Last week, AAA (formerly known as the American Automobile Association) pleaded with the EPA to stop selling fuel with high ethanol content — E15, or a mix of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol.
The reason is that ethanol is bad for engines, and in fact voids many warranties if used.
“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said AAA head Robert Darbelnet in a statement. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”
Politico reported that “BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15, AAA notes, while seven other automakers, such as Ford and Honda, have said the use of E15 ‘does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.’”
That hasn’t stopped the EPA, which won’t back down from mandates on ethanol production. In November, a number of governors from drought-stricken states asked for waivers. The EPA denied them.
The real problem here is that ethanol doesn’t even accomplish what it’s supposed to do — reduce our reliance on imported oil. That’s because it takes more energy to produce ethanol (planting, fertilizing, harvesting the corn, and converting it into fuel) than it produces.
One study, from the University of California and Cornell University, found it takes 29 percent more fossil fuel to make corn ethanol than is produced.
That fact also cancels out any purported environmental benefit. Even avid environmentalists acknowledge this; Kevin Drum wrote for Mother Jones magazine, called ethanol subsidies “catastrophically idiotic.”
“In fact, ethanol subsidies are such obviously appalling policy that it’s one of the rare areas that both liberals and conservatives agree about,” he wrote in January.
But the rest of the nation is catching on.
“Concerns about E15 are not diminishing, they are increasing,” says Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. “That is telling.
When an organization like AAA, a nationally trusted source for motorists, calls out the EPA, you would think the Administration would listen.”
If the administration won’t, then Congress must.