On Nov. 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally took a sensible step toward protecting American consumers and the environment: It proposed a temporary reduction in the escalating levels of ethanol that are going into U.S. fuel blends.
Those high levels of so-called “renewable” fuel blends in gasoline — which have been found to damage boat engines and fuel system components — are currently required under the Renewable Fuel Standard, imposed under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In fact, the push to create higher levels of ethanol fuel blends than the widely sold E10 has posed a serious threat to powerboating.
While ethanol has been touted as a “green” fuel for more than a decade, recent studies have proven that the current level of corn ethanol production actually has had a remarkably detrimental effect on the U.S. environment.
More than 5 million acres of grassland set aside for conservation have so far been turned over to corn production, to satisfy the huge demand for corn-based ethanol. The push to grow more corn for ethanol has also resulted in serious water pollution issues and destruction of wildlife habitat across the nation.
Since 2010, more corn has gone to produce ethanol than to feed livestock. In addition, food prices have gone up worldwide, as a result of corn being used to make fuel instead of satisfying the world’s demand for food.
There seems to be no good argument to continue the current production of ethanol at breakneck speed — or the government’s mandate to put even higher levels of ethanol in gasoline, despite the proven damage it can cause to many automobile engines, and to ALL marine engines, motorcycles, snowmobiles and gasoline-powered tools.
In fact, it seems the only thing high-level ethanol fuel blends have going for them is major political support from the powerful farm lobby.
The EPA’s proposal to back off on a government mandate to create higher and higher levels of ethanol-blend fuel is a step in the right direction. However, in our opinion, it’s time to not just reduce, but to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, once and for all.