Jay Leno urges change to federal ethanol requirements

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Car enthusiast and comedian Jay Leno made it clear: He hates ethanol and he blames the Renewable Fuel Standard.

So he wants car enthusiasts to ask legislators to draft laws that reform or eliminate the law that mandates increasing levels of ethanol in the fuel supply.

In a recent Autoweek op-ed, the former Tonight Show host lamented replacing fuel-pressure regulators every 12 or 18 months on each of the autos in his vast car collection to avoid car fires — or, “ka-bloooooie,” as Leno puts it.

“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 in the March 4 op-ed.

He also bemoaned the shorter shelf life of fuel containing ethanol, an issue boaters have long complained about — particularly those in regions that have seasonal boating.

“If I run a car from the teens or ’20s and fill it up with modern fuel, then it sits for more than two months, I often can’t get it to start,” Leno wrote.

His message: “Blame the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

“This government-mandated rule requires certain amounts of ethanol and other biofuels be blended with gasoline and diesel fuel,” Leno wrote. “But when Congress first passed RFS as part of the Energy Policy Act in 2005, our demand for energy was increasing.”

Today, total demand has decreased “thanks to more-efficient vehicles, more hybrids and increased environmental awareness,” Leno wrote.

“I just don’t see the need for ethanol,” he writes. “I understand the theory — these giant agri-business companies can process corn, add the resulting blend to gasoline and we’ll be using and importing less gasoline. But they say this diversion of the corn supply is negatively affecting food prices, and the ethanol-spiked gas we’re forced to buy is really awful.”

The EPA is set to release the 2015 standard in June, he said. Meanwhile, some legislators are pushing to reform or eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard entirely.

“It’s time for us as automobile enthusiasts to dig in our heels and start writing to our congressmen and senators about the Renewable Fuel Standard or we’ll be forced to use even more ethanol. Most people assume, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen. They’ll never do that.’ Remember Prohibition? In 1920, all the saloons were closed. It took until 1933 before legal liquor came back.”