Why ethanol in Ohio sucks.
Ok, I've been researching why my Ford F150 seems to get about 25% mpg less when I run e10 vs conventional gasoline.
I buy my gas at a local privately owned full service station called Cal's Marathon specifically because the owner refuses to sell any ethanol blended gasoline in his pumps. The owner is about as honest as you can get these days and I use his mechanic shop whenever I need work done on my truck.
A couple of days ago when I'm getting gas, I see Cal (who's normally toiling away in the mechanic's shop) out by the pumps. I ask him why he doesn't sell ethanol and I thought I already knew the answer, but I was not expecting the answer that I got.
What Cal told me was that Ohio was one of only 3 or 4 States that doesn't test the octane content of it's gasoline. That's right my liberal friends, because of the lack of regulation compared to the rest of the country, our state is a dumping ground for poor quality gasoline.
Early in the days before ethanol, Cal decided that he would test every delivery of gasoline that arrived at his station. He wanted to make sure his customers were getting a quality product.
Once ethanol came on the seen, Cal noticed that a lot of ethanol was especially poor on octane ratings. He decided to not sell any at his station. To be fair, I'm guessing that ethanol was being dumped in Ohio the same way that other gasoline was being dumped and there was probably a higher percentage of poor ethanol then. After all, the product was in it's infancy and production standards should have been optimized since then.
Cal then told me that no matter how much production standards have improved, any exposure to moister in transportation or storage significantly reduces octane levels in ethanol. He said that moister causes the fuel to seperate which can make an 87 octane fuel burn at 84 octane. (unsafe for most engines)
How many people want to bet on the storage tanks of gas stations that are unregulated being moister free?
Now all my liberal friends are jumping up and down right now because they know the conclusion that I'm coming to that the product should be regulated to solve the problem. They are having visions of huge amounts of money being spent on gasoline police to check every ounce of gas in the state of Ohio paid for by a huge tax on gasoline (which of course could never have an effect on Ohio's economy in their eyes).
Now I burst their bubble. To solve the problem all the state has to do is to encourage people to enforce their property rights. Make both the stations and the oil companies responsible for tort damages caused by selling a product that fails to meet advertised standards. Once a few station owners buy a few new engines for customers, they'll start checking their gas. All the customer needs is a few gas receipts and a warrant to collect gas for lab testing and it's pretty easy to prove.
Cal checks his own gas voluntarily. It's something that's easy to do and he has loyal customers because of it. If we go the tax and police route, we start the cycle of the police being bribed by the people that they are supposed to be regulating and then claiming that they need more funds to properly do their job. Gas taxes increase and the cycle starts over again. We see how this system works today with the banking industry.
Cal relied on a free market solution and in this case so did I. I buy my gas at Cal's because my truck runs better.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.