power of the oil industry's checkbook allowed the lies to be spread right up until today, surfacing to be used by Tyler Lark and his associates as the basis of their recent fairytale.

Almost immediately after the publication of the Tyler Lark et al. study, it met with significant opposition from various entities including ethanol advocacy organizations and The Auto Channel:

Then, about five weeks after the publication of the Tyler Lark et al. report, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) issued a stinging rebuke of Lark's methodology and conclusions:

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By all accounts, the Tyler Lark et al. study should have been flushed down the toilet after ANL's report. But, as with the Pimentel-Patzek reports, the oil industry's money has kept Lark's tall tales alive. And now, in fact, just two days ago, Wired Magazine ( published a new anti-ethanol story that relies on the (false) information contained in the Tyler Lark et al. study. The Wired story is titled "Biofuels Are Getting a Second Look—and Some Tough Questions."

This Wired story, written by Matt Reynolds, has two big problems - in addition to the HUGE problem of spreading the fallacious Lark information. The first is that Reynolds makes no reference to the rebuttals presented by the ethanol advocacy groups, The Auto Channel, or Argonne National Laboratory. If Reynolds chose to ignore the rebuttals written by me, Renewable Fuel Association, and Growth Energy because he felt we are too one-sided in our opinions, it's somewhat understandable that they would hide what we have to say. But for Reynolds to ignore the results of the Argonne refutation, his story smacks of terribly shoddy research and reporting. There's an old term for this type of reporting: "Yellow Journalism." I think it fits here.

The second problem with yesterday's anti-ethanol story is that it reeks of a similar story that published in May 2009. That story, ostensibly written by Chuck Squatriglia, was titled "Another Argument Against Ethanol."

Now, when I say that the new story "reeks" of the old story, what I'm really saying is that I think Matt Reynolds simply plagiarized the Chuck Squatriglia story. I might not feel this way if Mr. Reynolds added something new to the same old anti-ethanol claims expressed in Mr. Squatriglia's story, or if he included some information to show that he actually conducted some research of his own (such as acknowledging that there have been serious rebuttals to the Lark study), but he did not.

Incidentally, the reason why the old anti-ethanol story is familiar to me is that I've criticized that story on several occasions in my previous editorials, most notably in my 2020 essay "Plumbing the Depths of Ethanol Ignorance."

In this essay, I exposed Chuck Squatriglia's story as having no journalistic integrity and providing no factual basis for decrying ethanol fuel. Squatriglia's story simply used an un-checked preposterous account written by automotive journalist Ed Wallace to assail ethanol, whereas Reynolds denigrates ethanol simply on the basis of Tyler Lark's incorrect study. I don't think that the mere substitution of Squatriglia's 2009 story with Lark's 2022 study is sufficient for Reynold's to avoid a charge of plagiarism, even if assigned the story to him. Reynold's apparently made no effort in creating his story, except for the effort expended to type out the words.

Not coincidentally, I think, Matt Reynold's story comes within about 24 hours of Joe Biden reversing his earlier order to block year-round use of E15 (an order that was okayed by Donald Trump in 2019). Anyone up for a game of political ping-pong?

Since both anti-ethanol stories were published without any independent research conducted by the two writers the stories were probably published as a "favor" to the oil industry. Clearly, the erroneous conclusions presented in both stories are not a favor to the public who are victims of the oil industry and its poisonous fuels. The toll of Americans killed on "oil battlefields" has risen between 2009 and today; more people have been made ill because of the pollution caused by petroleum oil fuels; and nearly everyone has been a victim of the financial maneuverings worked by the oil industry to gouge consumers.

Because my business partner (Bob Gordon) and I are proud, patriotic Americans and capitalists we're happy that domestically produced E15 will now get the green light across the country. But, we're gravely disappointed that it's taken a dozen years since the EPA cleared E15 for general use. By this point, not only should America be on par with Brazil's ubiquitous mandated use of at least E27, there should be a federal mandate of at least E30 for all existing internal combustion engines, along with the federal mandate that all new internal combustion engines be built to optimize E85 and higher ethanol blends.

In each of my rebuttals to Tyler Lark and his crew I have challenged him and/or his associates to a public ethanol fuel debate. I've also emailed this challenge directly to him. He has not replied, nor has he submitted any statement in support of his study. I renew the challenge here, and I make the same challenge to and anyone who works for them.

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