This is strange Mr. Thomas. Mr. Thomas may look like a terrorist, but he’s really a nice guy. Only his lawn mower, leaf blower, string trimmer, or anything else powered by small gas engine will think he’s a terrorist if he pours the new E85 gasohol blend in the tank. Because that extra ethanol will kill the engine faster than a Predator drone.
“If that’s true,” you ask, “why hasn’t our gas mower kicked the bucket already? We use the same gas for it that we use for our car and that has ethanol in it.”
Correctamundo. But gas at the pump currently contains only 10% ethanol. Most gas engines can handle that. But now there’s a push to increase the amount of ethanol in gasohol to 15%. Not only will that decrease MPG in your newer car or truck, but it will kill the engines of motor vehicles made prior to 2001. E-85 will also torch the engines of boats and motorcycles, as well as those of the aforementioned lawn and garden equipment.
Whose Stupid Idea Was Turning Corn Into Fuel Anyway?
Today, nearly 40% of America’s corn crop goes not to feed people or livestock (why would we want to do that?), but rather to feed cars by being turned into ethanol that’s blended with gasoline. Whenever the government mandates something so incredibly stupid, there has to be a reason other than what they’re telling you. And it’s exactly what you think. The Midwest corn lobby pushed through this debacle by lining the pockets of Congress with campaign money. What they wanted was to guarantee that every acre of corn a farmer planted for making ethanol would be bought at a good price. As a result, food prices for people went up and tens of thousands of acres of marginal farmlands were converted into corn fuel factories that require gross amounts of water, fertilizer, and herbicides to stay productive.
Moreover, lots of plants produce ethanol more efficiently than corn. Switchgrass, for one. It’s native, resists drought, resists insects and disease, reduces erosion, doesn’t need a lot of nitrogen fertilizer (made from natural gas), and is perennial. Why aren’t thousands of acres in the Midwest being converted to switchgrass farms? Because corn farmers wanna grow corn. It’s just like Cyndi Lauper sang:
Boys just wanna grow coooo-oooorn
Oh, boys just wanna grow corn!
But Won’t Using More Ethanol Reduce Climate Change?
No. No way. As Radar O’Reilly used to say on M*A*S*H, no way in h-e-double hockey sticks.
See, using ethanol does almost nothing to reduce the carbon emissions thought to contribute to global warming. Making ethanol from corn takes almost as much energy as burning ethanol produces. And because ethanol cannot be pumped through pipelines like gas (it corrodes them), it must be transported by train and truck. What do you think powers all those trains and trucks? Hint — it ain’t the sun.
An Alternative to Ethanol
So how will you maintain your manicured lawn if 10% ethanol is replaced by the 15% ethanol that your mower can’t use? Here’s one idea.
Sheep. Hey, they’re nice, they’re friendly, they’re natural, and they recycle. Nothing baaaaaaaaad about that.