Ethanol E-15 will ruin most small engines and many car engines

Chet Thompson:
If someone is telling you something that is too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. In this case, it’s the ethanol lobby who is advancing a bill under the guise of “consumer choice,” that, in fact, is merely driving a failed government mandate further.

This week, Congress will evaluate legislation that, along with other policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), would force more ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply by granting a vapor pressure waiver for fuel containing 15 percent ethanol (E15). But as higher ethanol-gasoline blends like E15 continue to be given a protected place in the market — despite lacking demand — it is consumers who are paying the price.

While EPA has approved the use of E15 in some cars, many are still susceptible to engine damage, according to a study by the Coordinating Research Council. In fact, 90 percent of cars on the road today are not compatible with E15, while boats, motorcycles and outdoor power equipment are legally prohibited from using this fuel. This includes the 250 million outdoor power equipment products and 22 million motorcycles and ATVs.

The reality is that most automakers will void warranties of non-approved engines damaged by E15, leaving consumers on the hook for costly repairs. A recent AAA survey revealed that one in three U.S. drivers cannot pay for an unexpected car repair bill, which averages between $500 and $600 — leaving 64 million drivers at risk of going into debt should auto trouble strike.

For those out on the water, the Coast Guard warns of safety issues related to using E15 in boats, and nearly 90 percent of boat dealers, marinas and boat-engine manufacturers report seeing engine damage caused by higher blends of ethanol, according to a 2016 Boat Industry magazine survey. It is no wonder that the boating community has long been concerned that higher blends of ethanol jeopardizes their boats and businesses.

Beyond these consumer risks, more E15 is less economical for consumers because ethanol has 33 percent less energy than gasoline. This means higher blends of ethanol give drivers less go per gallon, forcing them to pay more by the mile.
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Ethanol is a product for which there is no longer any justification for its required use.  It was the product of a perceived scarcity of fossil fuels and an attempt to make the US more energy independent.  The shale revolution has taken care of that problem and is producing much better fuel.

There is no way I would voluntarily use ethanol in any small engine and I would prefer not to use it in my autos either.  Its value is a net negative to me and to the US.  This bill should be defeated and if the ethanol lobby wants to pretend this is about consumer choice do away with the requirement and let refiners make the choice based on customer demand.  The Renewable Fuel Standards are an anti-consumer boondoggle for rent seeking agribusinesses.

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