On a ship’s cruise in the western islands of Northern Norway, our ship’s captain steered the ship into one of the region’s many fjords. We were thus surrounded on three sides with high mountains, pristine waterfalls, soaring eagles, and other magnificent scenery.
Mesmerized by the beauty, it didn’t immediately occur to me to wonder how we were going to turn the ship around. That thought came when the attractive ship’s steward enthusiastically explained how lucky we were:
“The Captain rarely steers into this fjord because it’s not much larger than the ship.”
In other words, how the heck was he going to get the ship turned around in such a tight space? That seems an appropriate analogy right now to apply to the EPA renewable fuels mandate.
The EPA renewable fuels mandate forces oil refineries to blend 16.5 billion gallons of corn ethanol into gasoline this year. This EPA blend mandate, which buys the votes and financial political support of Midwestern corn farmers, is announced with little yellow tags on gas pumps everywhere:
“This product contains ten percent ethanol,” they read.
Aside from ethanol slowly but methodically destroying all the small engines of America, there is another problem called the “blend wall.” What the blend wall means is that American cars can only tolerate ten percent ethanol. Going beyond that on most conventional vehicles means that, if you put more than 10 percent ethanol in your gas tank, the auto manufacturer will not honor the guarantees they made when you bought the vehicle.
If the manufacturer found out you continuously poured water in the gas tank, they wouldn’t honor the warranty either, but that’s similar to what you’d be doing by using an 11 percent ethanol-fuel blend or higher blend.
Gasoline consumption in the U.S. is declining while the EPA fuel blend mandate is increasing to the point where the refineries can’t put any more ethanol into the blend without going beyond the 10 percent limit. The hyperactive EPA fantasy ship has steered the U.S. into an impossible “blend wall” fjord where it wallows and waits for rescue.
While the Norwegian ship’s captain engaged in a masterful series of taut maneuvers to get the huge ship out of the small fjord, the EPA has trapped us all in an impossible fjord of its own delusion. An EPA captain who couldn’t pilot a rowboat shouldn’t be in charge of America’s energy and economic strength.
At peak ethanol, just where we are now, the oil refineries must now purchase fuel mandate “credits.” Guess who pays for them. Guess who benefits from high fuel prices. Guess who will play the whipping boy for Obama administration “green” ideologues.
The ethanol blend “credits” don’t come cheap. In a Wall Street Journal article today, columnist Kim Strassel reports that Valero’s cost for credits this year could be $750 million while the smaller PBF Energy gets squeezed for $200 million, an amount which “will exceed the salaries and wages it pays to operate all three of its refineries.”
The Obama administration has a pattern of passing onerous mandates and then granting exceptions for its political allies. While the outrageous Obamacare exemptions have been reported widely, this year’s single refinery exemption to the ethanol mandate is tantamount to a top classified military secret.
Why should an exempted oil refinery be held by the Obama administration in more secrecy than the operations of Seal Team Six? The consumer who pays the tab has a right to know, obviously, but so do the other refineries who perhaps may meet the same criteria for ethanol blend and credit buying exemptions.
The best thing that could happen for the American worker right now is to retire Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and the rest of the federal welfare Big Corn lobby and its EPA jock-strap caddies. The Obama administration’s secret energy dealings must be made public, and corn should go back to what Native Americans and early settlers used it for – food.