Posted by: bridget | 13 March 2007

Dim the Lights, Get Some Popcorn…

…and enjoy the show. Senator Clinton has resurrected her “vast, right-wing conspiracy” theory. Her evidence includes, inter alia, record-long voting lines when there is a record turnout of voters. Furthermore, districts with longer lines tend to be in Democrat strongholds – i.e. heavily-populated urban areas. Go figure. Will Hillary now claim that the traffic in Washington, D.C., Manhattan, Boston, San Fran, and LA is due to the VRWC?

Speaking of traffic, Hillary has taken over for Mr. Kerry as the flip-flopping Democrat Senator of record; the latest issue is ethanol. “Long opposed to federal support for the corn-based biofuel, she reversed herself and endorsed even bigger ethanol incentives than she previously voted against. Now running for president, Clinton is promoting a $50 billion strategic energy fund, laden with more ethanol perks.” Hillary may be pandering to Iowa voters, long known for their support of ethanol production.

The latest change in Hillary’s voting record will not help her as a candidate come 2008. While there is a pro-environment wave in Hollywood, the rest of the country does not vote accordingly. Critics, from the blogosphere to Business Week, have questioned the value of ethanol as a gasoline additive. Some studies indicate that it reduces fuel economy. If mileage decreases by 10% with a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol, then, at best, ethanol blends break even with their unleaded counterparts.  As it takes energy to produce ethanol, it is ultimately less efficient to add it to cars than to let them run on normal gasoline.

The one advantage of using ethanol is that it might help Americans to lose weight. The overproduction of corn (due to agricultural subsidies) during the 60s and 70s correlated with a spike in the use of high fructose corn syrup; now, the average American ingests about 60 pounds of it per year, which is the equivalent of 20 pounds of weight gain. Consumption of HFCS is also linked to diabetes and some cancers. If ethanol were to drive up the price of corn, food manufacturers would use less corn syrup in their foods – possibly resulting in some weight loss for Americans. (As an aside, obesity causes Americans to use an extra 938,000 gallons of gasoline a year.)



  1. I just filled up with a 90/10 ethanol mix for the first time. I’ve been getting 33-35 mpg every time; we’ll see what happens now!

  2. Neil,

    Can’t wait to hear about the results. Did Texas switch over for the summer fuel blend, or did you just happen to find a gas station that sold the mixture?

    My Volvo normally gets about 25 mpg, with very little change for city and highway driving. Ethanol blends decrease that to about 20 mpg, which is worse than just diluting gasoline by 10%.

  3. Hopefully it isn’t a Texas-wide thing. I’ve just noticed it at major chains like Exxon and Shell. I usually buy gas at Wal-Mart but had to go to Shell when the light came on!

  4. Gas at Wal-Mart… ah… the joys. La Jolla doesn’t have a Wal-Mart, as far as I know.

    Massachusetts went state-wide with it recently. I hope enough people notice the difference and complain. If I wanted to get 20 mpg, I would drive a big SUV, not a sedan.

  5. Believe it or not, I got 35 mpg. Makes me wonder if it was really ethanol. I’ll try the experiment again sometime.

  6. Thanks for reporting back. What do you drive?

  7. Honda Civic. Just got it in Nov. and I’m really enjoying it.

  8. Ooohhh… ahhh. Very nice. Perhaps newer cars are better designed to run on ethanol? I have a ’92 engine that is not very thrilled with it.

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