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Lamberty Report: The Real Ethanol Scam
by Ron Lamberty

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

- Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

Media outlets have stepped up the frequency of alarming stories of ethanol causing damage to boats, lawn mowers, and cars. They paint a pretty bleak picture for anyone who sees the “contains ethanol” label on a gas pump – which is exactly what those stories were intended to do.

The phrase “ethanol scam” has been used by the media, and without a doubt, there is an ethanol scam out there. But it isn’t the one they think they’re reporting. It’s the one they have unwittingly helped develop. The brilliant anti-ethanol propagandists have created an environment that gives rise to scammers who latch on to the latest “big lie” and use consumers’ fear to scare them into spending money on snake-oil additives and repairs they don’t need.

Twenty years ago, I supervised a chain of convenience stores in Omaha and was contacted by the attorney of a regular customer. He demanded reimbursement for a carburetor overhaul, which, according to the customer’s mechanic, was the result of “gasohol.” The mechanic said alcohol had corroded the interior of the carb and eaten its seals and float – really horrible stuff.

There was a slight problem – we didn’t sell ethanol, and it was no secret. There were large, fluorescent orange “no alcohol in our gas” signs at every one of our stations.

Apparently, this mechanic would commiserate with his customers about evil gasohol, then charge them hundreds for imaginary repairs while he simply changed a clogged fuel filter or adjusted the jets on their carburetor – a true “ethanol scam.”

Sta-bil is currently marketing some stuff you can add to your boat fuel to make you feel more certain that something that wasn’t going to happen anyway now won’t happen because you gave them ten bucks (kind of like adding Heet, which they also make – E10). Instead of scientific data on the “damaging effects of ethanol” it supposedly prevents, Sta-bil links to media horror stories inspired by the anti-ethanol ministers of public enlightenment and propaganda.

A boat mechanic recently told a St. Louis newspaper that he normally rebuilt 30 carburetors a year, but “stopped counting after 750” when Missouri’s ethanol mandate took effect last year. He said E10 was “killing motors left and right.” One has to wonder why those problems didn’t show up several years prior, since ethanol has been in St. Louis’ fuel – unlabeled – well before the mandate. Has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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