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News & Current Events Discuss Jay Leno fights Washington over what gas he's allowed in his 130 cars at the General Forum; Jay Leno fights Washington over what gas he's allowed in his 130 cars By John Siciliano | March 7, 2015 ...

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Default Jay Leno fights Washington over what gas he's allowed in his 130 cars

Jay Leno fights Washington over what gas he's allowed in his 130 cars
By John Siciliano | March 7, 2015 | 5:00 am
Photo - Jay Leno published article blasting the ethanol mandate, just weeks after a new effort to end the program. (Getty) Jay Leno published article blasting the ethanol mandate, just weeks after a new effort to end the...

Comedian and former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno appears to be opposing a federal mandate for blending ethanol in the nation's gasoline supply.

But proponents of the corn-based gasoline additive are not laughing at Leno's proposal.

Leno, one of California's best-known auto enthusiasts, keeps about 130 classic and other collectible cars in his Burbank garage. He slammed the controversial additive Wednesday in Autoweek magazine, in an article titled "Can't We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?" Lenojoins a growing bipartisan coalition including Democrat Dianne Feinstein, the Golden State's senior senator calling for the ethanol program to be abolished.

The article was published just weeks after Feinstein and her GOP co-signer from Pennsylvania Pat Toomey introduced a bill Feb. 26 that would abolish the corn ethanol "mandate" under EPA's flagship green fuels program known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).


Feinstein was successful in ending a key excise tax credit for ethanol a few years back, but efforts to eliminate the RFS program foundered in the last Congress due to a lack of support from key states in the Midwest that back the program. Feinstein-Toomey restarts the debate in the Senate.

But the ethanol industry is not taking Leno's comments lying down. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a leading voice for the ethanol industry in Washington, said in a March 6 press statement, "It appears Leno has fallen victim to the relentless barrage of myths and misinformation about ethanol and classic cars coming from all of the usual suspects," i.e. the oil and refinery industries.

Leno, while regretting the passage of the RFS in 2005, blames ethanol for an increase in car fires that he does not recall in the decades that preceded the creation of fuels program.

"New cars are equipped with fuel lines that are resistant to ethanol damage, but with older cars, the worst can happen you're going down the road, and suddenly your car is on fire," Leno wrote.

But RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen responds to the allegations with a study done by Hagerty Insurance "showing that ethanol can be safely used in older automobiles." Dinneen noted that an ad for Hagerty appeared on the same page as the Leno article. "If Leno wants the facts on ethanol and classic cars, we'll happily provide him with RFA's 'Gasoline Ethanol Blends and the Classic Ethanol Blends and the Classic Auto' report."

RFA also enlisted a cadre of experts to go after Leno's assertions.

"Bob Reynolds, the president of Downstream Alternatives and an expert in automotive engines and fuels, countered the column with 'Missing Opportunities and Misrepresenting the Facts,' while Bobby Likis, an expert mechanic with more than 40 years in the automotive field and host of 'Bobby Likis Car Clinic,' penned 'Can't We Just Get Rid of Ethanol Ignorance'," the RFA statement read.

Dinneen added that Leno was once a strong advocate for the high-level ethanol fuel blend known as E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) for fueling his classic Corvettes.

Leno does not mention E85 in the article once. He instead lists all the bad attributes he has experienced in using the fuel, while saying it was a mistake for Washington to pass the RFS.

The Feinstein-Toomey bill would eliminate the mandate that requires refiners to blend corn ethanol in gasoline. But it would not repeal other requirements under the RFS for blending more advanced fuels not derived from food crops.

Toomey said in a Feb. 26 statement on introducing the bill, "The RFS requires fuel suppliers to blend millions of gallons of biofuels most often corn ethanol into the nation's gasoline supplies. It drives up gas prices, increases food costs, damages car engines, and is harmful to the environment."

Feinstein echoes Toomey's statement, saying the bill provides a simple fix for an "unworkable" and "unwise" program.

Jeff Flake, the GOP senator from Arizona who co-sponsored the legislation, also chimed in, saying "Congress can no longer justify a policy that props up the ethanol industry at the expense of taxpayers, consumers, the hungry, and the environment."
Jay Leno fights Washington over what gas he's allowed in his 130 cars | WashingtonExaminer.com
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