New solution to Hurricane Sandy: More ethanol!

posted at 7:01 pm on November 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

It’s good to see people coming together to help out the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Donations have poured in and first responders have pulled life from the wreckage. Folks from further afield are offering their help as well. Case in point: the ethanol lobby is sure that things will be just peachy on Staten Island if the federal government would just push the ethanol mix in gas up past the already untenable 15% quota they’ve been asking for and turn the dial up to eleven twenty.

Iowa producers ask Obama to allow greater use after Hurricane Sandy

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, renewable fuel producers in Iowa have asked the Obama administration to allow higher amounts of ethanol to be blended in gasoline in the Northeast.

In a letter yesterday to President Obama, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said temporarily allowing up to 20 percent ethanol in gasoline would help lower gas prices for victims of the superstorm. The association urged the administration to waive requirements that gasoline retailers must comply with before selling the higher blends of ethanol.

How thoughtful. Of course, the fact is that higher ethanol blends don’t save people money and this would cost struggling consumers more rather than less. Even fuels with 85% ethanol cost more than gasoline at current market prices. MIT examined these claims over the summer and found them to be laughable. Higher ethanol blends have also been shown to cause demonstrable damage to the engines of the current fleet, reducing the lifespan of cars. (That’s in addition to the quarter million cars lost in the storm surge already.)

Ethanol is less efficient in vehicles, and the damage it causes in smaller engines such as outboard boat motors, is well known. I don’t know how it runs in generators keeping a few lights on in storm tossed coastal areas, but I find it hard to believe that it’s a plus there either. This is one of the worst forms of cheap, political opportunism being foisted on the backs of those already in dire straights. Trying to use the suffering of millions of storm survivors to slip through a hike in ethanol sales is simply shameful.


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