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Most of America hasn’t been working for going on a month now because of the hysteria over Corona –  which has resulted in the “locking down” of most of the country. It might be months before Americans are allowed by the government to work again.

The very last thing the government ought to be doing is forcing them to pay more than the market rate for anything.

Especially an essential thing – like fuel.

Of course, that’s exactly what it is doing. Every time Americans fuel up their vehicles, they’re unwillingly lining the pockets of the politically powerful agribusiness cartels – as well as foreign ethanol cartels – to the tune of billions via a pervasive but hidden tax on fuel that forces them to pay for ethanol mixed in with their gas.

And soybeans with their diesel.

It’s done under the auspices of something called the Renewable Fuels Standard – which is actually a Carter-era mandate that requires that almost all the “gas” sold in the United States contain at least 10 percent not-gas (ethanol alcohol, made from corn) in order to “conserve” the actual gas.

Same with diesel, much of which is made – via mandate – from soybean squeezings rather than oil.

The RFS is probably the single-greatest (and worst) example of corporate rent-seeking in the history of the United States. A mandated “market” for a product – ethanol and soybeans – that would have a hard time on the free market, if these “renewables” had to sell on their merits.

Or rather, their demerits.

For one, Americans burn more gas – because there’s less energy in “gas” that’s been mixed with ethanol. And their cars emit more gasses – carbon dioxide – because they are burning a greater volume of fuel to go a given distance.

The reason has to do with chemistry as much as crony capitalism..

100 percent gas has about 120,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy per gallon. A gallon of 100 percent ethanol only has about 80,000 BTUs of energy. Blend the two – as required by the RFS mandate – and you end up with fewer BTUs – which equals lower MPGs.

Your car doesn’t go as far.

The Department of Energy says a car burning E10 – 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gas – will experience a reduction in fuel economy of about 3-4 percent; E15 – which contains 15 percent ethanol – reduces overall fuel economy by about 4-5 percent, according to the DOE.

American drivers pay more for the ethanol-adulterated gas, too – several cents more per gallon.

And not just for the ethanol, either.

Vehicle fuel systems have had to be redesigned to accommodate the alcohol force-mixed with gas, which has different chemical properties than pure gasoline – for example, ethanol’s tendency to attract water and “separate out” during storage, accelerating the rusting out of fuel system components such as gas tanks – which are now generally made of composite plastics for this reason rather than steel, as in the past.

It also doesn’t store as well – or as long – in the underground fuel tanks at gas stations, many of which have had to be replaced and the cost of that has been passed on to you-know-who.

Ethanol-laced fuel is especially hard on older vehicles designed before the government imposed the RFS mandate – when gas was still gas.

There is an increased fire hazard in these older vehicles, too, resulting from the deterioration of rubber fuel system parts not made to withstand alcohol-laced fuel. Their engines run hotter because the air/fuel mix has been artificially leaned out – there is literally less gas in the mix – requiring recalibration of their fuel-delivery systems.

Thanks to the RFS (and ULS) mandates diesel now costs more than gas, too – the reverse of what used to be the case, pre RFS/ULS. And, like ethanol-laced gas – contains less energy, so you go less far per gallon while paying more per gallon.

At least the taxes folded into every gallon of fuel we buy are advertised – you can see what you’re paying for the fuel and for the tax. Thus people are aware of how much they’re being taxed while most have no idea how much they’re being mulcted by the renewable fuels lobby.

And by foreign lobbies.

The RFS mandates an ocean of “renewables” – 36 billion gallons by 2022 – such that even the domestic cartels can’t keep up with enforced demand, resulting in – of all things – ethanol now being imported from other countries. 

Americans are being made ethanol dependent – by their own government, not OPEC.

While motor fuels taxes are arguably disproportionate relative to the cost of the thing being taxed (the fuel) they at least go to fund something most drivers would probably pay for without government forcing them to – the roads – without which they wouldn’t be able to drive.

But it’s doubtful many would freely pay for “renewables” that cost them more to go not as far.

Hence the need for government force.

The justification for the application of this force is that  it is necessary to “encourage” (that is, force) “renewables” into people’s tanks – chiefly because the oil is running out.

The problem is, it isn’t.

Shortly before the Corona virus broke out, one of the biggest news stories was America’s energy independence. Not because of “renewables” – but because of new discoveries – of immense oil reserves and new means of extraction that have made America the world’s number one producer of oil and on track to be a net exporter.

There is no “oil crisis” anymore – just as no one wears corduroy bell bottoms anymore. The RFS mandate should be relegated to the Goodwill store – on the same basis.

. . .

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  1. I find it amazing the closer you get to the Permian Basin, the less likely you are to be able to buy pure gasoline. Of course many sources are near lakes where marinas have pure gasoline since boat engines are much more susceptible to ethanol problems.

  2. By far the biggest fraud perpetrated in this subject is the “renewable” aspect. We are mining our topsoil. No civilization in history has outlived their top soil. Most of the middle east wasn’t always a desert. it was farmed into one.

  3. If I’m not mistaken alcohol burns hotter than gasoline, too. So in air cooled engines, for instance, it’s really not very good. I run only 100% gasoline in my bikes. One calls for 83 octane so there’s no problem there. The other should be using 93 octane. For some reason down here in SC pure gas by law can only go to 90 octane. No idea why. So for nearly $3.50 per gallon I have to choose between real gasoline or the correct octane rating. I go for pure gasoline and a cooler running engine. Thing is, I shouldn’t be forced to make that decision. A few years ago I could buy 93 octane 100% gasoline right down the road.

    Freakin’ busybodies with guns!

    • Hi Bill,

      Amen in re air-cooled bikes. I ought to have mentioned this – thank you for doing so. I re-jetted all my old bikes and recommend everyone who has older, carbureted/air-cooled bike do the same. If I remember correctly, I ended up two numbers richer on the ’76 Kz900. I also use only high-quality synthetic (AMSOIL) in that bike and my others, too.

    • Alcohol burns cooler, hence the alcohol only racing engines. That doesn’t mean it’s good for the planet or your vehicle. It gloms onto water at a prodigious rate, the reason I constantly fuel my vehicles and can’t wait to get back to my wonderful diesel. Not to mention fuel mileage increase, longer life of the engine and a huge boost in low-end torque.

      A couple friends went fishing two days in a row. The guy who owned the boat was loading and unloading the boat and the other guy was driving the pickup. It was a 6.0 L Ford automatic.

      The next day my pickup and boat were there too and with 3 of us, the same guy ran both pickups He got out of my old Turbo Diesel with the NVG 4500 transmission. He told me “Man, that was so much easier. I just stuck it in low, let out on the clutch and it walked right out at an idle”. I queried him why he was amazed. He said ‘That damned Ford had to be revved out the wazoo just to get the boat out of the water and was a PITA”.

      Nothing like the proper gear and lots of torque off-idle.

    • Bill B,
      It’s actually the opposite. You can run an air cooled VW on pure alcohol, on the street, with NO cooling tins or fan and it won’t overheat. If you’ve ever seen midget race cars back when the VW platform was the preferred choice of powerplant, you’ll see no tins on the engine, they ran injection on alcohol.

  4. Wasn’t ethanol also put in as an oxygenate? Since MTBE can’t be used, I thought ethanol replaced it. All your alcohols have a hydroxide (i.e. OH) molecule, so it burns cleaner than a pure hydrocarbon does.

    • Yes. Ethanol and ethanol compounds serve as oxygenates to trick cars with carburetors that haven’t seen a tune up since the 1980s into running leaner. Other than that, it doesn’t do anything. Because a) carbs haven’t been used on new cars since the 1980s, with maybe some trivial exception. b) fuel injection systems automatically adjust. c) the first tune up, carb rebuild, or rejetting adjusts the carb. If a car hasn’t had a tune up since before 1995 it’s either been recycled or is on static display or is in storage.

    • Hi Mark,

      Ethanol is also an inexpensive octane enhancer, so it’s used for that reason as well. But the BTUs are lower, even so. As with EVs, the fundamental issue here isn’t ethanol – it’s force. If ethanol – or EVs – can find a market without forcing themselves down the market’s throat, then I have no issue with either. But the bald truth is both are forced onto the market, which strongly suggests there is no natural market for either.

      • Since corn is obviously plentiful in the Midwest (and having #2 son work for Archer Daniels Midland for five years, I oughta have learned a little something from him about corn processing), one would THINK that if it had a market as a FUEL, said market would have sprung up on its OWN, long ago. After all, the basic chemical processes have been in place for about 125 years. Oh, sure, there’s been “refinements” (pun intended), but nothing the petroleum cracking process that made mass production of gasoline feasible. And in a way, there was, back when the Model T was the thing. As many farmer bought “Flivver” trucks (or used their Model Ts as one), it was found that the T’s four-banger, though it was a dog by today’s standards, ran just as well on ethanol as it did on gasoline, with but a minor adjustment to the carburetor. Especially during Prohibition where likely there was many a clandestine still going, and the “Revenooers” couldn’t bust ’em all. However, the same Depression that ended Prohibition also LOWERED worldwide oil prices, to the point where even when one could run a still w/o fear of the Feds, it just didn’t pay.

        An interesting thought on the petroleum cracking process. The first method was actually developed by a RUSSIAN, a fellow named Shukov (similiar to the famed Soviet Marshall of WWII), in 1891. He was still working after the Communist takeover, and it seems that some political skulduggery was effected by AMERICAN oil companies to license it and further develop it, and both the companies that got into bed with the Commies and their own industry were to benefit. The idea was that in 1908 a similar process had been patented in America by a fellow named Burton, and his rivals wanted to show that he’d “borrowed” from Shukov and therefore his patent was unenforceable. Yet another anecdote of why were AMERICAN banks (in reality, owned or controlled by European Jewish banking families, but their connections to contemporary organized Jewish groups seems tenuous at best) financed Lenin and the Bolsheviks to take over in the first place. It seems that there was much in the then Russian Empire, mismanaged as it was, to plunder, even in intellectual capital! And we see that as the Soviet Union, shorn of the Warsaw Pact countries in a few stormy months in 1989, and gradually losing the Baltic states in 1990 and 1991, and finally collapsing entirely in late ’91, still had a LOT for opportunistic Westerners and their de facto “rich” oligarchs, whom had ALWAYS existed, to steal, they just had to lay low as their “criminal” activities were part of the reason the Soviet Union endured as long as it did. So while we MIGHT rejoice that at least the Russians and other Slavic folks threw off the Communist yoke, and in many ways THEIR countries are FREER than the USA now (what an IRONY!), there is such a plutocracy and culture of corruption going that one might wonder IF the average Russian or Ukrainian wasn’t really better off under Communism. Probably explains why Putin is so popular there, yes, he’s an SOB, but he gets results and he’s unapologetically a Russian patriot.

      • eric, ethanol requires an amount of energy to be produced that equals the power in a gallon of diesel. I wouldn’t call that cheap. I’d call it a scam.

  5. Given a glass of adulterated or unadulterated fuel, could you or most people tell the difference? I’d rather not have polar solvents(water + alchohol) mixed with a non-polar fuel. Engines don’t like it, unless designed to that end. As Eric points out there is less energy density by any metric. A small concession might be in some rare cases there is an octane improvement in a tiny set of vehicles, This loss of energy might keep your supercharged mad man hot rod from pinging. Or you might formulate your own favorite recipe for racing fuel.

    • Hi Max,

      If you let it sit for awhile, yes. You’ll see separation. Also, I’ve noticed that E10 doesn’t store as well. People (like me) who have power equipment that is used seasonally or occasionally know about this. Part of the trouble isn’t the fuel per se but the fuel delivery system. Power equipment (lawn mowers, saws, riding tractors, etc.) still uses carbs (rather than EFI) and so fuel sits in the bowls for weeks/months and that can (and does) create problems.

      There are steps you can take to deal with it, such as not leaving occasional-use equipment with any gas in the carb/lines (run until dry) and using a fuel stabilizer in the mix, too.

      I try to not leave any ethanol fuel in storage for more than a month. It gets run through my truck after that.

  6. it’s £1.02 a litre here in Scotland and the government tax the fuel to the tune of £.60 a litre. They have the cheek to boast that they haven’t increased the fuel tax escalator for the last five years. When the virus scam is over the price of fuel is gonna hit the roof to help pay for tall the fake money they’ve printed

  7. A gas station nearby, finally, is now offering ethanol-free gas for sale. The problem is, it’s an unbranded gas. I’ve had problems with unbranded gas before. Does branded ethanol-free gas exist? The purchase price for the pure gas is more than 10% over the normal shit, but I suppose it’s worth it just to avoid supporting big ag. Probably better for the car too.

    • The only ones I have had any problems with are the gas stations that do not do much business and therefore thier fuel stays in storage that much longer. If you go to a high volume fuel station, you should have no problems as they are getting fresh gas from the distillery on almost a daily basis.

      Yes, around here there are BP’s, Shell’s and Mobil’s as well as the local chains that have pure gas. It is hit amd miss though.

      • Hey Bill thanks for the reply. My experience is from two Sheetz, selling unbranded gas. Both high-volume locations. After filling up there, on two separate occasions, I got codes that said something about O2 sensors and the catalytic converter. After using the tank and filling up elsewhere, the codes went away on their own. I read that what the big oil/gas refiners sell to the chain gas stations as unbranded gas is sometimes shittier quality. Perhaps something went wrong or out of spec during refining and instead of eating the cost, they sell to a third party instead of under their own brand.

        So I fear being penny-wise and pound-foolish by buying unbranded ethanol free gas, and maybe getting some catalytic converter problem, as opposed to buying the 10% shit from a normal brand that has all the problems with ethanol, but which hasn’t really given me a mechanical problem.

        • Hey Brandon,

          I thought you didn’t give two sheetz?

          I concur with Bill. Even if it’s a decently high-volume station, the ethanol-free stuff (No matter where you buy it) likely sits in the tank a lot longer, ’cause only a small percentile of the people buy it. Depending on the station, they might even relegate that stuff to a smaller or old crappy tank.

          Your code could have come from the gas being a little contaminatred with water (an issue if it sits) or from lead contamination (probably not an issue these days though).

          Unless your car is ANCIENT, ethanol won’t harm it, ’cause they’ve been being built to accommodate it for quite some time.

          Ethanol is more of a problem for small engines- like lawn mowers and whipper-snippers (weed-eaters) as the Aussies call them- and even then, only if you let it sit in them for long periods of time. I just run my equipment dry before the winter, and I’ve yet to have an ethanol-related problem.

          • Nunz, my car is definitely ancient (half a century in a couple of more years) but rubber fuel system parts have been replaced and it’s been tolerating E10 OK.

            However I finally gave up on my 2-cycle weedeater after contantly fighting with it. I did run the thing dry every winter but it was still a struggle to get it started and keep it running spring and summer. Can’t say for certain that ethanol gas was the culprit but it seems likely.

            So I picked up a cheap “Hyper-Tough” electric job last year at Wally-World. Also bought a spare battery since one doesn’t run it long enough and it takes hours to recharge. (A familiar tune!) To give the devil his due the thing does work every time with no hassle as long as the batteries are charged. It’s also a lot quieter, no need to wear ear protection.

  8. So quickly are used car prices sliding, that Manheim (who collects this data) decided to do a special mid-month update. In their own words:

    “Wholesale used vehicle prices (on a mix-, mileage-, and seasonally adjusted basis) decreased 11.8% comparing the first 15 days of April to the month of March. This brought the mid-month Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index to 125.2, a 9.6% decrease from April 2019. If the mid-month value of the Manheim Index holds for the full month, the monthly decline will set a record. The prior decline record was 5.5% in November 2008.”

    As ZZ Top used to sing, “It’s BAD … and it’s nationwide.”

  9. This mandate is definitely well past its expiration date, if it truly was about saving fuel via better mileage it doesn’t pass the smell test. Congress is completely owned by agribusiness, why else would they all trek through bumfuck Iowa every four years during the winter for weeks during primary season? Got to reassure all the corn farmers that they won’t take away the sacred subsidies if they get to be president. Hopefully this year’s total cockup of the caucuses will finally drive a stake through that vampire. Was hoping the Orange Man would at least get rid of the CAFE requirements, especially with crude oil so cheap it’s almost a money loser to pump it out of the ground; would love to laugh at all the greenies with their hair on fire if that happened.

  10. Ethanol is only half of the story. The other half is the high-fructose corn syrup. Not only are they poisoning our cars with the glut of corn that we are forced to subsidize, but they’re poisoning our bodies by also subsidizing the production of HFCS, which ends up in just about everything in the supermarket, because it’s use allows the production of “cheap” food [Cheap to buy…but really expensive after one considers the cost of the subsidies], and makes healthier unsubsidized food seem very expensive by comparison, which results in healthy food being produced in much lower quantities, which further adds to the cost of it, and makes it much less common.

    So while they tout their “wonderful laws” which mandate “higher efficiency” cars, they are at the same time forcing us to subsidize fuel which makes them less efficient, AND then we must also subsidize “food” which makes everyone obese and unhealthy…as we are also subsidizing “shared responsibility”/Obozocare/Medicare/Medicaid to deal with all of the sickness….as the ones who extort these subsidies from us also extort even more to fund agencies which supposedly advocate healthy diets and “food safety”.

    This is truly Babylon!

    • Nunzio,

      “ which results in healthy food being produced in much lower quantities “

      As a good non-essential compliant citizen AND a proud member of the herd of human livestock on this great tax farm we all are allowed to live in, I have just one question for you.

      Who the hell do you think you are complaining about quality of your feed?

      The Pure Food and Drug Act is VERY specific and lists the amounts of rodent hair, insect parts, mold, maggots, and mammalian excreta that you are expected to consume.

      So eat shit Nunzio.

      Produce tax revenue for your owners.

      And die before you become a burden to the state.

      Embrace your servitude! Become a model compliant non-essential.

      You too can live in abject penury and fear!

      [With Smithfield shutting down, demand for long-pork will be increasing. For a free copy of the Long-Pork cookbook ]

      • Why, I’ll have you know, Tuanorea, that I scrupulously eat in accordions with the Food Pyramid, thus ensuring that I get the requisite proportion (part per million) of Tutankhamun, who inhabits that pyramid- thus ensuring that my toots will never be uncommon!

    • Nunzio you are spot on about HFCS. I was watching some youtube vids and one of them was a special on the MINT 400 from like 1978 or something like that…it was basically an half hour ad for BFGoodrich off-road tires, but whatever…it was so cool. Anyway, one thing I noticed….is how friggin’ thin everyone was…sure there were a few thick people in there…but none I’d classify as obese.

      You walk around your average mall today….and seemingly everyone is 20,30,50, 100 lbs overweight! Including kids! HFCS is a definite factor with that…no doubt!

      • Hi Anon,

        HFC – and “helicopter parenting” – probably correlate with the obvious beefing of America, especially of the young. When I was young, kids ran amok – and free – all day long, outside – until it was time to come home for supper. We rode our bikes, we ran around and played pick-up baseball. We didn’t sit in front of game console or peck at a phone for hours. Girls spent an hour on the phone with their girlfriends; boys were outside doing things.

        Today, so many people do nothing at all. Except eat and peck and swipe and click.

      • Anon…
        Aspartame is another big, big offender. Check out the date when it was ‘approved’. (1974) If you chart it you will see the ever increasing use of it and other fake sugars follows obesity very closely.
        Note, they always say ‘sugar’ because these are fake sugars. But they conflate it with real sugar. Your body knows how to handle real sugar.
        Aspartame is addictive and causes an urge for carbohydrates which is why you see obese people stuffing cakes, etc while drinking 0 calorie drinks with Aspartame. It’s also used in baking to sweeten.
        Your body doesn’t know what to do with it… it tastes sweet,,, so the body gets ready for sugar then the sugar doesn’t appear. Being no MD I think it may be a cause of the diabetes surge we see today other then the Doc’s pushing pills for Pharma.
        Another thing,,, If allowed to set for any length of time (6 months or so) it turns into formaldehyde. Nice….

    • I went on a pretty strict diet over Lent. No sugar, oil or salt (SOS) and only root vegetables and greens. Lost 40 pounds in 40 days. Went back to a more “normal” diet on Easter Sunday, although not full-hog into the SAD. All week I’ve felt tired, irritated and bloated and put 5 lbs back on. I expected the 5 lbs but wasn’t expecting the fatigue. I’m probably going back on the no SOS diet again, but with fruit and nuts, just because I felt so much better.

      The surprising thing is I’ve actually spent far less on food over Lent than ever. Even getting out of Costco for under $150, including toilet paper!

    • Nunz, it’s the baby Huey man and the fat as hell woman. I notice people in the US are much taller these days, but don’t seem to be any stronger. Just an observation working with guys I can hide behind.

      • 8, I remember when I was in elementary(my dear Watson) school in the late 60’s/early 70’s. There were exactly two fat kids in the whole school. And they were both boys. Fat girls were even rarer. Boy, have we got the diametric opposite of that these days, in every way! (Ran into one of those fat boys, in our early 20’s, as he was dating a girl who lived a few doors down from my sister’s house, and he had lost the fat!)

  11. All of the fuel I buy is non ethanol. I pay about 40- 50 cents a gallon more but it breaks out almost even as the mileage goes from 16 to 20 on my old 98 Regal. I use stations home owned so I know who is getting the extra dough,,, the owner of the station,,, not the cartel.

  12. Great takedown of the odious ethanol scam, Eric. It would be instructive to share with every Kongress Klown — if only they could read. [insert image of George W Shrub holding “My Pet Goat” upside down]

    Meanwhile, European auto sales data for March were released today. And they are ghastly.

    New vehicle registrations fell 85.4% in Italy, 72.2% in France, 69.3% in Spain, and a lighter 37.2% in Germany.

    For comparison, between 1929 and 1932 General Motors sales dropped 71%. The European auto sales data, in other words, are Depression numbers — no hyperbole.

    As I type, West Texas Intermediate crude oil (May contract) has dropped to a fresh twenty-year low of $18 a barrel. This, despite desperate efforts of governments including USA, Saudi Arabia and Russia to push the price higher. Suck it up, losers!

  13. It’s amazing how many of these kids, even with squeaky-clean driving records, are paying out auto insurance , and getting lame coverage compared to what I get (USAA), at premiums not unlike what I’d have considered a hefty car payment not that long ago.

  14. “The RFS is probably the single-greatest (and worst) example of corporate rent-seeking in the history of the United States.” No doubt this is definitely bad. However, compulsory auto insurance has to be the worst. They create laws making it almost impossible to become an insurer (thereby cartel-ing supply and keeping it at a minimum) and then “create” demand for insurance by forcing everybody to purchase it with the threat of a gun and badge (thereby causing universal demand). Low supply + high demand = high prices (profits for the cartel).

    In the process it created also an entire industry of ambulance chasing lawyers and permitted the extreme escalation of repair costs to cars.


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