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Schwarzenegger’s “green fleet” initiative pumps out more smog than ever July 10, 2007

Posted by daveintexas in Current Events, Politics.

Over 1100 state vehicles at a cost of $17 million, and they’re bigger polluters than the average taxpayer car.

They are E-85 flexible fuel vehicles, desgned to burn standard fuels, but when using E-85 ethanol, they burn much cleaner.  So why aren’t they?

Because they can’t find enough E-85*.  And as a result they are dumping even more pollutants into the air.

Retailers can’t find enough reasons to make the switch, and face an awful lot of obstacles.

Chief among these are the cost of equipment conversions, the relatively low level of consumer demand, the price relationship to gasoline, and the lack of any dispensers certified to sell the product.  Such challenges must be acknowedged by government policy makers before implementing new programs.

So, in layman’s terms, it costs too much to put in E-85 systems, nobody wants to buy it, and it costs more than gasoline.

What could possibly go wrong?

Even under optimum circumstances, shipping the ethanol to California (where the refineries are) blanks the benefits.

Produced largely from corn grown in the Midwest, ethanol is transported to California on tankers or diesel-powered trains.  The newspaper write that this process alone nearly cancels the fuel’s clean-air benefits in California.

S. David Freeman, a former energy advisor to President Jimmy Carter, blames the weak willed politicians for not following through.  Presumably they should have converted the trains as well.

* There are two types of ethanol blends, E-10 and E-85, the number representing the percentage of ethanol in the blend.  E-85 engines are specifically engineered for that blend, E-10 can be used in any vehicle.




1. eddiebear - July 10, 2007

Go Figure. This is like all those celebrities flying in Gulfstream Jets to lecture us about wasting energy.

2. geoff - July 10, 2007

I really like these kinds of posts. But I think you’re missing the word “any” as your second-to-last word.

3. daveintexas - July 10, 2007

ooo. thanks.

4. Enas Yorl - July 10, 2007

Well, here’s the Standard Response to this kind of criticism:

“It may not be more efficient or cost effective in the Short Term, but that is why we need Government Leadership to establish these kinds of policies to drive the free market toward necessary reforms that they wouldn’t otherwise pursue.” The idea is that goverment agencies use taxpayer dollars to bear the huge up-front expenditures to establish the necessary market infrastructures to where it becomes cost-effective enought to where private participation becomes attractive and it starts to sustain itself.

Sometimes this sort of thing works, sometimes not. The problem with this particular effort is that it’s a big energy shell-game at it’s ultimate root and its efficiency gains (if any, really) will always be swamped by its larger inherent market inefficiency.

5. daveintexas - July 10, 2007

Oh no doubt, the political strategy is to make it sound good. nd the proper response is to point out that it’s not good.

A better strategy would be for the state to install E-85 dispensers for the part of the fleet that’s motorpooled, and migrate the use of those vehicles that rely on the private sector out as the market adjusts. Will it? Not with today’s numbers. The Prius sounds sweet to a certain buyer, but there just aren’t that many of them today.

Markets resist stupid. But they have to resist with vigor.

6. davebones - July 10, 2007

Don’t go all green on us Dave I was just beginning to like you again.

7. davebones - July 10, 2007

and how is the bass playing going? Does your band have a Myspace?

8. Dave in Texas - July 10, 2007

I really like these kinds of posts. But I think you’re missing the word “any” as your second-to-last word.

We could be like ebony and ivory. With grammar corrections on the bridge.

9. Retired Geezer - July 10, 2007

My neighbor filled up his truck with that E-85 because it was about35 cents cheaper than regular. It really screwed up his engine. The check engine light came on about 10 minutes after he filled it.

He took it to a mechanic and had to get the entire fuel system flushed out.
Mucho dollars.

Apparently it’s ok for engines with carburetors but not fuel injection.

10. Dave in Texas - July 10, 2007

No E85 in non E85 engines.

That is what we call a “bad thing”.

11. harrison - July 11, 2007

There’s something about using food for fuel that just doesn’t make sense to me.

12. Tushar D - July 11, 2007

My wife once filled diesel in my gasolene-powered Toyota Corolla. Good fun was had by all. Cost $600.

13. Dave in Texas - July 11, 2007

Normally I have better manners than to laugh at someone’s misfortune.

So I apologize for laughing at your misfortune.

14. Tushar D - July 11, 2007

In her defense, we had recently arrived in US, and the experience of filling up yourself was a new one.

I made a deal with her on the spot. I agreed not to yell at her for this in return for a permission to tell the story to everyone. She agreed because she was really stressed-out and did not want to be yelled at. Now she regrets the deal.

15. lauraw - July 12, 2007

Tushar. You made a ‘deal’ which would enable you to humiliate and embarrass your wife far into the future? Good God. Sleep lightly, friend.

I really just came here to dump a link to this infuriating story:


16. Dave in Texas - July 12, 2007

WTF? OJ had been aquitted too, when he lost his wrongful death suit.

California, put NJ some f’n’ knowledge already.

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