I drive Buick LeSabre, just for reference here. Last summer on a road trip to Michigan, I averaged 34 mpg. In March, on a trip down to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, I got 35 mpg, probably because I wasn't using the air conditioner.
Recently, however, I've noticed my gas mileage dropping. I took it in for an oil change, air filter, tire pressures, etc, but not much changed. Only then did I realize that for the past several weeks I've been using gasoline that contains 10 percent ethanol. My mileage on the highway is down about 4 mpg. So I then examined my wife's truck, a Dodge RAM 1500 with a big hemi V8, and her mileage is down too, from about 15.8 to 14.5 mpg average.
So an 8 to 11 percent drop in gas mileage is not helping, is it? I guess inflating our tires for a 3 percent gain is a moot point now.
For those of you who support ethanol use as a replacement for gasoline, consider what the Houston Chronicle says about it, and then do your own independent research. I think you'll come to the same conclusion.
As for lessening dependence on foreign oil and cleaning the air, ethanol does little for either. It takes almost as much energy from power plants, diesel fuel and fertilizer to grow the corn, refine it and distribute it to gasoline blenders as ethanol gives out when it is burned. The fertilizer runoff creates a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. If the electricity used to refine the corn comes from a coal-fired plant, ethanol hikes pollution and carbon emissions.
Why is ethanol so popular with politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama? (Sen. John McCain opposes ethanol subsidies.) Presidential candidates want to win the Iowa caucuses. In Congress, like-minded farm-state legislators represent a significant voting block.
Perhaps one day the United States will have a rational policy on energy and environmental protection. But not before it ends the destructive and disruptive rules designed to please farmers and corn refiners regardless of the consequences to the rest of the world.
The forced-use of ethanol has been one of the worst edicts from our government in recent memory, and is just another example of how government meddling hurts us.