What Do Wine and Gasoline Have in Common? Now About 15 Percent Ethanol


Feed cows not Cadillacs

Last year, to please the ethanol lobby the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that automobiles manufactured after 2007 could burn E15 gasoline (gasoline with 15 percent added ethanol). In December, the "most productive" lame duck Congress ever voted to stick it to the taxpayers by extending ethanol subsidies. Now, the EPA has just ruled that cars made after 2001 can be fueled with E15.

The press release from the ethanol lobbying group, the Renewable Fuels Association, hails the decision:

"Today's decision greenlights the use of E15 for nearly two out of every three cars on the road today and furthers proves ethanol is a safe, effective fuel choice for American drivers," said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. "EPA continues to move in the right direction with respect to increasing ethanol blends, but challenges still remain. The RFA continues to urge EPA to extend the waiver for E15 use to all cars and pickups."

But current subsidies and mandates are not nearly enough for the RFA:

"EPA's decision today is a sound one, but it doesn't address the issues that still remain regarding a segmented market place and the introduction of a new fuel," said Dinneen. "The RFA will continue to work with EPA and other regulatory bodies to expand ethanol use beyond even 15%. Simultaneously, we will continue our dialogue with lawmakers to develop and implement sound policies that provide the proper incentives to grow ethanol use across a variety of blending levels."

Just what we need, more incentives to turn food into fuel as world food prices begin to spike. You know that U.S. ethanol policy is bunk when free marketeers and Friends of the Earth agree. Ethanol subsidies are bad for taxpayers, bad for the environment, and bad for consumers.

*One of my favorite Zinfandels [PDF] contains 15.9 percent alcohol.

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  1. Bad for the environment too. It takes about 5 times the ethanol to generate the same amount of energy as gasoline. Not too mention the gargantuan quantities of water it takes to turn food into fuel.

    1. offsets to the cost of ethanol include enormous ag subsidises (usually in red states) to keep fields fallow.

      1. Hurr durr hurr. Durr hurr hurr hurr durr hurr. Hurr durr hurr.

        “Offsets”? Dumbass.

        1. derp – ur the hurr durr guy not me SFB

          1. Yeah, we know. He’s not that dumb.

            1. then scoot to the romper room & practice ur hurr durr sevo!

              1. you’re an idiot

              2. just kill yourself. For the children.

              3. OhioOrrin|1.21.11 @ 2:01PM|#
                “then scoot to the romper room & practice ur hurr durr sevo!”

                English, please. I lost my ignoramus de-coder ring.

          2. M-O-O-N that spells moon!


      2. Re: OhioOrrin,

        offsets to the cost of ethanol include enormous ag subsidises (usually in red states) to keep fields fallow.

        You sure have a a keen eye for the obvious and the irrelevant, OO. By the way, those subsidies are remnants of the New Deal.


        “Hoover and Roosevelt, broke the precedents set by Morton, Coolidge, and 140 years of American history. The Great Depression hit the United States, and both men argued that others must be taxed so that some farmers could be subsidized.”

        1. yep & not a single red state gov nor teabagger demanded the return of those ag subsidises

          1. Does this somehow invalidate any points being made here?

          2. And every lefty did, right?

            1. why would a lefty?

              1. you’re so fucking stupid. Does it hurt?

              2. OhioOrrin|1.21.11 @ 2:01PM|#
                “why would a lefty?”

                What is a purple?

          3. I fail to see why I am expected to be more opposed to a subsidy because it is promoted by one of Team Red or Team Blue.

          4. Well, to be fair, most of them hadn’t actually been born yet.

  2. Fucking alco-gas corrodes your engine bits, too. So, ethanol:

    (1) Tears up your engine.
    (2) Starves and impoverishes people.
    (3) Is bad for the environment.

    Of course, on the other side of the ledger, umm. . . .

    Why are we doing this, again?

    1. RCD: Iowa presidential primary?

      1. Grrr. That would be caucuses.

        1. Other than that, you are correct sir. Pretty much everybody outside corn growing areas (on the left, right, libertarian, and even many in the bottom corner of the Nolan chart (statist, populist, totalitarian, whatever you call it) agrees that ethanol subsidies are retarded. But, Iowa, so, yeah.

    2. Why do you hate Archer Daniels Midland America R C?

      1. Price-fixer to the world…

    3. C’mon, RC, you wanna make omelets “regahol” (anyone remember that from the 70’s?), you gotta break some eggs cornhole The People?.

      It’s The American Way?!

      1. “I’m a rageaholic! I’m addicted to rageahol!”

        1. sugarfree rage-ahol right?

          1. Yeah, how would that work? Puzzler…

            1. It’s not really sugar-free. When drinking it, I have to up my dose of hatesulin.

    4. It was a rhetorical question. Geez.

      1. See how helpful the REasonoids are? Not at all like that cold, distant, self-absorbed psychological profile people associate w/libertardlians. We’re here TO HELP.

    5. We’re doing this because we now have a new special interest group that will do everything it can to stay on the public tit.

    6. It also corrodes pipelines.

      1. You know what else corrodes pipelines…

    7. It’s not just the US. They’re having the same problem in Finland.

      Of course the “solution” for cars that can’t use E10 is to use the more expensive higher-octane fuel….

    8. For the children!

  3. So I can expect my miles per gallon to drop. Super.

    1. Gaijin97…. stole my line.

      But to elaborate, the mpg goes down at the same time that the $/g goes up. Nice touch by the folks in congress!

  4. Wait, doesn’t this violate state liquor importation laws?

    1. If ethanol is adulterated with a poison to make it unpotable, it’s not subject to the liquor laws. Eighty-five percent volatile hydrocarbons does the job.

      Should we form a PAC to lobby against the hydrocarbon loophole?

      1. Absolutely. This scam reminds me of the trick used by drug lords to mix coke and gasoline in Licence to Kill.

      2. Close. The liquor laws actually require denaturing unless one has a permit for potable alcohol production. The permitting process is slightly less onerous for distilling fuel alcohol than it is for potable alcohol. However, even though distillers are required to add kerosene or other petroleum products to their alcohol to render it unfit for human consumption, they are still required to post a surety bond to cover the taxes that would be levied on their production if it were potable.

        1. So am I correct that we’re not only paying the friction costs of ethanol in general, but we’re paying the producers of that ethanol to pay the bond costs at the same time?

          1. Yes. Rent seeking at its finest.

            1. “Rent seeking at its finest.”

              I think we should become hold a contest to identify the most devious and self-generating rent seeking.
              But the contest could be over already; this sounds like a winner. You’d need something like a government fee on top of the bond cost to trump it.

              1. Oh… but there are so many worthy candidates. The bond rules imposed by the BATFE are stupid but I don’t think the money involved is nearly as much as has been thrown away to the various redevelopment authorities around the country. Then there was the plan to lease aerial refueling tankers rather than having the USAF buy them. Or Cash-For-Clunkers, paying folk to destroy perfectly serviceable vehicles. Or the ban on drop-sided cribs that eradicated the used crib market at the behest of manufacturers of new cribs. Jeebus, now I’m just getting angry; time for a drink and a snack.

  5. I know what octane is.

    1. I don’t know what you’re talking about, P Brooks doesn’t use threaded comments and no email.

  6. Zinfandel? I used to respect you, Ron. Now all your articles are suspect. Please turn in your decoder ring and monocle, immediately.

    1. Spartacus: I am also quite fond of Rhone blends, both French and American. Not to mention my devotion of Islay single malts.

      1. That’s better. I’m actually more fond of tequila, myself.

        (You do know I was kidding, right? I’m never quite sure, since 143% of all communication is nonverbal.)

      2. I bet you listen to NPR too, you elitist bolshevik bum.

        1. I bet he watches DVRs of old Bill Moyers broadcasts, too

    2. Aren’t you confusing zinfandel with white zinfandel? It would be embarrassing.

      1. Let’s go slay some zinfandels! Allahu akbar or something.

    3. Spartacus: Just so that there’s no confusion, I loathe white Zins.

      1. Reverse Racist!

      2. There used to be–maybe still is–some label called Seven Deadly Zins. Never tried it, but it didn’t look good.

        1. I find it’s advisable to avoid most wines whose labels are puns.

          1. So “Box Full o’ Grapes of Wrath”…probably not good?

          2. Then you’d be missing out on Road Kill Red.


            1. I said “most.” Some of the Goats Do Roam stuff is not bad.

            2. I tried the 2008. Nice bouquet with hints of possum; some armadillo in the finish.

        2. I actually tried that just the other day and I thought it was pretty good.

        3. If you want to be an elitist, you only need spend more than $12 for a bottle of wine as more than 90% of the wine sold in the U.S. costs less than that.
          Still, some amazingly bad plonk costs big bucks whereas some nice stuff is less than $10.

          1. creech

            That point was made by the instructor of a wine class that I took years ago. His phrasing was ‘well, you can pay $50 a bottle, if you get off on that sort of thing, but you don’t need to if your desire is simply good wine’.

      3. “I loathe white Zins.”

        And we don’t think much of you, either.
        /s/ White Zins

  7. So, who sells ethanol-less gas?

    1. I heard BP and O’Douls are announcing a joint venture.

    2. I’m not sure about the literal or metaphorical supply pipeline, but some of the stations in Eau Claire, WI, carry it at premium prices. I get it for my chain saws, garden tiller, and ATV.

    3. Taco Bell!

      1. Requires some processing, though.

        1. Another feature is that it doesn’t require any special equipment to process it…

  8. One thing you’d better not try is adding caffeine to that E85.

  9. Any time you can simultaneously burn food while people around the world go hungry and reduce the efficiency of your engine you’ve got to go for it.

    1. Everybody wins!

    2. Don’t forget wearing out key engine components faster, so you’ll need to replace them more often, further wasting money, resources AND energy!

      For the trifecta!

  10. This crap is making it increasingly more difficult to get gasoline for my boat.

    1. Nothing like the prospect of being ten miles from shore and having your engine fail eh?

      1. My boat’s primary means of motivation is provided by mother nature; i.e., the movement of countless air molecules.

        But the iron genny does make getting into and out of the slip and through the narrow inlet channel much easier.

        I’ve dumped in the Sta-Bil stuff that claims to stabilize the ethanol and contain anti-corrosion agents.

        Other than that, I’ll keep looking for convenient marinas that still carry marine fuel.

    2. Yeah, this, too. I’ve just decided to keep filling up The Mighty Four Winns? w/premium, and hope for the best. Probably not the best plan, but I’m sticking with it…:)

  11. 15.9%? That’s just wrong. If you do want to throw up in style, drink port.

    1. lukas

      Agreed. I (mistakenly) bought an American riesling a few weeks ago, only to discover it was 13%. Good, but hardly “classic riesling”. We’ve had numerous reds in the 14.5% range. Of course they’re “full bodied”, but a wee bit potent to have with a weekday meal. (As he sips his Vinho Verde – 10%, thank you very much!)

  12. What Do Wine and Gasoline Have in Common? Now About 15 Percent Ethanol

    THAT is central planning, MNG. It may not be “coherent”, but a plan it is!

  13. OT
    Can we get a thread about strippers? It’s been a while.

      1. You’re always there for me.

        1. “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

          1. Sacrilarious.

      2. Again – see – this right here is why I come to reason.com

      3. Hey, when ya gotta rub one out, ya gotta do what it takes to get it done.

      4. Well, I feel safer now. The kids are probably in foster care now, so it’s another win for family values.

        1. This is why we pay taxes, to keep the horny, armed moms down.

          1. This sounds like a movement that Palin is born to lead!

  14. “Today’s decision greenlights the use of E15 for nearly two out of every three cars on the road today and furthers proves{OM” WTF???] ethanol is a safe, effective fuel choice for American drivers,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen.

    How Statist Fucks construe the dumping of taxpayer money into a good as “evidence” of the economic efficiency of said good.

    1. I see what he did there…

    2. I was worried that I was so close to the end of the thread and no one had pointed out this stupid train of thought yet. I guess I don’t need to use the text on my clipboard.

  15. Rombauer??? Sheesh.

    They also make a chardonnay which is pretty tough to distinguish from Kendall Jackson. Marketing told them that 30-50 year old women loved KJ, but wanted something “higher end.” So they made the same sort of wine at triple the price. Sales are huge! Naturally, the local nickname for it is “Cougar Crack.”

    1. OMWC: Cougar Crack? LOL

    2. I thought Cougar Crack was a nickname for something else… !?!

  16. The flooding in Australia destroyed many crops. Food prices are spiking. High food prices were cited as a reason for the Tunisian revolt. I’ll be thinking of the ethanol programs every time I read about food riots.

    1. Ethanol is the brainchild of an evil genius trying to overthrow 20th century dictators in a chain reaction toward the ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT.


  17. This is going to completely fuck up restored automobiles. As it is I have to use a lead additive in our ’34 Plymouth but that’s only so it will run better without occasional sputtering. Anything beyond 10% ethanol is going to corrode the engine. It’ll fuck up my ’96 Jeep now, too.

    1. Hardened valve seats, stainless stell gas lines, alky-tolerant gasket materials, upgraded hoses – I’m getting back in the auto parts bidness…

  18. What can be done to protest this?!!!

    1. Let’s sell rubber bracelets for a dollar! I worked for cancer!

    2. A 30-round clip.

      1. Magazine. Please.

        1. for a magazine called Reason, you can’t even hold 30 rounds in your clip

          1. In Rahshah, clip hold YOU for 30 rounds!

        2. Sports Illustrated? Field and Stream?

  19. Yikes, 15.9%?? I like my wines to taste like something that came from a grape, rather than just burning the whole way down.

    1. Not a wine exactly, but my mead is 19.5%. My dad thinks it feels like a whiskey going down. Then again, he also won’t drink anything darker than a Michelob Light.

    2. The only wine I’ll drink is port, which is around 17-20%, depending on brand.

      It also tastes much more like fresh grapes than most of the other wines I’ve had.

  20. This is sort of like the incandescent light bulb thing, isn’t it?

    1. This is much, much stupider and more counterproductive. CFL bulbs at least have some advantages. Ethanol is worse in every way than gasoline.

      1. “CFL bulbs at least have some advantages. ”

        Name one.

        1. More natural light spectrum.

          There are more, that is one.

          1. Long bulb life is the reason I like CFLs for many applications. I had to replace one in my study last week; it was in use at least 12 hours a day, every day, since 2002. IMO, 9 years is pretty good for a light bulb.

  21. This is so bad that even Popular Mandates has gotten in on the action of slamming the EPA’s decision with regard to E15.

  22. E15 – the Four Loko for cars.

    1. Maybe that’s the slogan we need to finally kill this shit. You know, I bet a lot of the car accidents that happened last year involved cars… that used gasoline-ethanol mixes. dun Dun DUN!

      “Coming up at WTRD, you know that consuming alcohol before driving is a bad idea, but did you know that your car is affected by alcohol use as well? Learn what you can do to protect your family’s lives, tonight at 10.”

  23. I have a vague memory of seeing a Chrysler Turbine car on the road somewhere, Minnesota maybe? 1964-1965? Seems some of the hype surrounding this Future road flyer could use any liquid fuel that would mix with air and burn.

    1. …flyer was that it could…

  24. The RFA continues to urge EPA to extend the waiver for E15 use to all cars and pickups. The RFA continues to urge EPA to extend the waiver for E15 use to all cars and pickups.

    I continue to urge the RFA to eat shit and die.

  25. I know what octane is.

    Oh, how cute! My very own spoofer.

    I also know what makes horsepower, and it ain’t bullshit.

    1. horseshit

  26. Rombauer isn’t bad. I’m partial to Reynolds Family blends or Cakebread myself.

    1. Love Cakebread – got into it many years ago when it was around $12 – $15 a bottle. Now it’s gotten kind of pricey, but still worth it.

  27. I wonder how much Sta-Bil paid to lobbyists?

  28. This is worse than fluoridation!

  29. I don’t know what you’re talking about, P Brooks doesn’t use threaded comments and no email.

    Octane and email are different.

  30. I’ve always wondered why core inflation or core CPI is used all the time by the Fed. I get the volatility of price of food and energy in normal times argument, and I agree it makes sense to omit both when evaluating inflation some of the time. But when everything goes to hell and the shit hits the fan what are two of the most important things? Food and fuel… It makes no sense to omit these when considering policy during certain times. Actually I could probably argue that if you are going to attempt to manipulate inflation/deflation that during some periods food and fuel should carry a larger weight.

  31. No kidding, hmm. If you want to smooth out volatility, you use averages. You don’t throw out big chunks of your data.

    1. Depends on what your goal is.

  32. And what about all the manufacturers and sellers of “dry gas” this puts out of business? Do they consider that unintended consequence?

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