The fight over whether corn ethanol in gasoline sold in the US should be increased to E15 – a blend of 15 percent ethanol mixed with 85 percent gasoline – from its current state of E10 (ten percent), has been getting uglier lately, all over the place. The US Environmental Protection Agency has given the green light to E15 for 2001 model year or later vehicles, as stated on pump stickers where the fuel is avaiable. In November, AAA released a statement expressing concerns about damage being done to vehicles caused by ethanol's corrosive impact on their engines. And the airwaves have been full of arguments ever since.
Marc Rauch, executive vice president at The Auto Channel, wrote a column for the Renewable Fuels Association's E-xchange blog, that took Fox Business to task for inaccurately reporting on the issues. Fox reporter Melissa Francis spoke with our friend Lauren Fix, who was not officially a spokesperson for AAA but appeared to be supporting their warning statement (you can watch the video below).
Rauch condemned Fix for either grossly lying or providing bad propaganda that has "been spread by the oil industry and its lackeys over the past 80+ years," he wrote. Rauch sent an email to Francis and Fix spelling out his concerns. "The information provided by Lauren Fix about E15 is almost completely untrue. Lauren's explanation of phase-separation and the food-price argument about corn are preposterously puerile," he wrote.
Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, sent a letter to AAA president Robert Darbelnet confronting the organization on unnecessarily alarming motorists about E15 while at the same time staying silent on non-approved low-octane fuel being sold in states like Colorado and South Dakota.
While AAA isn't generally known for conducting research on all the motor fuels used in the US, Lamberty accused AAA of being hypocritical about the real issue. In his letter, he stated, "The hypocrisy of turning a blind eye and most likely allowing people to shorten the lives of their vehicles by using unapproved and untested oil-company produced sub-octane gasoline for decades, while loudly attacking thoroughly tested and approved E15 when only a few stations are offering it for sale, is quite unbecoming for an organization that claims it puts the best interests of the American motorist first."
If you're interested in reading even more absurd arguments on the subject, check out another E-xchange commentary taking the New York Times to task for confusing white corn ethanol made in Guatemala with yellow corn used in the US. Or an Investors Business Daily editorial attacking environmentalists and ethanol bureaucrats for the inhumane policy of starving the poor.