Skip to comments.Americans to Get More Ethanol in Gas
Posted on 03/09/2002 8:46:06 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
WASHINGTON (AP) Bridging longtime differences between farm and oil interests, senators agreed Friday to triple the ethanol used in gasoline and to ban a fuel additive that has fouled drinking water.
The compromise assures that a package of new gasoline requirements aimed at giving refiners more flexibility, helping farmers sell corn for ethanol and ensuring no backsliding in air quality will be part of energy legislation now before the Senate.
But some California officials worried the ethanol requirement could cause fuel shortages and high prices because the state's refineries already operate at high capacity and there is little ethanol produced in the state. Ethanol takes up less volume than the fuel additive MTBE, meaning more gasoline will have to be refined, possibly causing shortages, they said.
``There's a big question about whether California can absorb this mandate without gasoline prices rising significantly,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Ethanol industry spokesmen said California refiners under the legislation could either use ethanol or purchase credits from refiners in other parts or the country. The industry also has long insisted enough ethanol can be made available in the state.
The gasoline agreement would require refiners by 2012 to use at least 5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol or other bio-fuel nationwide, about three times the amount produced today and a boon to farmers.
The first stage of the new ethanol mandate would go into effect in two years when the volume must increase from the current 1.7 billion gallons to 2.3 billion gallons nationwide.
The deal also would allow states to ban MTBE, leading to a nationwide ban of the additive in four years. MTBE, which has been used to reduce tailpipe pollution, has been found to pollute waterways. At least 13 states already have enacted laws that either have prohibited or will ban MTBE, but those efforts have been hindered because of a federal requirement that gasoline contain an oxygenate like MTBE.
The compromise would end that federal requirement.
As more ethanol is required, a certain percentage of each refiner's gasoline volume will have to be ethanol. If the additive isn't available, refiners may purchase ethanol credits from a refiner that may be exceeding its allotted percentage. This, essentially, would create an ethanol credit market.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., a strong supporter of ethanol, called the compromise ``a fine balance'' that will make federal gasoline rules more flexible while still protecting air quality.
Separately, the Senate by a 94-0 vote, agreed Friday to put into the bill tougher interstate pipeline safety measures, including increased training of inspectors and a requirement for greater industry monitoring of the 1.6 million miles of fuel pipeline crossing the country.
Meanwhile, there were signs that support for drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be eroding as the controversy threatens approval of a number of widely supported measures in the energy bill, including the ethanol-MTBE compromise.
Refuge drilling supporters, including most Republicans, need to attract more Democrats to their side if they are to have a chance to overcome a threatened Democratic filibuster.
Sen. Benjamin Nelson, D-Neb., one of those thought to be on the fence, said Friday he opposes drilling. ``I look at ANWR as a poison pill in the energy bill,'' Nelson said in an interview.
Six Republicans oppose drilling, which is a top priority for President Bush, while only five Democrats have gone on record to support development of the refuge's oil.
Senators remain divided on automobile fuel economy, another issue in the 553-page legislation.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sought to attract wider support for his proposal that would require automakers to boost fleet fuel economy by 50 percent to 36 miles per gallon by 2015, by possibly exempting larger pickup trucks. He also proposed giving automakers more time to comply if they purchase ``greenhouse'' pollution credits from other industries.
But that has failed to sway many of the opponents including the White House, which maintains Kerry's proposal will lead to smaller cars and more traffic deaths. Kerry says auto companies can meet the standard without making cars or spot utility vehicles smaller.
A rival proposal, offered by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Christopher Bond, R-Mo., would call on the Transportation Department to increase auto fuel economy but set no specific level
And we know it is true that when CAFEs go up, more gasoline is burned because driving is more economical than other means of transportation.
We must try to remember that it makes no difference how fast we are going if we are going down the wrong road.
yeah, something like that. It requires twice as much alcohol than gasoline to produce the same amount of power. Therefore, what's the point, when fuel economy will suffer? The emissions problem is the biggest bunch of bunk ever devised, because the only polluters are cars with incorrect tune up- that's where "unburned hydrocarbons" come in. Methanol/ethanol is cleaner than gasoline, but not by much given the fact we now have individual cylinder injection and adaptive spark controls. Alcohol wrecks havoc with the fuel systems and is a public nuisance because the burning of alcohol creates an odor of unexplanable variety.
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But it's good for the big agribusiness interests, so in it goes!
In other words, it is an automatic tax increase on gasoline, since in order to drive the same distance you have to buy more gas and pay more taxes.
In an engine with no catalytic convertor or electronic controls, adding ethanol to gasoline will make it burn much cleaner with only slight impact on fuel economy. Unfortunately, in cars with catalytic convertors and electronic engine controls, the fuel economy hit is worse than in a 'simple' engine and yet the pollution benefit is nonexistent since the engine control has to adjust the fuel/air mix to produce enough unburned hydrocarbons to feed the catalytic convertor.
It may be that use of proper gasoline additives would allow a car to burn as clean without a catalytic convertor as cars with normal gasoline do with one, but even if that were true the odds of the government letting people nix the catalytic convertor (thus gaining some fuel economy) are essentially nil.
Of course, it's interesting to note that the biggest place where these reformulated gasolines would usefully reduce emissions (i.e. farm equipment) is just about the one place their use isn't mandated.
Depends on the problem. As far as a solution for pollution, or increasing energy supplies, it is no solution at all.
If you are a Senator or Congressional Representative from a corn-growing state, it is a great solution to get more campaign contributions.
For Archer-Daniels-Midland, the company which is reaping hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in profits from this scam, it is a great solution to a potential cash flow or income problem.
You may have made the mistake of logically concluding ethanol is worse than a waste of time and resources, and therefore wondered what kind of solution this was. The idea that gasoline needs some kind of "oxygenator" to clean up emissions is bogus.
Now that you know what the real "problem" was, the "solution" is obvious.
Reminds me of the joke about Sherlock Holmes and Watson on a camping trip. In the middle of the night, Holmes wakes up Watson and asks him to look up at the brilliant starry sky and tell him what he thinks. Watson waxes eloquently about the vastness of the universe and unknown, uncounted worlds out there possibly with intelligent life.
Holmes interrupts him and says "No, Watson, you idiot. Someone stole our tent."
I find it especially interesting that Californians are not concerned about their water if it means increased fuel prices. Ethanol can be produced from any sugar based substance,,, corn is readily available in the midwest and there are many small refineries cropping up there. Blemished fruit could just as easiliy be used to produce Ethanol in California.