The Ethanol Mandate and the Interests of Consumers

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The “ethanol peak” in production occurred in 2011 and has declined since. This decline exacerbates the ethanol mandate problem, which commands that 16.55 billion gallons of ethanol be blended with gasoline at the pump, when only 13.3 billion gallons were produced in 2012. There is an estimated 3.25 billion gallon shortfall this year. It must be made up either by refineries purchasing Renewable Identification Numbers (waivers) for which consumers will pay at about $1 a gallon, or by importing foreign ethanol.

There’s no difference in being dependent on foreign oil imports and being dependent on foreign ethanol imports. Why is our government punishing Americans by increasing the price of gasoline up to $3.25 billion this year?

Seldon B. Graham Jr.

Austin, Texas

One Quick Way to Lower Gas Prices

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Regarding Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “Obama’s Politicized Energy Policy” (op-ed, March 12): President Obama can immediately lower gasoline prices. All he has to do is remove the ethanol mixed with gasoline at the pump. Refineries are having to pay millions of dollars for cellulosic ethanol waivers because there is no cellulosic ethanol production. This causes gasoline prices to be higher than they should be. Ethanol has only 61% of the energy of gasoline, so it gets very poor mileage. Removing the mandate which forces ethanol to be mixed with gasoline at the pump would result in cheaper gasoline, which would give better mileage and cost less per mile of travel.

Ethanol can never replace foreign oil imports. Ethanol production in 2010 was less than 10% of foreign oil imports which were 3.34 billion barrels. Using ethanol emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than using gasoline. Ethanol is increasing gasoline prices. Get rid of the ethanol mix in the gasoline at the pump.

Seldon B. Graham Jr.

Austin, Texas

We Could and Should Increase U.S. Oil Production

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Lucian Pugliaresi has the right answer for the wrong reasons (“Future Oil Supplies Can Lower Prices Today,” op-ed, June 2). Yes, President Obama can lower gasoline prices by a “retreat from his war on petroleum.” An unconditional surrender would be quicker.

Mr. Pugliaresi fails to note that oil is our national problem, not a global concern, or that the actual price of U.S. oil is cheaper than the actual price of foreign oil, and that “the oil price” is not the price guess for six months in the future made by Wall Street speculators, which is “the oil price” reported in the media.

President Obama bragged about increasing U.S. oil production, but in fact foreign oil imports to the U.S. have increased. Replacing cheaper U.S. oil with more expensive foreign oil increases gasoline prices. U.S. consumers could save some $17.7 billion annually at the current price difference if U.S. oil replaced foreign oil.

President Obama’s war on U.S. oil currently centers on the BP explosion in the Gulf. BP had one of the worst reputations in the oil industry for decades, and the federal government should have known that. Trying to save maintenance money caused the BP Texas City refinery explosion in 2005. Federal agencies should have given BP special attention.

There appears to have been no federal regulator at the BP drill site. When the BP supervisor announced that drilling mud would be displaced by salt water, the smart people left the drill site, knowing that BP would be risking at least a blowout. That is so fundamental that I do not know why anyone could conclude otherwise.

President Obama has used the BP blowout incident to continue the Democrats’ war on U.S. oil. Therefore, we are not exploiting the opportunity for jobs and deficit reduction by developing the extremely large oil reservoir which contained the BP Macondo well, potentially one of the largest oil wells in the history of the world. It was capable of producing as much as 62,000 barrels of oil per day according to federal authorities, or $2.3 billion annually.

Seldon B. Graham Jr.

Austin, Texas

Think About Climate Model Limits

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The purpose of the meeting in Copenhagen isn’t to try to hash out an agreement to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Every physicist in America knows or should know that alternative renewable biofuel will emit more carbon dioxide than gasoline. The purpose of the Copenhagen meeting is to try to make oil and coal extinct in order to benefit certain special-interest groups.

Models are chock full of assumptions. As Angelo Donghia so wisely said, “Assumption is the mother of the screw up.” The Copenhagen crowd has thrown the scientific method under the bus.

Seldon B. Graham Jr.

Austin, Texas

New CO2 Rules Will Have Many Strange Consequences

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The cap-and-trade bill will cause an increase, not a decrease, in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The results from cap and trade will be much more absurd than either the administration or Congress realizes, notwithstanding Lisa Jackson’s fiat to change the Clean Air Act according to her wishes. Somewhere along the way, our government has ignored the fact that “clean” alternative renewable biofuel emits more carbon dioxide than gasoline. “Clean” green biofuel is not clean.

A gallon of gasoline contains 124,262 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy, and the weight of the carbon dioxide produced by burning a gallon of gasoline is 19.56 pounds. A gallon of ethanol contains 76,000 BTUs, and the weight of carbon dioxide produced by burning a gallon of ethanol is 12.57 pounds. If ethanol is used instead of gasoline to travel a distance requiring 124,262 BTUs of energy, the same distance a gallon of gasoline would travel, 20.55 pounds of carbon dioxide will be emitted into the air from 1.64 gallons of ethanol.

Therefore, using “clean” renewable ethanol instead of a gallon of gasoline will emit about a pound more of carbon dioxide into the air.

Seldon B. Graham Jr.

Austin, Texas