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Who I am

I am Dean Billing, I live in a small town in central Oregon and I own an old 1962 Cessna 172 airplane that runs on unleaded auto gas without ethanol. (Sold 03/12/2009 because it was too hard to get the proper fuel for the airplane.) Few people realize that unleaded auto gas is an approved fuel for aviation use, but it can’t have ethanol in it. Oregon passed a mandatory E10 law last year (2007) with no exceptions, which would have grounded my airplane. I began studying the ethanol situation in America and was appalled that so much tax money was being given to ethanol producers to make fuel ethanol which has a dubious record of doing anything that is claimed for it. In my research I created a web site documenting how the mandatory ethanol bill came about in Oregon.  It is a classic example of corporate interests pandering for public handouts.

I have no objection to ethanol in gasoline as long as I have a choice. I wouldn’t put it in any vehicle I own, but if you want to that is fine, it should be your choice. Some people have to have a choice because ethanol blended gasoline actually causes damage in their application. What I object to is the fact that the only way ethanol can survive in the energy marketplace is because of mandatory programs with no choice and massive amounts of public money thrown at the ethanol and oil industry. It is time to remove all government ethanol mandates, tax credits, corporate subsidies and tariffs against foreign ethanol and see if it can survive in the energy marketplace. What is it about ethanol that it can’t compete in a free market?

19 comments

  1. Not only are we losing our “choice” and access to non-ethanol fuel, the ethanol promoters submitted a waiver to the EPA to increase E10 to 15% ethanol, which is NOT approved by ALL engine manufacturers! Deadline to oppose E15 is just 1 week away, July 20th, 2009. – – I URGE EVERYONE TO OPPOSE THE EPA WAIVER FOR E15 INCREASE – – To make it easier for public to send comments to the EPA we have added a pre-formatted form on our website – Should only take about 2 minutes to complete. http://www.fueltestkit.com/complete_form_to_oppose_e15.html


  2. Dean:

    SO you became anti-ethanol because you couldn’t find straight autogas for your plane, eh?

    Well, you could instead burn AVGAS 100 in your Cessna 172. That is an approved fuel. But you are too cheap to burn the approved fuel.

    E10 isn’t what “grounded your airplane”. Your own cheapness is what grounded your airplane.

    You COULD apply for your OWN STC to burn E10 in your plane. In fact, it wouldn’t be that hard to get. Your plane would have to get a different fuel line between the strainer and the carb, since the current fuel line is 303 rubber- not compatible with ethanol. And change the rubber hoses between the tanks and the metal fuel lines at the wing root. And replace the buna rubber o-rings in the fuel selector valve.

    Other than that, all you would need to do is compile data on range and performance- since they would change on E10 as well.

    So there are two choices-

    REAL aviation gasoline, which is approved by Cessna, for your 48 year old airplane,

    -or-

    Do your own STC, so you don’t have to rely on someone else’s engineering data to give you a cheap thrill.


  3. Jim –

    I became stopethanol when the Oregon state legislature passed a mandatory E10 law with no exceptions, the only state that ever did that. They were so arrogant that they didn’t even bother to look at what five other states had already done, all of them providing exceptions from ethanol blending to those users that need it which universally included aviation.

    You apparently believe that the government should take your tax money and give it to corporations so that they can provide you with a product that has never been a competitive energy source and then force you to use it even if it damages your property. I became stopethanol because I believe that government should butt out of mandatory programs that take taxpayer dollars and throw them at programs that have no verifiable results. Nobody has ever proven that ethanol mandates have reduced our dependence on foreign oil or improved our air quality. For thirty years we have been giving taxpayer dollars to this “emerging” energy source and it still hasn’t emerged?

    My 1962 C-172 was not certificated for 100 LL avgas. It was designed and certificated by the airframe manufacturer and engine manufacturer for 80/87 avgas which has 1/4 the lead content of 100 LL. The reason that EAA and Petersen got STCs for unleaded auto gas use in aircraft was because 100 LL was causing serious maintenance problems in engines designed to use 80/87 avgas which began disappearing twenty years ago. In my case after about 40 hours of operation on 100 LL an exhaust valve would stick open, not a pleasant experience. This is a common and widespread problem with low compression Continental engines.

    Since you seem to know how to get an STC for E10, why haven’t you pursued it? I have seen threads on a lot of forums that ask why it hasn’t been done. I have talked to Petersen and EAA and they have told me why it hasn’t been done and why it won’t be done. EAA even published a paper about the problems: http://www.eaa.org/autofuel/faqs/ethanol_blends.pdf Of course the real reason that it will never be done, and one that I believe the FAA would use to deny any STC for E10, is that nobody can guarantee that E10 is what it is or that E10 will even be available in the future now that the ethanol lobby has asked for at least an E15 blending limit for all gasoline. It turns out that nobody checks the actual ethanol blending level. Neither the federal government, nor state departments of weights and measures insures that E10 is 10% ethanol and not 12% or 15% or 20% or whatever the terminal blended, whether deliberately or by faulty equipment. A state will only take a gasoline sample and send it to a lab if there is a complaint from an auto maintenance facility that it appears that the fuel in a damaged vehicle may have more ethanol in it than is legally allowed. The state of Oregon Department of Weights and Measures only has field equipment to test the AKI level of gasoline and whether the gasoline has ethanol in it or not, because those pumps labeled as selling ethanol free gasoline must have no ethanol in the fuel.

    Besides, why would anyone want to put a fuel in their airplane that provided less power, reduced range and has a long term capability to corrode aluminum, especially if it phase separates. After all aircraft fuel systems are not sealed like car fuel systems and any aircraft parked outside is a prime candidate for phase separation with E10. At least when you use avgas you can sump the tanks and remove the water. If you see “water” after sumping with E10, it isn’t water, it is water and all of the ethanol that was in your gasoline, it is very corrosive and your gasoline is no longer anything that you can use. It has to be completely removed from your tanks and cleaned out of your fuel system and the entire fuel system inspected for damage. And this is what you think we should use in our aircraft? Seems kind of ridiculous to me when the refineries know how to make unleaded auto gasoline that is legal to use in our aircraft, but government knows what is best for us and takes away our choice.

    As my bio stated, I just want a choice, but you seem to believe I have no right to one.


  4. Hi Dean-

    I live in the Portland, ME area, and had some unpleasant experiences with E10 when it was first introduced.

    Maine didn’t have an EPA requirement to use E10, but the gasoline providers decided to switch every grade over to it for economic reasons. They didn’t want to go to the expense of providing seperate tanks and pumps, plus they knew they’d get stuck with a lot of stale fuel if people had a choice.

    It was introduced in January, and quickly began burning down snowmobile engines. As the weather warmed, marine engines and fiberglass fuel tanks on older boats were affected. Even President Bush’s cigarette boat was stopped dead in the water by fuel line & pump problems. My 1949 Dodge Power Wagon truck leaned out dangerously, and mileage fell from 10 to 4-5 mpg.

    I had to buy a $120 carb kit to get two jets, which I drilled out 1000th inch at a time til I got the proper fuel flow. Then, quietly, and without any notice, the ethanol content dropped to 5%- I was now WAY rich. I’ve reinstalled the original jets, and monitored ethanol content- and it’s right at 5% for everybody, majors and independents alike. There’s NEVER any variation- somebody’s not splash blending here.

    There was an effort by the pilots at a central Maine airport to import non-ethanol gas. Lisa Marrache was involved in that, and they did locate a trucking firm that would haul Irving product out of Halifax. Irving was apparently very helpful, but the gas wasn’t exactly cheap when it arrived at the airport. I don’t know if that arrangement is still going on.

    It would seem after the recent election that legislation to limit oxygenates in gas might actually get somewhere. Know of any bills in Congress? Enough people are fed up with this experiment so that the support is out there- all it needs is some focus…


    • Nothing in congress, won’t be, the corn state senators will kill it, they have said so publicly. There are only two possibilities. Since a state can pass an E10 law, and 8 states have, although not all of the laws have triggered, a state can prohibit the blending of ethanol in premium unleaded. I have discussed this at some length with some pilots in Maine, and apparently the Maine state representatives didn’t understand this when they tried and failed earlier this year. Not surprising, state legislators don’t have a clue about gasoline, however some of them have believed that ethanol is good and have passed laws forcing everyone in their state to live with E10. We did here in Oregon and that is when I got involved in this problem. The other option is for the EPA administrator to just ban ethanol blending in premium unleaded gasoline. The administrator is the only one in the federal government that can do it, since the EPA is the sole government agency responsible for the federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007 that is causing all the problems. That is why we are now petitioning her to prohibit blending. The federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007 is NOT a mandatory E10 law, but the unintended consequences of the seriously flawed law is having that result.


  5. The issues regulating ethanol in gas are complex and vary from state-to-state and even town-to-town…But in the meantime MANY who own engines not designed for ethanol fuel blends and/or prolonged storage of gas is necessary, REQUIRE CHOICE FOR ETHANOL-FREE fuel. The time has come for those who have had problems with E10 (and soon E15) conventional gasoline to speak louder to protect their right to choose Non-ethanol fuel. Fuel-Testers sponsored petition includes details on engine types and specific problems encountered –
    Even if this petition does not accomplish goal, (legislation to assure ethanol-free public pump in 10 mile radius area where gas is sold), the data collected and submitted to the EPA, ACE and others will help them to better understand the unnecessary expense and inconvenience widespread transition to E10 (and diminishing availability of Non-Ethanol gas types) has caused to so many in recent years.

    http://www.fueltestkit.com/fuel_choice_petition.html

    We also have this petition available in condensed format and printable version + also posted at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ethanol_free_fuel_choice/

    We (Fuel Testers Company) are NOT anti-ethanol, but we do believe consumers should maintain the right to choose the most appropriate gas type for their engines, including ETHANOL-FREE. A new E15 gas type with higher ethanol content, 50% above maximum allowed by all engine manufacturers, was approved on 10/15/10 by the EPA…recent proposals by ACE (ethanol-org- See my next post for details) reinforce that if the “public” does not speak out soon, it will be our government and greedy private companies who will chose/choose and decide what you can buy…If politics and public opinion believes we need to use more ethanol in gas, than it should be accomplished solely by E85 flex fuel, used only in specially designed and approved Flex Fuel Vehicles, and not by taking away consumer choice or sneaking extra ethanol into conventional gasoline.


  6. (See my prior post from today)…Even the President of ACE, Lars Herseth, and the American Coalition for Ethanol believes “American motorists should have lots of choices at the pump – including fuel NOT blended with ethanol.” – View his April 2010 statement at ethanol.org website titled “American Consumers Deserve Fuel Choice”. http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/Herseth_fuel_choice_oped_April_2010.pdf

    In the meantime, ACE (ethanol.org) has a petition titled “Fuel Choice” that does NOT include ethanol-free as a choice, (their petition is to push E85 and higher ethanol blending pumps) – View ACE Petition that intentionally neglects to include ethanol-free as a “choice”: http://www.ethanol.org/petition/

    If the general public does not “speak-out” louder to protect their right to buy (availability) and choose NON-ethanol fuel, it may no longer be available anywhere in the future!

    For years I’ve listened (daily) to numerous stories regarding problems with E10 (performance issues, engine damage, contaminated E10 gas and more)… Mechanics say it’s the huge increase in (ethanol) gas problems that keeps them busy and profitable…Manufacturers can no longer absorb the costs of ethanol-caused fuel system damage so they are more strictly enforcing engine warranties that exclude reimbursement when improper or contaminated fuel used…
    Problems caused by conventional ethanol-blends of gasoline effects all types of engine owners including boat, motorcycle, aircraft, generators, snowmobiles, lawn and small gas powered equipment, high performance engines, older engines and more.

    Complete the Fuel-Testers sponsored “Ethanol-Free Fuel Choice” PETITION TODAY, and include details that support why you require availability of non-ethanol gasoline.
    http://www.fueltestkit.com/fuel_choice_petition.html


  7. Can a state regulate the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline- any grade- if it doesn’t have EPA requirements for oxygenated fuel?

    I’m quite sure E10 wouldn’t hang around any longer than a purse snatcher if non-ethanol gas was available in all grades at comparable pricing. However, oil companies will surcharge for ethanol-free gas if allowed, by arguing it’s a “different” product. The only other way to get your mileage/performance back is cut ethanol content to 2-5%, these blends have been used for 20+ years with minimal side effects.


    • Any state can regulate ethanol blending level up to 10% which is a federal limit for non flex-fuel cars. The 10% limit has been modified for late model cars from 2007 on, to 15% but all of the supporting legal work is not finished and many states won’t allow blending over 10% anyway so E15 won’t happen in our lifetime. There is no federal E10 mandate, so states can do what they want, except in certain urban areas that have EPA oxygenate mandates for air quality, but there aren’t many of those left and the mandate can be met by 1 – 3% ethanol. E10 is now driven entirely by the unintended consequences of the federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007 and all of the gasoline in the U.S. will be E10 by the end of next year, unless states prohibit the blending of ethanol in premium unleaded in order to protect their local economies and public safety.


  8. Too bad you didnt switch to AGE85 fuel for your plane it could have run much better on american fuel. Cleaner, higher octane, cooler EGT temps, less carbon buildup in the engine. I guess all that doesnt matter though just keep talking about how bad ethanol is though and how great gas is.


    • You obviously don’t know squat about flying. There is no AGE85 STC for any airplane I have ever owned so I couldn’t use it in my airplane if I could even find it, which I can’t because it is not sold on any airport in the country. And its greatest drawback is the increased fuel flow necessary to get the rated horsepower from an aircraft engine, thus cutting range dramatically. Higher octane in an engine that only needs 80 octane gas is a waste, octane is not power or energy.


  9. Hi there is a product available made in my hometown that works great for problems regarding ethanol fuel phase seperation. The Product is great it also removes water from gas, stabilizes fuel and cleans the whole fuel system.cure all for ethanol
    Brand New Product Made by Well-Worth
    its called “Fuel Fix Rx” Available on Amazon at Edyoungs Hardware follow the link
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_in_W_p_4_14?me=A3CZW8GG0418AA&rh=p_4%3AWell-Worth&ie=UTF8&qid=1301518107


    • Sorry, I’m not buying it. The claim is only “that helps prevent Ethanol fuel Phase Separation.” Nothing can prevent phase separation in ethanol blended gasoline. The product can’t remove water from ethanol blended gasoline because the ethanol does that, up to a point, when you have phase separation. If you “see” water in ethanol blended gasoline, it has phase separated and you have a mess. It is not reversible.


  10. I love this site. I don’t know what to do regarding Ethanol. When I purchased my 2002 Silverado there were gas stations selling pure gasoline where I live. Fast forward to 2011 and I cannot get anything other than 10% blend. My truck used to run well and fuel mileage was a constant. I often traveled from MD to my parents’ house in the mountains of PA and could pull a steep grade with little effort.

    Now I travel the same stretch of highway and my truck returns approximately 2 MPG less and has a bucking or surging sensation like a vehicle with water in the tank. I’ve tried different brands of gas and different octane ratings but it persists. I wish I could find pure fuel and prove that my truck was not designed to burn “corn squeezings” and shut up the ethanol lovers.

    I also have a well built 2001 Z28 with the same problem. None of my three ATV’s were designed to run on ethanol blend. I let one sit for six months on the battery tender. It would not start. I had drain and flush the carb. I’d never seen the carb look so cruddy. Lastly, my two weed trimmers (one Poulan, one Craftsman) had been good runners and reliable. I left them sit without draining them (not an issue in the past) and could not get them to start. I took them to small engine specialist here in Southern MD and after $85 he had them running top notch and gave me this warning: Don’t let the fuel sit in there. This ethanol gas attracts moisture and your trimmer won’t work. He went on to say that business is booming thanks to Ethanol blend. At least one “little guy” is profiting from this idiocy.

    Thanks for the great site, I hope Ethanol dies a horrific death and it’s supporters lose income and gain some much needed common sense.


  11. Hi Dean,
    In the rush to distance themselves from earmarks and to balance the federal budget, congress (Feinstein et. al.)was considering dropping the (Grassely et. al.) the $9+ billion Ethanol blending subsidy. I’ don’t know where that went and if dropped would it have any real positive effect on our dilemma. Do you have any insight on this??

    RINS – I don’t understand the structure/system. Can you suggest some info sources.

    As the program is set up in my state (PA) there’s plenty of incentive to “overblend” Apparently E levels in retail gas aren’t monitored here. Over blending means more subsidy dollars and fewer penalties. PA also calls their program “mandatory” for all retail gas.

    I know your main concern is Aviation. Mine is Auto and small engine but there are significantly greater deleterious effects including cropland damage by topsoil loss, water pollution from fertilizers and from the E plants, food cost increases, and the dubious analysis that it actually does reduce oil consumption.

    The results in VT were disappointing and further demonstrates how our legislators and certain business interests have “stacked the deck” against us.

    Thanks for being involved. Now we have to wrest some power.
    Best Regards
    JohnU


  12. It will make no difference if the congress kills the ethanol tax credit. The gasoline producers are required to blend ever increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline governed by a quota table in EISA 2007.

    RINS are the method for documenting and ensuring that the gasoline producers blend there quota of ethanol. It is a complicated system but if you Google RINS you will find all kinds of information. Suffice it to say that at the beginning of each calendar year each gasoline producer is allotted their ethanol quota. For each gallon of ethanol produced, a RIN is assigned and transferred to the gasoline producer when he buys the ethanol. He then retires the RIN in the government tracking system when he blends the gallon of ethanol and so accounts for his quota.

    There is no incentive to “overblend” in any state. It is a federal offense to pump any gasoline with an excess of 10% ethanol into a non flex-fuel vehicle. PA has no mandatory E10 law, so there is nothing mandatory requirement to sell E10. It is up to each gasoline producer to meet their ethanol blending quota in any manner they can. It was supposed to be through E85 production but that has never worked.


  13. Ethanol cost more to produce without taxpayer handouts.Produces less power,and causes more than a few problems the longer you it.You have to keep it treated at all times to keep water out of it.It is just a very poor fuel to use.It takes tax dollars to make it and extra cost to use it.I am not a drunk and neither is my truck! Clean our fuel up!!!!!


  14. Your July 2011 Blog you state “So far blended gasoline is not shipped through gasoline pipelines because of corrosion problems. That is the excuse given by the pipeline owner; I don’t know if it is true,…” – Do you have any information, or citation further on this? Thank you.



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