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EDITORIAL: Corn-fueled politics

EPA mandate destroys car engines, voids warranties

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to shove more ethanol into your gas tank. Obama administration bureaucrats have signed off on a crony-capitalist scheme to boost the corn content of gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. This serves absolutely no purpose beyond enriching farm-state agribusiness giants. In fact, it may even result in the voiding of millions of new-car warranties.

Earlier this year, the EPA rammed through its decision to "allow" the use of the E15 blend of ethanol and gasoline for cars built after 2001 and approved pump labeling standards. Ethanol apologists will point to this deceptive phrasing to claim that this is not a mandate. Don't be fooled. Since EPA granted the same waiver for the 10 percent ethanol blend, E10, some 30 years ago, corn-free gasoline has become nearly impossible to find. According to the pure-gas.org website, there are 4,294 stations offering unadulterated gasoline, but this is mostly off-brand options in rural locations. The other 98 percent of the country's fuel is tainted with corn.

The EPA insists newer cars will have no problem with 15 percent ethanol, but Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, wasn't willing to take the agency's word for it. He asked automobile manufacturers to confirm whether higher ethanol blends could be safely used in their products. A dozen carmakers raised serious concerns. For example, a representative for Honda North America pointed out, "There appears to be the potential for engine failure." If that happens, the company does not want to be on the hook. "Honda products were designed, built and certified to operate on E10 and below," Honda vice president Edward B. Cohen wrote. "Use of higher blends could compromise the vehicle's warranty."

Ford Motor Company agrees. "To the extent that E15 is introduced into commerce, we will work with our customers and dealerships as best we can to address any potential concerns, but we cannot redesign vehicles that have already been built and sold," wrote Susan M. Cischke, a group vice president for the Blue Oval.

This issue highlights the danger of allowing liberal zealots to set public policy. They are so obsessed with micromanaging the lives of others and fulfilling their environmental fantasies that they give no thought whatsoever to the real-world consequences of their schemes.

As a fuel, ethanol is highly corrosive. The E15 gasoline blend reduces gas mileage by 6 percent compared to real gasoline. That adds up to about $150 a year for the average vehicle owner. This expense and the mechanical danger serve absolutely no purpose beyond filling the pockets of wealthy farming giants. Congress needs to repeal the ethanol mandate to protect American pocketbooks - and the car warranties of millions of motorists.

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