It’s good to know the EPA has a sense of humor. For a while, I was afraid the EPA might actually bow to political pressure and raise the so-called blend wall for ethanol, i.e. the amount of ethanol that can currently be mixed into gasoline and sold at the pump. Right now, it’s set at 10%, but USDA chief Tom Vilsack, many farm-state representatives and the entire biofuel industry have been lobbying the EPA hard to raise it to 15%. On the one hand, I couldn’t see how the EPA, on the verge of making the momentous “endangerment” finding on carbon dioxide would then turn around and encourage corn ethanol production. 

On the other hand, the President himself has historically been an ethanol booster and the industry has powerful friends in every nook and cranny of DC. So color me bemused to see the EPA’s proposed solution to the blend wall problem (according to Phil Brasher of the Des Moines Register):

There doesn’t seem to be anyone who likes the idea, but the EPA is still pursuing the possibility of allowing higher ethanol blends that could be sold only for newer-model cars. EPA provided a written statement to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that said, among other things, that it would be seeking comment on a “conditional or partial” wavier of the current 10-percent limit on the amount of ethanol that can be used in conventional cars. Under such a waiver, “the use of up to E15 would be restricted to a subset of gasoline vehicles or engines covered by the waiver provision, while other vehicles or engines would continue using fuels with blends no greater than E10,” the statement said.

Oh, those tricky bureaucrats. When you can’t ignore the politicians’ demands, just give them a rule that no one in their right mind would ever want to implement.  The EPA is crazy, all right. Crazy like a fox.

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Clearly, suddenly introducing a seperate gasoline “product” for new cars is a non-starter on every level — as a result the 10% blend wall is sure to remain intact. I’m impressed that the EPA had to cojones to so baldly give the finger to ethanol-lovers everywhere. Who could’ve imagined bureaucracy could be so much fun? The only danger — Brasher’s playing a little April Fool’s joke on us.  I sure hope not.

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