Influence by Asking a Good Question

When I hear someone make a pessimistic statement, I often ask them a question I learned a long time ago: "What would be the outcome of believing that?" I've probably asked that question a hundred times. It always makes people think.

Sometimes they're not sure what I mean, so I say, "Don't you think it's possible that if you repeat something often enough you could eventually believe it? And if you believed it, that might have consequences like higher anxiety or depression?"

And I sometimes even go further and ask yet another question, "Did you know there are health consequences to thinking pessimistically?"

You don't have to change anyone's opinion immediately. In fact, if you try for that, you'll probably be less likely to change the way they think than just asking the question and then listening, and saying nothing more.

This is one of several ways to influence the people around you to become less pessimistic.

If you feel like asking this question of the pessimistic ones around you, I would love it if you would try it out and come back here and leave a comment on what happened.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

A Conspiracy to Rob the World

OPEC was created in order to raise world oil prices. Many conspiracies are only theories. This one is a fact. The OPEC nations do quite a bit of dissembling (to confuse the general public), but they act in the open and make no secret of their intentions. The oil ministers of the 12 OPEC nations meet at least twice a year to decide how much to limit their oil production in order to keep the world's price of oil high.

The result of high oil prices is the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world — from the free world to some of the worst regimes on Earth (and the wealthiest rulers in history).

The only thing keeping this whole game going is an artificial limit on our cars. Internal combustion engines can burn ethanol, methanol and gasoline in any proportion with a minor tweak to the fuel delivery system. An open fuel standard would make that tweak mandatory, and thus create a free market and break the monopoly.

There may have never been such a small change that could bring about so many significant benefits. 

Adam Khan is the co-author with Klassy Evans of Fill Your Tank With Freedom and the author of Slotralogy and Self-Reliance, Translated. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

Direct Your Mind: What Could I Do To Make Some Progress On My Goal?

One of the most important things in your life is having a purpose. And one of the best ways to feel better and have a more meaningful, fulfilling existence is to make progress toward your goal. Chores and distractions, however, can easily absorb so much of your time that you never get around to doing something toward your most important goal. That’s frustrating, and it brings you down, which makes you less motivated to work on your goal. It makes you less motivated to do the one thing almost guaranteed to bring you up.

This question — what could you do to make some progress on your goal — focuses your attention on something that will make a difference to you right now and in the long run. It makes you feel better immediately to make progress on a goal. And the ultimate achievement of your goal will make a difference to you in the long run.

And all you need to do is make some progress. It’s not either you work for ten hours on your goal or you can’t do anything about it. You can almost always do something that will make some progress toward your goal, and a little is much better than nothing. The question is what could you do, not what would be the most ideal if everything were perfect. If you think of something and it would take three hours and you only have fifteen minutes, keep thinking. What could you do?

Try it right now. What could you do to make even a little progress on your most important goal?

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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Renewable Methanol

 The Methanol Institute (MI) released a new white paper from California-based environmental consulting firm TIAX entitled Methanol as a Renewable Energy Resource.

Funded by MI, the report is designed to tell the story of methanol as a significant source of renewable transportation fuel. More specifically, the white paper highlights several key facts, including:

Renewable methanol can be produced via four primary pathways: municipal waste, industrial waste, biomass, and carbon dioxide;

Biomethanol is the subset of renewable methanol produced from biomass feedstocks;

In the case of renewable methanol, feedstock availability is not expected to be a limiting factor;

Renewable methanol has an advantage among alternative fuels in that it is one of few fuels actively seeking to use CO2 streams as its feedstock; and

The renewable methanol pathways being pursued today rely on feedstocks that have little value or would otherwise incur fees for their generators, which is advantageous for the economics of renewable methanol.


The white paper also highlights the work done by BioMCN, Enerkem, Chemrec; VärmlandsMetanol, Carbon Recycling International, Blue Fuel Energy, University of California Riverside, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Syntec Biofuel, Gas Technologies, Range Fuels, and Air Fuel Synthesis.

The report can be found here: Methanol as a Renewable Energy Resource.

Direct Your Mind: What Is Another Way To Look At This?

The best way to direct your mind is with a question (read more about that here). You can make up your own question to ponder or you can take one of the questions I’ve come up with and found to be productive. This one is almost universally helpful: When you feel bothered by something, ask yourself, “What is another way to look at this?”

You look at your situation in a certain way, and it is automatic. You generally don’t take the time to think about the best way to look at the events in your life. The events happen, and you interpret them however you normally interpret those kinds of events, influenced by whatever mood you happen to be in at the moment.

But whatever interpretation you make of a particular event isn’t the only one possible. And if the way you interpret it doesn’t help you deal with it, it’s a good time to explore other ways to look at it.

How would your grandmother have looked at the same circumstance? How would the person you most admire look at it? How would you have looked at this when you were ten years old? These are all questions to help you get outside your point of view and look at the situation from a different angle.

If you feel bad or you’re not getting things done, or you’ve got a problem you can’t seem to figure out, it pays to take another look at the thing. You’ve looked at it from your automatic perspective already. So get outside your own point of view and see what you see.

One way to get outside your own point of view is to literally imagine yourself not looking out of your own eyes. For example, imagine being Mother Theresa sitting across from you as you tell her your situation. Imagine that you are Mother Theresa listening to you.

Look at yourself over there. How would you (as Mother Theresa) view this person’s (your) problem? How would you look at it if you were Mother Theresa or Gandhi or Lincoln?

And don’t try to be yourself asking how Mother Theresa would look at it, but try to imagine yourself as her, and you as a stranger and really see how she would see you. Give yourself advice from Mother Theresa’s point of view (or whoever you chose). This is a very simple way to “think outside the box.”

This is not that hard to do. It is almost like daydreaming. But it will help you tremendously if you feel stuck. It will help you change the way you feel about a situation, and help you deal with it better. You will gain more flexibility in your point of view and you won’t get so stuck in a single perspective that may be counterproductive.

Think of something you feel stuck with right now. Something that bothers you. Or something that makes you feel bad when you think about it. Choose one thing.

Now ask this question: What is another way to look at this? Keep pondering the question for several days. On your way to work, turn off the radio and ponder the question. While you’re in the shower, ponder the question. As you are lying in bed ready to go to sleep, ponder the question.

When you think of an answer that seems surprising and illuminating, write it down and then keep asking the question. Maybe you can think of something even better. There is always still another way to look at the same situation. Pondering this question is a good way to find it.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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Does Ethanol Hurt Car Engines?

In a recent story on Fox News, the EPA's new approval of E15 (15% ethanol blended into gasoline) was condemned by AAA. The story was also carried by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and others. The Auto Channel's Marc Rauch wrote to Fox News and Lauren Fix (the woman interviewed on the Fox story) about the errors they have perpetuated. Reprinted with permission.


From: Marc J Rauch
To: foxnewstips@foxnews.com
Cc: thecarcoach@laurenfix.com
Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 3:45 PM
Subject: Melissa Francis' Story on E15

I am writing to you concerning the recent video story that Melissa Francis did with Lauren Fix regarding E15: Warnings Not to Use ‘E15’ Gas in Your Car.

I am co-owner of THE AUTO CHANNEL and THEAUTOCHANNEL.com. We are the Internet's largest automotive information resource. We are completely independent and not sponsored by any fuel producer.

The information provided by Lauren Fix about E15 is almost completely untrue. Lauren's explanation of phase-separation and the food-price argument about corn are preposterously puerile. In fact, if you live in a cold climate and your fuel tank and lines have a tendency to collect condensation (water), which would then freeze and cause real damage, the solution is to put Dry Gas in the fuel tank. Dry Gas is alcohol. Alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol "absorbs" the water moisture.

Fuel left in an unused engine for an extended period of time can break down and cause a starting or running problem. This is true of all fuels, including and especially gasoline, which leaves gummy varnish like deposits. Sta-Bil, another product used to stabilize the gasoline left in dormant engines also contains alcohol to help prevent the gummy build up. And again, alcohol is ethanol.

E15 will not damage the engines of vehicles older than 2012. It has been extensively tested. It can be safely used in all modern gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured since the early 1990's, whether they are "flex-fuel" vehicles or not. Incidentally, when the EPA conducted their tests on E15 and gave their "clean bill of health," they also tested E20 and had the same positive conclusions.

I have been test driving vehicles for 25 years and have regularly used various blend levels of gasoline and ethanol with no negative reactions. Furthermore, I own and drive a non-flex fuel 2002 Ford Taurus that I run on high blend levels of gasoline and ethanol. My vehicle suffers from no problems that are not normally associated with all gasoline-powered vehicles.

The misinformation that Lauren Fix quoted is just part of the routine lies circulated by the American Petroleum Institute and other anti-ethanol entities to discredit any viable alternative fuel solution. I would be happy to provide you with, or direct you to correct information.

Regards,

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL LLC
www.theautochannel.com 

Marc Rauch also wrote to AAA because it was their original articles (read them here) that sparked the Fox story. He wrote to AAA's public relations manager, Michael Green. Rauch wrote:

Hello Michael -

Yesterday, I was made aware of a video story produced by Melissa Francis and FOX News that was based upon either the above titled AAA editorial written by your organization's CEO, or a very similar earlier AAA editorial that was released on or about November 30, 2012. By the way, please feel free to share this email with Robert Darbelnet and any other AAA staff member.

In the video, Ms. Francis introduced a guest, Lauren Fix, to comment on and explain the "warnings" made in your editorial. Although neither Ms. Francis nor Ms. Fix identified Ms. Fix as an official AAA spokesperson, she seems to have virtually acted in that capacity. You can view the video at: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2000862202001/warnings-not-to-use-e15-gas-in-your-car/ .

I found almost everything that Ms. Fix had to say about ethanol to be either a gross lie or a recitation of typical bad propaganda that has been spread by the oil industry and its lackeys over the past 80+ years. In a separate email, I made my opinion known to both Ms. Fix and Ms. Francis.

I have been test driving vehicles for 25 years and have regularly used various blend levels of gasoline and ethanol with no negative reactions. Furthermore, I own and drive a non-flex fuel 2002 Ford Taurus that I run on high blend levels of gasoline and ethanol. My vehicle suffers from no problems that are not normally associated with all gasoline-powered vehicles.

Michael, I would imagine that unless you can confirm Ms. Fix as an official spokesperson for AAA that you will not have any comments to make regarding her comments, and that's fine since the point of this email is not to get the AAA reaction to her comments. I'm simply including this episode as background for the questions that I do have regarding the above mentioned AAA editorial.

My questions to you are:

1. What oil-industry-independent "research-to-date" was Mr. Darbelnet citing that "...raises serious concerns that E15...could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, (and) fuel system damage...?"

2. What information do you have, other than unsupported oil-industry claims, that the EPA did not conduct tests sufficient to determine the safety of using E15 in gasoline-powered passenger vehicles manufactured in the past two decades?

3. Does AAA not consider that the independent E15 testing conducted by Ricardo (findings released September 2010) to be significant confirmation that E15 is safe for all modern gasoline-powered vehicles?

4. In paragraph 8 of the editorial, Mr. Darbelnet states that "Some of those supporting E15 admit the fuel may cause damage," and you give the example that "...some underground storage tank systems, both new and used, exhibited reduced levels of safety and performance when exposed to E15." Given that all fuel underground storage tank systems routinely experience problems, what information do you have - other than any oil-industry anti-ethanol biased research - that shows that E15 underground storage tanks experience problems that are greater and/or more frequent than underground storage tanks that are used for diesel, E10 gasoline, E85, or gasoline that contains no ethanol?

5. In addition, in regard to paragraph 8, how does this potential problem relate to vehicle engine damage, and wouldn't it be fair to say that combining the two points is just an irrelevant red-herring warning?

6. Does AAA agree with the overall level of warning that FOX News issued - which they based upon the AAA editorial - about E15, or did they overstate your concerns?

I look forward to your reply and any instructive information you can provide.

Thank you for your time.

Very truly yours,

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President
THE AUTO CHANNEL LLC
www.theautochannel.com
916-273-8320

Michael Green wrote back, but I don't have his permission to reprint his reply, but it wasn't much, and it will become clear what he said from Marc Rauch's response below:

Hi Michael -

Thanks for your quick reply and clarification confirming that Lauren Fix has no official relationship with AAA.

While I look forward to receiving the AAA engineering team's comments, I'm troubled by your response to my question #4 regarding the storage tanks. You wrote, "...the warning regarding storage tanks was made by the Renewable Fuels Association to fuel retailers and was not from research conducted by AAA. They would therefore be in the best position to say why they made that recommendation." However, the AAA story called for the suspension of the sale of E15 because you claim that it damages the engines of most gasoline-powered vehicles, and you offered as part of the proof that the ethanol industry concedes that there are problems. Let's face it, engine damage is the crux of the story; it is, in fact, the salient part of the entire denigration effort by the oil industry and anyone associated with them to stop ethanol: The (false) claim that ethanol damages engines.

RFA didn't issue a warning that consumers shouldn't use ethanol as an engine fuel and then cite a storage tank issue as the reason. The storage issue has absolutely no bearing on ethanol's capability as an engine fuel. AAA took the RFA warning out of context and made a leap that should never have been made. It would be like someone using the warning that's printed on plastic bags (the suffocation warning) to claim that carrying groceries in the bag makes the items being carried dangerous to eat. One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. It is entirely possible that a fuel can be the safest, most efficient and economical fuel to use in an engine, but requires some degree of care when storing. Would AAA recommend that people stop drinking milk because if it's not refrigerated it could render a person seriously ill?

As I pointed out previously, gasoline also requires care when storing, and is far more dangerous than alcohol. Why not issue a recommendation that all gasoline sales be suspended until the explosion/fire/storage/pollution problems related to gasoline are solved? If AAA or Mr. Darbelnet were so unclear as to the issues regarding ethanol underground storage that you can't respond to my question, then it should never have been included in the story, regardless of whether ethanol damages engines or not. If AAA is objective on the overall issue of ethanol versus gasoline, as is alluded to in the editorial, then a big mistake was made.

Regards.

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President
THE AUTO CHANNEL LLC
www.theautochannel.com
916-273-8320 

Marc Rauch has written before about his experiences using E85 in gas-only engines. The letter below, for example, is a response to John Kolak's article, On Using Ethanol Fuels In Unmodified Vehicles. The letter was written by Marc Rauch:

Hi John -

I just finished reading your article and I wanted to add my personal experiences to your compendium of information.

For a few years, whenever I would rent a car or get a new vehicle from a manufacturer to test drive and review, I would manually fill the tank with a blend of regular gasoline (e10) and e85, if e85 was available to me. Depending upon how much fuel I needed to fill the tank, sometimes the blend would give me only about 30-40% ethanol, and sometimes I might have 60-80% ethanol. I did this with almost every make and model vehicle you can think of, and almost none of them were "flex-fuel" vehicles. I did this specifically to see what, if anything, would happen.

Other than the "check engine" light illuminating in some instances, I never encountered a starting, driving or acceleration problem. Knowing that the "check engine" light illuminated merely because the cars' sensors detected something different, I knew that there was no problem with the vehicle. Often, if the test drive or rental period was long enough, and I had the need to fill the tank again — and only had access to regular gasoline — the check engine light would go off, confirming that there was no problem with the engine.

Of course, because the test or rental period was of rather short duration, I knew that my experiments were not really conclusive since I wasn't able to witness what ill effects, if any, might occur from longer, more sustained usage.

With this in mind, about a year and a half ago I purchased a used 2002 Ford Taurus non-flex-fuel sedan to be able to go all out on my test of e85. Because I've never had a situation in which my tank was completely empty, I've never had the opportunity to fill the Taurus fully with e85. However, I've run the vehicle on virtually all other blend levels. Similar to the short duration tests, I have run the Taurus on straight e10 gasoline to as high as 65-80%. Keep in mind that because even e85 might contain only about 70% ethanol (according to the label on the pump), it's hard to really get a blend that's much higher than 80%.

When I bought the vehicle, my friend David Blume — perhaps the world's leading expert on ethanol production and use — sent me one of the conversion kits that he endorses and sells for use on non-flex fuel fuel-injector vehicles. The purpose was for me to test the device and to maximize my vehicle's ability to handle e85. To date I have not installed the device. I've been waiting to push the car to the point where it screams "I can't take any more ethanol." That point is nowhere in sight. This isn't to say that the device is not necessary, it's to illustrate just how well an un-modified non-flex fuel vehicle can perform with e85.

Long before I purchased the Taurus, David and his associates alerted me to the need to transition into using a lot of e85, rather than going cold-turkey and make the immediate shift. The reason, they explained, is that the ethanol will loosen (and clean) the deposits left by the gasoline and that the gunk could clog the system. Because of this, I did transition to high ethanol blends through the first 3 or 4 fill-ups. I don't know if I would have experienced any problems if I didn't heed the advice, but I have not had any fuel line clogs.

In the nearly 18 months, I have driven the vehicle a little less than 25,000 miles  —  enough time and enough miles to make a more enlightened evaluation. I can report that the results are what they were in the short-term evaluations: my car runs fine, as good  —  I think  —  as any 10 year-old car should run. And I have noticed no difference in how the vehicle runs regardless of how much ethanol I use.

At an early stage I did have an interesting experience with Meineke. After watching one of their TV commercials about bringing your car in for a free test if the engine light goes on, I brought the Taurus in for the free check-up. After the test was completed the service manager told me that my O2 sensor had gone out and that it needed replacing (for a cost of about $200). I knew the light was on because I was using e85, I just wanted to see if the test system could discern the reason.

I declined the O2 replacement and told the service manager why I thought the engine light was illuminated. He reacted as if I was speaking Martian; not comprehending what I was saying about using ethanol in a gasoline-optimized engine. He argued a bit with me and warned that if I didn't get the O2 sensor replaced that I was driving an illegal vehicle. For the heck of it, I went through a couple of fill-up cycles where I only used e10 gasoline. As expected, the light went off. I brought the vehicle back into the same shop and told them that I had been experiencing an intermittent check-engine light, although the light wasn't on at that moment. They put the test through what I assume was the same computer test and told me that the vehicle was okay (with no mention of an O2 sensor problem).

Incidentally, I have to tell you that I have never experienced the huge mpg reduction that is typically cited by both ethanol critics and advocates. In my experience I lose only 5-10%. Considering that the e85 costs less 15-30% less than regular gasoline I still get a respectable net savings. Earlier today, May 12, 2012, when I drove past one of the Shell stations that I use to get my e85, I noticed that e85 was selling for just under one dollar less than premium gasoline. That represents nearly 25% savings per gallon.

In closing, I will admit that there is one major drawback to using ethanol, but fortunately it's not my problem, it's the oil companies' problem: They make less money!

Thanks for your time. I hope that this case study helps your efforts.

Sincerely yours,

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
www.theautochannel.com

Watch a video on this same subject: E85 Does Not Harm Non-Flex-Fuel Engines. This ten-minute video shows you a test done on a non-flex-fuel car that burned mostly E85 for over a hundred thousand miles. Not only did it not harm the car, it actually harmed it much less than burning gasoline would have.

I think the two articles below by Robert Zubrin are relevant here. Zubrin discovered that cars are already designed for flex fuel cars, including having the software installed in the onboard computer, but with the software disabled. Check it out:

A Fuel-Efficiency Wager
Methanol Wins

The following paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also interesting: It's about using "intermediate blends" of ethanol. Apparently normal fuel injector computers handle up to half ethanol before the car starts running poorly (if it is going to run poorly at all). What happens is that the injector automatically adds more fuel if the fuel is partly alcohol, and most cars can do up to 50% E85 with no problems. Every little bit makes a difference. Anyway, here's the link to the PDF file: Effects of Intermediate Ethanol Blends.

Adding to this discussion is the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, Bob Dinneen, responding to an op-ed:

Flint, Mich., is known throughout the world as the birthplace of General Motors. When an economist from Flint gets the facts about motor fuels all wrong, it’s time to assign him some remedial homework.

In an op-ed in The Flint Journal on January 16, Mark J. Perry, an economics professor at University of Michigan-Flint, earned a failing grade in Ethanol 101. Here’s why Professor Perry needs to hit the books about biofuels:

Warning against E15 blends (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline), Perry claims that ethanol “can damage automobile engines and fuel systems.” In fact, E15 is the most tested fuel in history. Coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and its affiliated National Laboratories, the tests have driven the equivalent of six round-trips to the moon and have included vehicle drivability, catalyst durability, fuel pumps and sealing units, outboard diagnostic systems, and automotive fuel system components.

The verdict: The U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has approved 15 percent ethanol blends for cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs built in 2001 or later — approximately 62 percent of the light-duty vehicles on the road today.

While Perry writes that “40% of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol,” that statement is misleading. Ethanol production doesn’t use sweet corn (which is intended for human consumption), and U.S. ethanol production uses only three percent of the total global grain supply.

Moreover, ethanol uses only the starch in the grain, with the protein, fat and fiber made into animal feed for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, poultry, and fish around the world. In fact, the American ethanol industry generated 37 million metric tons of feed in 2012 — enough to produce seven quarter-pound hamburger patties for every person on the planet.

Perry is also wrong when he contends that ethanol “has increased retail food prices and strained family budgets.” In fact, only 14 percent of the average household’s food bill pays for raw agricultural ingredients such as corn. Eighty-six percent of their food bill pays for energy, transportation, processing, packaging, marketing and other supply chain costs.

Nor is it true that “ethanol costs about 70 cents a gallon more than gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis.” In fact, the use of ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, according to research by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University. If ethanol doesn’t pack the punch to power our cars, then why do so many professional racecar drivers fuel their  vehicles with … ethanol?

Meanwhile, Professor Perry makes sophomoric mistakes. He writes about “a 51-cent-per gallon tax credit” for biofuels, even though the credit expired, with the industry’s approval, at the end of 2011. He asks policymakers “to halt the production of E15,” even though E15 is blended, not produced, from ethanol and gasoline. (Would he demand no more “production” of coffee with milk and sugar?) And he seems unaware that, in approving E15, the EPA was offering Americans a choice at the pump, not a mandate.

While he concludes that cellulosic (non-grain) ethanol is “still not viable,” at least eight commercial advanced ethanol plants are under construction or commissioning.

U.S. ethanol, including E15 blends, offers our nation’s motorists a cost-saving, American-made, environmentally-friendly alternative to foreign oil, as well as a pathway to the next generation of biofuels.

As for Professor Perry, he needs to take Ethanol 101 all over again.

The following is an op-ed entitled, Who Are You Going to Believe: Big Oil — Or 10,000 Miles of Truth? by Robert White:

The comedian Richard Pryor used to ask, “Who are you going to believe — me or your lying eyes?”

That question comes to mind whenever I think about the American Petroleum Institute (API)’s study, which claims to prove that 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) will damage your automobile’s engine.

So who are you going to trust — Big Oil or a Kansas motorist who’s driven 10,000 miles on three vehicles fueled by E15?

The oil companies want you to ignore a comprehensive three-year, 88-vehicle, six-million-miles-driven study of E15 conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy using protocols established by the Environmental Protection Agency, and look only at their own American Petroleum Institute-funded study of eight vehicles, some of which had fuel pumps that happened to be under recall.  The only thing one can glean about E15 from the API study is if you test E15 in a vehicle that has been recalled then you just might have some problems.

Surprise!

Now, guess what API and AAA don’t mention when they warn motorists about E15: If you test other aging autos with similar problems — and fuel them with gasoline without any ethanol at all (Call it E-Zero) — you get the same kind of problems. That’s what their study says.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for API to warn motorists against using unblended gasoline — E-Zero. Instead, they want consumers to worry about ever-more-unlikely “hazards,” not only in the long-term but in the short-term, too.

For instance, API and its allies like AAA have warned motorists about the supposed dangers of “residual volumes” of E15 in gas pump hoses. They claim to be concerned that, if you fuel your car with E10, you could really be getting gasoline blended with more than 10 percent ethanol. Why? Because the previous customer fueled up with E15 — and some of that 15 percent blend was left in the hose.

Have they ever tested this theory with a real vehicle and a real gasoline pump?

So what happens when you fuel a working vehicle — not one that’s straight from the showroom, just one that has some miles on it but hasn’t been recalled — with E15?

Since mid-July, I’ve been one of the fortunate customers with E15 available locally — in Eastern Kansas. Once this fuel debuted, I’ve used it exclusively on my three vehicles — a Jeep and two Chevrolets, none of them flex-fuel.

By now, I’ve logged more than 10,000 total miles. Not once has my “check engine” light lit up. Not once have I noticed any drivability or performance issues. Not once have my vehicles acted any differently than they do on E10.

And, despite AAA’s “warnings,” not once did any of my three vehicles break down on the side of the road, leaving me stranded.

Instead, I’ve enjoyed a higher-octane product at a lower cost with lower overall emissions. And I’m proud to be gassing up my vehicles with a fuel that now contains 50 percent more of a locally produced, job-creating, economy-boosting product — American ethanol.

In addition to “warning” motorists about damage to their vehicles, Big Oil has one more scare tactic: If you use E15, it will void your warranty.

In fact, before a claim could be denied, an automaker would have to prove that the fuel caused the damage. That’s provided by federal law — the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975.

Once again, my experience is instructive. I recently had a warranty claim — not fuel-related — on my personal 2011 Chevrolet. Even though my Chevy runs on E15, the claim was processed without incident — and at no cost to me.

So who are you going to believe? Big Oil? Or a motorist who’s logged 10,000 miles on E15?


The following is an op-ed entitled, Ethanol Industry Questions Validity of CRC E15 Study by Erin Voegele:

The Coordinating Research Council (CRC) has released a report outlining fuel test results that show E15 fuel can damage fuel system components. Representatives of the ethanol industry, however, are questioning the testing methods, noting that the CRC seems to be displaying a bias against ethanol. The report is titled “Durability of Fuel Pumps and Fuel Level Senders in Neat and Aggressive E15". The American Petroleum Institute is a “sustaining member” of CRC.

The analysis looked at two types of E15—a regular E15 blend and an “aggressive E15”—in addition to E10 and regular gasoline. According to the report, the aggressive E15 blend was formulated refereeing the SAE specification J1681 to represent the worst case blends of gasoline and 15 volume percent ethanol that might be found in the field.

However, Kristi Moore, vice president for technical services at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), questions the validity of testing the aggressive E15 blend. She said that the test fuel formulation has zero real world relevance in today’s marketplace as it is representative of fuel dating back to the 1990s. “Fuel properties have significantly changed in the three decades since the original aggressive test formula,” Moore continued. She also specified that the CRC seems to have ignored its own 2009 finding that the primary fatal effects to fuel systems can be attributed to the sulfur content of fuels. 

Bob Reynolds, president of Downstream Alternatives, also stressed the results for CRC’s aggressive E15 formulation are not representative of fuels on the market today. In addition, he noted that the report does not specify whether or not the CRC completed the testing with fuel containing the corrosion inhibitors his industry typically adds to ethanol.

The Fuels America Coalition has also spoken out, questioning the validity of the report. “Today’s report from oil-lobby backed research group Coordinating Research Council displays clear bias and ignores millions of miles and years of testing that went into EPA’s approval of E15,” said the coalition in a statement. “CRC’s bias is clear—API is a “sustaining member” of the group—and so it’s no surprise that the CRC is negative about E15. They’re playing right in to API’s misguided ploy to overturn the renewable fuel standard (RFS).”

Ron Lamberty, senior vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol, said that the test results should not scare consumers away from using E15. “This is just another ghost story, told by people who stand to lose market share when consumers finally have access to E15. We shouldn’t be surprised at Big Oil’s latest attempt to scare consumers—they’ve shown no shame in twisting test results to protect their market share. There is a reason that the oil companies don’t want E15 and it has everything to do with protecting the bottom line and nothing to do with protecting consumers,” he continued.

The RFA has also called the study flawed and misleading. “API has absolutely no credibility when it comes to talking about E15,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “That point has never been more clear than in this new study in which they ‘cooked the books’ by using an aggressive fuel mix to try and force engine damage.  This isn’t real testing and this certainly isn’t real life.  Enough already with the scare tactics.  E15 is rolling forward and API needs to get out the way of progress that will result in a stronger country, a stronger economy, and stronger, cleaner environment.  E15 will not be stopped by feet dragging and forecasts of fictional faults.”

“Today’s study is no surprise,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO. “This is a classic example of ‘he, who pays the piper, calls the tune.’ Oil companies are desperate to prevent the use of higher blends of renewable fuels. They have erected every regulatory and legal roadblock imaginable to prevent our nation from reducing our dependence on oil. For Big Oil, this is about market share. To see what’s driving them, ‘follow the money,’ as every gallon of renewable fuel that enters the market reduces Big Oil’s market share. Obviously they have deep pockets in which to fund studies that can at best be described as incomplete and cherry picking.”

Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol Ignorance?

By Bobby Likis, originally posted here.

Bobby Likis, president of Car Clinic — Jay Leno is a car guy … and someone I’ve respected for many years. But Jay’s AutoWeek article “Can’t We Just Get Rid Of Ethanol?” makes zero sense to me.

I’m a car guy too. Restored and own a classic 1980 Weisssach Porsche 911. Auto service shop owner for 44 years with over 200,000 vehicles (from classics to hybrids) rolling through the bays. Engine builder. Car-talk host answering more than 100,000 car questions live on radio, television, web and social media.

What I read in the “Rid” article does not sound like Jay Leno, the car guy. Oddly enough, not too long ago at SEMA, Mr. Leno was touting E85 and other ethanol-blends of gasoline with his Z06 ‘Vette. Now, for whatever unknown reason, he’s slamming ethanol. I cannot believe “what Jay said” is “what Jay really believes.” His words smack of otherwise invested horse-whisperers who use personal agendas to sway vulnerable-for-whatever-reason people towards their way.

So as a car guy, allow me to share a few ethanol facts with you.

1) Water absorption: No doubt that ethanol emulsifies and holds water. Yay!! That’s a good thing! In fact, “holding” / suspending /emulsifying water is an ethanol ASSET — not detriment — as gas tanks actually run dryer after the transition from E0 to E10. Mercury Marine — the boat engine manufacturer — states this fact. Specifically with regard to moisture, a gallon of ethanol suspends FOUR (4) TEASPOONS of water per gallon of fuel before phase separation. On the other hand, gasoline suspends only POINT ONE FIVE (.15) TEASPOON (that’s LESS than ONE teaspoon) of water per gallon before phase separation. So PHASE SEPARATION WILL OCCUR 26 TIMES MORE RAPIDLY WITH GASOLINE THAN WITH ETHANOL! This has been demonstrated hundreds of times (including one demonstration I recently saw by Dr. Andrew Randolph, technical director of Earnhardt-Childress Racing), clearly substantiating that gasoline does NOT effectively hold (suspend) water. So with straight gasoline, whatever water is in any tank or atmosphere “phase separates” and falls to the bottom of the tank. In contrast in ethanol-blended fuel, the ethanol will suspend that water during the driving of the vehicle; then, harmlessly carry it through the system to be vaporized by the engine without affecting the engine in the least. The suspended water, vaporized by the engine, produces NO harmful emissions. And one more point: at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity, it takes more than two months for even gasoline to absorb water. Since ethanol has 26 times the suspension capability of gasoline, it would take literally months and months before any phase separation could possibly take place. I can state categorically that I own a Classic 1980 Limited Edition Weissach Porsche 911 and have driven it three times in the past three years … to buy fresh gas. I start this vehicle (about every three months) and let it run for no less than ½ hour to circulate the E10 gas.

2) Increased car fires over past three decades: Totally spoken out of context. GM recalled nearly 1.5 million cars as a result of rocker covers leaking oil. Maybe the next article should be “Why Can’t We Remove Oil From All Engines?” Leaking fuel lines allow fuel to hit hot engines and ka-blooooie … really? I’ve operated my own bumper-to-bumper full service automotive repair and service shop for 44 years and had more than 200,000 cars and small trucks come through our doors and not one has ever had an engine damaged by ethanol much less a fire.

3) “The worse can happen”: Not according to studies/research. Hagerty Insurance — you know, THE classic car insurance company — funded a study by Kettering University (known for its reputation in the field of automotive research) on the use of E10 in older cars. Wouldn’t you think if E10 caused damage in the collector cars that Hagerty insures that Hagerty would be the first to say, “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?” Instead, after 1,500 hours of testing with E0 (0 percent ethanol) and E10 (10 percent ethanol), general consensus was that “with minor updates and proper maintenance, E10 will not negatively affect your old car or truck.” Ah, the voice of reason … and research. For more reason and research, check out the Renewable Fuels Association’s detailed and facts-forward guide for classic car owners (“Gasoline Ethanol Blends in the Classic Auto”).

4) Renewable Fuel Standard: My head is still spinning with the totally out of context references to ethanol in classic cars, but Mr. Leno’s reflections on the Renewable Fuel Standard should be titled “Can’t We Simply Continue America’s 100+ Year Dependence On Foreign Oil?” Unthinkable. Tossing the Renewable Fuel Standard not only ensures we remain dependent on foreign oil, but also such actions literally cause would-be investors to pause and reconsider their potential investments in our nation’s renewable energy opportunities.

With all due respect for the beautiful, treasured classics in garages and at car shows, let’s clear the smoke about any conclusion — even dead-wrong ones — about E10 in classic cars. How about refocusing on the other 260,000,000 light (non-commercial) vehicles on U.S. roads today? The average age is about 11½ years. So most of us drive cars made in this millennium … not made in the ‘70s or before. “Why Can’t We Just Get Rid of Steak ‘Cause Babies Can’t Eat It?” would be a nice, scare-tactic, demotivator for auto manufacturers worldwide to design, engineer and manufacture future vehicles that optimize the high-performance, environmentally friendly engines that thrive on high-octane ethanol.

Thank goodness the early 1900s best seller “Why Can’t We Just Get Rid of Cars” — written by the horse breeders — didn’t catch on.



Why Is Jay Leno Misrepresenting Ethanol?

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Originally published here.

There are two things that everyone knows about Jay Leno: He's a great comedian, and he's a seriously great automobile enthusiast. Generally, when you become great at something you learn a lot about that subject; even if you don't want to learn about the subject, and you just want to be good at engaging in the activity, it's virtually impossible to not become a great student of the history and mechanics of that subject.

I have no doubt that Jay is a master of comedy history, along with the mechanics of what is funny and why it's funny.

I've watched enough video of Jay and his vehicles to believe that he is equally a master when it comes to knowing about his vehicles and the history of how they were designed. I also know that Jay has been a proponent of alternative fuels and advanced technologies. In fact, we even have a few dozen stories and videos of Jay on The Auto Channel website that feature him discussing these things.

I'm also aware of at least two other media pieces done by, or with, Jay in which he enthusiastically discusses his E85-powered 2006 Corvette. (One piece was a Popular Mechanics text story published in 2008, the other was a video produced in Las Vegas at SEMA 2007, which is no longer available.)

In both of the stories, Jay expresses a favorable opinion of the advantages of high-level ethanol gasoline blends versus gasoline without ethanol or even just E10 gasoline (10% ethanol/90% gasoline). Among other benefits, Jay cites ethanol's higher octane rating, cooler operating engine temperatures, lower harmful emissions, and ethanol's engine cleaning characteristics that leave behind no nasty gasoline residue and gunk that clog key engine components, such as pistons and valves.

Well, a few days ago, it was brought to my attention that Jay has authored a new story that appeared in the March 2 edition of AutoWeek magazine. The article, titled "Can't We Just Get Rid Of Ethanol?" basically proposes that the United States end the "Renewable Fuel Standard" (RFS) because of issues related to the use of ethanol fuels in older vehicles. At the close of the story Jay exhorts readers and automobile enthusiasts to write to their legislators to demand action against ethanol.

Clearly there is a difference between old cars and new cars, that is to say "classics" and "antiques," and late model vehicles - like those that make up the overwhelming majority of vehicles on the road today. Therefore, it is understandable for Jay to express two different opinions about ethanol as it pertains to old cars versus new cars.

(For those of you keeping score at home, the average age of all cars and trucks on the road in America is only about 10 years. Keep in mind that since the early 1990's all gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks manufactured for America have used engine and fuel-system components that are resistant to alcohol's solvent properties.)

However, the problem to me is that Jay didn't say "write to your legislators to demand more freedom of fuel choice to give us old car owners easier access to ethanol-free gasoline," he's instead calling for less freedom of fuel choice. More importantly, as much as I hate to say it, Jay is using information to sway the argument that is untrue and misleading. And so, since I think that Jay should know, and does know better, that he is lying in the AutoWeek story.

For example, in the new AutoWeek story, Jay states that "ethanol will absorb water from ambient air...causing corrosion and inhibiting combustion."

Ethanol doesn't absorb water from the ambient air. This lie is one of the oldest and most malicious of the lies created by the oil industry to denigrate ethanol. The only thing new in how Jay used this lie is that he used the word "ambient." I've not seen that before. I've seen quotes that use the word "thin" to denote ordinary air that we normally breathe, but not "ambient." Regardless, this is not what occurs.

It seems many years ago that some clever oil industry person must have learned that ethanol (alcohol) is a hygroscopic substance, and that the general dictionary definition for a hygroscopic substance is that it can attract moisture from its environment. What the oil industry wag then did was to substitute the word "attract" with "absorb," and "air" for environment. Thus, attracting moisture from its environment magically became absorbing water out of thin air.

To keep with a Jay Leno comedian metaphor, let me offer a classic Abbott & Costello routine that presents a startlingly clear analogy at how silly Jay's hygroscopic statement is:

Costello tells Abbott that a loaf of bread is the mother of the airplane. Abbott tells Costello that he's crazy. Costello asks Abbott if he agrees that necessity if the mother of invention. Abbott replies yes. Costello then asks if bread is a necessity; Abbott says yes. Costello asks is the airplane is an invention; Abbott says yes. Therefore, exclaims Costello, if bread is a necessity and the airplane is an invention, then a loaf of bread is the mother of the airplane.

What I'm getting at is just because you can play semantic word games with the definition of "hygroscopic" that doesn't mean that the result of the game is relevant and correct.

To prove that alcohol will not absorb water right out of the thin or ambient air, I always offer this simple at-home experiment: Fill any open container halfway with alcohol and place it on your kitchen counter. Allow it to sit for one or more days. If alcohol absorbs water right out of the air, then when you check the level of liquid in the ensuing days you would find that it has risen. If you find that the level of the liquid in the container has risen (without any manipulation, change to the environment of your indoor kitchen, or interference to the natural process) and you can document it, I will pay you $1,000.

Incidentally, cotton is also a hygroscopic substance. So just as additional proof that being a hygroscopic substance doesn't mean that it absorbs water right out of the air, place a ball of cotton on the other side of your kitchen counter and see if it gets saturated with water from just sitting out in the open.

Moving on to one of Jay's other points, if you were to pour a gallon of water in your gasoline tank your vehicle will probably have great difficulty starting. But that's not how water gets in your gasoline tank, unless you're very, very drunk when you go to the filling station. You can get water in your fuel system because of condensation. So what do you do if you have some water in your fuel system? Do you stick a straw in and suck it out? No, you add a product like Dry Gas. Dry Gas is ethanol, meaning that you use ethanol to solve the problem of water in your gasoline tank. That's right, to solve the problem!

Ethanol doesn't actually absorb the water, it breaks the water molecules down so that ignition and combustion of the gasoline can take place. The water molecules are then expelled in the exhaust. In other words, ethanol aids combustion, not inhibits combustion as Jay stated.

Jay goes on to say, "It gets worse. Ethanol is a solvent that can loosen the sludge, varnish and dirt that accumulate in a fuel tank. That mixture can clog fuel lines and block carburetor jets." The sludge, varnish and dirt that Jay is referring to is caused by gasoline. So ironically, the cleaning characteristic that Jay is now criticizing is the same beneficial cleaning characteristic that he previously championed when discussing the benefits of ethanol.

Then Jay writes, "Blame the Renewable Fuel Standard (for these problems). However, that's not where the blame lies. The blame lies with gasoline; the liars in the gasoline industry; and the politicians who forced us to use gasoline, which resulted in gasoline becoming the dominant and default vehicle fuel. Ethanol cleans the gunk, gasoline causes it.

Even if ethanol is never introduced into a fuel system the time will come when the engine must be cleaned. The engine repair industry didn't spontaneously arise with the advent of E10 or E85 gasoline. Engine repair, maintenance and replacement is a natural result of the internal combustion process. If we can have a fuel that (as Jay previously wrote) burns 100 percent, leaving behind no nasty residue and leftover gunk that clogs key engine components, why shouldn't we have that fuel readily available? Shouldn't that fuel be our primary default engine fuel?

Jay talks about damage that ethanol has caused to the fiber diaphragms in the fuel system of one of his Duesenbergs. I think he's probably correct about this. But is this the reason why America should abandon the RFS and return to gasoline that contains poison?

If you watch the video that Jay did in Las Vegas in 2007 he says something very interesting; in response to the question of how he selects which vehicle he is going to drive to work on a given day, with great humility he acknowledges that there are greater problems in the world to worry about. That was a correct, very modest response. So in keeping with that recognition, I suggest that the fiber diaphragms in his or anyone else's Duesenbergs have no significance in our national decision on what is the correct engine fuel to use.

As a person who has owned classic cars (although I've never owned more than one at a time, and they weren't especially valuable), while I can appreciate his concern over his vehicles, I suggest he suck it up as a noblesse oblige sacrifice that he must make.

For some inexplicable reason Jay also throws in negative comments about ethanol producers and the "food vs. fuel" argument. This inclusion made me think that perhaps Jay didn't actually write this article - that it was actually written by some API stooge and Jay just signed off on it. Jay refers to some ethanol producers as "giant agri-businesses," and its mention is couched within a paragraph that is meant to demean the producers and the overall effort to make us energy independent. Admittedly, some ethanol producers are large corporations, but when you compare them to the giant oil companies they are virtually mom and pop businesses.

For example, in the same year that ExxonMobil reported their fiscal fourth quarter profit as $40 billion, Archer Daniels Midland reported their fiscal fourth quarter profit of $372 million. Although $372 million is nothing to sneeze at, it’s less than 1% of ExxonMobil’s profit. So if there's a picture being painted about huge greedy companies looking to take advantage of the American consumer, the illustration is of ExxonMobil not ADM. And we must remember that the ethanol we use in America is produced here in America by Americans. No American military man or woman has ever died defending domestic ethanol production and distribution.

As for "food vs. fuel," Jay might as well claim that the Earth is flat. About 10 years ago, The World Bank issued a statement in which they claimed that increased corn-based ethanol production was causing food prices to rise. Since that time, The World Bank has twice rescinded that earlier claim based on new and better studied information. The fuel-related culprit they acknowledge as causing food prices to rise is gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum oil products that are used in packaging.

I think that Jay was irresponsible for writing, or signing off on, this article. However, the bulk of the responsibility for letting this misinformation come to the light of day belongs to AutoWeek magazine. Regardless of what Jay Leno had to say, they should not have allowed it to be published, or at the least they should have published it with some considerable disclaimers. I guess that AutoWeek's decision was predicated upon the hope of increased advertising support from the oil industry, and that the reason they chose to embellish the headline title of Jay's story on the online version of the story with "Jay Leno hates ethanol" was to make sure that they were kissing enough ass. I also presume that Jay made the same decision to create the story based on the potential of getting oil company sponsorship for his new automotive content ventures. If I'm correct then there is little reason for this magazine article to have been written and published.

Episode 8: Literally Saving the Earth by Regenerating Grassland

The way to save the largest ecosystem on land is so counter intuitive it will blow your mind. This is about meat, how it's produced and the consequences of the different ways of producing it.

Listen to The Adam Bomb podcast here: