Mark Perry is another common-sense economist with whom I often agree. He raises, and then answers, questions about the intelligence involved in mandating ethanol to be added to gasoline. He’s an economics professor at the University of Michigan and wrote this for the mlive.com blog:
Among all the problems that have surfaced as a result of using ethanol as an alternative to gasoline, one is especially troubling. It can damage automobile engines and fuel systems.
There are other problems as well, most of them economic:
Despite a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit to companies that blend ethanol into gasoline, ethanol costs about 70 cents a gallon more than gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis. Instead of helping consumers, ethanol provides 27% lower fuel economy than gasoline.
And so drivers have to use more fuel to get where they’re going, which offsets any advantage:
There are other problems as well, such as the cost of growing the corn and then turning it into ethanol to be blended with gasoline:
Growing corn to make fuel requires significant amounts of fertilizer and pesticides that pollute the soil, underground aquifers and waterways.
There’s also the problem that under the mandates corn production increasingly must be used to fuel cars rather than people:
40% of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol, which has increased retail food prices and strained family budgets in their never-ending struggle to put food on the table.
If nothing is done, and the mandates remain in place, it’ll take 100% of the corn crop to feed automobiles by the year 2022. But the environmental extremists at the EPA aren’t listening to Perry, or anyone else for that matter: it’s clean air or die:
The EPA has twice denied requests to waive the ethanol mandate, most recently in November, even though the corn crop was the smallest in six years due to a severe drought last year in the Midwest.
We’re not dealing here with a failure to communicate. We’re dealing with intransigent bureaucrats disconnected from reality who are determined to remake the economy to fit their ideology. Want to know the best way to improve gas mileage and save money at the same time? Mandate the EPA to go away.