CNN is reporting that the ethanol industry’s top lobbying groups have sent a letter to the executives at Ford, GM and Chrysler, urging the Big Three to adopt widespread support for higher ethanol blends in gasoline and mandatory E85 flex fuel capability on all new cars.
The three ethanol groups — Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the American Council on Renewable Energy — painted a bit of a doomsday picture for the Big Three in their letter, suggesting that the only way for the auto industry to avoid “dire consequences” is to “bring resourceful, innovative and practical solutions” to the table.
While it’s certainly true that the Big Three are direly in need of innovation (see my recent post on Nissan), I love how these ethanol groups spin it.
Not surprisingly, they claim that any plan to save the auto industry “should embrace and support implementation of the congressional mandate for use of ethanol” by supporting “a higher base blend of ethanol at either 15% or 20%” for all vehicles on the road and implementing a “mandatory Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) schedule that coincides with the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Currently only E10 (10% ethanol/gas blend) is supported by the auto manufacturers in existing cars in the US. Additionally, flex fuel vehicles that can run on E85 have had a rather slow implementation with a noticeable lack of marketing. As a result, fueling stations around the country still have a dearth of E85 FFV-capable fuel pumps which means that no one is really taking advantage of the FFV capability.
Granted, these lobbying groups have a keen interest in pushing the ethanol agenda. Yet, while I don’t think corn ethanol is any where near the true energy and transportation solution we need, there’s no way to get to second generation ethanol (such as cellulosic ethanol — “celluline“) without initially building a first generation infrastructure.
Even so, a coalition of Detroit rust-belt and farming corn-belt lobbyists would be a scary thing to behold — a group that could have a ridiculous amount of sway if they play their cards right. Personally, I don’t think the two groups could ever make nice enough to work cohesively, but we are in extraordinary times and, rather than face extinction, both groups could become stronger through consolidation of power.
Image Credit: General Motors