The new EPA ethanol mandate will break the Blend Wall

The Obama administration is certainly looking to go out with a bang. In this case, it may be the banging sound that your lawnmower makes when it shoots a piston into the engine housing.

The EPA is getting ready to finalize their new ethanol blending mandates for the nation’s gasoline supply beginning next year and industry experts are already raising the alarm. This latest chapter in the saga of the Renewable Fuel Standard will drive almost an addition three quarters of a billion gallons of the “biofuel” into our gasoline and it’s going to bust through the blend wall which small engine manufacturers (as well as the automotive industry) have been warning us about for ages. (Washington Times)

The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to add more ethanol to gasoline will wreak havoc on lawn mowers, snow blowers, boats and even cars, say critics.

Mixing an additional 700 million gallons of ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply to meet a goal of 18.8 billion gallons in 2017 will raise the biofuel percentage to 10.44 percent, or past the “blend wall” after which car engines can be damaged, said Heartland Institute research fellow Isaac Orr.

“It’s hard for anyone to argue that the renewable fuel standard has been a good policy, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to increase the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply means this train wreck of a policy will continue for at least another year,” Mr. Orr said in a Thursday statement.

“Owners of small engines like lawn mowers, snow blowers, and boats are hurt by ethanol mandates because ethanol is hard on these engines,” he said.

I have too much direct experience with this subject to simply ignore what the EPA is up to this time. We’ve already had to deal with the issue of boat engines for years since we spend a fair amount of time each summer fishing in my family. You can’t put ethanol laced gasoline into your boat’s outboard motor for any period of time without it simply dying and requiring costly repairs. There are gas treatments which alleviate the problem to a large degree, but not everyone trusts them 100% and it’s just another added operational expense.

On the home front we run into the same problems. I just bought a new chainsaw this spring and the good folks at Home Depot spent a fair bit of time going over these precautions with me. In addition to needing to mix some two-cycle oil into your gas at a 40:1 ratio, they were quick to warn me that I needed to go out and purchase ethanol free gas if I wanted to get more than one season out of this extremely awesome and fun but also expensive addition to my tool shed. I’m used to it because we already travel several extra miles to fill up my five gallon jerry can for my lawnmower. There are no “regular” flavors of ethanol free at the location we use, though, so you wind up buying ethanol free premium grade. While the rest of the nation is enjoying the lowest gas prices in a decade for regular, we’re shelling out more than three bucks a gallon for the good stuff just to operate our small engine gear and avoid dumping corn oil into the mix.

The EPA’s ethanol mandate is bad news all the way around and it’s less sensible than ever now that America is a global leader in energy production. At this point it’s simply a relic of politics designed to keep a small but influential special interest group happy. Unfortunately, you’re the ones paying the price for it and that’s not going to change as long as the Democrats are in control of the White House and appointing the folks working at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ethanol Gas Corn