Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flex-Fuel Scandal

The Washington Post has an article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/22/AR2008112200886.html) exposing the waste inherent in the Federal Government’s usage of alternative fuel vehicles. These vehicles can in theory run either on regular gas or on an 85% ethanol blend known as E85. Years ago GM had obtained concessions on the CAFE standards in return for producing these vehicles, even though there was nothing to require owners to use E85. Indeed, for many years GM did not even identify the fact that the vehicle was able to use E85, the only way an owner would know being to look up the VIN number somewhere. And of course, E85 is not available everywhere.

To make matters worse, the Flex-Fuel vehicles are invariably big V8s like the Cadillac Escalade.
Leaving aside the doubtful benefit of using corn-based ethanol anyway, this meant that most Flex-Fuel vehicles are run mostly on gasoline and the net effect on greenhouse gas emissions is positive rather than negative.

The Post article reveals that even in the government’s own program, many such vehicles are in areas where they don’t have access to E85 and that 92% of them are run on gasoline. Furthermore, the vehicles could have been replaced by more economical conventional vehicles.

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