With today’s announcement by the energy department that 5% of the nation’s refining capacity is still shut down as a result of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and with gas stations around the Southeast running out of fuel, maybe the governors of those states should consider another readily available, less expensive replacement for that missing 5% -- ethanol.
Ethanol production continues to increase while the rest of the energy industry struggles to find fuel, and the national average cost for ethanol is a dollar less than gasoline ($1.22 with the tax credit, to be exact). At 10%, that would save motorists 12 cents, at E15 it would save 18 cents, and E20 would save almost a quarter a gallon. Not to mention the effect it would have on gas prices, as demand for gas drops while the refiners get their plants up and running again.
Unfortunately, current law doesn’t allow us to put whatever fuel we want in cars that we own, so we have to ask permission to use more ethanol. Gas pumps are tested at 15% ethanol, so we know they will work, and studies show no short-term effects from using a few percent more ethanol (Brazil uses 25% ethanol every day of the year). Wouldn’t this be a great time to let ethanol help refiners and consumers out of a tough spot?