I've had some fun this month watching and reading the reaction to a column I wrote last month after the Iowa caucuses.
In it I wrote that maybe Ted Cruz's victory showed that ethanol wasn't going to be the deciding factor it had been in the past for the nation's first caucuses. It was one of literally dozens of articles I've written over the last few years about ethanol and the challenges they present to the industry.
But this time, the corn bat signal went up (which I imagine looks something like this) and proponents of ethanol swarmed with comments and emails. I haven't people this upset with me since I covered the great Portage County landfill battle of 2000.
So let's address some of those comments:
- I'm in the pocket of big oil. I wish. I've got two kids to put through college. And my computer is literally falling apart. Trust me -- when big oil invest in you, you get much nicer equipment than we have. My best man and his now-wife spent a year teaching in the oil town of Barrow, Alaska, and the science equipment there would put any school to shame.
- E15 is not required. Correct, in fact, it is specifically banned. The issue is the potential for misfueling. According to a BoatUS survey of its members, 40 percent of boaters fill up at roadside gas stations. And in a separate survey, NMMA found that many gas stations had not been labeling pumps correctly. (For the record, I never said it was required, I merely noted that the increased use of E15 poses a concern.)
- E10 is safe to use. Sort of. New engines are built to work with those 10 percent ethanol blends, but as anyone who works in the boating industry knows, there are thousands of legacy products out there that cannot handle it. After all, those of us who aren't riding the ethanol gravy train can't afford to go out and buy a new boat every year. This would be why 91 percent of boaters say they want E0 for their boats.
- I'm making up the studies I cite in the column. No, obviously, Volvo Penta, Mercury, NMMA, the U.S Coast Guard and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are making them up. I don't have time to make up studies, merely to report other people's made-up studies. I did, however, take time to coordinate with our readers as part of our massive right-wing conspiracy to fake the results of our reader survey on ethanol, in which 73 percent of our readers reported seeing engine damage caused by ethanol.
So if all goes well, I've managed to educate here and maybe, just maybe, tweak the ethanol folks to get them to post and share this story, too. I could use the page views. Like I said above, kids to put through college and all that.