15 Percent Less Gas – and Money to Buy it With, Too

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It’s ironic that the Thing responsible for causing the price of gas to double (on its way to tripling) at the same the value of the money we’re forced to use to pay for it has declined by about 15 percent has decided there’ll be 15 percent less gas in what was – once – 100 percent gas.

It – the Thing – has “authorized” via a “waiver” – another 5 percent reduction in the quantity of gas you’re allowed to buy, by increasing the quantity of ethanol alcohol in each gallon of what is no longer gas to 15 percent.

This is what’s styled “E15” – which is set to become the new default standard, replacing “E10,” the styling for what was 90 percent gas adulterated with 10 percent ethanol alcohol.

It – the Thing – says this is being done “As part of (his) commitment to providing Americans relief from market supply issues created by Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

A number of interesting things about this transition.

The first being that 15 percent alcohol means another substantial reduction in the energy density – in BTU terms – of the resultant brew. This means the number of miles your car will travel down the road on a gallon of E15 will be reduced and that, in turn, means you will be buying more E15, sooner – using the money that’s had its buying power reduced by 15 percent, courtesy of the same Thing.

The Thing says “This action will increase fuel supply and provide consumers more choices at the pump.” Interesting, given “consumers” – one imagines hogs at the trough – will have less choice and pay more for it, by dint of being able to drive less far, using it.

It’s also ironic – superficially  – when you stop to reflect that the Thing often vouchsafes the importance of energy conservation and “efficiency,” most notably fuel efficiency. It was the Thing, after all, that summarily decreed a mighty increase in the minimum number of miles all new cars must go on a gallon of gas to nearly 50 miles-per-gallon by 2026.

But his latest decree assures they will go considerably less far – on a gallon of E15. If the Thing were truly interested in maximizing how far cars can go on a gallon of gas, he’d be decreeing that ethanol-alcohol be removed from gas rather than added to it.

That he doesn’t says a lot about intent.

Ethanol is also inefficient in that it takes more energy input to make the stuff than it takes to refine gasoline. It is why a half gallon of 77.5 percent Everclear grain alcohol at the liquor store costs substantially more than a gallon of much lower proof E15. It makes economic sense to make grain alcohol for drinking – because a half gallon of it goes a long way in a human, or even several of them.

It doesn’t go nearly as far in an engine.

Some race car engines are set up to burn even more alcohol than is being introduced into the fuel supply for street-driven cars. But race cars don’t have to meet gas mileage mandatory minimums and racing is a cost-no-object business.

Alcohol in gas also does something else – to street car engines not built to run on more than 10 percent alcohol (E10).

Which is the vast majority of them.

It corrodes them, from the inside out. More accurately, the water that alcohol attracts accelerates the rusting out of steel fuel tanks and lines. It is particularly tough on carbureted engines, none of which were designed to burn “gas” with this much alcohol in it. This encompasses not only older car engines, made when gas was still 100 percent gas. It also encompasses most small engines made right up to now. Lawn mower engines. Snow blower engines. Chain saw engines. Most of these have a bright yellow warning label affixed to them – or in their owner’s manuals – warning the user to not use gas that has more than 10 percent alcohol (E10).

Use of E15 will at minimum void the warranty, if it’s still in effect. And if it’s not, it’s still on you to deal with whatever damage ends up being caused by the use of higher-than-recommended alcohol-content fuel in your outdoor power equipment.

Of course, older cars  are no longer covered by their new car warranties. It will therefore fall upon you to cover the damage done by the “gas” the Thing is trying to force you to put in the tank. It may not be a problem for newer older cars – the ones made from circa the early-mid 2000s to now, many of which were designed to run E10 and for that reason have plastic fuel tanks and fuel system parts designed to handle alcohol-laced fuel. Another 5 percent in the tank, courtesy of the Thing, probably won’t stop these cars.

But it’s incontestably true they will have to stop sooner.

For more ethanol-laced “gas.” Which their owners will have to pay for with money that buys 15 percent less of it. And everything else, too.

Including the food that now costs 15 percent more even before the Thing “authorized” the further adulteration of the fuel supply. The cost of food is likely to go up even more than 15 percent – precisely because it will now take more “gas” to get to the store, to buy it. And then drive the food back home. Also because more food – for animals – is being  used to make ethanol.

Vicious cue circle.

But only we are trapped within it.

The Thing doesn’t need to sweat the cost of gas – however much adulterated – because we’re paying for it. Nor of food – for just the same reason. Or for that matter, the devaluation of our money – which does not concern him.

It probably partially explains why the Thing – and the lesser Things that are behind him – are so seemingly indifferent to the effects of their “authorizations”, “waivers” and “mandates” on us.

But there are other explanations, too.

. . .

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39 COMMENTS

  1. I run e30 in my premeium required chevy Volt. Runs great, runs cheap, never looked back. Tried e15 in 2009 gmc and it runs rough and sputters. Won’t make that mistake again! E15 or e85 can be cheaper to run; the problem is you have to do math every time you fill up (to see if the mpg difference is less than the price difference).

    • Hi Anon,

      Your experiment with your Volt and ’09 GMC makes the point in re using high-ethanol content fuels. Newer vehicles – being designed to handle it – only suffer a mileage reduction. But older vehicles not designed to handle it can be expected to not run well – and to develop more serious problems – if they are run using it.

  2. As MBS Go “No Bid”, Veteran Mortgage Broker Warns ‘Nobody Is Prepared To Deal With Inflation’

    In bond jargon, MBS went “no-bid.” No buyers for MBS.

    The halcyon days of 2020 and 2021 when banks were paying you to borrow money may be coming to an end. Maybe we’ll see real estate become assets again, and the mortgage you took out to buy that real estate go back to being the liability, instead of the other way around as it has been for a couple of years now.

    30 year fixed mortgage rates today are about 270bps over the benchmark 10 year Treasury as of this writing (5.85% vs. 3.165%). If we need to get to real bond yields before investors want to buy bonds, that implies a 10 year Treasury somewhere north of 8.6%. That in turn implies mortgage rates north of 11%. (All of that assumes you believe the 8.6% CPI print.)

    Since forty percent of the electricity produced in the USA comes from coal power plants, therefore forty percent of electric cars on the road are coal-based. 80% of all electricity is from burning coal, oil and gas.
    Oil was $75/bbl pre-Ukraine, then held just above $100, now $120. Natural gas from normal $4-$5/mbtu… since Ukraine $9. The May increase in fuel oil, plus 16.9%. May utility natural gas, up 8% in the month.
    The Coal normal price, $50-$100/ton… today $395.
    What happens when the price triples to charge your EV?

    https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/mbs-goes-no-bid-veteran-mortgage-broker-warns-nobody-prepared-deal-inflation

  3. More than likely, an attempt to gain support from the Midwest farming community in the upcoming elections. The Midwest being one of their severely weak regions. I’ll say it again, mining our top soil is insanely stupid. Just like EVs, without subsidies to support it, Ethanol in gasoline would not be a thing.

  4. Eric,

    For some strange reason, my original post didn’t stay within the confines of the page. I also posted the wrong link; it was from the EIA, not the EPA. Anyway, it looks like E15 will be permitted to be sold from the stations equipped to handle it; it doesn’t appear to be mandatory, so E10 will still be available. This is of concern to me, because my motorcycle’s manufacturer says to NOT use anything stronger than E10. Here’s the link to the EPA’s waiver on E15 sales: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-issues-emergency-fuel-waiver-e15-sales

  5. It’s not that Otto-cycle engines can’t run on ethanol, the old Model T engine could, as farmers often distilled their own “fuel” a hundred years ago. But an ethanol-burning engine would have to have stainless steel fuel tank and lines, as well as the injectors. Also, the compression ratio really needs to be much higher, about 13.5:1 to be optimal, and the cam timing different; more “overlap” is better for effective scavenging with ethanol due to its longer “residence time”. The wrong approach has been the “dual fuel” nonsense. Engine design needs to be optimized for the fuel it will run on.

  6. I guess if they can’t convince us to junk them, can’t manage to sell us shitty electric cars even when they’re subsidized by taxpayers, can’t price us out of putting gas into them, then they’ll just have to settle for corroding our engines.

    This life has to be a simulation, like a very bad video game where the object is for the puppetmaster to ruin everything that’s good and true int he world.

  7. Eric,

    If I understand the EPA’s statement correctly, all the E15 rule does is permit the sale of greater amounts of it; it doesn’t appear to mandate it. It looks like we’ll still be able to get E10, which I’ll need for my motorcycle. Even though my bike is a 2021, the manufacturer says the owner cannot run anything stronger than E10.

    Oh, before I forget, here’s the EPA’s statement WRT E15: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=40095#:~:text=New%20EPA%20ruling%20expands%20sale%20of%2015%25%20ethanol,containing%20up%20to%2015%25%20fuel%20ethanol%2C%20or%20E15.

  8. Eric: The Thing says “This action will increase fuel supply and provide consumers more choices at the pump.”

    Why does anyone comply with Biden’s opinions or the federal agencies spouting similar “opinions”. There is no legitimate authority compelling compliance.

    Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
    nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    A necessary change: All politicians, including presidents, in office for one term only.

    • Providing consumers more choice at the pump is a total crock of sh*t, if there was any choice I would choose to not have ANY ethanol polluting my gasoline. Already ruined a chainsaw and lawnmower engine with that deathanol crapola.

      • In NV, AZ, and UT, some “Maverik” stations have what’s known as the “clear”, 88 octane ethanol-free gasoline. As expensive as premium, but worth it. I wish I could pull a 500 gallon tank on a trailer and bring it back to California, but I’m sure there’s plenty of DOT and CA regs as to why I can’t.

        Use Sta-Bil fulltime in your chainsaw or lawnmower fuel tank full time, that’ll cure the issue with the adulterated “gasoline”.

        • Well, not quite Douglas. Depends on where you are. In SE Texas, with the heat and dewpoints, even StaBil can’t stop the alkyoline from absorbing water from the air, even in a sealed gas can. Just the air in the can above the fuel layer seems to be enough, or something.

          I have a 2 gallon can in the garage that got dosed at filling with the recommended amount of StaBil, and after 4 months, it’s yellow and has a very small layer of separated water and alky at the bottom. So, in the car it goes, with some “fresh” alkyoline, and the cycle starts all over.

          I hear Buc-Ees has non alky adulterated fuel not to far away. Good excuse to check it out!

        • ID and WY also have many of those stations, Maverik and otherwise. Almost every station is ethanol free premium. The snowmobile–snow machines as they call them here–and dirt bike recreation industry doesn’t take well to ethanol.

    • Libertyx,

      The Tenth Amendment is “but a truism,” the hacks in black intoned in United States v Darby (1941).

      In 1995, the hacks in black ruled that states cannot impose qualifications for prospective members of the U.S. Congress stricter than those specified in the Constitution. The decision invalidated the Congressional term limit provisions of 23 states.

      Nowadays, the hacks in black are utterly untroubled by intel agencies committing mass surveillance violations … though the ‘justices’ got their panties in a twist in the 1980s after Robert Bork’s video rental history was published during his Supreme Court nomination.

      Looking forward to the day all nine of them get outed liked Hunter Biden, whose crack-addicted hooker wangled a $20,000 PPP loan during covid.

      Welcome to Weimar, friends. Anything goes and nothing matters.

    • Two events in particular castrated the US Constitution. The SCOTUS usurped authority not granted by the Constitution over what it says, and the War of Northern Aggression killing about 650,000 Americans to dissuade the States from “if you don’t play by the rules, we’re quitting and taking our marbles home”. The States were plainly given authority because the union was voluntary. Until the North realized the South was a major source of tax revenue to fund Northern projects.

  9. The Brandon Terrorists makes me want to join the Russian army….You do realize they are murdering us deliberately…Riiight?

  10. Ukrainian colors on Biden’s necktie. Knock it off, you, you, you… whatever you are.

    The engine in the vehicle I drive can use ethanol blend gasoline. Premium is recommended.

    I see far fewer corn planted acres and more small grains in the ground this spring.

    Barley and wheat are planted, guaranteed. Corn is not a good crop this year in this ag area. Requires too much water, a corn crop requires 300,000 gallons of water per acre to have decent yields. Fertilizer, fuel and pesticide increased costs translates to fewer acres of corn planted this year. Quaker Oats want the oats planted, there is a sign at the fields planted.

    43,560 square feet per acre has to receive one foot of rain to exceed the 300,000 gallons needed to grow a corn crop. When it rains 4 inches, it is many millions of gallons of water far and wide.

    Soybeans not in favor for this year’s crop either. An acre of Iowa corn acreage rents for 600 dollars per acre high price. 250 bushels per acre yield times 8 dollars per bushel is 2000 dollars gross per acre. You’ll have 1400 dollars to pay for the rest of the crop production. 500 dollars gross profit on 1000 acres is 500,000 dollars, ten percent for the big guy.

    The USDA provides weekly crop reports for every state. You can search what is happening out in the fields. This year, planting is behind last year’s stats.

    77.5 percent Everclear is not real Everclear. Everclear is 190 proof, 95 percent alcohol, that is why it is Everclear. If there is no cob of corn image on the label, it’s not Everclear.

  11. In addition to what Jim H below says about Luongo’s piece, the growing of corn is in trouble as well. Fertilizer, the cost of running equipment and on and on. Sticking it to Putin is shooting ourselves in the mouth. Much of the fertilizer and such comes from Russia.

    We’re like Clevon Little in Blazing Saddles, backing into the barn saying “he’s gonna gets its” while pointing the gun at our own head.

  12. Don’t forget motorcycles. E15 not allowed (per Manuf. and EPA).
    While I see E0 avail in many rural parts of our country, it is not avail, per regs, in urban areas.
    Had a new fuel company come into our suburban area of a urban region and they were going to put in a E0 pump (yay!!!!), and the state wouldn’t allow it.
    I’ve got boatloads of small engines for my little farm. Concerned, after E10 ruined 4 of my older chainsaws, then the manuf. adjusted materials and it’s OK now on the new ones, but sounds like here we go again.
    Hopefully the regs not allowing E0, will change if E15 is the only thing around. I’m not holding my breath though.

  13. From my 2018 Harley owners manual:

    “Fuels with an ethanol content of up to 10% (E10) may be used in your motorcycle without affecting vehicle performance. The United States’ Clean Air Act prohibits the use of gasoline blends containing greater than 10% in motorcycles.”

    I’m thankful to live in a rural area with a Co-op selling alcohol free top tier 87 and 92 octane gas. It won’t surprise me when this is outlawed or ruled for farm use only.

    • Sparkey,

      My 2021 Royal Enfield motorcycle, purchased new September, 2021, can only use E10; any more than that, RE says no. Beecause my bike is only cleared for E10, the rule was, shall we say, of concern to me? I dug deeper, and I think we can breathe easy-for now, anyway.

      It appears that there’s a misconception that the E15 ruling is a mandate; it’s not. What it does is allow the sale of E15 during summer months, a time when it’s been banned in the past. Pres. Trump issued a similar EO that was overturned by the court; all Biden’s EO does is to reiterate Trump’s EO now. It allows E15 capable fuel stations to sell E15 during the summer months. Since only a couple of thousand gas stations can handle E15, the ruling is more symbolic than anything. It doesn’t obviate or prohibit the sale of E10. You can read the ruling here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-issues-emergency-fuel-waiver-e15-sales

  14. My father (rest in peace Dad) used to say “Hooch belongs in a Little Brown Jug, not a Jerry Can!”.

    It also leans out the mixture compared to straight gasoline. Especially a problem for air-cooled engines without exhaust sensing and feedback (most of them), left uncorrected, burned exhaust valves are in your future. I had to laboriously adjust the Bosch D-Jet injection on my old VW 412 when I put it back on the road years ago, and even then, I’m not sure I got it right under all load conditions.

    Now, if one wants to run neat Alky in an ICE, one can adjust the compression ratio and mixture, and get a rather powerful, efficient engine. However, it will no longer be suitable for any other fuel, and the other ethanol issues (water, corrosion, phase separation, energy cost to produce, etc.) still remain.

  15. Back when I drove a TDI vehicle I used Power Service fuel additive. In winter especially it increased milage. They also claimed to add lubricants that were missing in ULSD. VW would never replace a failed fuel pump under warranty because they’d somehow always find that the owner pumped “bad fuel.” Most of the people in the online TDI forums swore by Power Service.

    Are there any decent fuel additives that might protect against E15 rot?

  16. Does it make any sense to filter e10 or e15 fuel to remove the ethanol content from the gasoline?

    Is it cost effective?

    How much time required?

    Can it be done with 55 gallon drums?
    After removing ethanol from gasoline what can be done with the ethanol?

    • Mithrandir, I don’t think you can filter it. Water and alcohol have quite an affinity for each other.
      You might be able to boil it off, as in making alcohol from grain mash by heating it above the boiling point of alcohol, about 180 degrees, but below the boiling point of gasoline, which I don’t know. No, it is never safe to heat up gasoline. It’s quite dangerous enough at normal ambient temperatures.

    • You can use a Separatory Funnel. These are used in chemistry labs to separate phases of liquids. It is supported on a ring stand and has a stopcock on the bottom to drain off the water/ethanol. You pour the E10 or E15 fuel into the top and let it sit for several hours until the phases separate. The pure fuel is less dense than the water/ethanol, so it floats to the top. Once they separate, you open the stopcock on the bottom of the separatory funnel to drain off the water/ethanol. The remainder is the pure fuel.

      It’s a bit of a hassle, but this could work if you have mowers, chainsaws, weedwackers, etc.

      Just a thought!

  17. The oil industry has not been allowed to increase refinery capacity for some time now, with the intent of not allowing it ever again. Which reduces supply. Which increases price.
    The ONLY reason ethanol is cost effective is because of the magnanimous subsidy granted for its production. Instead of a higher price at the pump, you pay taxes.
    Never ever forget that the State and the DC rats make more off a gallon of gas than the oil companies do, through gas tax.
    Every hurdle we face is directly and intentionally raised higher by the US Psychopaths In Charge, both State and Federal. if they didn’t create the hurdle in the first place.

  18. Biden: “Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
    There is no such thing as an unprovoked war. Whether provoked by international threat, or internal greed and lust for power, or both. I don’t know if Russia’s attack on Ukraine was justified or not. I don’t have as much information as Russia does on what kind and how much of a threat Ukraine is to them. I do know exactly what the motivation of US support for Ukraine is. Greed and power. Putin is hated by the West because he put a stop to the rape, pillage, and plunder of Russian resources by the West that was going on after the fall of the USSR. The US Psychopaths In Charge instigated the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine for the sin of being too friendly with one of its neighbors. Which intentionally set the stage for the current conflict there.
    Converting top soil into fuel is stupid, or evil. It is NOT renewable in the least sense of the word. No nation outlives its top soil. Such has ever been the case. it is our most precious natural resource.

  19. As I see it, they are desperately trying to level the field (some more) between EVs and ICs. By reducing the miles on a tank of gas, they are making the alternative of buying an EV with far fewer miles on a charge, that much more palatable. It’s disgusting backwards economics that will crash and burn once the East splits from the West economically, which has already begun now that the East is being removed from the SWIFT international banking system AND they consequently already have their own alternative to SWIFT up and running.

    • Hi Mark,

      Spot on. This is about systematically crippling combustion-engined cars, so as to make functionally crippled electric cars seem a viable alternative. Note that ethanol reduces range, increases cost and reduces longevity…

    • Indeed Mark, the West cannot afford to disconnect itself from roughly half the world economy. As is readily apparent from its disconnect from Russia. The Russian Ukrainian conflict isn’t causing all this disruption, Western reaction to it is.

  20. ‘The Thing doesn’t need to sweat the cost of gas – however much adulterated – because we’re paying for it.’ — eric

    It turns out that just as Tesla benefited from punitive regulatory credits that makers of IC-engined vehicles were obliged to buy, a similar scam affects gasoline refining.

    Tom Luongo explains:

    ‘The true 800 lb. gorilla in the room [is] the Renewable Identification Number or RINs. RINs are blending offset credits that refiners have to buy in order to sell fuels into the market.

    ‘Those RINs costs are passed on directly to you, the fuel buyer. It’s so simple even Elizabeth Warren can understand it.

    ‘D3 fuels are ‘cellulosic blends,’ i.e. corn. Note that the price of D3 RINs went from around $0.80 to more than $3.00 since Fungal Joe and the Trotskyites took power.

    ‘Now, why is this? Well, because goddamned Congress mandated it. That’s why!’

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2022/06/thomas-luongo/bidens-food-and-fuel-crisis-its-the-policy-stupid/

    Refining: yet another Sovietized ‘market,’ with a veneer of ‘RIN’ market pricing which only serves to highlight the exorbitant cost of fedgov coercion.

    FJB with a sharp stick. Take your stinkin’ RINs and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine, grifting old grandpa. You comprehensively suck.

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