Even though gasoline containing upward of 15% ethanol content (E15) hasn’t come on the consumer market, the government has already finalized the labels that will be affixed to pumps carrying the fuel, a sign of E15 will likely make it to your local gas station at some point. Now Bloomberg reports that nine automakers, including GM, Chrysler and Toyota have warned regulators that putting E15 in your tank may void your vehicle’s warranty.
A tank that customers at an upstate New York Costco gas station thought was full of premium gasoline may have actually dispensed E85 ethanol, damaging engines and fuel systems of cars not designed to deal with the fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85% corn juice and 15% gasoline that can severely damage engines not designed for it.
Ethanol is billed as the answer to America’s addiction to foreign oil, but the immense demand for the corn, from which ethanol is made, is also raising prices in supermarkets and restaurants across the nation. The demand to transform corn into ethanol has already doubled the average price for a bushel of corn from $2 to $4.
The corn price increases flow like gravy down the food chain, to grocery stores and menus. The cost of rounded cubed steak at local Harris Teeters is up from $4.59 last year to $5.29 this year, according to TheGroceryGame.com, which tracks prices. The Palm restaurant chain recently raised prices as much as $2 for a New York strip. And so on.
Michael Pollan best summarized our little-known reliance on corn in The Omnivore’s Dilemma:
How can this be? Ethanol is made from corn and, of course, the demand for ethanol has increased the demand for corn. The demand for corn has out-stripped farmers’ ability to supply more corn and thus has resulted in increased prices for corn…
We’re assuming he means that ethanol production is to blame for the spike in grain prices. (Corn is at a 10-year high today.)
If gas prices are at an all time high, why are consumers driving more? Are they just idiots? Or is the price of a gallon of gas not the only thing to compute?