The Hidden Gas Tax Cometh

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Raising the gas tax – overtly – is politcal TNT.

Chiefly because it’s a tax everyone feels, every day – and it’s an extremely disproportionate tax already. About 50 cents per gallon – which amounts to a roughly 20 percent tax added to the cost of every gallon of fuel. The government makes (takes) more money off each gallon than the Evil Oil Companies earn from the sale of each gallon. Yes, really.

The gas tax is also extremely regressive, in the language of the politically correct. It hits those least able to afford the cost the hardest.

So how to raise it covertly?

By raising the mandatory minimum octane rating.

This is being urged by the car companies, who would like to be able to design all their engines to be high-compression engines, which are more fuel-efficient engines – but require high-octane fuel to achieve the efficiency gains.

And because it’s a cheaper way for them to achieve compliance with Uncle’s fuel efficiency fatwas. A roughly 3-4 percent uptick in MPGs can be obtained via high-compression (and turbo-supercharging) engines without resorting to more expensive engineering extremes, such as transmissions with 10 speeds, three of them overdrive. Or direct injection, with a port fuel injection system in addition and added solely to deal with the carbon fouling problems caused by the direct injection. Or light weight but easily damaged, more expensive and harder to repair alloy bodies. Etc.

The ethanol lobby wants it, too – because it’s a clever way to obfuscate the currently-too-obvious crony capitalist corn con, which operates under the auspices of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is a federal mandate that the nation’s fuel supply be adulterated with “renewable” fuels, in the name of conservation. In fact, it is a government mandate to feed our cars ethanol, which is made from corn. Which costs more to turn into alcohol than oil into gas – and won’t take your car as far on a gallon, either.

It’s a billion dollar business, if you can use that word without feeling the bile rise in your throat.

Well, in addition to being “renewable,” ethanol is also – wait for it! – an octane enhancer. Instead of force-feeding it to us in the name of conservation or renewable-ness, it can be funneled down our throats in the name of raising octane – emptying our pockets in the process.


Well, times two – or even three.

Gasoline is already ethanol-adulterated (10 percent of most of it is ethanol, hence “E10,” the formal name for the stuff). And that adulteration costs us in the form of reduced mileage – if your car doesn’t have a high-compression engine. Which is probably the case, unless it’s a very new car or an older high-performance car.

Until about five years ago, most cars had engines designed to burn regular, 87 octane gas. The reason being the understandable desire of the average person to not have to pay 30-50 cents more per gallon (the cost difference, regular vs. premium) to fuel their car.

These cars will be on the road for quite some time to come. But if the machinations to make premium fuel mandatory are successful, the owners of those cars will be paying 30-50 cents more per gallon for fuel their cars do not need.

In effect, it will amount to a doubling of the current motor fuels tax – and it will be viciously regressive, since the majority of people affected are people who own ordinary economy and family cars, minivans and so on that were designed to happily burn regular gas, not expensive  premium gas.

Unfortunately, the forces arrayed in support of premium uber alles (and for alles) are powerful and stopping this ball, already rolling, is not going to be easy. It will be very interesting to see whether so-called  “progressives” erupt in outrage over this act of extreme regressiveness.

Both at the pump as well as down the road. Keep in mind that not only does premium fuel cost substantially more to buy than regular, if the car it’s put into hasn’t got an engine designed to burn premium, your mileage will go down. You will pay more to not go as far.

Lovely, isn’t it?

“Progressives” should be outraged, assuming you take their “progressivism” at face value; that it really is all about tempering the hard effects of The System upon the less-well-heeled.

It isn’t, of course.

There is a conflicting interest – the “progressive” antipathy toward cars and driving. By making it more expensive to drive, the hope of the “progressives” is that fewer people will drive.

“Conservatives,” meanwhile, tend to defend the ethanol sop – because of the political power of the corn states and a ludicrous veneration of family farms, which are in fact enormous agri-business cartels.

The car industry is just being practical. Trying to find some way to make Uncle happy, or at least get Uncle off their backs.

The motoring public is to be squeezed for their mutual benefit.

. . .

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  1. To the family farm comment: there was actually a push on after WWII with the government and the real estate industry to bust up the small farm belts that surrounded cities in those days. The government wanted to replace these potential obstacles to school centralization with rootless suburban “commuters”, while the real estate industry just wanted cheap land to convert into housing plots. I seriously wonder if the pollution crisis of the 1970s, or the resurgence of adult bicycling, would have even been possible without this.

    • Family farms came under attack starting in the 1930s, first the federal reserve induced depression then under FDR’s application of fascist economic principles. In the 1970s Earl Butz came along with “Get big or get out”.

      • The estate tax is responsible for the demise of many family farms, especially if the municipality plays games with the land valuation. Depending on the scheme used to value the land, the property value can make the farmers asset rich and cash poor; this raises their estate tax, which the kids can’t often pay. Therefore, they sell the farm to pay the estate taxes.

        How can a town play games with the land valuation? Well, if they go by present use, the land will be valued as a farm, and it’ll be priced accordingly. However, if they use what’s called ‘best use’ (read what’ll bring the most money), then the land’s value goes up. This is because best use is often seen as ‘improving’ the land, i.e. constructing houses or buildings on it. This jacks up the value; the estate tax liability goes up; the kids can’t pay the taxes when the parents die; a real estate company then buys up the land and puts houses on what had been farm land.

        Another facet of the problem is that the life insurance companies like the estate tax too. If the parents are insured, then this is a steady income stream for the insurance companies, because parents will buy a life policy to pay off the estate tax when they die. Warren Buffett, who owns an insurance company, has fought the repeal of the estate tax for this very reason. IOW, if the estate tax is gone, then more families can KEEP their farms.

        • The design of the estate tax is force the sale of capital intensive businesses to corporate hands. It’s not to nail “the rich” it’s to destroy the family businesses that provide a middle class living to a few family members.

          Much like property taxes. It’s to force property from poorer hands to richer ones.

          • Morning, Brent!

            Indeed. The tax on property is meant to thwart the accumulation – and transmission – of capital. The middle/working class is to work, perpetually – just to live.

            I remember reading about Ben Franklin’s life. The guy made his nut by age 40 and spent the remainder of his long life pursuing what interested him. He was able to do so because he was not forced to service endless debt, imposed by taxation, on his property.

            Even if you live below your means – as I do (and you do) – you still have to earn money, just to be allowed to keep the things you long ago paid for.

            This is not accidental.

            If a person owns his place, doesn’t need to generate much or even any income to live decently – he is free. And that is what the property tax aims to prevent.

  2. Eric, I agree with you that higher octane gas will/already cost more. We have seen that forever. It is just interesting to see that E15 is priced lower than E10, although E15 is higher octane. This is because right now people don’t have to buy E15, and since it gives poorer mpg, it has to be priced cheaper or no one will buy it.
    Ethanol has been used to put octane in gasoline, in varying amounts, for over 40 years now, so there is no reason to start selling just high octane gas, except as you say to kill older cars, but it seems like that would be very, very hard for TPTB to pull off, when what has been done for over 40 years now will already satisfy both old and new cars.

  3. I m starting to think its time for a new country. When I finished university years ago and jobs were only for the friends and relatives of those who already had jobs, I said screw it. I left Canada, worked in South Korea for 10 years and did better financilly than I could have in Canada. Chile, Uruguay are starting to prosper. Ecuador and Nicaragua are both beautiful and cheap places to live. The Jews who saw the writing on the wall in the 1930’s survived. We all know what happened to the rest who believed it coyld never happen in the land of Beethoven, Brahms …..

    • Hi Jason,

      I often think along these lines, too. And now that I am single again… but I also really grok – down deep – why those Jews who stayed didn’t leave, even when they had to know things were getting dark – just as we also know it.

      You have your life – that is, your friends and family. The familiar places. Your language and culture and your work. It is one thing to uproot, leave all that behind and reboot – when you are in your 20s. You have time to reboot. But when you are in your 40s or 50s it becomes a lot harder to contemplate starting over from scratch. To leave all your friends of a lifetime behind, probably never to see most of them again. To lose everything you’ve built, professionally and financially and face the prospect of having to find a way to live and make a living in a place where you know no one.

      It is daunting.

      And, depressing.

      So I will, like those Jews, probably stay – even though I know in my bones that I will likely face something as awful as those Jews faced.

      I’m just too old and tired to give much of a damn anymore.

  4. Now, I see that the oil companies are really cheating the customers bigtime already due to the octane/ethanol/winter gas scam. So, if the pump octane of pure gasoline is 87 and E10 is 87, they are blending a much lower quality of pure gas than they did before 2000 or so. According to Martin, they are blending 84 octane with 10% ethanol to get 87 pump octane. To blend E15 with pump octane of 87, they can blend an 83 octane fuel to get the 87 number. Sick. I can see why it is going to cost a bunch of money to get the 95 octane. This is sick. the only hope that we have is that if they start blending one type of gas, economies of scale will factor in and lower costs.

    • Hi Swamp,

      An aspect of this which I didn’t touch on in the article is the likelihood of accelerated attrition of older vehicles, which not only don’t benefit from ethanol but are actively harmed by it, especially when concentrations increase to E15 or more…

      And yes, it is sick.

  5. “Conservatives,” meanwhile, tend to defend the ethanol sop – because of the political power of the corn states and a ludicrous veneration of family farms, which are in fact enormous agri-business cartels.”

    Eric, I live in corn country and my acreage is surrounded by corn and bean fields. Nothing gets the farmers riled up more than the thought of losing their RFS corn subsidy, and they vote.

    • Hi Guerrero,

      Similar in my neck – also rural and “conservative.” A Libertarian like me is viewed with as much loathing and contempt as any “liberal.”

      It’s depressing.

  6. Eric, one could almost take what you say as fear mongering, or just leaving out facts that don’t support your ideas. I say this because one thing you state is that the higher octane will cost more, which we have been use to seeing for decades at the pumps with higher prices for higher octane gas. Now we are seeing E15 gas (which is supposed to have higher octane) that is cheaper than the unleaded regular, apparently due to the poorer gas mileage achieved with the E15 gas versus regular gas i.e. E10. Also multi-levels of octane in gas have been sold at the pump forever, so there is really no reason to stop doing that. Also the 50 cent higher price of gas is not all tax, it is to pay for the supposed higher price of higher octane gas. I do see your point about the government/business fascists conglomerate that we have in the USA wanting to kill older cars via more expensive octaned fuel in order to cause new purchases and therefore collect more taxes, and keep demand for dollars higher. Also, it is my understanding that in the 70’s gubment outlawed the lead based additive to fuel to increase octane, so since then has it been ethanol that is added to fuel to increase octane?

    • Hi CHarlie,

      I just relate the facts – and in this case, advocates (the car industry, government regulators) openly concede that mandatory premium will raise the price of fuel. It’s not me asserting this. See the news story linked to in the article.

      You’re right that lead was phased out, chiefly for emissions control reasons (leaded fuel fouls catalytic converters, which became more or less standard equipment beginning in 1975) and that ethanol is used as an octane enhancer.

      But the main reason for adding ethanol has been on the basis of it being “renewable,” which is true – but whether that’s relevant given the abundance of oil is definitely debatable, especially in view of ethanol’s many liabilities.

    • Ethanol is the cheapest way to increase octane and it is cleaner. The high octane components of gasoline are known to cause cancer( benzine, toluene, and xylene) and do you really want to breath lead fumes like we used to do. Aviation gas is leaded and I try to avoid the exhaust fumes although avgas does smell good..

      • Hi Martin,

        This is true – but (again) it’s only a benefit if an engine is optimized for high octane fuel. If it’s not, then it’s pointless as well as wasteful.

      • Martin,
        Your replies to the very intelligent folks here make it very obvious that you’re a troll, but that’s cool, I enjoy the commentary. I have one question for you.
        How do you produce ethanol? And please, be specific, mkay!

        • I’m no troll. Corn goes to the ethanol plant and ground and fermented. One plant I’m in uses some landfil gas to offset some natural gas and it qualifies for California use. Another has just installed grinders used in the dog food industry because of the uniform particles size that is conducive to better fermentation. Here is a link to the last newsletter from one of the plants with some financials plus how the process is going. I bought 7 shares back in 2008 and sold 4 last August for a considerable profit.

          • Martin,

            Would the corn destined for ethanol go anywhere (ethanol-wise) if there were no government-mandated ethanol production/usage quotas?

            It’s a simple, direct question.

            How about a forthright answer?

        • Adam make sure you read the newsletter and take note of the corn oil and distillers grain that leaves the plant—-that is a big deal. I’m guessing you’re more of a troll than I am.

            • If you’re following Pimental, well……… Me, I take what Argonne Lab says for corn to ethanol efficiency. Last year I produced 200 bushel corn per acre and all that was done was no till plant and then spray liquid fertilizer and chemical. Then the combine rolled in to harvest—-very very efficient and good for the environment.

              • Martin,

                I understand you benefit financially from ethanol and so tout its virtues, as you see them. But for others, ethanol is less appealing for all the reasons already explained. The crux of the matter, though, isn’t the pros or cons of ethanol. It is the force-feeding of ethanol to the public.

                You have every right to grow crops destined for ethanol and to sell them for that purpose to others who freely wish to exchange money for your goods. But it’s outrageous to force people to buy ethanol; to use the power of the government to create a “market” for it.

                If, as you believe, ethanol is a superior product or even a competitive one, then it ought not to be necessary to impose a “standard” which forces people to buy the stuff. Right?

                Starbucks does ok without a Starbucks Standard that requires everyone who buys coffee to buy 10 percent Starbucks coffee. That principle applies generally, to any product or service.

                Good ideas don’t require force. Bad ones always do.

              • How much “Chemical” do you use on your land along with your GMO corn to get 200 bushels per acre?

                I’m in your area, and instead of gagging on carburetted exhaust fumes from older vehicles I gag on the Glyphosate and pesticides that you spray on your corn and BT beans. The manure from the CAFOs is pretty well irritating also when spread on your fields.

                Do you also add ractopamine hydrochloride (Hog Crack) to your pig feed?

                • Wow Howard! Rose got a piece of that fast-ball and sent it right out of the ballpark! This is why Cincinnati is this year’s division champion!

            • Morning, Adam!

              A troll? Hell no!

              I don’t think Martin is, either. He’s just defending his beak-dipping (as the old-school Sicilians used to say)!

                • Hi Mith!

                  Ethanol can make sense; it’s situationally dependent. As with electric cars, I am not “opposed” to ethanol per se. I am opposed to quotas and subsidies and mandates.

                  Martin seems not able to grok this!

              • When I first invested in an ethanol plant 14 miles from where I live, it was mainly because i wanted to have a close by source of fuel and didn’t want to have to produce it at home. I will never forget sitting in line in Chase City VA in 1973 during the oil embargo.

                • Hi Martin,

                  Again, that’s all fine; I have no issue with any of it.

                  My issue is with mandating ethanol or any other thing. With forcing people to subsidize it/buy it – whatever it is. Free people should be free to buy what they want from those who wish to sell it to them at a price agreeable to both. And they should both free to say no, without fear of coercion or punishment.

                  No one should be forced to buy anything.

                  Do you agree? If not, why?

                  • This is complex and actually you are not forced to by ethanol blended gas. Refiners are just supposed to use a certain amount of ethanol per year. Without force that would never happen. Here is an example. EPA gives E10 a 1 lb vapor pressure waiver. Then E15 came along and in the summer oil companies would not produce the type of gasoline to meet the summer requirements but it was fine in the winter(can’t make them do what they don’t want to do but EPA is supposed to change that problem shortly—we will see). There is still pure gas to be had. Even the octane issue could be solved very easily with a blender pump. They’ve been around forever—remember Sunoco with many different octanes? Could have the high octane cleaner burning fuel for the new vehicles and still have the low octane pure gas that you want for your old car by having pure 87 or maybe 89 and then blending pure ethanol at the 30% rate at the pump for the new cars. At 30% the oil companies could easily meet the requirement to use 13 billion gallons of ethanol or whatever and there could be major amounts of pure gas. That’s not going to happen because it would be too simple.

                    • Forgot—-87 octane mixed with ethanol at the 30% rate would be about the 95 octane rating they are talking about.

                    • Hi Martin,

                      Of course we are forced to by ethanol-adulterated gas. Most people, in most areas, have no choice – because there is no pure gas available in their area.

                      You then contradict yourself, writing:

                      “Refiners are just supposed to use a certain amount of ethanol per year. Without force that would never happen.”

                      Italics added.

                      Indeed. Exactly. Without force.

                      What does that tell you? That there is little, if any, natural market for this stuff. Hence, force.

                    • Without force people wouldn’t buy the product you want them to buy.

                      Well there you go.

                      Statism in a nutshell. Someone has a good idea and everyone else should be forced to ago with it.

                      And that’s why there can never be peace. So long as there are means to impose someone’s good idea on everyone else.

                      A mandate is a form of subsidy BTW.

                    • Ethanol use is forced in two ways, the RFG oxygenate mandate in many areas of the country. In this regard ethanol is the only approved oxygenate. Then the renewable fuels mandate which can again only be achieved with ethanol.

                      I mentioned before happened across some of the debate back in the 1990s while channel surfing past CSPAN. It was quite clear it was being done for corporate corn interests.

                  • What do you think of the blender pump idea? Back in 2005 an ethanol plant by Oshkosh WI built some stations (Renew)with blender pumps to sell their ethanol—-basically direct marketing. They had 10,20 30 and 85% and were doing great businenss. Guess what the WI Petroleum Marketers got them shut down because of minimum markup laws. Rules and force.

                    • Hi Martin,

                      I think force – mandates and subsidies – is a terrible idea.

                      I also think forcing even higher concentrations of ethanol into the mix is a disastrous idea. It will effectively serve as a kind of slow-motion “clunker” program to accelerate the forced retirement of older cars, which weren’t designed to handle even E15 and forget E85.

                      Of course, this is a “good idea” if you are one of those people who thinks it’s just terrible there are people out there with older, paid-for cars who aren’t interested in throwing them away for the sake of an “efficient” new car and debt servitude for the next 6-7 years or more.

                  • Eric, somehow I’m anonymous a couple of times. Just looked at today’s close for gasoline and ethanol on the Board of Trade. Gasoline is $2.25 and ethanol $1.47. At 30% the ethanol blend would be quite a bit cheaper. Why is gas so high right now anyway. Also, the 10% blend is not set in stone. That’s what oil and EPA rules decided to do instead of selling a fair amount of higher blends to meet their requirements. Deep down oil loves making 84 oct.

                    • Hi Martin,

                      I wish you’d just answer the question I’ve asked several times already: If ethanol is such a boon, why is it necessary to force people to buy it?

                      All of your arguments in defense of ethanol dodge this point. They are your subjective rationalizations for forcing ethanol into the fuel supply – in order to benefit those who have a stake in it.

                      Again: I am not opposed to ethanol per se. I am all for it, if it’s a superior product and there’s a natural market for it. The problem is, there isn’t.

                      Which is why it has to be mandated to makes it – just like electric cars.

                  • To answer your question, there won’t be any stand alone ethanol stations because it needs some gasoline (although Brazil does have 100%). I do not think oil companies would sell a competitors product voluntarily. Answer my question, what do you think of the blender pump so you could get pure 87 and others could get the cheaper 95 octane E30? I think the $2.25 RBOB is the suboctane stuff so 87 should be even high. E30 2.01 and E0 would probably be pushing 2.40 or more. Here is an interesting article on octane blending——-

                    • Why would anyone sell their competitor’s product voluntarily? Why should Anyone, the govt. included, have the authority to “force” the sale of ANYTHING? If there is service that is genuinely “needed” for survival, such as a vaccine for an epidemic, one could argue the need for govt interference for the purpose of ensure everyone got vaccinated regardless of income. Otherwise, govt. does not need to be forcing any given product onto the backs of anyone. And your assertion that blending a fuel of high btu with one that has a lower btu resulting in an even higher overall btu output is just an impossibility of physics, please, most of here are better educated than to fall for that kind of doubl-speak, ok? Next you will be arguing the “merits” of “Nitrofil” for passenger car tires, and evry other consumer scam adopted nationwide. You see, a nation full of gullible sheeple, such as ours, doesn’t need its govt. taxing them to subsidize even more corporate scamming. It’s a free country, scam all the ding-dongs out there who will line up to be taken voluntarily. We here merely ask that we not be robbed via taxes to unwillingly fund additional scamming, especially fraud which is forced down our throats by dint of “legislation”.

                    • Martin,

                      I have answered – several times! You simply keep ignoring my answer and bring forth various justifications – as you see them – for the ethanol mandate.

                      Again: Let ethanol stand or fail on its merits in the free market. Quit shoving a funnel down our throats and forcing us to buy your product. If it’s as great a deal and such a great fuel as you claim, then – surely – it can make it on its own…

                  • Okay Eric, I’ll say it, ethanol can’t stand all alone in this country the way things are. GTC, If you are understanding that I think E30 has more btu’s, I know it doesn’t, it just has 7 or 8 octane points above whatever gasoline it is mixed with. One other thought popped into my mind today, was the gov’t wrong to break up Standard Oil in 1911? What do you guys think?

                    • Thanks, Martin – I appreciate the candor!

                      My wish is only that government (force) stay out of this stuff; let free people freely choose.

                • This suggests that you still believe our government’s excuses for the ’70’s “gasoline shortage” in the first place. Current fear over what might or might not have been, is all the excuse the govt. needs to bring the public in-line with its agenda for society, regardless of , and even at the expense of our freedom to trade, travel, and decide these matters for ourselves.
                  Frankly, there would be no ethanol in any motor vehicle fuel if it were left up to the consumer to decide. The ONLY reason the govt. needs to interfere, is due to a complete lack of consumer need and economic value. If either of those drove the sales and production on its own merits, no govt. “help” would be required. By interfering in the “natural selection” process of commerce, the govt. is only destroying our economy of free trade.

                  • I don’t believe the governments excuses. It was more of a “we can bring people to their knees if we want to” kind of thing. Look what Saudi Arabia just did when the upped production and put the hurt on Bakken oil. Anything associated with oil is pretty much corrupt.

                    • What “hurt” is that, exactly? Do we, as consumers have some option we don’t know about, to buy gasoline refined from “foreign oil” as opposed to “domestic oil gasoline”? No, WE do not. Those who purchase crude oil to refine oil into gasoline do that. So, then, by your own admission, you just included yourself and the whole gasahol/corn fuel subsidy B.S. in the corruption. BTW, how long has it taken you to notice that your not signed in when your comments are labeled “Anonymous”?

  7. One issue I haven’t seen mentioned is small engines. The small engine manufacturers, mostly motorcycle/ATV manufactures have been screaming from the rooftops that they can’t deal with more than 10%.
    I personally have had E10? or is it E90 (i don’t know), has all but ruined two expensive chainsaws I had. I tried to rebuild the carbs to no avail. To my surprise, the alumimun bodies were pitted. Junk. New carbs were not worth the cost. New saws, tons of fuel additive now has stemmed the tied, for now.

  8. Corn as a crop is incredibly water intensive. The underground water reserves have already suffered tremendous strain from the increase of corn grown for ethanol. A friend (retired USDA) tells me that even if ethanol production stopped today, it would be an over 1000 year recovery for the water table. The math on ethanol is simple – it is not environmentally sustainable. When the water table finally collapses, all arguments of efficiency and profit will be rendered academic.

    Another area in which the progressives are strangely silent despite their “concern” for the environment.

    • Most of the Midwest does not use irrigation. I am a corn farmer here is Iowa and have been installing drainage tile to get rid of the excess water in the soil profile that is common—–right now there is water sitting everywhere and lots of unplanted acres.

  9. I run pure gas in my ’08 Jetta. On a trip to Kansas City, I was forced to buy blended gas in Iowa. I watched my gas mileage drop by almost 10%. Supposedly that care is made for gasohol.

    You’re depressing me by telling me that I may not be able to get pure gas in the future. I have a ’98 Tahoe that I intended to drive until she dissolved into a rust pile, the afore mentioned Jetta, a couple of small lawn mowers, and a boat motor. I’m most concerned about the boat motor because of the environment inwhich it is used. When I ran gasohol in it, it was unreliable to the point of scary. Since switching to pure gas, it starts and runs perfectly. This is not just an inconvenience, it is a saaaaaafety thing.

    • Hi Ron,


      It especially grates if, like me, you happen to old older stuff from the days before the Corn Con. I’ve had to spend a wad of cash “updating” my classic muscle car’s entire fuel system to deal with ethanol. I had a new steel tank – put that in back around 1993. The car is a garage queen. It never goes outside unless it’s nice and sunny and dry. Yet the tank had already begin to rust internally by the mid-2000s.

      To quote the Kaiser: Ich scheisse daruber!

    • Years ago I had the opposite happen when we left Iowa and filled up with 100% unadulterated gasoline. We were driving a Chevy Blazer with the 4.3 V6 and the mileage went from 19mpg to 22mpg. That was the day I swore off alcohol. (In the tank, not in my glass)

  10. Another excellent article on ethanol, octane and mileage.

    None of these issues is the main motivation behind raising the minimum octane at the pump. In addition to what Eric describes, this is another money grab to keep afloat the criminal feral reserve Ponzi system. The amount of commerce, spell that debt creation, that will accrue from the inclusion of more ethanol will run into the billions of dollars. All this will be lent into existence by the coreligionists descendants of the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers. Farmers grow crops to survive, the latter people grow debt for the same reason, and with infinitely more political influence.

    Ethanol, for drinking or for combustion, is just a compound. But it is also a wedge issue like terrorism for the money mongers. Trouble is, petroleum gasoline is just not kosher enough.

    Here is a good video from Australia:

  11. Eric, I think you are a puppet of the oil companies. Bobby Likis likes ethanol and knows more than you. Right now ethanol is 70 cents a gallon less than unleaded on the Board of Trade—-no subsidies either. I have a 2017 Ford Focus and use almost all E85 and got 32 mpg on yesterday when I filled. If I drop to E30 the mileage goes up to ~40 mpg. The little engine with variable valve timing is utilizing its 12 to 1 compression ratio potential with the high octane fuel.

    • Nothing wrong with E85, E15, etc if your vehicle has the software for it, the wide band O2 sensors, and of course the stainless steel fuel system. If it doesn’t have that well… sucks to be you.

      • I have 1992 Toyota 4×4 with 22R-E that has had up to E50 since April 2001, 1995 Ford Aspire E30 since 2002 and 2000 Buick LeSabre E20 to 30 since 2009. They run fine. Actually surprised about the Toyota but drove it a couple of days ago and no problem.

        • Where does one purchase such odd mixtures?

          The 1992 will be running lean but has no way of telling you. Much the same for the Aspire. The Buick should have something stored. It may not be enough long enough to trip However the Aspire and Buick will have some ethanol resistance, not full protection but some because the coming of RFG in 1995.

          Let the cars sit with that stuff in the tank for awhile without driving them. High usage can help prevent ethanol related damage provided they were made with some resistance.

          E10 dissolved the float in my ’73. The debris then clogged the carb. Didn’t realize where the black stuff came from the first time so I ended up disassembling and cleaning the carb twice. I had to pay through the nose for a new float because they aren’t made any longer. Once this next one goes there will probably be none available. Also I saw rust particles in the glass fuel filter before the pump. Thanks E10. Haven’t been able to get any thing but E10 since 1995.

          • Yep. Unintentionally running E10 in my snowblower (gas stations didn’t post its pumps with ethanol signs as demanded by law) clogged the carb with bits of black fuel line hose. It also almost made me scrap my old Dodge van until I found out what was going on and corrected the situation. Ethanol is a government-forced joke.

            • Morning, Ross!

              I’ve been lucky – so far – in that I can still get ethanol-free gas at the station in town (Floyd). One of the things I didn’t mention in the article but should have is the possibility that, to raise octane, they will raise ethanol the content. I know they have wanted to got o E15 or E20 for some time. This may give them the excuse.

              • Previous assumptions held that ethanol’s lower energy content directly correlates with lower fuel economy for drivers. Those assumptions were found to be incorrect. Instead, the new research suggests that there is an optimal blend level of ethanol and gasoline—most likely E20 or E30—at which cars will get better mileage than predicted based strictly on the fuel’s per-gallon Btu content. The optimal blend varies with the vehicle, according to the findings.

                Also check out Urban Air Initiative


                • Hi Martin,

                  That doesn’t compute. A gallon of E10 contains less energy (BTUs) than a gallon of straight gas. In a car without O2 sensors and the ability to self-adjust, it causes a lean mixture – which must be corrected by richening the A/F ratio. This results in a corresponding decrease in MPGs.

                  This can be “compensated” for by taking advantage of higher-octane, but only in an engine with high compression. These do make more power (and get better mileage). But engines not optimized for high-octane ethanol blends do not.

                  Those engines do best on regular (and pure gas).

                  • One more comment. When I am smelling/gagging all those unburned fumes from older carb’ed engines, are they really burning efficiently using all the btu’s in the fuel? With the ethanol blended in and its oxygen content, could it be the better burn makes up for the fewer btu’s?

                    • Hi Martin,

                      I don’t understand how you could be ” smelling/gagging all those unburned fumes from older carb’ed engines” given none have been manufactured since the mid-late 1980s, some 30 years ago. Very few such cars are in regular service and the few that are aren’t capable of imposing any effect on air quality.

                      As I explained, the older engines without 02 sensors and EFI cannot self adjust to accommodate the leaner A/F mixture of E10 vs. E0 (pure gas). So they run leaner, which makes them run hotter and less well. To fix this, you have to richen the mixture mechanically, by increasing jet size to restore the correct A/F ratio. Now the engine runs right, but it uses more fuel to propel the car a given distance.

                    • Eric, I have a friend that has a 67 Chevelle that uses pure gasoline and the fumes are terrible. If I see him coming, I go the other way.

                    • Hi Martin,

                      I don’t doubt it. But that car is 50 years old. How many such cars are out there on the roads?

                      The last carbureted cars were made in the mid-late 1980s, a long time ago.

                    • Martin,
                      Take a trip to your local racetrack and go stand by a race car that’s burning ethanol, then get back to us about “burning eyes and choking fumes”.

                • Also – in re E20/E30 – that amount of ethanol will void most new car warranties; at least, those not specifically “flex fuel” capable.

                  • Jeremy, when the CIA helped overthrow the leader of Iran in 1953 because he wanted the British to stop basically stealing Iran’s oil, was that a subsidy. Did it cause future problems called blowback by Ron Paul?

                • I think that modern control systems and tuning allow all engines to take better advantage of the BTUs available in any blend of gasoline. Therefore, as engine controls have improved, it has masked the efficiency lost (lower BTU) of the bad fuel that we are burning these days. All things being equal, it is better to run a car on 100% gas with octane enhancement to improve the resistance to knock (which is what Ocatane is for). Most gas sold in the US has 10% ethanol and contains about 3% less energy than regular gasoline. The issue is that there might be other additives to gas, especially the “summer gas” we don’t know about that will lower the energy content of fuel. That might explain the 10-15% reductions in fuel mileage that many people are experiencing.

          • I have a Split Second Mixture meter tapped into the oxygen sensor on the Toyota and It still dithers like it is supposed to.

          • BrentP, to get 87 E0 here in Iowa, they blend 84 suboctane with 91. Before the blender pumps, I would mix E85 with E10.

              • Depending on time of year(winter E85 is 70% and summer 85% ethanol) ethanol is around 105 octane—-pure ethanol is 114. Oil companies are producing 84 sub octane fuel (getting more from a barrel of crude)and mixing 10% ethanol to get it up to 87. E15 would be ~1 point higher. What ever the octane of the pure gasoline you can add about 2 to 3 points octane rating for every 10% ethanol added.

        • Hi Martin,

          It’s mostly the older stuff (older than 1990s) that has the most trouble with ethanol; see Brent’s post. My own experience is similar. Your’90s-era stuff may be more able to handle the fuel, per se – but we all lose in terms of mileage and cost. There’s no good reason to mix alcohol with gas, except perhaps as an octane booster but it can be done via other ways which don’t have the same problems ethanol does.

          As with electric cars and so many similar things, my pat argument is: If the idea’s sound, then government force is not needed. The fact that government force – in the form of things like mandates and subsidies – is necessary to “stimulate” demand for things like ethanol and EVs is strong evidence that those things can’t succeed on the merits and in that case, they should be allowed to fail on the demerits.

    • Hi Martin,

      Calling me a puppet of the oil companies isn’t an argument, Martin. Besides which, that goes both ways. Are you a puppet of the ethanol companies?

      Let’s stick with facts.

      To state that there are no ethanol subsidies is an example of the contrary. What do you call the RFS? Which mandates the production of ethanol, thereby forcing people to buy it?

      You state that your Ford with its high compression engine gets great mileage on ethanol-laced high octane fuel. Of course. It is a high compression engine that is designed for high octane fuel. But cars which aren’t high-compression don’t benefit from the high octane fuel and the high ethanol content contains less energy and so their mileage goes down. There are millions of such cars out there. Why should they be forced to spend 30-50 cents more per gallon for high octane ethanol fuel their cars get no benefit from using?

      To be clear: I am not opposed to ethanol-mix fuel being available; it should be available if there is a demand for it. But by the same token, it ought not to be mandated and forced down everyone’s throat, either.

      For the same reason that EVs should not be subsidized and mandated. Because using force to compel people to buy things is as wrong, morally, as mugging them in the street and then handing them something they didn’t want in return.

      • Eric, My share of several ethanol plants is over 200,000 gallons per year so I am an advocate. E30 is proven to reduce nano-sized particles which is good for the lungs. Is it your right to make me breath more polluted air—especially in the city. I ride my bike a lot and can’t believe how bad it is when an old vehicle with a carburetor goes by me and I’m downwind. Right now E10 87 octane is $2.75, E0 87 is 3.05, and E85 is 1.90. We have some blender pumps in the area that can dispense 15,20,and 30 percent blends too. If the oil company was the only game in town, what would the price be now.

        • Hi Martin,

          I have no shares in any oil company (or anything else, for that matter)! Thank you for revealing your financial interest in ethanol.

          You cite anecdotal claims about “how bad it is” – which is very similar to another poster whose nose was offended by older motorcycles. Let’s stick with facts.

          The emissions coming out of a modern car’s tailpipe are essentially nil – whether it is burning 100 percent gas or E10 or whatever. Fact. The EPA itself confers Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle on many new cars which burn gas (and aren’t hybrids).

          So, your argument about “polluted air” doesn’t stand up.

          It may have, 30 years ago – when there were a lot of cars in circulation with carburetors. That was the initial justification for “oxygenated” fuel, as you probably know.

          There is no longer any justification for ethanol – which is why it depends on mandates and subsidies.

        • Why does E10 and E0 have the same octane rating? I thought that octane ratings would naturally climb when we got ethanol fuel, which naturally boosts octane. Why hasn’t it climbed. Have they blended the gas with other substances which reduce octane in order to deal with the shortcomings of Ethanol?

    • Martin, here are the government corn subsidies for your county in Iowa, are they included in your figures for the cost of ethanol?

      Program Total Payments

      Direct Payment – Corn $50,823,167
      Production Flexibility – Corn $41,511,906
      Loan Deficiency – Corn $31,764,655
      Agricultural Risk Coverage County – Corn $25,780,221
      Market Loss Assistance – Corn $21,718,539
      Counter Cyclical Payment – Corn $12,320,772
      Market Gains – Corn $6,640,703
      Advance Deficiency – Corn $2,947,285
      ACRE Direct Payments – Corn $2,931,169
      Deficiency – Corn $2,364,552
      ACRE Revenue Support – Corn $363,346
      Farm Storage – Corn $72,254
      Commodity Certificates – Corn $51,432
      Warehouse Storage – Corn $20,593
      Price Loss Coverage – Corn $16,252
      Loan Def. Refund – Corn $-6,356
      Loan Def. Refund – Corn $-22,716

      These figures do not include the RFS mandates and how they artificially raise the price of corn.

      Here are the Federal corn subsidies for the whole of the United States.

      Program Total Payments

      Direct Payment – Corn $21,083,807,916
      Production Flexibility – Corn $16,292,963,413
      Loan Deficiency – Corn $13,506,497,991
      Market Loss Assistance – Corn $8,549,516,887
      Agricultural Risk Coverage County – Corn $7,829,483,547
      Counter Cyclical Payment – Corn $5,390,562,845
      Market Gains – Corn $1,614,288,859
      ACRE Direct Payments – Corn $1,173,234,546
      Advance Deficiency – Corn $931,928,888
      Deficiency – Corn $917,077,300
      ACRE Revenue Support – Corn $398,140,622
      Commodity Certificates – Corn $174,194,337
      Price Loss Coverage – Corn $53,162,596
      Agricultural Risk Coverage Individual – Corn $14,611,500
      Farm Storage – Corn $13,833,964
      Warehouse Storage – Corn $5,108,043
      Denied Market Gain – Corn $-1,272
      Diversion – Corn $-3,318
      Diversion – Corn $-10,346
      Mkt. Loss Asst. Refund – Corn $-26,272
      Direct Payment Violation – Corn $-134,090
      Loan Def. Refund – Corn $-645,639
      Loan Def. Refund – Corn $-778,136
      Prod. Flex. Refund – Corn $-1,991,992
      Loan Def. Refund – Corn $-8,647,615

      Is ethanol really that competitive and such a great idea?

  12. Beginning June 1, 2018, replacement catalytic converters must either be original equipment (OE) parts or new AMCCs certified by the California Air Resource Board (CARB).

    · This applies to all model year 2001 and newer vehicles that are 50-State certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or CARB certified.

    · This does not apply to pre-2001 model year vehicles and EPA certified vehicles (non-50-state).

    · A replacement CARB aftermarket catalytic converter must have a CARB executive order (EO) number that matches the vehicle’s model, model year and engine family (test group) found on the vehicle’s Vehicle Emission Control Information (VECI) label found under the vehicle’s hood.

    Beginning June 1, 2018 it is illegal to install used, or salvaged catalytic converters on all vehicles in the State of Maine.

    Searchable Aftermarket Catalytic Converter Database

    i got this email today

    • I thought CA had that law decades ago. Salvage yards in Illinois don’t sell catalytic converters, I thought that was a federal law. There’s nothing wrong with a used functional catalyst. It is just a law to force old cars off the road.

  13. Scam #1 . Eric, why do you think the auto industry doesn’t go after the ethanol lobby to recover the economy gain? It would be an easy uptick in mileage by going back to pure gas. Every car in America would suddenly get better mileage. Wouldn’t even have to do anything to the cars themselves for the increase. Just leave out the f***** corn juice.

    It should be the automakers leading the charge against ethanol. They could lower their engineering costs too, by not having to harden all those fuel system parts for the corn juice. Or is the ethanol lobby better then the auto lobby?

    I am guessing testing the mileage of new vehicles for the government labels with pure gas would be verboten.

    Scam #2: In Crook county Illinois (Chicago) they double tax you on the gas. First all the regular taxes are applied to a gallon of gasoline (like everywhere else, fed, state etc). Then they apply the county tax on the whole amount due, so instead of being simply taxed on the gallons of gas, your paying a tax on the overall cost. So a double tax.

  14. In addition, the difference between summer and winter gas prices is primarily the cost difference, not “demand.”

  15. The only possible benefit of this is the fact that owners of cars that currently run premium gas will likely see their price drop as one grade of gas will be offered. Economies of scale will likely drop the per gallon price of the fuel closer to actual refining costs rather than the artificial 40-50 cent a gallon markup that premium buyers are paying today. In the old days, there was a 2 cent a gallon difference between regular and premium. In the 1980s, it became 10 cents. By the 1990s, it was 20 cents. It stayed that way until the late 2000’s when the price difference became 30 cents and now 40-50 cents. It’s outrageous. The other hidden tax that we contend with is the huge gap between summer and winter gas prices. Summer is about 30 cents higher for lower overall performance and mileage.


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