We all know what the relationship between environmental activists and the oil and gas industry is like. It’s an endless series of demands that we stop using fossil fuels. Reduce emissions. Keep It In The Ground! You know the story. So is there anything that can bring these two, diametrically opposed groups together? Turns out there is, and it’s the EPA’s decision (vocally supported by President Trump) to allow year-round sales of E15 ethanol-blended gasoline.
But wait, you’re probably thinking. Don’t environmental activists support biofuels? Well… yes. At least for the most part. But they also know that burning ethanol during the summer produces more smog, particularly in the cities, and reliance on corn and soybeans instead of cellulosic waste products increases the environmental impact of agricultural activities. Now the two groups are on the same page, asking the President to rethink this very bad idea before it’s too late. (PS Magazine)
Trump, however, focused only on corn producers, who could benefit from the increased demand. “I mean, quite simply, it means more energy,” he said. “And what can be wrong with that? And it’s very good energy.” …
The largest oil refiner group in the country filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals to block the Trump administration’s rule just this week, claiming the EPA overstepped its authority in revoking the restrictions. “A waiver for E15 is unlawful, plain and simple,” Chet Thompson, president and chief executive officer of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, said on Tuesday.
On this point of critique, the oil refiners align with environmental groups, which have made similar charges against E15 in the past. Jonathan Lewis, senior counsel for the environmental non-profit Clean Air Task Force, says the oil groups’ comments filed in April echo conservationists’ complaints. “Their interpretation of the relevant Clean Air Act provisions and why those provisions prohibit the EPA from taking this step were accurate,” he says. Specifically, the environmental law exempts E10—and not E15—from its standard for Reid vapor pressure, a measure of how clean the fuel burns, and how much smog it creates.
I don’t know who is advising the President on this issue or where they are getting their information, but E15 is not “very good energy.” Neither is E10 for that matter.
First of all, ethanol produces less energy by volume than gasoline, so your engine is working harder. Ethanol burns hotter than gasoline and has a considerable environmental footprint of its own, as mentioned above. And it sucks up a lot of corn and soybeans to make it in the quantities required to satisfy the Renewable Fuel Standard’s demands. Do you know what you can do with all of that corn and soybeans? You can eat it. (Okay.. the soybeans are a bit dubious, I’m told that many people do actually eat them. Corn, however, is delicious.)
This government-driven ethanol boom has produced more negative effects than benefits. One study from Princeton University determined that vastly expanded land usage for growing corn had actually doubled greenhouse gas emissions over the past thirty years. And the amount of corn being funneled into ethanol production has reached ridiculous amounts.
Meanwhile, President Trump is out there on the campaign trail bashing Joe Biden for not approving the use of more ethanol during the Obama years. It’s like we’ve gone through that portal in Stranger Things and landed in the upside down dimension. This entire situation has grown into a massive debacle and something has to give.