Trump administration backs off plans to end or reduce ethanol policy

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The swamp wins: Scott Pruitt, EPA head, has retreated from his plans to reduce or end the program that subsidizes and encourages the use of ethanol in automobile gasoline.

After heavy pressure from lawmakers and other stakeholders, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday night sided with pro-ethanol lawmakers and said his agency will abandon many controversial changes to the nation’s ethanol mandate — prompting a top biofuels leader to claim that Mr. Pruitt apparently has had an “epiphany” over the past few days.

In a letter to seven key senators, Mr. Pruitt — who had been critical of ethanol during his time as Oklahoma attorney general — shot down several major concerns about looming adjustments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal law that requires the blending of ethanol with gasoline.

The letter comes just days after Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and perhaps the loudest pro-ethanol voice in Congress, threatened to hold up nominees for top-level EPA posts if Mr. Pruitt didn’t acquiesce to their demands on the RFS.

It is going to take many years to drain the swamp, since it presently holds great power and is willing to use it to maintain its corrupt control over taxpayer money.



  • Phill O

    Is Iowa not the corn state?

  • wayne

    Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa….. are in on it as well, at a minimum. I think we have a few crony “bio-fuel” operation’s in Michigan as well. The subsidy is something like 50 cents a gallon (?). I believe it was originally mandated to phase down & out in this current time period.

    These people are just all blatant liars and dissembler’s!

    Crony Chronicles:
    “I Want To Be A Crony”

  • eddie willers



  • Mitch S

    The ethanol mandate legislation is one of the clearest examples of corruption in DC.
    It has no purpose other than to line the pockets of the corn lobby (and the pols who support it).
    It costs taxpayers in multiple ways – the cost of the subsidies, the higher cost of gasoline, the higher cost of food and the damage ethanol can do to older fuel systems.
    The automakers have stated their vehicles are not designed to handle E15 – have begged DC not to do it, but it’s still on the table.
    Consumers Union (hardly a pal of big oil) has stated that the program doesn’t help the environment and may even be detrimental.
    And Al Gore – the “godfather” of the program?
    Look what he wrote about it (it’s basically a confession):
    (“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”)

    Need a bit of science?

    Fermentation is a byproduct of The Swamp!

  • Max

    Well said Mitch, I can just picture all the corn lobbyist lined up at the feeding trough for their subsidies from the federal government.
    Can you just imagine if the alcohol they put in a gasoline lost it subsidies? It would be like going to the liquor store to buy a bottle of booze just to pour it in your gas tank? Gasohol would dry up overnight.
    Alcohol has half the BTUs of gasoline, half the power. To lower distillery cost and to raise profits, ethanol is distilled to 100 proof. That means half of the alcohol they put in your tank is water. At 20% alcohol, one out of 10 gallons is pure water. Water has zero BTUs, it is just deadweight you pay for at gasoline prices. The emulsifiers are added to the water and oil and alcohol to keep it suspended without separating. Oxygen that gets in the fuel tanks would oxidize the fuel turning it into water which collects at the bottom of the tanks (and rust out the old metal ones). The emulsifier absorbs this water preventing corrosion. Alcohol prevents the growth of bacteria in the gas/oil, a big problem in the distant past that would clog fuel filters.

    Some gas stations are selling alcohol free gas at the same price as premium (even though it cost less than regular to manufacture)
    I filled my Honda with 10 gallons to see the “cause and effect” in a science experiment. Repeated experiment twice. I went from 26 miles per gallon to 30 miles per gallon. A near 15% increase! Also A 15% increase in power or acceleration.
    Just look at what the politicians have done to us in the name of clean air…
    For every 10 gallon tank of fuel, the corn lobby and industrial corporate farmers receive one dollar of your tax money so you can drive cars that pollute more with less power.

    There is another side to this issue that may force the governments hand. If there is another drought coming after this unusual solar cycle (like the great dust bowl in recent past) corn will be needed as a food for humans and animals.
    Most famines, in recent times, were human caused. Monsanto is being bought out by bayer pharmaceutical, a German company. 80% of the corn in this country is GMO Monsanto corn. Although by treaty, they cannot restrict our agriculture, there’s nothing to prevent them from reselling the rights of Monsanto corn production to China or Russia that could very easily re-strict the growing of “their” product causing a famine. This goes for most all soy bean, and other patented GMO foods including the roundup that is used on nearly all grain crops to facilitate their death before harvest. (The primary reason for gluten intolerance)

  • wayne

    in my area we have a lot of smaller fruit-tree type Farms (& farmer’s) that specialize exclusively in heirloom varieties and only sell regionally. (apples, cherries, berries, etc.) I try to get fresh stuff, in season, as much as I can. (Just bought my jack-o-lantern for show and 3 pie-pumpkins for eating.)
    (That being said, I still want my coffee, bananas, and Citrus!)
    ((FYI– Halo’s & Cuties (California Mandarins) the season doesn’t start until November, they sell imported Brazilian mandarins in the off season, don’t be fooled!)
    Made in Kern County: Halos

    -You bring up interesting points ref; Patented seed varieties, glyphosate-resistant plants, et al. And we do have perverse incentives in place which favor extreme mono-culture and what I consider a dangerous reliance on a very few major food-crop strains.

    Ref the subsidy for ethanol;
    I’m too lazy to look it up, (and its long convoluted crony history goes way back) but it is in the +/-50 cent/gallon range. This original Program was set to expire in 2012 and was reauthorized and expanded. I do not know the exact details other than it was supposed to (again) phase out and then sunset after Obama left office.

    In addition to the direct cash subsidy, there is/was a Tariff on imported ethanol in the 50-60 cent/gallon range.

  • IroningCurtains

    This travesty that is ethanol has already cost normal, middle class taxpayers millions… MILLIONS.

    The damage to all of the lawn equipment that was built pre-ethanol resulted in just about every household tossing out their malfunctioning string trimmer/lawnmower/chainsaw and buying new ones. Ethanol hurts them too, just not as quickly as it did when it ‘melted’ the gas lines and destroyed the carbs.

    I am so angry about this I could spit. It is one of my hobbyhorses. I learned how to deal with ethanol years ago, but I am a mechanic of sorts.

    Sigh… Draining the swamp is a big job. Maybe too big. Could just delete the EPA and start again ;->

  • wayne

    Good stuff.
    Slight correction– it’s more into the Billion’s-of-dollars range.

    First ethanol subsidy was a tax-credit, starting in 1978, and it’s morphed & expanded since then. In typical government fashion, they distinguish between various classes of “bio-fuel’s” and corn-based ethanol in particular, is its own unique Category within the regulations.
    In addition to the direct cash-subsidy & tariff on imported ethanol, the “Renewable Fuel Standard” mandates blending of “bio-fuels” into the nation’s gasoline/diesel supply, and up to 1/2 of that mandate is corn-based ethanol. (Don’t quote me on this, but we are talking around 10+ billion barrels/year of ethanol.) And again, corn-based ethanol is “special” for subsidy purposes.
    Somewhere in the last 10 years if I recall correctly, the Feds outlawed/restricted the use of the most common gasoline-oxygenate additive (something like “MTBE”) and that put further upward pressure to replace that with “bio-fuels,” including ethanol.

    Buying gas today, I actually read the labels on the pump about the octane-rating, etc., –my regular unleaded “contains up to 5% ethanol, unless marked otherwise.” And I have not seen any pumps marked E10 or E15 in a long time. Those blends were initially pushed heavy in Michigan but they never really caught on, for all the reasons mentioned by others.

    And the absolute height of folly and cronyism– we are turning our food into gasoline in an energy intensive round-about fashion, just so the Corn Lobby can get rich.

    I like individual Farmer’s (in a fuzzy nostalgic way)…. but its a heavily manipulated business, where benefit’s are concentrated to the few, and costs are dispersed to the many. And its been like this with “farm supports,” for literally a 100 years. They have just invented new and innovative methods, to steal from us.

    ah… here we go:
    from Feb, 2017:
    “Ethanol & Biofuels Policies”

  • Phill O

    I am no fan of EtOH in gasoline. However, 100 proof will not work: it will separate when mixed with gasoline. A max of 5% helps in Canadian (and ND) winters. There are procedures to distill 100% EtOH. I would prefer 1% EtOH.

    Biodiesel works and increases lubricity lost by the removal of sulphur. However, the percentages added seem excessive to correct the lubricity issue.

  • wayne

    just a quick clarification– all industrial Ethanol (corn derived or otherwise) is pure-ethanol by definition. It is often subjected to being “de-natured” by law, so as to render it non-drinkable in commerce, ironically & historically by a small amount of gasoline. (general 1 gallon of gasoline per barrel of ethanol when it goes through general-commerce, unless it’s a lab-to-lab order.)

    [historical tidbit for the USA. during Prohibition, deaths from “contaminated alcohol” were from the illegal diversion of de-natured alcohol and morons trying to drink Methanol (which does get you drunk but makes you go blind and destroys your kidneys.)]

    Ethanol for drinking, has it’s own rules & regulation, (and it’s own Department.) “Proof” is a term used for drinking alcohol and the taxation thereof . (You can buy ethanol in the Paint Department but you can’t drink it, for that you have to go to the liquor isle.)
    .For purposes of taxation:
    “the tax rate for distilled spirits is $13.50 per proof gallon. A proof gallon is defined as a 100 proof gallon of liquid or a gallon of liquor that is 50 percent alcohol.”

  • Edward

    IroningCurtains wrote: “This travesty that is ethanol has already cost normal, middle class taxpayers millions… MILLIONS.

    It is not only Americans that are affected. Food prices around the world have increased due to the reduced food supply, and this has been especially hard on poorer countries. These countries have complained about America’s use of food to make mere fuel. The uncaring corn lobby is causing a lot of suffering around the world.

    But then again, our politicians and bureaucrats are not the brightest bulbs, otherwise they would not be working in government.

  • Phill O

    Uranium One to the Russian state-owned Rosatom, a purchase now under investigation by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

    So, bowing to Iowa may have more (or at least something) to do with holding the Clinton’s feet to the fire?

  • Phill O

    Wayne Denaturing EtOH includes several additives which depend on the product usage. Most laboratory EtOH use ketones (MIBK comes to mind). Bitrex can be used for some other applications. I believe hexane (gasoline type) is used to remove the EtOH-H2O azeotrope. I made the mistake of using denatured EtOH (form the Merk in Rodeo NM) for drying a telescope mirror to find it had the hexane denaturant. Live and learn.

  • wayne

    Phill O-
    Yes, you are correct, they do use a variety of contaminates, thanks for the additional factoids!
    (I know just-enough chemistry, to be dangerous! My daughter (and son-in-law) in contrast, are actual PhD’s in chemistry & pharmaceutical drug discovery.)

    Totally tangential but very cool; have a friend who mixes & sells “paint stripper,” his own Patented mixture. (Acetone & methanol primarily, but no methylene chloride.) He just shipped 6 barrels to the US House of Reps, they use it to strip all that nice wood they have.

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