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Bureaucrats planning to destroy your cars and trucks


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Despite the many problems cited with turning cereal grains into ethanol (price spikes, shortages, etc.) and a new study saying ethanol damages engines, the EPA is going ahead with plans to raise the amount of ethanol mandated in fuel mixes:

Automakers Seek to Delay Ethanol Blending Raise


Published: May 4, 2010

WASHINGTON — Citing new test data, the auto industry says the federal government’s plan to raise the amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline will damage cars and increase the amount of pollution they emit.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a rule in the next few weeks that would permit oil companies to increase the percentage of ethanol in automotive fuel to 15 percent, up from the current level of 10 percent, so they can meet E.P.A. quotas for renewable fuels. (Like a true bureaucracy, the quota is much more important than the fact that increasing ethanol percentages could cause more pollution and damage car engines according to a new study.)

Automakers have opposed the change since the E.P.A. first signaled it last year. But now the industry says it has conducted tests that confirm the higher-ethanol blend will cause problems in many cars.

Half of the engines tested so far have had some problems, said C. Coleman Jones, the biofuel implementation manager at General Motors, who spoke on behalf of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

More ethanol will confuse exhaust control systems and make engines run too hot, destroying catalytic converters, automakers say. It can also damage engine cylinders, they say.

For some car owners, “you will be walking, eventually,” Mr. Jones said. The industry is urging the E.P.A. to delay any changes to the fuel mix until after 2011, when more complete testing will be done.

An E.P.A. spokeswoman declined to discuss the E.P.A.’s specific plans beyond its November letter, in which the agency said it planned to make a decision by midyear. The agency said at that time that it was leaning toward allowing the change.

While the change is intended to apply only to cars of the 2001 model year and newer, it’s unclear how it would be enforced at the pump. (Are we going to have 2000 and below model gas pumps now?)

(That would be the heavily subsidized ethanol industry saying it’s just the oil companies trying to keep their share of the market:)

The ethanol industry argues that the proposed rule is essential for reducing reliance on imported oil. Ethanol makers say that most cars will run just fine on 15 percent ethanol and oil companies are standing in the way only because they want to hold on to market share.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said enough test data was available to approve the new blend. “You just see all this hand-wringing,” he said. (But it isn’t the oil industry objecting – it’s the auto industry saying such an increase will ruin engines. In fact, it’s Government Motors. And they have no particular skin in the game here – what is is.)

The underlying problem is that the gasoline market is about to be flooded with more ethanol than it can handle under current rules, according to farm groups, oil companies and automakers. The current blend for ordinary cars is limited to 10 percent, but “we have lots of gallons of ethanol chasing too few gallons of gasoline,” Mr. Dinneen said.

Representatives of all three industries will meet in Washington on Wednesday, as they do every four months, to discuss their disagreements, but a compromise seems unlikely.

The automakers, the oil companies and the Energy Department are jointly running a test program in which components like fuel pumps and seals as well as entire cars are being run on ethanol blends of 15 percent and 20 percent.

One major reason for concern is that modern cars sense the amount of oxygen in the exhaust and use that measurement to modify the fuel/air mixture going into the cylinders. This works fine for straight gasoline. But the ethanol molecule contains an oxygen atom, and that may confuse the sensor into making the mixture too lean; lean engines produce exhaust hot enough to damage catalytic converters, industry experts say, and may also produce more nitrogen oxides, an ingredient of smog.

If the mixture gets too lean, the “check engine” light will also illuminate. Auto executives predict that if that happens repeatedly on cars, their owners will ignore the light, and cars will run dirty.

El Linko

Bureaucratic inertia has set the ball in motion and facts simply don’t matter.

If this goes through and we end up walking because of it, who do we go see to recover damages?

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