Local farmers, ethanol producers frustrated with EPA standards

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Local corn growers and ethanol producers are firing back at the EPA over lower-than-expected bio-fuel requirements.

In May, the EPA proposed new targets for its Renewable Fuel Standard, which determines how much ethanol needs to be blended into gasoline. The recommendation calls for more ethanol, but falls far short of the amount mandated by Congress.

On Monday, June 8, 2015, Rep. Cheri Bustos visited Big River Resources ethanol plant in Galva, Illinois, calling for higher blend levels.

"This is not at all said and done. I do consider this a gut punch... We know that it's not acceptable, and we have a big fight on our hands," said Bustos. "We've got to give our family farmers certainty. We have to give the ethanol and bio-fuels industry some certainty. We don't want to take a step back."

Nearly 60 people work at Big River's Galva plant. President Ray Defenbaugh says any ruling that decreases demand for ethanol could affect those jobs.

"If you have to cut back or shut down, those are jobs that are lost. Those are young people or other people that stay in the community that will have to look elsewhere for jobs. It'll be destructive, disruptive to our community," said Defenbaugh.

Citizens and members of Congress are now invited to comment on the EPA's proposal.

A final ruling is expected at the end of November.

1 Comment

  • Bobby Fontaine

    The kind of ethanol added to gasoline is anhydrous, which is basically moonshine with the last few percentage points of water removed because gasoline (oil) and water don’t mix. You say ethanol has a third less energy content than gasoline, which translates into a 33% mileage loss over gasoline. When added to gasoline at a ratio of 10% (E10), it’s claimed to cause 3% mileage loss. But that doesn’t explain how 100% ethanol, even hydrous ethanol (moonshine with the water left in it), does not cause a 33% mileage loss in a high compression engine.

    What’s really behind the loss of mileage with E10 has already been mentioned, oil and water don’t mix, meaning the hydrocarbon chain connecting gasoline to ethanol is very weak, so weak that too much water causes a “phase separation”. This is where the ethanol and water sink to the bottom of the tank with the gasoline floating on top of it, which causes a great deal of damage to engines. What no one talks about is what happens even with the bare minimum exposure to water, even normal water vapor in the atmosphere that fuel is exposed to in the piston chamber. This causes that weakly connected hydrocarbon chain to break so there are too distinct fuels being fired. So when the spark plug ignites what is supposed to be 87 octane fuel, the ethanol is now at 113 octane and the gasoline 83 octane. This is because in order to achieve an 87 octane balance when adding 113 octane ethanol at 10%, the gasoline it’s added to is 83 octane.

    Low compression engines, like those that use regular gasoline, cannot compensate for a fuel mix of 113 and 86 octane at the same time, it’s impossible. This results in the claimed 3% mileage loss along with high emissions of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. I t also causes hotter running engine because so much of the fuel is not combusting, it’s rather burning. The truth however is it causes a greater loss than 3%. Depending on the type fuel, engine, and ignition system, most suffer a 10% mileage loss or greater, meaning adding ethanol to gasoline at 10% by volume is a total wash even if it didn’t require any energy to produce. This is while hydrous ethanol causes no mileage loss, meaning the whole Midwest could be gasoline free using their own self sustaining 100% ethanol fuel rather than lobbying the federal government to force the rest of us to truck or train it to our regions so it can be used to ruin our fuels.

    To sum it up, even if ethanol came out of the ground ready to be added to gasoline, even if it fell like rain or magically appeared in our fuel tanks already mixed with our gasoline, it would still do more harm than good.

    On federal mandates driving commodities markets, ethanol forces high demand for corn, which means higher corn prices. So more farmers will grow corn over other crops. This means less of other crops coming to market, which drives their prices up as well. And the fact that ethanol is not just a drain on the economy because it requires more energy to produce than gives back in power, that is if we believe it works as a fuel, which it does not, this means our cheap energy model is broken, which drives down the value of the dollar. “That’s absurd, if this was true, the dollar would have started sinking as quick as mandated ethanol use began in the Spring of 2006,,,,,,, well I’ be, I just checked and that’s where the dollar started to decline, and kept declining the more ethanol was produced and making it’s way into gasoline supplies”

    Exactly, and a weaker dollar means higher prices for imports like oil. Not only that, but with all these federal mandated forces pushing markets in directions that can’t be stopped, it invites speculators into commodities so already rising prices went that much higher.

    Cheap energy and food are hallmarks of our economic model. Our formally unsubsidized low wage work force was founded on three floating variables, cheap energy, especially gasoline so workers can afford to drive to work; cheap food so they can feed themselves and their families; and affordable rent. Also a strong second hand market in cheap hand me down products like used cars, thrift stores, classifieds, and yard sales, all allow low wage workers a full flavor taste of the American Dream. Change any of them so workers can no longer afford to sustain themselves on unskilled wages and our financial markets start to come unraveled. We either have to import cheap labor or subsidized the work force we have, or both, which is what we’ve been doing.

    This is all predicated on one central factor working against all the rest, not just a fuel additive that doesn’t work, and would be a bad idea even if it did what it’s promised to do, it’s a federal mandated fuel product that can’t be competed against. So when it points markets downhill, that’s where they will go, not only meaning nothing can stop it, but everyone knows where’s it’s all heading. So of course markets respond by investing somewhere else, which is correct, why back a dying horse, a horse that’s being poisoned by it’s owner when it’s safer to take chances overseas or betting against US markets. //

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