Reaching RFS goals “would be ugly”

(reported in the blog Autopia, published by Wired Magazine, written by John Timmer)

 …Keeping the current blend at E10 and increasing the use of E85 could potentially get us to the renewable fuels mandate, but it would be ugly. In 2010 it’s estimated that we’ll have consumed 20 million gallons of E85. That will have to rise to 23.5 billion gallons by 2022.

(Timmer further reports, based on information from the Ag and Applied Economists Society) $30 billion in infrastructure upgrades would be required…and production would have to increase to 8.7 million flex fuel cars per year.

Our take:
What Timmer calls ugly sounds to us like something that could create tens of thousands of jobs by keeping more energy dollars here at home, rather than sending them to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Iran.

What Timmer tries to frame as something that is either ridiculous or impossible has already been proved within reach by Brazil. In 2003, the country saw its first flex fuel vehicle. In 2004, flex fuel vehicles were 22 percent of all vehicles sold in Brazil. In 2005, it was 73 percent. By August 2009, 94 percent of all vehicles sold in Brazil were flex fuel. And it’s not just Ford and Chevy offering flexible fuel equipment. Kia. Honda. Volkswagen. Fiat. Citroen.  All selling flexible fuel equipment. Anyone telling you it can’t be done here–that we can’t do what Brazil has done– is selling America short.

In that same period, Brazil doubled its use of ethanol. Timmer pretends it would be impossible to create a 23.5 billion gallon E85 market in the next 12 years, when in America, we have grown the ethanol industry from 1.7 billion gallons to 13.7 billion capacity between 2001 and 2011.

It’s worth remembering that another set of economists have projected that Brazil could be among the societies that leave the US in the dust in the coming century (along with China and India) through the embrace of new technologies. What Timmer is truly advocating is for America to become fossilized by its fossil-fuel addiction. He mentions thermo-processed biomass to produce “green gasoline.” We don’t see a conflict, but a complement. Even at 23.5 billion gallons of grain-based ethanol fuel, Americans would still be consuming more than 120 billion gallons of gasoline per year–and that’s if fuel consumption doesn’t grow, which we consider an unlikely scenario.

What’s $30 billion? A couple fighter jets? And talk about a weapon–we would be taking literally billions of dollars out of the hands of our enemies by reducing the demand for oil.


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