No one argues that clean air and lower gasoline consumption are important goals. But is more ethanol really the answer?
It’s a classic case of dueling political lobbies. Ethanol producing farm states want the EPA to raise the level of corn-based ethanol in gasoline to 15%.
It saves gas, cleans the air, and several automakers say, may ruin your car.
The Big 3, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and every other manufacturer have joined in a suit to stop what’s known as E15.
This is a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol, or to put it simply, alcohol distilled from corn, and the EPA has granted a waiver to boost the content from 10%, which every car can use safely, to 15% which becomes a problem for some.
It is aimed at cars built after 2007, for which it will be safe, while burning cleaner and using less gas.
But the manufacturers fear, that with gas prices going up, many will use the cheaper E15 blend in older cars, and the results could be disastrous.
Some farm groups also oppose the rule because it diverts corn from food use, to ethanol production. That may raise the price of food.
Already 30% of the nation’s corn crop goes to ethanol production, and the subsidies involved are seen as increasingly hard to justify.