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.