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US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the now-with-less-cornholing dept.

Government 395

T Murphy writes "Although the measure is not expected to become law, a Senate vote 73-27 in favor of repealing ethanol subsidies and tariffs means a lot for future legislation. The White House stands opposed to changes in the subsidies or tariffs, so they will likely go untouched before they expire at the end of the year. Even so, this is a strong indication that such government support for ethanol will be reduced if not eliminated. The response to the Senate vote has been mixed, from corn prices falling, to the World Bank encouraging lower food prices, to concerns over reduced funding for alternative energy, to supporters of such budget cuts."

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Physics: an alternative political spectrum (5, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472868)

Democrat, Republican, whatever. My political support goes for congressmen who believe in the laws of thermodynamics.

Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (0)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472908)

Not a clue. What they vote for and against is what their lobbyists tell them to vote for and against.

Yay! Go big government. How big is the government debt now?

p.s. Isn't this the senate rather than congress?

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (4, Informative)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472956)

Senators are in the senate, Representatives are in the House of Representatives. The Senate and the House of Representatives are two houses of a bicameral legislature we call congress. All people serving in congress are congressmen.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473008)

Yes, if you're pedantic, but in reality when someone on the news says "congressman" they are talking about somebody from the House, not the Senate.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473038)

I call them Representatives.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473094)

Only if that someone is very ignorant. Congressman means either Senate or House of Representatives.

Congressmen can be either, But... (0)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473398)

No and Yes--people often refer to House Members as Congressmen and Senators as Senators. This is basically because "Senator" is a more significant title, and because the word "Member" is awkward while "Representative" is both pentasyllabic and less specific than Congressman.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (2)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473100)

False. Congressmen refers to either. That is a fact.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473288)

yes, and if we say we live in a democracy, we get the pikers who have to insist it's a constitutional republic

and if we say something was hacked, we get the pikers who no, the system was cracked, or socially engineered

yes, pikers, we KNOW THAT ALREADY

hey pikers: the general meaning of a word often strays from narrow definitions. don't think you are in a position to correct that. understand you are in a position to learn, for once in your life, what common usage means

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473486)

hey pikers: the general meaning of a word often strays from narrow definitions when used by morons. don't think you are in a position to correct that. understand you are in a position to learn, for once in your life, what common usage means

FTFY

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473520)

you think common usage is for morons?

you realized you just defined yourself as socially inept, right?

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473062)

National debt = Entropy

It doesn't decrease!

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473132)

I tried that the entropy tree in Dragon Age, but didn't like it. I'm more of an elementals mage.

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473246)

Just out of interest - what is big government? What would be small government? At what point does small government become big government? Or is there an intermediate government in between?

Re:Do you think they know what a thermodynamic is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473340)

Big and small are nonspecific but a reasonable definition of 'small' could be a government that honors it's constitutional restraints - at least as far as the USA goes as a goal of the US constitution was to limit the size and power of the federal government. Of course there are an infinite number of 'intermediate' sizes. Rather than harping on big and small, I think it's more useful to think of 'government' vs. 'the state', as described by Albert Nock. 'Government' can serve a useful function that benefits society, 'the state' is the entity that gives it to you the hard way every chance they get. It's the State that most people are offended by.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (4, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472926)

I think from a politician's perspective the law of thermodynamics is that money burned within your district generates votes for you and money burned outside of your district doesn't.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472928)

The Laws of Thermodynamics? So does that have authority over the Constitution?

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473064)

Yes. Banning entropy doesn't work.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

black soap (2201626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473450)

Won't stop them from simpy redefining terms though. Like when they say "this tax isn't a tax," in law, it isn't a tax - but you still have to pay it.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472944)

A subsidy is when the government forks over money so a product's price point can be lowered enough for it to be affordable. In other words, the government takes your money (tax dollars) and gives it to Big Ethanol producers so they can cut the price of Ethanol to the point where you can afford to buy it. Wait... I paid to lower Ethanol's price to the point where I could afford to buy it?

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (5, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473012)

Subsidies spur production and research, as well as making a product more competitive internationally. They can keep a threatened industry that is desirable to keep around (say, one that is expected to be useful later but which might die in the meantime and be hard to start back up, or one that needs a push to get off the ground but will provide lots of jobs and tax money once it's going, or one critical to defense, even in an indirect sense) from being lost to foreign competition or simple changing demand. They can also be used to keep staples in the reach of the poor (though that happens more often in other countries, I think). Those are just the uses/justifications I can think of off the top of my head at 7:30 in the morning local time.

They're not as nonsensical as you imply, though I happen not to support this particular one myself.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473046)

Technically, you're both right. They are supposed to be used for the reasons you state, but many end up being used as he states.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473474)

Technically, you're both right. They are supposed to be used for the reasons you state, but many end up being used as he states.

You claim that both sides have a point? Call the internet police! I'm pretty sure kind of forum posting law has been broken.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (3)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473066)

This one IS nonsensical though. The entire reason in the first place was to replace gas. Instead, they mixed it with our gas, ruining our engines, lowering our MPG AND they didn't even lower the price! I cant tell you how angry i get when i pull up to the pump in my 74 Charger that says GAS ONLY, NO ALCOHOL on the cap, and the STATE says i have to ruin my car for their gain. Fuel pump started leaking a few weeks after this crap hit the tank, and ever since, it is a bear to start, cause the fuel bowl dries out, cause the pump leaks!

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473248)

Your 74 charger would be referring to the "gasohol" movement, which was immature but just emerging back when this car was produced in 1973. There were no standard blends back then (and few filling stations); people could mix anywhere from a couple percecnt ethanol in to a majority ethanol. Your leak almost certainly had nothing to do with the ethanol; the notion that these small percents ethanol are not only damaging, but so damaging that they'd destroy a fuel pump in just a couple weeks, is just absurd.

The lower MPG claim is quite a legit one. Ethanol is a less dense fuel than gasoline, so when you buy by the gallon, you're buying less energy. But at 10-15% blend, you're not buying that much ethanol in that gallon.

Gasoline is always going to be a blend of different chemicals. No one chemical is needed, but a wide variety of different chemicals are needed to yield different properties in the fuel. It's likely that for the forseeable future gasoline will contain at least a few percent ethanol because, all "sustainability" issues aside, it's one of the best substitutes for MBTE, which causes serious groundwater contamination.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473444)

Effects seen (firsthand on the part of my rather large family, over a dozen aunts and uncles plus grandparents, parents, siblings, and cousins) within the 6 months after WhiskeyGas (Gas + Ethanol, brought to you by the same tech that brings you Jack Daniels) was forced upon the people of Milwaukee, WI:

- Failed fuel pumps
- Failed/corroded fuel lines; alcohol does a number on any rubberized hose.
- Failed fuel injectors (as the detritus of corroded fuel lines moves through the system)
- Reduced gas mileage
- Increased knock (WhiskeyGas does not produce the same power as normal gas, causing the engine's timing to periodically go outside recommended bounds)
- My dad's best friend, who owns an auto repair shop, stocked up on fuel pumps and lines when the change was announced but not yet put in place. Within a month after the change he had enough business from people needing lines replaced, fuel pumps fixed, and timing adjusted that he had to hire another assistant and started to see wait times of 5-7 business days in his schedule.

Sure, these are "all anecdotes", but I've a large enough family to find the sample size fairly representative of the population at large.

Also, Ethanol is a pretty lousy-ass substitute for MTBE. It causes gas to "go stale" twice as fast as previous blends, it's impossible to transport WhiskeyGas by pipeline over meaningful distances due to water affinity (ergo, even more wasted fuel hauling the crap around by tanker truck), and even over short distances, Ethanol constantly corrodes the pipes and causes leaks unless patched/repaired/replaced on an insanely short schedule.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473458)

Ethanol damages rubber. The same rubber used the in seals of the mechanical pump. Old rubber got a lot older very fast after soaking in the stuff for a few weeks.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473368)

No the reason that alcohol was used in the first place was for pollution reasons. Adding alcohol to gasoline allows for the gasoline to burn more completely thus reducing other pollutants. Other chemicals like MTBE [wikipedia.org] achieved the same purpose; however, MTBE was found to pollute ground water when leaked. If you are in bind, you can use more alcohol to replace gasoline but the original purpose was never to increase mileage or be an alternative source. Somewhere along the way, ethanol became a savior that it was never meant to be.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473496)

I will not argue with your gas cap, but my '68 Ford ran for years on gas with "up to 10 percent ethanol", and never had any problems. It was used as a daily driver until brake parts had to be special ordered, then I sold it. Also, I don't think your fuel bowl dries out because of a leaking pump. I have not worked on every brand of carb out there, but all the ones I have had the fuel inlet too high in the bowl to siphon much gas back out.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473110)

Subsidies spur production and research, as well as making a product more competitive internationally. They can keep a threatened industry that is desirable to keep around (say, one that is expected to be useful later but which might die in the meantime and be hard to start back up, or one that needs a push to get off the ground but will provide lots of jobs and tax money once it's going, or one critical to defense, even in an indirect sense) from being lost to foreign competition or simple changing demand. They can also be used to keep staples in the reach of the poor (though that happens more often in other countries, I think). Those are just the uses/justifications I can think of off the top of my head at 7:30 in the morning local time.

They're not as nonsensical as you imply, though I happen not to support this particular one myself.

The corn subsidy has very little to do with actual economies and a whole lot to do with the Iowa primaries.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473040)

The point of a subsidy like this is usually to provide a catalyst. If it takes 100,000 people buying something for economies of scale to make it affordable, then you need some way of building the demand to that level. It's not very attractive to companies, so the government provides subsidies. Eventually, they should be phased out as the production cost drops below what the market will accept. The government then gets the subsidy money back in taxes.

Of course, theory and practice don't always agree, and in the USA subsidies are used more to buy votes than anything else.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472984)

Ethanol subsidies would not exist if the Iowa caucus weren't the earliest primary. Corn prices have been driven so high by E85 that there has not been a need for subsidies in at least 4 years [tradingcharts.com]

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473020)

Yay! So if this eventually leads to E10 going away, does that mean we can all look forward to a 3% increase in gas mileage? Will gas prices go up 3% to compensate for not being watered down? Were gas prices reduced 3% in the first place to compensate for ethanol having only ~66% of the energy density of gasoline in the first place?

I highly doubt it :-P

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473120)

Who said anything about E10 (10% ethanol-gas mixtures) going away? The same bill eliminates the tariff on ethanol imports from outside the US, which allows Brazil to send us good cheap sugar cane ethanol. This stuff has its own problems, but at least has an energy return on energy invested (EROI) greater than one.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (1)

radl33t (900691) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473386)

it also has a great rainforest destruction index (RDI) of 7.4 !

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473036)

My mind can't really handle the fact that, SOMEHOW, the corn lobby lost this vote.

It's...have they not been putting enough money into the system or something? Yeah, it's awesome, but the fact that "big corn" actually got a slap in the face with this has me boggling.

I thought stuff like this would never get repealed.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (4, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473166)

It's simple. Gasoline lobby + food manufacturers' lobby > corn lobby. This bill also drops tariffs on imported sugar cane based ethanol, which will make the raw materials for 10% ethanol/gas mixtures cheaper. Meanwhile, prices on good ol' corn syrup will drop, since it's not being made into ethanol anymore.

ADM loses, Chevron and Coca-Cola win.

Re:Physics: an alternative political spectrum (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473408)

ADM loses, Chevron and Coca-Cola win.

And possibly the average American as well, if HFCS gets eliminated from foods.

Very interesting I'm sure (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472878)

But is this really news for slashdot? It's hardly nerd news.

Re:Very interesting I'm sure (3, Insightful)

apetrelli (1308945) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472952)

It's about ethanol and biofuel. I think that many of us have different ideas about biofuel (e.g. I don't like it, it reduces food fields) that might be discussed.
And there's the problem of funding biofuel, that may not be fair comparing it to other alternative technologies, like hybrid or pure electric cars.

Re:Very interesting I'm sure (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473030)

Wasnt there also proof that ethanol also harms the engine?
It had a good run, but it needs to stop. Question is, if they stop this, does that also remove the % requirement as well?
Otherwise, gas prices will rise again.

Re:Very interesting I'm sure (2)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473048)

I see this kind of stuff posted everywhere - that actual real foodstuffs are used for producing bio-ethanol. It might have been so a couple of years ago, but the new technology (deployed for example in Florida) uses green and production waste - that is dropped leaves, construction wood, green hay etc etc - to produce ethanol and electricity. I doubt there would be enough research and mainly development done in this area without the subsidies, and we'd be stuck with burning corn for making ethanol.

Have a look here: http://www.ineosbio.com/69-Bioethanol.htm [ineosbio.com]

A substantial political change - and Nerds Help. (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473512)

It's also a substantial change to what has been a cardinal fact of American politics--ethanol subsidies are untouchable because of the Iowa primaries. This is odd, and probably reflects the fact that everyone is recognizing the need to begin campaigning nationally early now. The early primaries are still important, but they're less important.

There are political nerds too. And we, as nerds, should care about some politics--because we like to see things done well, and sometimes political action makes a difference. We should be the people who correct people who think foreign aid is a huge percentage of the budget, or it does no good. (See, e.g., our anti-malarial programs.) We should be the people to counter the fear of anything nuclear. We should know stuff, and help make the world a little better. Being a nerd is about knowing stuff. And growing up on Quantum Leap or Star Trek or Heinlein or Tolkien or other nerd fare is about helping people.

??? - profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472882)

"alternative energy" subsidies aren't supposed to be permanent. If ethanol is as great as its proponents say it is, then it ought to be able to turn a profit without subsidy

Re:??? - profit (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472986)

In the U.S., methanol isn't widely used as a primary fuel so I don't consider it an "alternative" in that sense. Ethanol is used as a fuel additive to oxygenate gasoline, a replacement for MTBE [wikipedia.org] . Congress rejected a law to indemnify petroleum companies from liability for health effects of MBTE contamination so the companies switched to ethanol c. 2005. So, while some may blow smoke about ethanol as a "green" fuel, the real reason it has caught on is that it's considered less dangerous to human health than the previous fuel additive. (You could look at it as the fuel companies covering their asses, or Congress making a good public-health decision for a change, depending on whether you regard the glass as half empty or half full.)

Mandate (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473010)

There is a mandate for ethanol content in fuel. Fuel prices and grain prices are high so a subsidy does not make much sense anymore. Repealing the tariff might bring in some efficiently produced Brazilian ethanol so grain prices can fall.

Re:??? - profit (2)

OwenTheContrarian (2163170) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473324)

The subsidies should not be permanent, but then again, how long have we been subsidizing and providing tax incentives to oil companies that continually rake in billions in profit? Can we at least be fair about our stupidity?

Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (2, Insightful)

Madman (84403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472884)

If the US used every acre of cropland for biofuel feedstock production it would only be able to produce 40% of transportation fuel needs and then there'd be nothing to eat! It's impossible to make even a dent in fossil fuel usage with biofuels, and by trying we will make food more expensive for everyone and reduce the surplus that helps to feed the world's poor.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472916)

Here's a link to my blog entry on the subject btw:
http://tetsui.net/gdblog/2011/06/17/why-biofuels-make-no-sense/

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472980)

Isn't that what's happening in Mexico as is? Full disclaimer, I heard this from a friend in casual conversation, but my understanding is that it's more profitable for Mexican farmers to sell their corn crops to the US for ethanol than to feed their people, so prices of corn products have risen sharply and the nation is starving as a result.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473000)

Isn't that what's happening in Mexico as is? Full disclaimer, I heard this from a friend in casual conversation, but my understanding is that it's more profitable for Mexican farmers to sell their corn crops to the US for ethanol than to feed their people, so prices of corn products have risen sharply and the nation is starving as a result.

Yes it is the perfect example of how biofuels can affect food prices, or even availability. It caused a local food shortage in parts of Mexico and people did go hungry.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473124)

I guess some really smart general figured out that going to war is too much fuss when you can simly buy out their food.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473024)

Distiller grains, often overlooked, but is a byproduct of ethanol production.

The corn used for ethanol production is feed corn for animals. Not all of the corn is used to produce ethanol either, just the starch. The distiller grains can be used to feed livestock much like the used corn can. It can't completely fill all the dietary needs of the animals (how much depends on the species), but it isn't a zero sum choice between feeding the animals used to feed humans and having ethanol.

Unless you are a vegetarian and/or animal rights supporter who wants the ending of animal consumption. Then, I dunno, you could use it for compost? *shrugs*

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473140)

Feed corn is a problem, not part of a solution.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473118)

If the US used every acre of cropland for biofuel feedstock production it would only be able to produce 40% of transportation fuel needs and then there'd be nothing to eat! It's impossible to make even a dent in fossil fuel usage with biofuels, and by trying we will make food more expensive for everyone and reduce the surplus that helps to feed the world's poor.

Hmm... Sounds like we need to shift our focus from propping up friendly puppet despots in oil-producing regions and start propping them up in agriculturally productive ones... Rising food prices(and a bit of judicious repression, good for the defense industry) should ensure a steady supply of squalid, desperate peasant labor to work the biofuel fields. We can't eat our cake and drive it too; but eating our cake and driving theirs is eminently possible...

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473216)

If the US used every acre of cropland for biofuel feedstock production it would only be able to produce 40% of transportation fuel needs and then there'd be nothing to eat! It's impossible to make even a dent in fossil fuel usage with biofuels, and by trying we will make food more expensive for everyone and reduce the surplus that helps to feed the world's poor.

Hmm... Sounds like we need to shift our focus from propping up friendly puppet despots in oil-producing regions and start propping them up in agriculturally productive ones... Rising food prices(and a bit of judicious repression, good for the defense industry) should ensure a steady supply of squalid, desperate peasant labor to work the biofuel fields. We can't eat our cake and drive it too; but eating our cake and driving theirs is eminently possible...

You are definitely right in that biofuels imports would simply substitute one despot for another, however the problem is wherever it comes from it will still compete against the food on our tables and make food more expensive and scarce. It's already happened in places and I for one am not willing to have people starve so I can use biofuels that aren't really green. Ethanol is a poor substitute for gasoline as it only has 80% of the energy per unit of volume, and it has other properties that make it a bad choice for fuel. Add to that there's only 20% carbon saving compared to fossil fuels and there really is no point in using them.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473322)

I'm not really arguing for the viability of 'conventional' biofuels(ie. ones that are rivalrous with food crops, people growing algae in tubes on sterile salt-flats are really just doing 'photovoltaics by other means'), I was just, by means of slightly gallows humor, noting that oppression and death in the service of obtaining biofuels would really just be an extension of the way fossil fuels, and mineral resources in general, are frequently obtained today.

Although they are conveniently long enough that we don't have to look at them, you can usually find a bunch of human-tragedy cases shackled to any supply chain.

Re:Good! Let's concentrate on feeding people (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473530)

Here's a thought: why not use a plant with a higher ethanol output than corn and which grows on land we can't use for corn and other food, like switchgrass [scientificamerican.com] . Personally, I'd rather see the fossil fuel subsidies abolished so we can get some actual competition in the energy market.

Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (5, Interesting)

tarsi210 (70325) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472894)

I wish it WOULD pass. I'm in Iowa, the heart of ethanol country, and I can't stand the stuff and what it's done. Artificial inflation of corn prices, artificial money, artificial companies. Whole corporations and huge plants have been built up on the promise of ethanol and just as quickly have fell into bankruptcy because the dream failed to pay off. As people have slowly come to realize that the bang-for-buck of ethanol is so much lower than gasoline, even with subsidies, plus the corrosion factors on improperly-engineered cars, it's fallen by the wayside. E-85 was supposed to be the next big thing and it barely made a fart in the market at all. All we've ended up with is farmers who thought they had a huge market for their product and suddenly....don't.

I've heard a lot of arguments for things like switchgrass ethanol and so forth and, hey, I'm all for alternatives -- if they work. But the fact remains that despite whatever "green" intentions people may have, if you can't sell it to the general public without a crutch, you're going to lose in the end. Time to let ethanol stand -- and die gracefully -- on its own.

Subsidies and markets (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472958)

E-85 was supposed to be the next big thing and it barely made a fart in the market at all. All we've ended up with is farmers who thought they had a huge market for their product and suddenly....don't.

Lets see. Trillions of free money for bankers, but only tens of billions for farmers? Hardly fair. Surely if they spent trillions on the farmers they would be able to grow enough corn to fill the gas tanks.

So what's next? Where do you think are the billions or trillions in subsidies going to be spent next? Hey it's free money, everyone should be getting involved.

Re:Subsidies and markets (1)

zvonik (1424309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473082)

The government is still paying farmers to not grow corn. It's called the Conservation Reserve Program.

http://beta2.tbo.com/news/nation-world/2008/jul/11/na-usda-urged-to-end-paying-farmers-not-to-grow-cr-ar-151982/ [tbo.com]

"At issue is the Conservation Reserve Program, under which the government has paid farmers to stop growing row crops, such as corn and soybeans, on 34 million acres across the country. "

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/crp/ [usda.gov]

Re:Subsidies and markets (1)

Geoff-with-a-G (762688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473112)

The "trillions for bankers" weren't subsidies, they were loans. Said loans were already paid back, with interest.

The Ethanol subsidies aren't getting paid back, and they aren't all going to "farmers" (unless you count massive Ag companies like Cargill or ConAgra as "farmers"), and they aren't even an effective use of subsidy to fund alternative fuels. The real advocates for bio-fuels will tell you that sugar cane works better than corn, and switchgrass works better than cane.

Corn ethanol subidies were always a gift to the Ag companies, which were extra important due to the early position of Iowa in the presidential primaries.

Re:Subsidies and markets (2)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473470)

The "trillions for bankers" weren't subsidies, they were loans

Of course they are subsidies. What is the interest rate again? 0.25%? 0.01% at some points. Meanwhile inflation is hitting 7% (http://www.shadowstats.com/). Which is like 100 billion/year in free money.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472982)

Corn ethanol was a bad idea from the start. Alternate routes exist, and obviously the sugarcane ethanol production in e.g. Brazil is rather healthy on its own.

As for making a dent in the fossil fuel market.. Let's just say that the problem with fossil fuels is that they are fossil. They are going to run out, or get exponentially more expensive, which amounts to the same thing. Using subsidies/taxes to prepare for that day is exactly what the state should do. Call it a crutch or call it a reduction in the artificial abundance of fossil fuels, it is still a fundamentally good idea to invest in the long-term future rather than expect things to solve themselves with time, or, even worse, pretend that no problem exists and that there will be a neverending supply of coal/oil with no adverse effects.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (3, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473016)

You hit the nail on the head. The real problem with this wasn't that ethanol itself is a bad idea. It's not. It's that CORN is a very bad way to make ethanol because there's not much energy in it. That only happened because Iowa is the first primary and thus gets highly disproportional attention, and they decided to suck money out of taxpayers for the corn industry.

Sugar based ethanol has proven to do far better because the energy content you get out of growing sugar gives a viable product at the end. Last I heard corn ethanol wasn't even energy positive.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473328)

The real problem with this wasn't that ethanol itself is a bad idea. It's not. It's that CORN is a very bad way to make ethanol because there's not much energy in it.

Well, that's not exactly true. Ethanol is actually a bad choice as a replacement for gasoline. First it only has 80% of the energy per unit of volume, meaning you will only get about 80-80% of the mileage off of it. Second, it evaporates very easily so there will be quite a bit of it that simply goes up into the air. Third, it is a solvent and eats away at seals and hoses. Fourth, it cannot use the same pipelines as gasoline for transportation, making it more expensive. All in all, not a good option.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473360)

It's a longstanding myth that corn ethanol isn't a net positive. Studies by basically everyone except Pimental (an anti-ethanol crusader) and whatever grad students he can dig up at the moment all agree that it's at least 30% positive and growing. And whether something is "energy positive" isn't really the question anyway. The question is whether it's *liquid transportation fuels* positive. I can't shove a piece of coal or some wind in my gas tank. Liquid transportation fuels are much more valuable than other energy sources (about 5x per joule for oil vs. coal).

The real problem with corn ethanol at this point is a problem shared, to a lesser but still major extent, with other ethanol sources: it's a net *CO2* negative, by a large margin, when you factor in land-use changes (something that was neglected in earlier studies). That is, to say, you're using corn starch (and possibly the rest of the grain, depending on how good your waste recovery is) to make ethanol. To replace that foodstuff on the market (with more corn starch, or whatnot -- the demand for food isn't going to decrease just because you decide to make ethanol) requires using more land. That land wasn't sitting around doing nothing before you started farming it -- it was lying fallow and sequestering CO2. Generally doing a better job of it than your farm would even if you weren't harvesting the corn to turn its starches into something which you'll burn. And not only are you worsening the ongoing sequestration process, but the process of converting wild fields to farmed fields generally releases a lot of stored carbon, both from standing vegetation and from the soil itself.

Studies that factor in land-use changes show that even cellulosic switchgrass ethanol are CO2 negatives compared with gasoline. The only ones that are a net win are ones that utilize organic waste streams. But obviously fuel from organic waste streams isn't going to replace gasoline; there just isn't that much waste out there.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (2)

black soap (2201626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473518)

We can make diesel substitutes pretty easily form all sorts of biomass - alcohol is trickier and more expensive, and isn't really a good gasoline substitute anyway. All this talk about ethanol for fuel has pretty well distracted us from the reality that biodiesel is the future.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (5, Insightful)

acid06 (917409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473052)

Corn-based ethanol is a joke. Ethanol from sugar cane has been in use in Brazil for 20+ years and it works great - cheaper than gas without the need of any subsidies. More than half of the Brazilian car fleet runs on ethanol on a daily basis. Don't dismiss ethanol completely just because the US has chosen a silly way to manufacture it.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473090)

A couple years ago when I was in Ohio I saw people who had replaced their lawns with corn because prices were so high. Looks like its still over $7/bushel. I wonder how well a 1/16th acre crop would do in New England? The farmers I know aren't getting rich, though.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

alta (1263) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473380)

It it makes it REALLY hard to cut the grass.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

americamatrix (658742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473134)

It's not a joke. On e85 my race car makes 100 WHP more power than it does on 93 OCT. e85 is MUCH cheaper than any race gas out there. e85 is similar to running 104 OCT leaded race fuel. Get off your computer and go race a car, and you'll see its NOT a joke at all. -An avid e85 user

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473238)

Even though I am not a big fan of corn based ethanol as a general purpose motor fuel I am tired of hearing about the "corrosion factors on improperly-engineered cars". Most of what people think are issues caused by ethanol in gas are really issues caused by crappy gas. I have fallen for the its $0.03 cheaper over here at the off brand gas station compared to the other one across the street. Some of those off brand stations sell good gas some of them sell crap gas that makes my car run poorly, but once refilled with a tank of good gas it goes back to running properly. Also it is fine in your small engines, I haven't had a problem in any of my yard equipment with it, and here it is more a matter of the care you give the equipment, as in do you drain the gas out of them when done for the season so it doesn't varnish, absorb water, and plug the carburetor.

Re:Good -- Ethanol's a Joke Anyway (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473364)

Let's not stop there. We don't need corn subsidies at all. We need to stop subsidizing corn and start subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables, if anything.

Worse mileage, corn lobby (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472954)

Thats all that needs to be said.

Food As Fuel (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472962)

Great idea for living creatures, stupid as all hell for machines. I mean, seriously... we are feeding machines with perfectly good food. Hello?

Let's leave the food for the living and stop rewarding this stupidity with the further stupidity of the government stealing the fruits of our labors to subsidize this lame-brained bullshit.

Re:Food As Fuel (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473104)

Ethanol subsidies are, pretty much, purely about buying votes in flyover country; but your distinction between food and fuel is somewhat artificial. Essentially all fossil fuels are 'biofuels' that have been taking a dirt nap long enough to be unpalatable; the only real advantage is that, at the price of additional extraction costs, we can spend down millenia of Cambrian biofuel production with a few weeks of digging and blasting.

Corn is a particularly terrible biofuel crop, being fertilizer intensive and directly useful as a human food source; but the notion of using cheap, self-replicating, fairly efficent solar collecting organisms to generate energy isn't all that nonsensical. Photovoltaics have the advantage of being usable in areas without enough water for agriculture, and some breakthroughs in algae and the various other possible candidates that will grow in saltwater, on marginal land, and in other convenient places would be nice; but every source of energy on earth(save nuclear and geothermal) is pretty much an exercise in more-or-less direct solar energy collection. Plants are pretty good at that.

Re:Food As Fuel (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473466)

The problem with algal biofuel is that you can't just grow it in a field. You have two options: sterile, pure algal strains, and open-air tanks. Open-air tanks means that algal predators get in, wild algae strains get in and overtake your desired ones, etc. The amount of recoverable energy is a tiny fraction of that if you use pure strains. But pure strains means compeltely enclosed tanks. *Acres and acres* of enclosed tanks, with each acre only yielding a few tens of thousands of dollars. And you can't just enclose it with thin film; the weather would destroy it in no time. This needs to be thick plastic. And it'll photodegrade. The cheaper the type of plastic you use, in general, the faster it'll photodegrade. This makes it increasingly opaque and brittle until it's useless.

On top of all this, separating water from algae is an expensive, energy-intensive process.

Solar is even higher capital cost per acre, but it is *extremely* energy dense per acre compared to even the best biofuels -- about an order of magnitude more energy dense than enclosed-tank algae, two orders of magnitude more than corn. A streamlined EV like the Volt or Leaf uses about 250Wh/mi. A square meter of land on the surface of the Earth receives that every 15 minutes that said area is in full overhead sunlight. Even after factoring in panel losses, and the capacity factor (sun's not shining all the time, etc), that's *very* high energy density compared to 330 gallons of ethanol per acre per *year* (under 1/10th gallon per square meter per *year*) for corn and 6,000 for enclosed algae (1 1/2 gallons per square meter per *year*). Plus, fuel crops generally have absurd amounts of freshwater water consumption, something that marginal lands are already very short on, plus there's the pesticide and fertilizer issues, etc.

Re:Food As Fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473336)

Well we're growing food that's not quite as good (not really good enough to eat) instead of growing good to eat food on the same land because of corn subsidies. So its what you say, but there's one layer of indirection that's often used by the corn lobby to say they're not taking away from edible corn. Truth is its better for farmers to grow the crappy corn under the subsidies and they have higher yields due to the lower bar of quality. We desperately need to stop using the land for crap corn, especially when we already pay farmers not to use some of their land.

Come on Tea Partiers .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472990)

I'm sympathetic to some of your causes and helping to smack this down will get a lot more of us "liberals" taking you guys seriously!

Quick reminder: 40% of Corn is turned into ethanol (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472996)

That's right! AND it gives you worse gas milage, and in cars made before 1994-1998 (reports vary wildly) it can accelerate engine part wear. No wonder the price of food (i.e. corn, a staple of Latin America) has gone up damn near 800%. Food as fuel seems to only work with sugarcane/beet. Even then it seems wasteful.

Re:Quick reminder: 40% of Corn is turned into etha (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473508)

And here in Minnesota we have a law that was passed a while ago and signed by now presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty that mandates 20% of motor fuel consumed be ethanol. I forget the date by which this needs to be met, but if 20% isn't reached then all fuel will have to be a minimum E20 instead of the current E10.

http://www.designscar.com/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472998)

information that resides in this website is very good and interesting. http://www.designscar.com/ probably will be trying to be a great site like this website.

Great for Brazil (1)

acid06 (917409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473022)

Brazil actually produces energy efficient ethanol from sugar cane. It's used by more than half of Brazilian cars and it's generally cheaper than gasoline, without any subsidies.

The only reason Brazilian sugar cane ethanol can't compete with the US corn-based ethanol (which is silly and energy inefficient) is because of the huge advantage given to US producers.

This will mean cheaper ethanol for Americans and improved market conditions for Brazilian ethanol companies. Hopefully the price of ethanol here in Brazil won't rise too much, thanks to the larger demand.

Re:Great for Brazil (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473214)

[...] It's used by more than half of Brazilian cars and it's generally cheaper than gasoline, without any subsidies.

It is cheaper "per liter", not "per kilometer", unfortunatelly. Until 2 years ago I would fill my car's tank with ethanol only. Now I use gasoline because the cost per kilometer is lower with gasoline.

Hopefully the price of ethanol here in Brazil won't rise too much, thanks to the larger demand.

You don't live in Brazil, do you? We already had a big rise in the ethanol price because of the international price of sugar. Sugar cane farmers prefer to turn their crops into sugar than into ethanol for bigger profits. If the demand on the ethanol increases, it will be more expensive than gasoline PER LITER!

Re:Great for Brazil (2)

acid06 (917409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473370)

Actually, it still is cheaper per kilometer for my car, it only wasn't for maybe a week or two. It actually depends on the car - the Brazilian media usually says it's only worth using ethanol if its price is at most 70% of the price of gasoline but that varies from car to car. On my car, the threshold is 80% - I've done several measurements over a few months.

If there was a reliable, growing, international demand, the producers would also raise production levels so we would only face maybe a short-term price spike but it the long-term, production would be adjusted accordingly.

Unintended consequences ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473050)

It's about time ethonal support goes away. It's driven corn prices up alot. Also, fields that could be farmed for food are not when corn is being used for fuel.

It pisses me off. How much does one have to think when passing these laws in the first place? How hard is it to realize that food prices might be effected? I call them unitnended consequences but are they not recognizable risks? Are politicians really that stupid?

Re:Unintended consequences ... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473230)

Are politicians really that stupid?

Google Wiener. Yes, the really are that stupid.

Now make the gasoline and oil incentives go away too. After all, if the free market is good for the little guy, it should be good for the big guy.

The Senate doing something good for the country??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473070)

Quite frankly, I am surprised the Senate passed this, and bipartisan too. I thought ethanol subsidies would never be threatened, and with this little fuss. Did the Team Party have any effect?

Then get rid of.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473084)

The damned requirement for it to be in the gasoline. IT ruins gas mileage and the gas stations are NOT selling it for 5%-10% cheaper because that is what your gas mileage loss is from running E10. They sell that crap at full price because consumers are too stupid to know better. (Most people think that "premium" is a better gas! The lack of education in fuel that is used daily by the population is incredible)

I have a flex fuel car, it get's 25% less gas mileage when running on E85 but it's designed to run on the stuff. And all the stations around here selling it are price gouging it so hard that it's only 20% below the price of the E10.

This makes E85 a net loss for me to even use it. I can be with the enviro-freaks and waste 5% gas mileage by running E85 or I can run the E10 and get optimum gas mileage at the quality of fuel available and get the most Dollars per mile out of my expense. When E85 first came out it was 40% to 50% cheaper than gasoline so I was running it all the time in the flex fuel van. But in Michigan it's $3.29 a gallon while Indiana it's $2.59 a gallon (as seen this past weekend on a trip to Chicago) There is no $1.00 a gallon tax on it, IT's that Michigan only retailer of E85 is Meijer and they are price gouging it.

I'm done with Ethanol. Until they start using real sources like switchgrass that produce more of it per acre and actually try to make it a viable fuel that is not based on corn subsudies... it needs to go away...

EXCEPT: IT's a fantastic racing fuel. I have 10 friends that are in racing and all of them have modified their cars to use ethanol instead of racing gas. IT's cheaper and they are getting MORE power from it One friend has went from 12.2 on the quarter mile to 11.9 just by changing fuel. Plus they can afford to race at $3.29 a gallon instead of $6.89 a gallon.

Re:Then get rid of.... (2)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473198)

EXCEPT: IT's a fantastic racing fuel. I have 10 friends that are in racing and all of them have modified their cars to use ethanol instead of racing gas. IT's cheaper and they are getting MORE power from it One friend has went from 12.2 on the quarter mile to 11.9 just by changing fuel. Plus they can afford to race at $3.29 a gallon instead of $6.89 a gallon.
I assume your friend has changed the tune of their engine to take advantage of the higher octane rating, since thermodynamics is thermodynamics and per mass the ethanol isn't providing more power, but you can run higher compression w/ E85.

Re:Then get rid of.... (1)

phizix (1143711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473202)

The damned requirement for it to be in the gasoline. IT ruins gas mileage and the gas stations are NOT selling it for 5%-10% cheaper because that is what your gas mileage loss is from running E10. They sell that crap at full price because consumers are too stupid to know better. (Most people think that "premium" is a better gas! The lack of education in fuel that is used daily by the population is incredible)

I have a flex fuel car, it get's 25% less gas mileage when running on E85 but it's designed to run on the stuff. And all the stations around here selling it are price gouging it so hard that it's only 20% below the price of the E10.

This makes E85 a net loss for me to even use it. I can be with the enviro-freaks and waste 5% gas mileage by running E85 or I can run the E10 and get optimum gas mileage at the quality of fuel available and get the most Dollars per mile out of my expense. When E85 first came out it was 40% to 50% cheaper than gasoline so I was running it all the time in the flex fuel van. But in Michigan it's $3.29 a gallon while Indiana it's $2.59 a gallon (as seen this past weekend on a trip to Chicago) There is no $1.00 a gallon tax on it, IT's that Michigan only retailer of E85 is Meijer and they are price gouging it.

I'm done with Ethanol. Until they start using real sources like switchgrass that produce more of it per acre and actually try to make it a viable fuel that is not based on corn subsudies... it needs to go away...

EXCEPT: IT's a fantastic racing fuel. I have 10 friends that are in racing and all of them have modified their cars to use ethanol instead of racing gas. IT's cheaper and they are getting MORE power from it One friend has went from 12.2 on the quarter mile to 11.9 just by changing fuel. Plus they can afford to race at $3.29 a gallon instead of $6.89 a gallon.

Ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline, but a much higher octane rating. The high octane rating allows much higher engine compression ratios resulting in better thermodynamic efficiency. This is why your racing friends see a benefit; their engines are designed for high octane fuel. Flex fuel engines are designed to tolerate the 87 octane rating fuel at the pump and have normal compression ratios. This is the problem with flex fuel; E85 results in worse performance because the engines can't take advantage of the high octane rating.

Re:Then get rid of.... (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473472)

Congratulations you have just stumbled upon the issues with ethanol as a general purpose motor fuel. You mention that that your flex fuel car gets 25% less mileage when running on E85, but if you look at the energy content by unit volume of fuel you will see that E85 has closer to 2/3 the energy of regular gas. This show that your car isn't running as efficient as it could be on either fuel since they have very different characteristics (octane, stoichiometric ratio, latent heat).

Also you mention that it is a great racing fuel, which is true. E85 is a good fuel for racing, better would be methanol but that is harder to find. Your friends who race probably just up-jetted their carbs, or put in bigger injectors given the performance increase. If they really want to get the most benefit from E85 they should look in to raising the compression ratio since E85 has an octane in the range of 105-115 and a much higher latent heat than the 100 low lead (avgas) they were previously using. If the vehicles are older they should also consider putting in hardened valve seats. My project car, a 68' MG Midget, is being rebuilt and is going to be a supercharged alcohol burner for the same reasons that your friends are now racing with E85.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473158)

... when there was talk of removing oil subsidies, the Republicans balked and asked why we would want to increase taxes on the oil companies. I guess they don't mind increasing taxes on America's farmers. The hypocrisy of our government never fails to astound.

Remember Congress has a way (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473194)

The White House stands opposed to changes in the subsidies or tariffs, so they will likely go untouched before they expire at the end of the year.

That 73-27 vote is way more than the 2/3 required to override a presidential veto. Even if Obama doesn't want to do this, Congress could force it on him.

hello webmaster (0)

formation (2241238) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473256)

We offer all our clients a simple and straightforward way to register their companies and get their business off the ground: http://bit.ly/m2IHF4 [bit.ly]

Cellulosic (1)

dvoecks (1000574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473274)

I've never been a fan of grain ethanol (except for the amount in beer), except that I've viewed it as a bridge to create a market for cellulosic ethanol. If we were driving around cars with high enough compression ratios, a lot of the efficiency shortcomings could be overcome. However, turning food into ethanol is not sustainable over the long term. I really would have hoped we'd be turning waste into ethanol by now. I'm not quite ready to give op on that, but it's time to go about it differently.

Who opposes oil industry subsidies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473384)

McCain(R) opposes ethanol subsidies, Palin(R) opposes ethanol subsidies, neither oppose Big Oil subsidies.

Q: "What about ending oil subsidies? Subsidies for oil companies. Where do you stand on that?"

Palin: .. "we're only talking about four billion dollars" [a year] .. link [boingboing.net]

"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long a mouthpiece for the interests of the oil industry, has lashed out against the Democratic effort to roll back taxpayer subsidies for the Big Five oil companies .. The $21 billion in unneeded subsidies would go to reduce the federal deficit" link [thinkprogress.org]

Brazil imports record amount of ethanol (1)

doperative (1958782) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473464)

Brazil's ethanol industry [iastate.edu]

Brazil imports record amount of ethanol [autoblog.com]

"So, where's Brazil getting all of this ethanol from? The United States. According to Platts, almost all of Brazil's imports were U.S. corn-based ethanol, as prices were deemed to be the world's most competitive".

Ethenol is a great fuel (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473482)

Ethenol is a great fuel, the way it is distributed and used however is it's downfall. Selling a pre-blended mix at the pump is just plain stupidity. It needs to be blended at the pump in any ratio to allow for vehicles to be sold that run 100% or close to 100% ethanol. A engine running pure alcohol can run extremely high compression ratio's greatly increasing the power and efficiency.

You would have to engineer some way to keep stupidity out of the mix by preventing people from using the wrong blend.

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