Alcohol and Pork Barrel Politics
This post is in: Motorcycle Riding
Does that title conjure up images of fat cat politicians drinking it up in cigar smoke filled rooms doling out favors to their campaign supporters? This is a tale of corruption, greed, avarice and backdoor dealing disguised as doing good for the planet and the people. Frankly with the near absolute lack of transparency when it comes to how “business as usual” is conducted in Washington, D.C. one really can’t tell. But it sure smells rotten.
Alcohol AKA ethanol is a pollutant in our national fuel supply. As if E10 wasn’t bad enough the EPA and the powers that drive it wants to foist E15 on the American consumer. As times goes by more folks are opening their eyes and seeing that ethanol may be good for the corn distillers and their cronies, but bad for America, the planet and all its inhabitants.
It is a well known fact that ethanol as a fuel has less energy per gallon than pure gasoline. Blending it with gasoline therefore reduces the energy of each gallon of gasoline consumers buy. This results in lower fuel mileage per gallon and also results in more gasoline purchased and burnt to transport people over the same distances. Bumping up the blend ratio from 10% ethanol (E10) to 15% ethanol (E15) will only make this worse by 50%. Reducing the energy content of fuel reduces its efficiency and acts as a hidden tax on working people, especially lower income folks.
For decades the government has been pushing vehicle makers to increase fuel efficiency. The American fleet of vehicles is more efficient than ever. Now let’s provide access to more powerful fuel, and miles per gallon will increase. Burning less fuel makes less pollution, simple math.
Why is all this happening? A piece of pork barrel legislation called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates the production of ethanol and the blending of it into the fuel supply. This law also provides funding for achieving the goals it establishes. Those goals include annually increasing volumes of ethanol production and blending it into gasoline. Ironically Americans are buying less gasoline each year, whether that is because of increased fleet efficiency or more folks being chronically under or unemployed is hard to tell. But more ethanol mandated and less gasoline sold equals higher blend ratios hence E15. Would you be surprised that some people want us to move to E85? Yes that is 85% ethanol.
Many in the environmental movement are seeing that ethanol is not as good for the environment as it was hoped to be. Some studies have shown it produces more formaldehyde and acetaldehyde when used as a motor fuel. One researcher said the burning ethanol adds 22% more hydrocarbons to the atmosphere than does burning gasoline. Don’t take my word for it, Google it – ethanol increases air pollution – it is shocking.
Compound that by the fact that the use of ever increasing acreage of prime farming land to produce more corn for ethanol has its own adverse environmental impact. But hidden in that shifting of farming resources from food towards energy production is the increase in the cost of food. Whether it is driving up the cost of feed for livestock or the corn used in manufacturing a mind-boggling variety of foods and other consumer products, it is also a hidden tax on consumers.
Turning food into fuel is a sin unto itself. Hunger has not disappeared from America or the world. People in many countries still die from starvation and suffer lifelong disabilities from childhood malnutrition. This is morally unacceptable. We don’t need ethanol for fuel. In fact we don’t even need foreign oil for fuel. America is experiencing an energy boom. Oil prices are lower than they have been in many years. It really is all-senseless politics where the free market and common sense would deliver better results.
Consider what could happen if we used our own domestic energy sources, oil, natural gas and coal to fuel our economy, Canadian energy also is available to us as well. What if we stop buying oil from countries that support terrorism and oppress their own people? If you worry about the American farmers, consider that all the money wasted on ethanol grants could buy a lot of food that they grow. We could end hunger in America. We could send food overseas to fight hunger instead of sending foreign aid dollars to buy bombs and bullets. We could change the world for the better. All good stuff.
Or we could just look at it from our own personal needs. Increasing ethanol in our fuel supply will kill our motorcycles along with many small engines and vintage vehicles. I don’t think I have ever seen another opportunity to act in one’s own self interest and solve world problems at the same time. All you need to do is remember this is an election year. Vote for folks who will make these changes. Then you can Eat Hot and Ride Safe knowing you did your part to save the world by being a biker voter!