While it’s easy to complain about prices at the pump, the fact is prices would be a whole lot higher and our mileage would be a whole lot lower without the precision of modern oil refining: the art and science of turning crude oil into gasoline and thousands of other products, from jet fuel to plastics.
Precision-refining gives us more gasoline from every barrel of crude oil, at a quality that means more miles and fewer car problems. Quality is key; our cars need gasoline with just the right combination of molecules to maximize mileage and minimize engine corrosion.
If someone were to come into an oil refinery and contaminate the fuels, it would cause big problems. And that person would rightly be thrown in jail.
Well, someone has come into our oil refineries and contaminated our fuels–the United States government, which has taken it upon itself to dictate how much ethanol (alcohol fuel) must be blended with every gallon of gasoline.
Ethanol is a useful additive in certain quantities, but it has many hazards that require the concentration to be low. For instance, it is hydrophilic–it attracts water, which corrodes metal, which engines are made of. It also dilutes mileage. That’s why I want only as much ethanol in my gas tank as expert oil refiners judge best.
But ever since the government’s “ethanol mandate,” which was passed by politicians who would be hard-pressed to define “hydrophilic,” the amount of ethanol in our gas tanks has been dictated by government, leading to low-mileage E10 (10% ethanol) gasoline and lower mileage, truly corrosive E15, which the refining industry has been fighting.
Regulators claim E15 is perfectly fine. But unlike oil refiners they a) don’t know how to refine oil and b) they are not liable if and when our engines rot. Unfortunately, a recent ruling means the fuel contaminators are winning. As Rich Moskowitz, General Counsel of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers stated matter-of-factly, “EPA has authorized the sale of an ethanol blend that virtually every automobile manufacturer has warned will damaged existing vehicles.”
That is, the government is deliberately contaminating our fuel.
How this came to be is a long story, involving government pandering to the politically powerful ethanol lobby and the opportunistically pro-ethanol environmentalist lobby. But however it came to be, it has to stop. It’s time to get the government out of our gas tanks.