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KARL'S Column: The Auto Club Responds to Ethanol Usage

by Cassandra Basore

I just know you've been wondering, why the Auto Club doesn't fight back - - smack down those scurrilously misleading pseudo-cautions against the use of ethanol in motor fuels.

Well, AAA is, soft of.  Back in July, A South Dakota chapter of Triple-A accused the oil and gas industry’s largest trade group - - that would be the American Petroleum Institute - - of misrepresenting its position on ethanol in that ad campaign seeking repeal of the renewable fuel standard.  A spokesman for the Triple A branch in South Dakota says the ad misrepresents the motor club’s position on E15, or gasoline containing 15% ethanol.  Another country heard from, as the saying goes, is the Advanced Ethanol Council.  Executive Director Brooke Coleman says he’s skeptical  that the national motor club is changing its position on E15.  He thinks that would be a bad move for AAA, because if they become the Big Oil roadside assistance company publicly, they’ll take a membership hit because people don’t associate them with Big Oil.

Now - - off to Triple A’s national office and spokesman Michael Green.  To me, it sounds like he’d like to get it both ways.  Listen - - Green says AAA supports consumers having a right to choose among fuels at the gas pump, but - - BUT  it still has issues with E15.

I can hear the judge now saying, “Well, which is it?  Guilty, or Not Guilty?

It appears to me that the Big Oil folks have given up on trying to kill ethanol altogether, and for the moment are focused on E15, which is not widely available yet, and about which the general consumer knows very little.  Neither of our two personal vehicles are of the flexfuel type, but the gasoline we’ve used for years in our automobiles, in the garden tractor, the farm tractor, chainsaws, leaf blower, string trimmer has been that which is 10% ethanol.  We've had no problems associated with fuel.

Maybe the Renewable Fuels Association and its colleagues just don’t want to take their eyes off the ball, so to speak, by formally taking on Big Oil, but at least they have protested a little bit.

On another note, to help you, if necessary, dispel that “Ma and Pa Kettle” perception of farmers, that you may encounter.  According to the Michigan Office of USDA’s Agriculture Statistics, two thirds of Michigan farms have Internet access; a third of those report wireless as their primary access method.  Michigan’s numbers mirror national averages, in that 67% of U.S. farms have Internet access.

When I was a boy, my dad was a school teacher, and a farmer.  To his day job, he wore a suit, shirt, and tie; at home, he wore bib overalls and short-sleeved T-shirts.  He loved to be out and about in casual dress - - shirt and slacks, and to be admonished, “You don’t look like a farmer!”  With a perfectly straight face he’d shoot back, “What DOES a farmer look like?

That was fun!