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July 9 2012

Things that Go Bump in the Night: Your Car Engine on E15

Charlotte Hays

As he kids climb into the car ready for a family holiday, maybe it’s time to purchase your very first tank of E15.

That’s a 15 percent ethanol fuel that has just been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for immediate sale in the nation’s gas stations.   

But before you fill ‘r up, here is what the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers has to say about E15, as quoted by USA Today:

The CRC (Coordinating Research Council) study released today showed adverse results from E15 use in certain popular, high-volume models of cars. Problems included damaged valves and valve seats, which can lead to loss of compression and power, diminished vehicle performance, misfires, engine damage, as well as poor fuel economy and increased emissions.

"Clearly, many vehicles on the road today are at risk of harm from E15. The unknowns concern us greatly, since only a fraction of vehicles have been tested to determine their tolerance to E15," said Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of Auto Alliance. "Automakers did not build these vehicles to handle the more corrosive E15 fuel. That's why we urged EPA to wait for the results of further testing."

The potential costs to consumers are significant. The most likely repair would be cylinder head replacement, which costs from $2,000 (to) $4,000 for single cylinder head engines and twice as much for V-type engines.

Most people do believe that the time has come to explore alternatives to fossil fuel. But that is quite different from the Obama EPA’s habit of enacting anti-fossil fuel measures that aren’t efficient, pass huge burdens on to the consumer/taxpayer, and, in the case of using E15, may actually ruin the engine of your car.

Likewise, the US Navy is going green at great cost to the taxpayer and likely with reduced efficiency. The standard aviation fuel used by the Navy, according to a story in Townhall, was $3.60 a gallon; green fuel, made from algae, chicken fat and seeds, runs around $26 a gallon.

Both E15 and the greening of the US Navy are built on a hatred of fossil fuels that has become ideological: it is based on something beyond the idea that we could one day run out of these fuels or that many of these energy sources are in the hands of enemies of the United States. The hatred is irrational.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the administration’s halting the Keystone XL Pipeline to curry favor with environmentalists. The cost of mollifying this constituency was big: in addition to bringing us cheaper fuel from a friendly nation, Keystone was a project that could have created jobs for American workers. In an economy that that created a scant 80,000 last month, this would have been a boost. The administration had the gall to pretend that more environmental impact study was needed on this most-studied of projects!

If the administration seeks to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, it must first determine that the alternatives are safe and economical. But instead it seems willing to waste vast amounts of money to go inefficiently—and perhaps unsafely—green.

To make your voice heard on Keystone, go here.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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