OT: Flex fuel vs regular

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I am looking at a new vehicle and some are equipt for high ethanol and others aren't. I am completely lost on whether FF is something to look for or just something I shouldn't object to if present.
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On 9/2/2013 9:43 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

It's really not a big deal... FF basically means that the piping/hoses for the fuel system need to be corrosion resistant (good) and there will be some kind of fuel sensor so the ECM detects the mix of gasoline/ethanol and will adjust fuel injector duty cycle appropriately. Fuel injectors will have more headroom as running on E85 requires more fuel volume than E10. I think there's some clean air credit BS associated with a mfgr. making a FF vehicle.
So long story short, *everything else being equal* I would chose a FF vehicle over a non-FF vehicle with the same power, options, etc. at the same price. but it wouldn't really be a major factor in my purchasing decision.
nate
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So, basically it is okay if I can get it for free. The other thing is that it seems to have lower mpg w/ E85, so I would have to do the math at each fillup to decide if the difference in cost between the two is worth the lower gas mileage.
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wrote:

Right, the ethanol scam is alive and well. We don't see E85 here in New England, but there is no value to using it aside from modest emissions benefits.
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On 9/2/2013 11:20 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

There is one notable advantage to E85; in a turbocharged or supercharged engine you can run more boost and/or spark advance than you can with gasoline because it runs cooler than gasoline. You will still get less MPG than on gasoline because of the lower energy density than gasoline, but you can make more power, which can be entertaining.
In a NA engine, there really is no significant power/efficiency benefit, but it will run cleaner.
If I happened to have a FF vehicle and lived somewhere where E85 was available (but I don't) I would probably run a tankful of E85 through it every now and then as a fuel system cleaner.
nate
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There are no emissions benefits, just tax benefits, paid by you, to farmers who are already rich.
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FWIW, the tax benefits go to the producers of ethanol. However, the Farmers get some extra benefit just because the extra demand does it what it normally does with prices.
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On 9/2/2013 5:22 PM, Kurt Ullman wrote: ...

NO!!! NEVER DID! The tax benefit went to the _BLENDERS_, namely the oil companies to compensate (supposedly) for their cost in putting in the equipment to handle it and to provide incentive to use it. The producers never saw that credit except indirectly in helping stabilize demand while the fledgling industry gained some foothold. What help they currently get is related to the EPA emissions reqm'ts and the renewable fuel standards that creates some stable minimum demand. The blenders (again, "big oil") were using far more than the minimum to meet the RFS levels up to the time of the expiration of the credit banking those credits while available.
And, the credit expired and was _NOT_ renewed.
Commonly referred to as the "blender’s credit", the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) was created in 2004 to provide oil companies with an economic incentive to blend ethanol with gasoline. As of January 1, 2009, the original tax credit totaling 51 cents per gallon on pure ethanol (5.1 cents per gallon for E10, and 42 cents per gallon on E85) was reduced to 45 cents per gallon. The tax credit is passed on to motorists in the form of more cost-effective fuel at the pump. VEETC was initially authorized through December 31, 2010, was extended one additional year through December 31, 2011, and went away and has stayed gone since January 1, 2012--18 months now or so.
Since stabilization of the markets again after the transition, ethanol has been basically steady around the 2.25/gal w/ swings of 10 cents or so. Recently futures market has jumped to near 2.45-2.50 range -- I'm not sure why. But, it's a third cheaper w/o the VEETC and the producers are profitable w/ current corn prices (altho during the spike from last year's serious drought-lowered production it was not profitable w/ $8+ corn).
It's a useful stabilizing tool for corn markets for producers that mitigates at least some of the boom-bust cycles of good/bad production years that when any given farmer has a good crop and thereby a chance to make a little it's highly likely all the corn belt is going to be good and so there's a drain on prices so actually he doesn't make much after all. OTOH, when prices are high it's generally because production was low owing to drought or other weather causes and so it's highly likely the producer despite the high price has little product to sell so again may not do him any good.
The same scenario holds for all ag commodities that are bulk commodities such as beans, corn, wheat, cotton, etc., etc., ... It almost always is so that that there's a boom-bust cycle going on.
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On 9/4/2013 2:44 PM, dpb wrote: ...

...
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On 9/4/2013 3:05 PM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

And, the oil companies are now engaged in heavy lobbying to repeal the RFS and have been adamant in digging in against installing blender pumps or the infrastructure to support E85. They've also been the monies behind the challenges to the EPA approval of E85.
I'm not that adamant one w/ or t'other on ethanol as general proposition but it does have benefit to the ag markets that struggled for so long with high production costs and low market prices that weren't helped by misguided government intervention to place export embargoes in place to try to achieve political gains (Ford/Carter most egregious altho there've been later lesser ones) that devastated wheat exports for a while particularly. While that went on the Brazilians, Australians, Canadians and to lesser extent even the rest of Euro markets seized the opportunity and the penetration in those markets has yet to fully recover.
Ag didn't get to the position it's in overnight and there's much to be said for the level of production and availability of safe and inexpensive food and fiber supply that has ensued over the years since the disaster years of the Depression and Dust Bowl with a few periods of real disaster such as the '80s when large numbers went bust owing in no small part to the above embargoes combined w/ the high interest rates and the period just preceding the embargoes when the same administration urged higher production and exports before pulling the rug out from under producers. (As you can tell, we've not forgotten that out here yet... :) )
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Just where do you think the gvt gets the money to pay for those credits?? It's from OUR TAXES. Pretend all you want that the users aren't paying for this but the USERS pay for EVERYTHING the gvt hands out. We got higher gas prices thanks to ethanol and lower gas mileage based on the FICTION that it lowered emissions. It does NOT lower emissions in anything produced since the 1980's. It's a classic scam intended to move money from MY pocket to the pockets of special interests. It's also cost US more for everything that uses the "corn" products and byproducts thanks to the "stabilizing" of prices at three times the prior levels.
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On 9/4/2013 5:35 PM, Ashton Crusher wrote: ...

I never addressed that; only the misconception of the other poster that the credit went to the ethanol producer--it didn't, it went to the oil companies.

I never pretended a thing about it; merely pointed out who got the direct credits. But, however, note they were credits, not actual payments. Collections were reduced.

No, it does demonstrably lower certain emissions even in current vehicles.
Ethanol was not the cause of the rise in oil prices that raised gasoline prices; that rise and other policy decisions that caused marked increase in oil imports and no competing increase in US production for a long period of time brought about the call for alternative fuels.
Now, that many who were in the vanguard of that call also had (and still have) alternate agendas is still so but that's a "veritable plethora" of convoluted policies all tied up in the end power of who's won elections and controlled policy direction over the last 30 yr or so.
Grain prices are global, not US alone--and would have gone up regardless as it is impossible to raise any of the grain crops under the current input pricing cost for $2-3/bu. It isn't a viable alternative to allow very large numbers of producers to fail, either.
All in all, I can't complain that some money gets shifted into the rural and ag economies that suffered for decades while oil continued its "favored nation" status in national policy.
And since the blenders' credit has been gone for 18 months now (and counting), it doesn't have much current effect on anything.
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On 9/4/2013 6:50 PM, dpb wrote:

And, as just another demonstration that nothing stands alone, the ethanol plant just up the road here (as do all) produces CO2 as a byproduct. That's bad, right? Well, hold on--they capture it and put it in a pipeline and ship down to the OK and TX panhandles where it is used for enhanced oil recovery. Thus, ethanol is a direct contributor to energy independence not only by the replacement of foreign oil for gasoline in direct substitution but by providing a necessary input for the production of additional oil and gas directly here in the US.
And, ethanol lowers the price of gas -- it's roughly 80% of the energy content by volume at approx. 2/3-rds the price (current spot market).
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On 9/4/2013 8:59 PM, dpb wrote: ...

For the record, no, we do _NOT_ raise corn. :)
This is an all dryland operation; beans and corn only work w/ irrigation here.
As an aside on other renewable fuel alternative--there's an group of irrigated guys in county north that pooled resources and put in small bio-diesel facility for their own use--they're producing enough biodiesel from roughly 20% of their production acres for the diesel supply for their entire operation...
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On 09-02-2013 17:25, Ashton Crusher wrote:

You'll come back and update this after you've actually tried farming, right?
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On 9/2/2013 9:51 PM, Wes Groleau wrote:

There's a difference between family farms and corporate farms. There really aren't that many family farms left. Some farms do quite well...not so much from raising livestock or crops, but from collecting farm subsidies. Michele Bachmann's family farm is a profitable farm subsidy operation.
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On 9/4/2013 10:32 AM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Nonsense.
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On 9/4/2013 12:00 PM, dpb wrote:

More specifically, by US Census data definitions there are roughly 2 million farms in US. Of those, 87% are owned and operated by individuals or families as sole proprietorships or in similar organization.
Following that, 8% are are partnerships, a high fraction of which are family partnerships altho precise data on that sub-fraction of which are all family-member partners vis a vis some partners that may be landowner or other relationship than related isn't readily available.
"Corporate" farms account for only 4% of U.S. farms and 1 percent are owned by other--cooperative, estates or trusts etc.
The term "family farm" does not necessarily equate with "small farm"; nor does a "corporate farm" necessarily mean a large-scale operation owned and operated by a multi-national corporation. Many of the larger agricultural enterprises are wholly family owned/operated but may have be techically organized as a C-corp or LLC for legal and accounting purposes, no different than any other small business.
Farm production expenses _average_ almost $110K per year per farm. Many farms that meet the U.S. Census' definition cannot produce sufficient income to meet farm family living expenses. In fact, fewer than 1 in 4 of the farms in this country produce gross revenues in excess of $50,000 including subsidies.
There is no way required production for current population levels could be met at anything close to affordable costs with a return to 80A single-owner/operator farm operations exclusively or even predominantly. The loss of scale in labor costs owing to the unaffordability of large equipment on such a scale would simply be prohibitive in the current economics--it's difficult enough w/ moderate-sized operations at present.
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On 9/4/2013 1:38 PM, dpb wrote:

OH, and one additional side note on the "subsidies" issue -- of the overall USDA authorization bill ~80% nutrition programs and <20% actual direct benefit to production ag of which a major fraction goes for inspection and enforcement of production facilities such as the packers and canners all the research programs, the Farm Service Agency offices, etc. leaving a quite small fraction that actually goes for farm payments.
And, farmers _MUST_ buy crop insurance and meet other guidelines to be eligible for relief of losses for weather or other disaster. There is no direct crop subsidy payment for any production crop other than peanuts, corn, and sugar--that exists only because to date those particular southern states have had sufficient leverage in congress. _Presuming_ (which is a big presumption since we've been without for a year now) they do manage to pass a new farm bill this year (and there's only a month left and no clear plan forward at present) those likely will finally bite the bullet this year as well. There is also a means test for larger producers that caps the total any given producer can get at any one year.
USDA 2013 budget was about $160B out of the federal budget authorization of some $2T -- 0.8% of the budget. So when take the additional fraction of 20% of that and factor in the monies paid back in in the form of insurance premiums, etc., the net to production ag is pretty much not the problem.
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