Edict forces New England to buy bad gas

A piece of business advice in the Internet era: Try many things, determine as quickly as possible if they work and, if not, shut them down and move on.

Ten years ago, adding ethanol to gasoline was one of those bright ideas intended to help the environment and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

It has now failed and it is time to move on.

Continuing to force the stuff upon unwilling customers is nothing more than a handout from U.S. consumers to corn farmers and ethanol producers.

Unfortunately, stopping the federal government from wasting money is always harder than it looks.

A bill introduced last month by state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, would cut the percentage of ethanol in Maine gasoline from 10 percent to 5 percent.

A companion bill by Timberlake would allow Maine to join other New England states to eliminate ethanol from gasoline.

The move comes after concerns that the U.S. EPA has begun allowing gas stations in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska — in other words, in the heart of the corn belt — to sell E15 blend. The goal of the ethanol industry is to gradually push E15, a 15 percent blend of ethanol, onto the rest of the U.S. market.

That makes about as much sense as the feds forcing Midwesterners to buy lobsters or blueberries.

Timberlake, a farmer and owner of a hardware store, calls ethanol one of the worst "government boondoggles" of his life.

The problems with ethanol are well-known and reach into every household in one way or another.

The stuff plays havoc with small motors, such as those in lawnmowers and weed-whackers, eventually resulting in expensive repairs.

Ethanol reduces the fuel mileage of vehicles, which offsets its purported environmental benefit. Even environmentalists don't defend its production any more.

Finally, the U.S. is no longer nearly as reliant on foreign, particularly Middle Eastern, sources of oil.

Ethanol is also suspected of pushing up food prices by driving up the cost of corn. A host of food products contain corn or corn byproducts, while corn is also fed to both dairy and beef cattle.

Jamie Py of the Maine Energy Marketers Association told the Bangor Daily News his dealers support a ban.

"We don't want to sell something that people can't use and that people wouldn't want to use," he said.

Unfortunately, Maine alone cannot eliminate ethanol without increasing fuel prices because we are part of a regional supply chain. Plus, a state ban would violate the federal government's ethanol edict.

So, Congress would have to act, and there New England would be up against half a dozen large states determined to sell more ethanol, not less.

But there are small-motor users and food consumers in every part of the country.

Perhaps New England's regional congressional delegation can light a fire under the rest of Congress to get us out from under the ethanol "boondoggle."

If Midwestern states want to use it, fine. But there is no reason people in the rest of the country should be forced to use a bad product they don't want, don't need and which serves no public purpose.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Alan Michka's picture

Ethanol vs wind

There are notable parallels between our national misadventure with ethanol and land-based wind power in New England.

Both pursuits were sold with inflated environmental claims.

Both can have negative impacts that are unlikely to be justified by their limited energy or environmental benefits.

Both currently exist only through a system of government mandates that dictate their use by consumers.

Both are currently kept alive by the lobbying of corporate and special interest groups, without which they would wither in the free market.

Both can offer only small amounts of energy in our present system but get large amounts of preferential treatment.

Both now survive almost exclusively on claims of jobs, jobs, jobs - generally the last refuge of an industry whose projects otherwise have few substantial merits.

Wind energy might have a place in New England's future energy mix. But, like ethanol, it should be subjected to an honest analysis of its net impact before being given the unprecedented preferential treatment that we're currently giving it.

Jason Theriault's picture

It has been

The EIA(US DoE) estimates that Wind is cheaper per kilowatt than coal and nuclear. It is not as cheap as NG. That's including ALL the government dollars included. But, you're gonna get your wish. The Federal Wind tax credit has expired. So, now if they want to get a wind plant out there, it's tax credit free

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jason, et. al, Sunday

Jason, et. al, Sunday 13:53 ?
. . Never let the truth be the enemy of the good . That Texas multi - billionaire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T_boone_pickens made his $$ off of L N G - P N G and now he investing it in wind energy . He's having his cake and eating our's too . The guy's no fool . We just wonder why he didn't see ƒracking on the horizon . Neither did i . Perhaps he did :) hth ? / Steve , stay w a r m • 

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I would like to know????

I would like to know who, or should I say why, would anyone in their right mind, force anyone to use a contaminated product. They all know it's no good, it's been in the spot light for years. This new fifteen percent mix kills small engines.
Any of you "lazy day fishermen" like myself, who find yourself way out in the middle of nowhere and your little two stroke motor wont start, you'll know who to blame. Numerous testing has proven the stupidity of using this gas, anyone with a boat, snowmobile four wheeler or chain saw, is in for a rude awakening if this new gas is introduced. As far as I'm concerned, they may just as well use water. That would keep the price down, have the same effect (motors won't start), just a lot cleaner and probably less expensive to repair. At least they haven't come up with a way to kill my oar's yet, I'm sure someone is working on it....

Steve  Dosh's picture

Edict forces New England to buy bad gas

Rex ? 13.02.05 21:21 ?
Personally , i haven't figured this one out yet, either . I used to give away 10,000 MT of vegetable oil to Guatemalans as Foreign Aid three or four times a year . To eat . As we we know , veg. oil is Ethanol , essentially , and , in fact , you'll - s m e l l - cars burning it here in Hawai'i •  Smell's like a Mcdonalds . Mercedes ® can be converted to use old frying oil from restaurants
Veg oil freezes . Solid . You are in Maine . i do not know how you would cope with frozen gasoline . We B O T H have seen -40º F where the oil freezes in the pan and you need to put a can of Sterno ® ( napalm - jellied gas ) under it to de - congeal and un freeze it
The way we do it here ( E10 gas gums things up , even lawn mowers ) is to use that dry gas additive you can buy at Wally World ® for $US1.27 . That seems to clear the gunk ( scientific term ) out of the plastic gas tanks in cars [ not the fuel gauges ] , the fuel injectors and the gas lines in fractional displacement motors
We must look to Brazil for solutions
Almost A L L their cars run exclusivly on the junk . They refine sugar cane for Ethanol for use in all their cars and trucks . Almost all . Beets me ( pun intended ) . Sugar beets ? Corn oil ? Stanley Steamers ? • h t h ? Steve :)

Jason Theriault's picture

Ethanol is not oil

First off - diesel engines run on the bio-diesel made from veggie oil. Ethanol is grain alcohol. the same stuff we drink on a friday night.

But corn ethanol is not a good fuel. It has driven food prices across the board up because of the government mandate to use ethanol has made it far more lucrative to make ethanol instead of feeds, which drives up the price of feeds and drives up the cost of food.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Two or three times a year we

Two or three times a year we visit our daughter and her family in Virginia. In the town they live in is a privately owned gas station that sells ethanol free premium grade gasoline for a lower per gallon price then we pay here for regular unleaded gas with ethanol. The difference in performance and gas mileage between the ethanol and non-ethanol gas is astounding. From my personal experiences with my own vehicles, each 1 percent of ethanol is equal to a 1 percent drop in gas mileage; ie, 10% ethanol results in a drop of 10% in gas mileage.
Another government idea gone bad. The only ones benefiting from this government scam are the corn farmers with their corn subsidies. You won't hear me say this very often, but I would gladly pay 35-50 cents more per gallon to get the ethanol out of our gasoline.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...