I agree that we need to be more environmentally conscious. But it seems the change from gasoline to E85 is much more political than health conscious. For each gallon of ethanol created there is a tax break of $0.51 that comes from the Federal Highway Trust Fund. This is a guaranteed amount, it reminds me of a corn farmer outreach system. It will be interesting to see if this will perpetuate an increase in corn prices by creating a static demand for corn.
Another interesting fact is that sugar cane is actually a much more cost efficient resource for creating ethanol. Six times more efficient, actually. But since America does not grow it we have placed a $0.54 tariff on sugar ethanol imported from Brazil. This leads to using the more inefficiently produced corn ethanol. And creates more jobs for the American people.
The bad part is that we use more energy to make ethanol than the ethanol will produce. This reminds me about the United States penny. We use something that holds a value of $0.01 but it costs $2.41 to produce a penny. What I do not understand is with a tax break being issued for ethanol we set a minimum value on corn. Which increases the cost of corn for food production. Sooner or later the price of the tax break will increase, and thus increase food production - etc. And if you have agricultural animals, you know that prices have jumped over the last couple years. Even bird seed has increased quite rapidly.
President Obama is requiring that automobiles have the flex-fuel option in hopes that people will use this option. The more people who use this option means that we will use a greater percentage of the national corn yield towards ethanol gas. And this increases the cost of food products, which creates competition for the ethanol fuel. Notice that this is the second time that I have mentioned this - it is important. And 328 gallons of ethanol can be created from 1 acre of land.
So in 2011, with the total acreage of land used for corn puts the United States at a total of 23,845,600,000 gallons of ethanol in one year of 100% of all corn is put towards ethanol. If we changed over to E85 we could produce 27,422,440,000 gallons of E85 if there was no waste. In 2005, the United States consumed 386,000,000 gallons - a day. So if we used all of our corn towards creating E85 fuel, we would be self-sufficient, for 71 days.