Ethanol in Gasoline: An Exercise in Silliness.

I hate ethanol. As much as 30% of all American corn gown in 2013 will go towards ethanol production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is an unfortunate waste of corn, which is far better roasted and covered in butter. Ethanol does not go well in gasoline. Ethanol burns too hotly for the average car engine; burning ethanol damages engines and drastically lowers gas mileage. The only reason someone might choose E15 over regular gas is because they think it better for the environment.

Unfortunately, very few individuals actually have the choice between gas-ethanol blends and non-ethanol gasoline. Great Patrons from on High in Washington D.C. have mandated that all of the commoners shall purchase and utilize blended gas-ethanol fuel. The use of said fuel is mandated by ultimate penalty of death. Let’s not sugarcoat it: If I was caught producing and selling non-ethanol gasoline on the market, I would be fined; If I refused to pay the fine, I would be arrested; If I resist, I’ll get beat up or tased; If I resist hardcore enough, I’ll be shot and killed on the spot.

The Ethanol Lobby wants consumers to to use ethanol. Consumers are not predisposed to use ethanol. It is unquestionably bad for any car made before the late 2000s, and it causes poor gas mileage. The market for ethanol is not wildly profitable on its own because the demand for ethanol is not sufficient. This makes the Ethanol Lobby upset. Therefore, they agitate for laws that force consumers to purchase their product.

When the Energy Crisis of the late 70s struck, politicians and bureaucrats pushed ethanol as an alternative fuel to move the USA away from foreign oil dependence. An artificial market for ethanol developed. After the crisis ended, the Ethanol Lobby needed a new reason to stay relevant; therefore, ethanol use suddenly became “green”. There is no better way to scam consumers then under the guises of being “green”. Nobody can quantify how much of a benefit a “green” product has on the environment, yet being “green” often carries a generous price increase, or has some other string attached.

The State introduced substantial subsidies for farmers who grew corn for ethanol. This produces two major distortions: 1) The profitability of growing corn artificially skyrocketed and caused many farmers to dedicate crops for ethanol production, which also 2) raised the price of food, due to less corn being used for food and more used for ethanol. Prices began creeping slowly but surely upward as larger and larger subsidies and mandates were generated regarding ethanol, especially after the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act was signed into law by President Bush.

The ethanol market is a Frankenstein’s monster of a market. It would barely exist on its own. It exists as a lucrative and profitable market because bureaucrats take money under threat of violence from some people and give it to other people in the ethanol industry. These same bureaucrats then mandate that people shall buy the end product of the ethanol industry, namely blended ethanol gas. An entire industry pops up, based on the economics of the badge and the gun.

A barrel of ethanol today is a village of starving Africans tomorrow. The redirection of corn from food production to ethanol production ups the price of livestock feed and foods for human consumption. Food prices do not rise in levels very significant to the middle-class majority of America, but every penny counts to people who live on pennies-a-day. The ethanol mandates in America have had a direct impact on prices across the globe, and the spread of biofuel mandates into other crops has ratcheted up other prices as well: from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of wheat increased 143%, corn by 105%, sugar by 118%, rice by 154%, and oilseeds by an astounding 197%. In America, this rise in prices means a tightening of the budgetary belt; in the slums of Bangladesh or Mexico City, this means a tightening of the budgetary noose.

These are things the Ethanol Lobby does not like to talk about. They prefer to spout environmentalist bromides. Congress prefers to play along and force insane ethanol mandates on consumers. The Ethanol Lobby and associated politicians and bureaucrats cover over criticisms with generic pepperings of “green”, “sustainable”, and “renewable”, with the occasional dark sputter of “fossil fuels” and references to terrible foreign-petroleum bogeymen. Never mind the fact that it’s debatable if ethanol is even better for the environment, nor the fact that ethanol production uses an alarming amount of water, approx. 5 gallons of water to 1 gallon of ethanol.

Follow the money. Bob Dinneen, unofficial chief ethanol lobbyist and head of the nonprofit Renewable Fuels Association, makes over $400,000 per year agitating for guns to be held to heads in the form of ethanol mandates. Where does the money come from? Does it all come from concerned citizens altruistically donating to the RFA out of concern for Mother Earth?

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