Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another reason to avoid E85

Henry Payne posted this at Planet Gore.

Brazil also had to mandate that E100 ethanol be taxed 25 percent less than gas (in order to make up for ethanol’s inherent 25 percent shortcoming in fuel efficiency relative to gas), mandate a 20-percent ethanol fuel mix for gas (the U.S. mandate is currently 10 percent), nationalize the state oil industry in order to goose production, massively subsidize that production to the tune of $1.20 a gallon (the much-maligned U.S. corn subsidy is “only” 51 cents) . . . and even then still had to ban diesel-fueled cars (the best alternative to gas).

In short, Brazil’s government declared ethanol a national-security imperative and took over the energy sector. “If alcohol fuels really can't compete, let that be proven in an open market,” writes Zubrin. Been there, done that. Over its 25-year experiment, Brazil — with the optimum crop and climate for biofuel — found ethanol could not compete necessitating the comprehensive, aforementioned government intervention.

I had never considered this additional screw-job for users of E85 (and E10) fuels. They are paying the full motor fuel tax, which is based on pure gasoline, on a fuel that has only 75% of the energy of the real thing. Considering the corresponding penalty in gas mileage, that works out to a 33% tax premium for using E85.

Similarly, drivers who have been using 10% ethanol reformulated gas have been paying a 4% tax premium. These disparities should be addressed by the Wisconsin legislature, although I understand that anything involving math and/or energy is way over their intellectual capabilities.

Mr. Payne's post was part of an excellent ongoing discussion of ethanol adulterated fuels at Planet Gore for the past week.

No comments: