31st July 2008

E85 Boondoggle Of The Day: Undersupply

posted in Car News Articles |

Back in the day, T. Boone Pickens questioned why his then-boss, presidential nominee Bob Dole supported ethanol. Dole’s answer was telling. “Let me explain something to you about politics,” the Kansas Republican replied. “There are 21 farm states, and that’s 42 senators. Don’t waste any more of our time or your time telling us it’s a bad idea, because they’re going to do it.” And when politics trumps policy, you get stories like this one from The Oil Drum (TOD). With gas consumption likely to decline thanks to high prices, TOD wanted to know if federal ethanol mandates would sink with the market. The Department of Energy told them ethanol mandates are still set to increase, from 9b gallons this year to 12b gallons in 2011. Which raises a problem: what to do with it all. By DOE estimates, there won’t be enough gasoline to “absorb” that much ethanol in standard E10 blends in 2011. There’s also not enough E85 pumping stations (or “infrastructure”) for the corn juice. In other words, the feds are mandating more ethanol than we can use so that Midwest senators will be pliant for other senators’ pork projects. We’ve sure got this energy thing licked, huh?

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