Our article on May 4, 2010 reported that Ford has doubled the amount of E-85 ethanol-capable vehicles it produces, in accordance with goals the automaker set back in 2006. We also used the article to opine that ethanol fuel blends have yet to gain much popularity with consumers, helped in no part by the abysmal infrastructure refueling stations that carry the special fuel.
While we acknowledged that emissions from ethanol/gasoline fuel blends tend to be lower than from gasoline alone, we mentioned that the EPA cautions that ethanol fuel blends will cost more to run than gasoline due to their reduced energy and subsequent reduction in fuel economy.
After reading our article, Chris Thorne, public affairs director for American ethanol supporters' coalition Growth Energy, wrote us to clarify some of the advantages of ethanol use. We have been given permission to reprint his letter below in its entirety.
May 18, 2010
I write to correct several misrepresentations in your May 4 story "Ford Doubles Number of E-85 Capable Models, But Does Anyone Care?"
The largest error in the piece is the sin of omission; the reporting completely misses the benefits of Flexible Fuel Vehicle technology that helps open to the door to energy diversity, an open fuels market so consumers can actually make a choice at the pump, and more U.S. jobs.
FFV technology means progress for our nation's goal of reducing our dependency on oil - particularly foreign oil. About 5 billion more gallons of gasoline will be replaced by ethanol in the next few years as the new Renewable Fuel Standard begins to take effect. By increasing the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent - then to 20, 30, 40 and 50 percent over time - consumers will be able to use that greater amount of available ethanol. These mid-level blends are already a success in parts of the country where FFVs and blender pumps are available.
With a FFV and access to blender pumps, consumers have the option of choosing the ethanol blend they need. At Growth Energy, we believe consumers will see the value in filling up with mid-level blends; at 11,000 miles per year and 25 mpg EPA average fuel economy on gasoline, using E20 would represent a savings of about 62 gallons of gasoline. Using E30 would save 94 gallons of gasoline a year.
In fact, ethanol is less expensive: as much as $1 per gallon less than conventional gasoline.
With regard to impact on food and water supplies, the Argonne National Laboratory and others have demonstrated that even 15 billion gallons of ethanol would not affect global food supplies or adversely impact water use.
Best of all, ethanol creates jobs - 136,000 new jobs just by going from E10 to E15. At Growth Energy, we believe U.S. consumers, citizens and policymakers care about our economy, our environment and our national security. Ethanol can help meet the challenges by creating jobs, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.
What are your thoughts on ethanol and what does the ethanol infrastructure look like in your area? Would you consider using ethanol in your E-85 equipped vehicle and does E-85 capability sway your new vehicle purchasing plans? Lastly, do ethanol's advantages of cleaner emissions, increased American jobs, and reduced dependency on foreign oil balance out the EPA's admission that ethanol-fueled vehicles could cost between $200 and $600 more to run per year?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks to Mr. Thorne for his letter.