April 5, 2010

Detroit: Not Dead Enough!

Follow us here. By the same date — 2015 — that the new 35.5 mpg EPA mandate is due to go into effect, oil companies are also mandated by Congress to double the amount of corn ethanol use (from 2007 levels) to 15 billion gallons. The current mandate of a 10 percent ethanol mix in fuel won’t get us there, so the powerful corn lobby is demanding EPA increase the mandate to a 15 percent ethanol mix.

Trouble is, a gallon of ethanol is 30 percent less efficient than a gallon of gas meaning that the more ethanol you mix in, the worse your gas mileage. Department of Energy studies show steadily decreasing fuel economy as ethanol blends rise from so-called E10 (fuel composed of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gas) up through E15 and E20 — with E20 suffering a 7.7 percent fuel efficiency loss.

Yet DOE’s green-zealot-in-chief Steven Chu still favors an increased mix of ethanol. So while automakers are sweating under the federal gun to make increasingly fuel-efficient engines, the government is mandating they do it with less-efficient fuel.

Don't think of it as hopeless regulatory roadkill. Think of it as a valuable template for Obamacare.

Posted by Kate at April 5, 2010 6:04 AM

May I suggest we reduce Mother Gaia's Earth population by 1 million,starting with the greenies??

Posted by: Justthinkin at April 5, 2010 7:21 AM

Well, if it reduces the average motorist's carbon footprint, then these regulatory hurdles are worth the trouble.

Posted by: Izanpo at April 5, 2010 8:00 AM

The EPA in the US has tremendous regulatory clout, making it a potential force for pure EVIL in the American economy.

Posted by: Joe Molnar at April 5, 2010 8:17 AM

Rickshaws are the answer. With all those Chinese
looking to emigrate, there would be sufficient
manpower to drive them. Smaller carbon foorprint, less traffic fatalities, no DUI's etc. The benefits are endless.

Posted by: arkay at April 5, 2010 8:26 AM

If burning poor people's food so that we can drive our SUVs is morally acceptable, then requiring us by law to burn poor people's food must qualify as a ticket to heaven in the Gaia belief system.

Izanpo, you might want to assure yourself that the carbon footprint of corn ethanol is actually lower than gasoline. Plenty of evidence out there that it is higher, not lower.

Posted by: Halfwise at April 5, 2010 8:29 AM

The real point is energy independence. Obama knows what's going on and he'll spew up climate change until it doesn't work anymore with the American public simply because it helps the US reach energy security. He is actually saying the same thing as Bush. Bush got the big message on 9/11 (and Obama understands that message) - Bush realized that Americans are addicted to oil and in a way Americans directly sponsored the Saudi's financing of 9/11 with American money for foreign oil. Probably in Canada, most gas already has 10 percent ethanol (I think the law is 5% by 2010 in Canada but I think it is 10% in the US). GM and Ford sell a lot of cars in Brazil (I've been there) and so they know how to engineer and build efficient ethanol engines. As most engineers know, you build in a big margin of error for planning and to ensure engines don't break down, so most newer cars probably already support 15 to 20 percent ethanol. The issue is really about what is more important energy independence and controlling your own destiny or bullcrap about less efficient fuel (and the technology for ethanol is just beginning).

Posted by: cconn at April 5, 2010 8:34 AM

What's the solution, then? Dare I say less government?

Posted by: Mark Peters at April 5, 2010 8:50 AM

Collateral damage in this green ubermenschen austerity program will be food production and food cost.

In the west many will slip from the financial bracket where owning a government approved car is beyond their means, let alone the cost of fuel. Taking all that corn production out of the food production cycle will raise the cost of poultry pork and maybe beef, but it may kill the people in 3rd world countries who rely on our inexpensive excess grain production to meet minimal consumption demands.

The lofty ideals of Washington champagne greens have dire repercussions they are in denial of and refuse to acknowledge. All that matters to the green ubermenschen is pursuing the utopian ideal.

The utopian dream killed 300 million last century and it seems the utopians are on track to top that record this century using food as a weapon.

Posted by: The Fly at April 5, 2010 8:55 AM

Think of the huge fines the auto makers will have to pay the government when they fail to meek these new standards.

Nice $push to pay for other stuff . . . like Obamacare.

We can be assured the fines won't just be added to the price of cars because we know Barry loves us.

Posted by: Fred at April 5, 2010 8:56 AM

And all across Ontario and into Quebec tens of thousands of acres of marginal land (scrub bush, wetlands, etc) is being cleared and drained by farmers who hope to cash in on this corn-sourced ethanol stupidity.

As I delight in pointing out to hand-wringing greenies who decry the "habitat destruction" - you can't have your swamp and drain it too....

Posted by: Jamie MacMaster at April 5, 2010 8:59 AM

The full size pickup truck will get squashed.

A symbol of independance becomes roadkill to the Obama/Marxist bus.

Posted by: Curious at April 5, 2010 9:03 AM

I feel like I'm living in an insane asylum run by the people who should be locked in it.

Posted by: Fred2 at April 5, 2010 9:04 AM

[....Well, if it reduces the average motorist's carbon footprint, then these regulatory hurdles are worth the trouble.]

Where have you been??? That nonsense is SOO yesterday. Carbon footprints have been debunked as junk science.
IF CO2 was a valid problem, ethanol is nonsense. Less energy is derived from ethanol than took to grow and make it. The less mileage makes the math even less promising.
This situation was not established when Bush was advised to endorse is now.
In the 40's and 50's we had luminous wrist watch we know that radium on those is a radioactive health hazard. Such a watch trips now deployed radiation detectors at 15-20 feet.
Being concerned about carbon foot prints is now as redundant as being wary of witches, black cats.....
The simple solution to energy independance for the US is simple....DRILL BABY DRILL!!!
OBOZO makes a lot of noise about exploration while he cancels drilling leases and creats national parks above proven reserves....
Current US production is less than 1/2 of that of the Carter era.

Posted by: sasquatch at April 5, 2010 9:11 AM

That should be:

Current US PETROLIUM production is less than 1/2 of that of the Carter era.

Posted by: sasquatch at April 5, 2010 9:12 AM

Energy independence at the risk of your food supply seems kinda dumbass to me.

Posted by: Speedy at April 5, 2010 9:25 AM

expecting more energy from half burnt fuel ie CH3OH or C2H5OH (2/3 burnt fuel) is a ridiculous premise to begin with.

burning peoples tortilli for fuel is a moral outrage. the left has much to explain.

Posted by: cal2 at April 5, 2010 9:49 AM

'the law of unintended consequences'
'the law of supply and demand'
'Murphys' law'

We live in a age of lawlessness and despair

Posted by: cottus at April 5, 2010 9:58 AM

'the law of unintended consequences'
'the law of supply and demand'
'Murphys' law'

We live in an age of lawlessness and despair

Posted by: cottus at April 5, 2010 9:59 AM

This has nothing to do with energy independence. There is enough fossil fuel in North America to supply all our needs when coal is added to the equation ... or, Nat. Gas. At current oil prices it already becomes feasible to convert coal to oil, and the conversion of government vehicle fleets to nat gas is a relatively inexpensive fix. Or, urban users could convert to electric cars powered by vastly expanded nuke power. But no, green solutions are always impractical and make no economic sense.
Using food to power vehicles is nothing but a green scam pushed by those who want to triple the profits of farmers. Everything ... absolutely everything that Big Green does is related to profits, and using food to propel cars is no different. The only difference between Big Green and the natural economy, is that Big Green seeks to use the force of government to artificially create markets where none would naturally exist; and it's most often done under the cover of green utopian ideals ... but it's just cover. Green economies are government mandated ... and hence doomed to the same fate all communist and socialist economies always come to ... utter failure. Only thing is, the Proles get crushed in the meantime, unless they take their society back from the green/progressives.

Posted by: Cjunk at April 5, 2010 10:17 AM


Posted by: set you free at April 5, 2010 10:29 AM

Brazil and ethanol blah, blah, blah. Surprisingly, the green loons haven't demanded that Harper decree the subsidized growing of sugar cane on the roofs of all government, public institution and private large buildings in Canada. Let's see semitropical Brazil compete with an ethanol setup like that!

It's all PC BS. The most efficient source of synthetic oil/gasoline next to the oil sands is coal!

Posted by: Sgt Lejaune at April 5, 2010 10:32 AM

Marie Antoinette had it right when she said "let them eat cake".

Seems like the ineligible POTUS has the same attitude.

History is repeating itself. Wonder when the rest of history will repeat!?

Posted by: glacierman at April 5, 2010 10:40 AM

Let them eat healthcare.

Posted by: set you free at April 5, 2010 10:46 AM

It points to a larger problem in government -- the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. It's reminiscent of my time in the armed forces when PET ruled. Accommodation charges for the soldiers were set by Central Mortgage and Housing at the market rate for the area, and salaries were set by Treasury Board at a fixed rate nation wide. The result? Soldiers in Calgary ending up on welfare because salary minus accommodation charges left them in poverty.
In the case of vehicle energy efficiency, the commissars of central planning are suffering the failings of all central planning systems -- a lack of information and the inability to respond to new information even when they do become aware of it, this assuming that they even have the intellectual capacity, common sense or moral courage to recognize or admit their own screw ups (doubtful). Society's producers and consumers are caught in between. The apparatchiks and nomenklatura? They take proletarian supplied gas-guzzlers to their dachas for the weekend.

Posted by: DrD at April 5, 2010 10:50 AM

Kate, you're great! "Detroit: Not Dead Enough" brings home the essence of the issue. I do see both sides of the subject though... both Izanpo and ccon have valid concerns although IMO, the whole green movement is a scam. Perhaps what the US should do (just thinking) is limit US energy consumption to what the US can produce - and by any means necessary. Solves the problem of the middle east, reduces energy consumption to make the greenies happy and encourages all types of alternative energy with a heavy emphasis on nuclear, added drilling etc. What do you think?

Posted by: Orlin from Marquette at April 5, 2010 10:59 AM

Nothing from the safety nazis? Light weight cars are a bit less safe, so they must have weight added to them, which increases fuel consumption.

Posted by: Paul at April 5, 2010 11:30 AM

Mandate more ethanol and you will be importing MORE! Mideast oil, not less. Because it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it is worth.

If you try to produce ethanol by using only ethanol energy, your plant will quickly shut down because it will consume more energy than it is producing. What is so hard to understand about that ??

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at April 5, 2010 11:38 AM

The ridiculousness of the situation is intentional,Im surprised you military guys have not been able to identify these exercises as nothing more than a diversion,while the true objective is being achieved by stealth and incrementalism.If you cant stand Alex Jones and his message consider Wise Up Journal as an alternative source for the truth.

Posted by: mikeg at April 5, 2010 11:41 AM

How many of you own a flex fuel vehicle? CAFE standards are a massive joke. Most people with FFV's never put e85 in them (because of the aforementioned 30% efficiency compromise), yet the automakers get a massive exemption for putting that badge on the tailgate of their Suburbans and Peecup trucks.

An 18 USMPG Suburban, with a FFV badge (and about $100 in parts) gets counted with CAFE at 33 mpg. GM Ford and Chrysler barely squeak under the mandate now, and wouldn't even be close without the FFV scam.

Posted by: d_abes at April 5, 2010 11:56 AM

Sgt Lejaune at April 5, 2010 10:32 AM...says..

" Brazil and ethanol blah, blah, blah. "

Well Brazil uses sugar while we use low efficiency corn.

Brazil is 85% on sugar juice with no worries about any gasoline / diesel shortage.

We idiots in North America are fooling with very poor corn juice, the bottom line of which keeps us dependent on Petroleum.

Electric vehicles will give tortillas back to the people who depend on them for their staple diet.

Nissan seems to head the race. Just Google Nissan Leaf.

Posted by: Tony G at April 5, 2010 12:00 PM

Crap, don't you hate it when legislation to satisfy one VIP group is in direct conflict with an even more important VIP group. Luckily the great minds of government don't actually have to resolve the inconsistency, it's the capitalists problem now. The good news is that the US government already has a solution for the problem of finding an alternative to declining gas tax revenue due to government mandated ultra-efficient automobiles - a mileage tax. Obama shot the idea down in 2009 but with all these new entitlement programs rolling in I'm sure it'll be dusted off.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn...Among the reasons for the [funding] gap is a switch to more fuel-efficient cars and a decrease in driving that many transportation experts believe is related to the economic downturn. Electric cars and alternative-fuel vehicles that don't use gasoline are expected to start penetrating the market in greater numbers.

Posted by: LC Bennett at April 5, 2010 12:00 PM

Fuel economy ratings will be standardized, using a specific fuel. If you check the EPA ratings on a window sticker, you'll see they already specify the fuel type, on many models.

I think many American car dealers will welcome this initiative. I've heard a few salesmen complain, they can't compete with the Japs, and Koreans, because they have no product that the average young buyer wants. If it weren't for pickup trucks, a lot of Alberta dealers would go under.

In my town, the Ford, and GM dealers have had Hyundai, and Kia dealers, build big, new dealerships right beside them. Those new dealers have pretty well taken over the small car market. The crazy thing is, Those cars burn more fuel, than their American counterparts. The fact they only sell small cars, keeps their average fuel economy lower than Ford, or Chevy. That fact will probably spell the end of my favourite vehicles, big, rear wheel drive, V8s.

Posted by: dp at April 5, 2010 12:03 PM

Hey, maybe that's their plan to nudge us over to EVs. Makes no sense otherwise.

Posted by: Tony G at April 5, 2010 12:04 PM

When 10% ethanol blend fuel first came to Manitoba, I tried it in my vehicle, and got less than 80% of the usual mileage than regular gas, and it tends to run rougher in hot weather, (more prone to vapour lock symptoms even though it is fuel injected.) Since January 1, 2009 an overall average 10% ethanol usage became mandated by the Province for the total sales of all fuel in Manitoba. However, the fuel stations maintain premium at 0% ethanol right at the moment, so the regular grade has even more ethanol now. Since there has been a reduction of the price of gas across the board since last summer, I now find myself buying premium grade fuel, more often than not, as the bottom line cost for me is basically a saw against how much more fuel I would use if I used ethanol blended regular.
I find the Province of Manitoba, through its subsidy of ethanol production, and its legislated mandated usage, is not acting in a responsible manner.

As to the effects of the new legislation, it is mandated fuel economy, and artificially created gas shortages that resulted in clown cars like the Chevrolet Vega, Chevrolet Chevette, Ford Pinto, Ford Festiva, Toyota Starlet, Volkswagen Fox etc. None of these cars fitted my needs then, nor would a modern equivalent now. I am in need of replacing my current vehicle (10 years old and close to 300,000 km of usage) and my choices of finding a reasonable replacement is difficult, but I will try to find something soon, before my choices become even more limited by the new legislated mileage requirements.

Posted by: Al the thawing fish in Manitoba at April 5, 2010 12:05 PM

Ethanol may not do much to help the energy problems, but the growing of it on vast amounts of farmland will cause millions of deaths by starvation in the rest of the world.

That will take out a lot of useless carbon exhaling, wood-burning, population-increasing brown people.

Makes sense in the the current white house, if they have even considered this unintended or intended consequence.

Obama wouldn't be the first aspiring totalitarian Leftist blow hard to starve millions for the cause.

Posted by: Abe Froman at April 5, 2010 12:09 PM

DrD says April 5, 2010 10:50 AM "It points to a larger problem in government -- the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing."

I'd rephrase that: The left hand of the current government doesn't know what the extreme left hand is doing.

Posted by: Person of Choler at April 5, 2010 12:10 PM

A 55 mph highway speed is the one regulatory method to ensure every single vehicle on the road, regardless of age, gets better fuel milage.

The fact that it's not on the table tells you the agenda has nothing to do with fuel consumption.

Posted by: Kate at April 5, 2010 12:13 PM

If they won't dismantle the EPA they could at least relocate all of it's offices to abandoned barns that are a 3 hour commute from the nearest city center.

Posted by: Oz at April 5, 2010 12:19 PM

Izanpo personifies the statement "Progressives can't get past the knowledge problem".

DrD @ 10:50 sums up the thinking capacity of the progressive commissars of central planning.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at April 5, 2010 12:19 PM

Kate @ 12:13 is bang on. Our Honda Pilot has a constant read out of litres used per 100 km and the gauge drops noticeably when reducing speed from 110 km to 90 km.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at April 5, 2010 12:42 PM

Green narratives + ENGO hysteria pimping + MSM hysteria parroting + rent seeking corporate whoring + vote buying political whores pretending to control regulatory leviathan = Green Hell! Laissez-nous faire.

Posted by: John Chittick at April 5, 2010 12:47 PM

I am old enough, heh, to remember the 55 mph limit in America. Interstates and freeways too!!

Initially at least, most were compliant.

Two major remarks at the time (myself included);

1) Is it ever nice and relaxing when everyone is driving slower !

2) My fuel economy has increased dramatically !

Vehicles with boxy shapes increased their mileage the most because air resistance increases logarithmically with velocity.

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at April 5, 2010 12:55 PM

The fact that it's not on the table tells you the agenda has nothing to do with fuel consumption.

But ethanol does have something to do with creating an artificial market for rural conservative welfare bums.

Posted by: phil at April 5, 2010 12:59 PM

Abe Froman - "Ethanol may not do much to help the energy problems, but the growing of it on vast amounts of farmland will cause millions of deaths by starvation in the rest of the world."

Population control is the not so hidden agenda of the Gaia worshipers, so its no wonder they support ethanol - all those poor people who depend on corn for survival have no real "quality" of life anyhow, so mass euthanasia through starvation is not a problem. Also when redistributing the global food supplies, a smaller population is preferable.

Kate: living out in the boonies requires that I take the highway (100km and 120km speed limits) into town. When the gas prices were really high, the vast majority of motorists did not go over 80km/ hour, some even stuck to 60 km/ hour. I'm quite sure that revenue from speeding tickets was at an all time low! You're right - lowering speed limits is an obvious strategy that, strangely, has been overlooked - would save lives too.

Posted by: No-One at April 5, 2010 2:17 PM

New crop 2010 corn contracts, delivered to the elevator, as of April 1st was 158$ a metric tonne for corn. The actual cost of growing a tonne of corn hovers around 200$ a tonne...other than a massive government subsidy, where the hell is the profit in growing corn for ethanol I'd like to know?

Posted by: The Glengarrian at April 5, 2010 2:27 PM

There is no real practical advantage with trucking and stewing corn.

Farmers and tax collectors don't care.

We need a northern sugar cane variety.

Now that would break out on the plus side.

Forget it!... Go EV and don't buy liquid fuel at all. See, Nissan Leaf. Under 30K.

Posted by: Tony G at April 5, 2010 2:39 PM

But what happens when the Monsanto corn crop has a genetic glitch in it and all those taste ears of corn produce nothing but air?

No food or fuel - just lots of starving people and fuel injectors!!!

Posted by: glacierman at April 5, 2010 2:45 PM

Many environmentalits are not on-board with biofuels.

So why are they quite? Agenda?

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at April 5, 2010 2:53 PM

Its bound to collapse in the long run. How can you use good food land for fuel, & ignore your best resources. Than expect to eat at night. More madness.
They (Government elites, greenness, et) would drag us all to Hell for power. If not for their dogma's of the raving lunatic death cult they genuflect to.
This is true decadence, not the carnal exhibitions of an orgy we are told it is. Its the insanity of the ruling class destroying with malice the vehicle of their own civilization in an eruption of mental instability..

Posted by: Revnant Dream at April 5, 2010 6:15 PM

"lowering speed limits is an obvious strategy that, strangely, has been overlooked - would save lives too." - No-one

Sure, but spousal bickering will increase and the amount of long distance summer vacations with the kids will decrease (significantly).

Posted by: LC Bennett at April 5, 2010 6:26 PM

@Tony G
The argument for EVs has been hashed and trashed thoroughly in this blog before.
1) They are not in any way viable given limited ranges and reduced performance in cold Canadian climate.
2) The electricity to charge them still has to come from somewhere, usual fossil based fuels in several Canadian Provinces.

And as to your prior comments regarding ethanol:
1) Canada does not have the growing environment to grow sugar cane. In Manitoba our sugar beet industry died when the one processor was bought out and production of sugar moved to plants in North Dakota and Minnesota. Sugar beets do produce more sugar per acre than corn in Canadian climates, but it still is the trade off of fuel verses food.
2) Our winter season decreases the efficiency of vehicles using ethanol based fuels (ethanol fuelled engines tend to run cooler, more difficult to get up to proper operating temperatures, not even the old cardboard in front of the radiator trick helps, I've tried) not a problem in mostly tropical Brazil.

Lol at LC Bennett, expecting to do less travelling in the Family Truckster this year?

Posted by: Al the thawing fish in Manitoba at April 5, 2010 9:28 PM

politicians are technically stupid, as are most lefties

Posted by: GYM at April 5, 2010 9:56 PM

Just to "inject" a note of calm into the proceedings, did y'all know that the new Ford 5.0 V8 engine can average 25mpg highway in a Ford Mustang?

It's pretty kewl tech I must say. Variable cam timing, double overhead cam, aluminum block, and I think four valve heads. Put your boot down on it and you get 412hp. 25mpg. That's with "regular gas", meaning 10% alcohol. If they up the alcohol component then obviously mileage suffers.

The 2010 Dodge Challenger has a 6.1L Hemi (372 cubic inch) that produces 425hp and averages 25mpg highway. They are introducing new part-time injection tech to give up to 35 mpg highway cruise if you keep your foot out of it.

Chevy has some other thing, I hate GM cars after about 1978 so I don't much care. And their new Camaro sucks air. Its a wallowing monstrosity and a stock Mustang can eat its lunch. But it gets mileage too, even though its still a pushrod cam-in-block dinosaur.

Really what's happening here is the Big Three have been forced, -at gunpoint- I hasten to add, to adopt engine technology that the Japanese manufacturers have been selling for years. Double overhead cam, variable valve timing and advanced injection management have all been on the market since the late 1990's.

These days racing guys hang a turbo or a supercharger on a 4.6L Ford aluminum block motor, 280 cubic inches, out of a Lincoln Mark 8 and make 800hp without doing one other damn thing to the motor. With the 5.4L some head porting and a few other things can get you over 1000hp. That's a 330 cubic inch motor. That's insane power out of a dinky little motor, compared to the old days.

Add actual innovations like direct-to-cylinder injection, FINALLY put on unrestrictive intake and exhaust made out of something other than cast iron, God forbid maybe go with some water/alcohol injection and intercooled turbo action, they might squeeze some mileage out of their crap.

So its entirely possible the mileage numbers will be reached with available technology by the time announced. But not if they go to E85 or E70 as suggested. That's moving the goal posts.

Of course if Barry's clown circus decrees they must go to E70/E85, it won't matter anyway. Because gas will be $20/gallon and America will be WALKING to work. I predict that will last about a week before the whole Second Amendment thing kicks in.

I am compelled to add that burning food when there's oil available is a horrible sin, and should be viewed as such. Greenies, bite down on that.

Posted by: The Phantom at April 6, 2010 12:41 PM


Marvelous... a 5L V8 @ 25MPG! BUT..Its a Ford though.

Park it well clear of your house and garage..

They tend to self-combust after being parked hot. May take 10 minutes or an hour.. It's always a big surprise to most owners.

Google Ford fire... stay safe!

Posted by: Tony G at April 6, 2010 5:14 PM