ETHANOL- Another Washington Boondoggle

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I just returned from Eastern Service in Cambridge MD. without our 1-year-old Husqvarna chain saw. David Stevens, the owner, told me that the cylinders inside were so badly scored that it was not worth repairing. He said that they are finding that ethanol additive is causing the gas and oil to separate and that people unknowingly are running their small motors without lubrication. He further stated that most of his shop work is directly caused by ethanol additive in fuel. Recent articles in The Classic Car Club Magazine and AAA magazine cite problems with conventional large gasoline engines. Antique car collectors tend to allow their vehicles to sit without starting the engine for periods of time and are particularly vulnerable.

Seldom discussed is the effect of increased corn production on water quality. Corn has the highest nitrogen need of most any crop as it is grown today by industrial agriculture. At the same time it is among the lowest in uptake efficiency of any crop. In an average rainfall year corn uses about one third (1/3) of the applied nitrogen two thirds (2/3) goes into aquifers or directly into surface water, Even more is unused by the crops in drought years. Excess fertilizer applied to corn is the principle cause of oxygen deficiency in most rivers and estuaries in the Country and is killing the water species. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Gulf of Mexico where Hypoxia has increased due to corn based ethanol (see our references for a taped interview with a Gulf scientists and more about ethanol in an article “The great ethanol Scam” in BusinessWeek magazine)

Studies are mixed on whether there is any fossil fuel usage advantage in using ethanol fuel additive since corn production is driven by oil based chemical fertilizer, weed/pest killers and oil fueled farm equipment. If there is an advantage it is slight compared to the damage it is causing as a fuel additive. Do you want your tax money spent to subsidize ethanol fuel additive or do you even want ethanol mandated in fuel? The ethanol lobby is trying to increase the mandated amount added to fuel. Is that what you want?

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3 Responses to “ETHANOL- Another Washington Boondoggle”

  1. tom hughes Says:

    The information re ethanol’s effect on small engines has been known for some time. It has not only a deleterious effect on the cylinders and normal operation of gas engines (2 or 4 cycle), but is also known to rot fuel lines and other rubber or plastic parts that come in contact with the fuel. As an owner of any number of gas engine vehicles and tools, who also repairs them himself, I have lost track of the number of times I have had to rebuild fuel systems on these machines. I recently had to replace a fuel line on a motorcycle as the fuel line had sprung a bad leak. When I removed it, parts of the line literally crumbled in my hands. Ethanol also results in poor mileage. I have begun using the blue colored marine version of “Sta-Bil” in all gas for these machines. It is supposed to help prevent many of these problems, and has seemed to improve performance.

  2. kerstis Says:

    We are using Sta-Bil at the rate of one oz per gallon for our small 2 and 4 cycle motors. It did not help us with the chain saw. Stevens says that perhaps we did not shake the fuel enough to mix the oil and gas. How much are you putting in your automobiles? At this rate we would be using $30 worth of Sta-Bil per tank of gasoline in an automobile. Perhaps we can get Senator Harkins the leading industry advocate to reimburse us. I will send him a letter and ask. I wonder how many tanks of gas are used in America in a year?

  3. kerstis Says:

    Tom- I have heard second hand that Quimby who is an outboard motor dealer in Easton MD is livid about the damage being done to outboard motors. When one adds up farm and lawn equipment users, outboard and small boat users, motorcycle people, car collectors and a large automobile insurer thats a lot of people who are adversely affected by ethanol additive. I suspect that there are many who just pay the repair bill without knowing the cause of damage. Do you suppose we could change Congressional determination to increase the percentage of ethanol additive if we all got together?

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