Right Hooks

Small-Engines vs. Ethanol Regs

Once again the government's attempt to pick a winner is producing more losers. It's time to deregulate.

Thomas Gallatin · Apr. 11, 2017

As spring begins to spur lawns and trees into full grow mode, many folks find themselves heading into the garage or shed to crank up the old mower and weed whacker that have been sitting dormant since last fall. After the seemingly hundredth pull on the starter cord with not even the slightest sputter of engine life, a frustrated individual may wonder if the culprit is ethanol.

Ethanol has been around for quite some time. But especially since the passage of the Renewable Fuel Standards in 2007, the debate over the benefits or drawbacks of ethanol-infused gasoline continues, and nowhere does it rage more than within the world of small-engine equipment. Kris Kiser, the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, is no fan of the supposed enviro-friendly regulation. Kiser says, “You’re putting alcohol into the fuel. They’re different atoms. They don’t like to stay married.” He continues, “This is a big deal, and everybody wants to downplay it. But we’re pretty sensitive to it.”

And while proponents of the ethanol blends point to the fact that manufactures are developing engines better suited to handle the higher percentages of ethanol, the truth remains that ethanol negatively impacts gasoline engines. Anyone who has recently bought a small engine can attest to the fact that most warranties are voided if a higher-than-10% ethanol blend of gasoline is used.

The ethanol fuel standards are a classic example of government-forced industry adjustment aimed at artificially propping up an industry that would otherwise cease to exist if not for the mandate. Not only are ethanol blends consistently less fuel efficient, they also heavily impact other aspects of the economy, such as food prices.

When the government attempts to pick winners and losers, the result is more losers. Let’s revoke the ethanol regulations and allow the free market to determine if the industry thrives or dies.

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