Responding to the anti-Renewable Fuel Standard Hill briefing discussed on this blog yesterday, Tom Buis, CEO of ethanol trade group Growth Energy, asserted that “homegrown American renewable energy provides consumers with a choice and savings” (Greenwire, subscription required). Rubbish. Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ethanol consumption is a mandate, not a choice.
Buis’s claim that ethanol relieves pain at the pump sounds plausible because a gallon of ethanol is cheaper than a gallon of gasoline. However, ethanol has about one-third less energy than gasoline and does not make up the difference in price. Consequently, the higher the ethanol blend, the worse mileage your car gets, and the more money you spend to drive a given distance.
FuelEconomy.Gov, a Web site jointly administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) calculates how much a typical motorist would spend in a year to fill up a flex-fuel vehicle with either E85 (motor fuel made with 85% ethanol) or regular gasoline. The exact bottom line changes as gasoline and ethanol prices change. The big picture, though, is always the same: Ethanol is a net money loser for the consumer.
For example, at prices prevailing in late November 2012, it cost $500 more per year to drive on E85. When I checked FuelEconomy.Gov last week, E85 cost the average motorist an additional $600 per year.
A bad deal just got worse. At today’s prices, it would cost an extra $700-$900 a year to switch from regular gasoline to E85. Some savings! Small wonder that our ‘choice’ to buy ethanol must be mandated.
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From The Center for Public Integrity:
According to IRS records, the ethanol group Growth Energy paid Gingrich’s consulting firm $312,500 in 2009.The former House Speaker was the organization’s top-paid consultant, according to the records. His pay was one of the group’s largest single expenditures, as it took in and spent about $11 million to promote ethanol and to lobby for federal incentives for its use.
In a Growth Energy publication, Gingrich was listed as a consultant who offered advice on “strategy and communication issues” and who “will speak positively on ethanol related topics to media.”
Chris Thorne, a Growth Energy spokesman, said Gingrich was not hired again in 2010. The group was organized by ethanol producers from the Midwest in late 2008, Thorne said. Its members sought Gingrich’s counsel when it started because “they were people who were never involved in DC politics before, and they were looking for someone who knew how to get things done.” The organization’s IRS report for 2010 is not yet available.
First, the idea that Growth Energy doesn’t have anyone who is familiar with DC politics is laughable. The CEO of Growth Energy is Tom Buis, formerly the President of the American National Farmer’s Union, and named one of D.C.’s top 50 lobbyists. They also employ (or have employed) General Wesley Clark and Jim Nussle.
Do recall Newt Gingrich’s scuffle with the WSJ earlier this year, where in a letter to the editor Gingrich wrote:
Second, I am not a lobbyist for ethanol, not for anyone. My support of increased domestic energy production of all forms, including biofuels and domestic drilling, is born out of our urgent national security and economic needs.
Turns out that wasn’t true. CEI has previously written about Gingrich’s shameless ethanol pandering here and here.