Sunday, June 30, 2013

I'm sorry, senators making sense? Hot damn!

What are the odds for bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for something that makes sense? Normally, I would say zero. In fact, normally I would say that the odds for either party in the Senate supporting something that makes sense would be zero, forget about a sensible bill that gets bipartisan support. Well, shut my mouth and slap my grandma, there is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would finally get rid of the dumb-ass Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates, among other things, that gasoline include 10 percent ethanol.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced “The Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act” (S. 1195). The bill would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its entirety.“The Renewable Fuel Standard is fundamentally broken and beyond repair,” said Senator Barrasso. “Instead of delivering meaningful environmental benefits, it’s driven up food and fuel costs for American families.  This flawed program will also inevitably lead to widespread lawsuits against American manufacturers. When Congress enacts bad policy, the right response is to scrap it and start over.”“The Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t working for consumers, refiners, or livestock groups,” said Senator Pryor.  “These mandates are unworkable and need to be overhauled. Repealing the RFS will allow us to develop a new policy for advanced biofuels without driving up Arkansans’ gas and food prices.”
It is astounding how wishful thinking can become policy and, then, how hard it is to remove said wishful thinking from policy. Ethanol is stupid as a fuel, at least if made from corn, which is the current favored source in the U.S.  Without government-mandated use of ethanol as a fuel, no one would make it, because it makes no economic sense.  It takes as much energy to make a gallon of ethanol from corn as that gallon of ethanol delivers as a fuel, it takes a lot of water to support the process,  thus depriving actual agriculture of that water, it results in higher food prices, the ethanol produced delivers less energy per gallon than the gasoline it replaces and, great news for consumers, it fucks up your engine:
Corn-based ethanol is widely recognized as harmful to both the economy and the environment. Once hyped as a solution to high energy costs, global warming and reliance on foreign oil, ethanol is increasingly seen for what it really is: a political boondoggle. Even after receiving billions in subsidies, the ethanol industry still relies on government mandates to survive.Consider the economic implications. Ethanol is known to accelerate damage to car engines and fuel systems, especially among older vehicles. To meet its annual production targets, the EPA is pushing for a 15-percent ethanol blend, or E15 — an amount considered by AAA to be harmful to most car engines. Even at 10-percent levels, ethanol is causing corrosion, engine damage and other costly repairs.The costs of ethanol are not limited to engine problems. Ethanol contains one-third less energy by volume than gasoline. This means drivers must make more trips to the pump than they would with pure gasoline, resulting in poorer mileage and higher fuel costs.
Food prices are also significantly affected by turning corn into fuel. Today, 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol, fueled by a combination of tax credits, import tariffs and production mandates. In turn, retail food prices have risen at home and abroad. World corn prices have more than doubled in the last decade.
On top of all that shit, it's actually bad for the environment:
Environmental groups have slammed on the brakes in their support for ethanol as well. The release of greenhouse gas emissions from forests and grasslands converted into cropland can offset any environmental benefits from using ethanol. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that the use of ethanol “is likely to increase such air pollutants as particulate matter, ozone and sulfur oxides.” 
This is what passes for smart policy at the Environmental Protection Agency.

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