The shocking truth about america’s ethanol law_ it doesn’t matter (for now) _ the salt _ npr

If you oppose government interventions in the free market, as Cruz does, the RFS is an outrage. Electricity invented timeline ” End the Ethanol Rip-Off,” wrote author Robert Bryce in The New York Times last year. P gasket 300tdi He pointed out that a gallon of ethanol delivers only two-thirds as much energy as a gallon of pure petroleum-based gasoline, and as a result, we’re paying about twice as much for that ethanol, per unit of energy, as for petroleum-derived gasoline. Gas jet The loser, he says, is the American consumer, to the tune of about $10 billion each year.

This view of the RFS is widely shared across the political spectrum, including, for instance, the editorial board of The Washington Post. Electricity notes physics Groups hurt by high corn prices, including hog farmers and the fast food industry, are on record calling for the abolition or relaxation of the ethanol mandate. Hp gas online login In fact, even ethanol’s backers, in their fierce defense of the RFS, appear to believe that it is essential for the survival of their industry.

But is that really true? It took ethanol-dissing Ted Cruz’s victory in ethanol-loving Iowa’s Republican presidential primary to finally persuade me to hit the phones and figure this out.

I found two experts who’ve examined this question in great detail: Paul Niznik, an analyst at Stratas Advisors, an energy consulting business in Houston, and Scott Irwin, an economist who teaches at the University of Illinois. Grade 6 electricity And here’s their bottom line: If the law changed tomorrow and gasoline companies were free to ignore ethanol, they’d almost certainly keep right on blending ethanol into their fuel.

Octane is a measure of gasoline’s tendency to ignite under pressure. Electricity word search pdf If it’s too low, the gasoline/air mixture in an engine’s cylinders will burn too soon, creating damaging “knocking.”

The industry standard for gasoline is 87. Electricity generation But getting gasoline’s octane rating up to that standard costs money. Gas in oil lawn mower It means more refining of the petroleum, or using high-octane compounds in your gasoline formula, such as — you guessed it — ethanol. Ortega y gasset obras completas So gasoline companies aren’t using ethanol for its energy — they’re buying it for its high octane rating.

There are other compounds that you can add to boost octane levels, but many, like alkylate or iso-octane, are generally more expensive than ethanol. Static electricity in water Another additive that is widely used globally, called MTBE, has such a bad reputation for polluting the environment that many states have passed regulations that make it difficult to use.

“As of today, the alternative sources of octane are more expensive,” says Irwin, who just updated his calculations on demand for ethanol last week.

Niznik, from Stratas Advisors, says that when corn prices hit a peak in 2012, because of a drought in the Midwest, there were bitter complaints about the ethanol mandate among farmers and people in the food industry who wanted that corn to be used for animal feed. Electricity and circuits class 6 cbse “They were assuming that if we used less ethanol, the price of corn would go down,” he says.

“The truth is,” Niznik continues, “the [petroleum] refining folks knew in their hearts that if the [ethanol mandate] went away for a while, ethanol use wouldn’t drop much. Mp electricity bill payment online jabalpur They were looking around at the octane replacements, and knew that those things were really expensive.” Niznik says removing ethanol also would have forced gasoline companies to disrupt their refinery operations.

If this is true, though, and the ethanol industry doesn’t really need the law that requires ethanol in gasoline, why does it defend that law so fiercely?

“Without the RFS, it’s a riskier world” for the ethanol industry, Irwin replies. Gas 47 cents The RFS was, in fact, necessary to get the ethanol industry off the ground, and even though gasoline companies profit from its octane-boosting qualities, the petroleum industry has always opposed the law. Electricity and circuits physics Ethanol companies “believe that they are in a political death match, and that the petroleum industry wants to kill ethanol,” Irwin ways.

According to Niznik, there may be some justification for that fear. Gas vs electric water heater savings “Refiners are looking strategically up the road,” he says. Gas vs electric oven efficiency “They’re looking at forecasts of shrinking gasoline demand. Gas in dogs symptoms They could say to themselves, ‘Why should I be giving 10 percent away? I want to sell product that’s mine!’ “

Switching to petroleum-based octane boosters such as alkylate would not be easy, though. Electricity bill saudi electricity company In the short term, Niznik says, it would be self-defeating. Static electricity zap Oil companies are competing against each other to make cheap gas, and “the guy with ethanol is probably going to win.”

But those other sources of octane are getting cheaper, Niznik says, and in the long run, they might be just as cheap as ethanol. Electricity per kwh In 10 years, he says, the business case for using ethanol could disappear.

But even that might not be enough. Gas city indiana newspaper There’s a complex set of local, state and federal regulations that also tend to favor ethanol. Gas 0095 A few states require a 10 percent blend of ethanol. Gas finder rochester ny Others, like California, have air quality regulations that make it very difficult to replace ethanol.

“It would be very hard to unravel things like that,” Niznik says. Electricity questions and answers physics “It’s like the tax code. Gas and water company Lots of things are tied into it, and that makes it very hard to change.”

But he also expects debate over the ethanol mandate to continue, because “it’s a great political football.” By defending the Renewable Fuel Standard, or attacking it, politicians define themselves, and their supporters.