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New E10 biofuel debacle sparks blame game

The Local · 4 Mar 2011, 12:03

Published: 04 Mar 2011 12:03 GMT+01:00

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The E10 delivery stop came on Thursday in response to a shortage of high-octane petrol at German petrol stations as drivers uncertain about the biofuel filled up with super grades, leading to a shortage and rising prices.

The government has blamed the petroleum industry for failing to provide proper information to customers on whether their cars can handle the fuel.

Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner on Thursday called the sector’s approach to the problem a “fiasco,” saying they had ample to time to prepare customers for the new fuel’s introduction to the market.

“The management can’t be allowed to steal away from responsibility and let the customers pay the price,” she added.

Germany’s ADAC automobile association’s spokesman Maxi Hartung agreed that petrol producers alone were to blame for the debacle, saying they’d failed to provide adequate information to stem customer concerns about the fuel, which was meant to replace the old super grade gasoline.

“The petroleum industry alone is responsible for the chaos that followed the introduction of E10,” he said. “It’s the wrong approach for there to be absolutely no information available on a newly introduced product where it is sold, namely the gas stations.”

Instead they placed the responsibility with carmakers, he said.

But deputy leader of the opposition environmentalist Greens’ parliamentary group Bärbel Höhn said that the government was also at fault.

“The chancellor brought it upon us,” she told public broadcaster ARD on Friday, alleging that Angela Merkel “pushed through” European Union regulations for the institution of E10 fuel in 2007.

Meanwhile Markus Ferber, head of the conservative Bavarian CSU party in the EU parliament, said that E10 should simply be done away with.

“This climate policy nonsense doesn’t help the environment and penalizes the citizens,” he told daily Bild. “Getting rid of E10 again would be the effective climate policy for humans, cars and environment.”

Christian Democrat Herbert Reul, who is an energy expert in EU parliament, agreed.

“The sooner E10 disappears from the gas stations, the better,” he told the paper.

Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle has called for a summit on the issue, a suggestion welcomed by Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, who also wants Aigner to attend.

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“The confusion caused by the petroleum industry is unacceptable,” Röttgen told daily Bild.

About 90 percent of cars on the road can handle the new biofuel, which contains up to 10 percent bioethanol content. Advocates of the gasoline-ethanol mixture, which can be produced with common crops such as sugar cane, potato and corn, say it helps curb greenhouse gas emissions.

From the beginning of this year, German gas stations have been required to offer the new Super E10 petrol or face penalties. According to the newspaper Bild last week, it was being stocked by four in ten stations.

Drivers can determine is the Super E10 is suitable for their cars by asking their dealer or mechanic, or by looking at the list of compatible models published by the Deutsche Automobile Treuhand.


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Your comments about this article

12:43 March 4, 2011 by The-ex-pat
Not bearing in mind if E10 is a better fuel or not, and just looking at the comparability issue, I fail to understand what the problem here is. For months we have been told about it and there have been lists in the paper and Internet about which cars can and which cannot. My wife drives and Opel Corsa. I checked whether it could use E10 when the first information came out with our local Opel dealer and cross checking the published lists. It can, in fact there are only two models of car by Opel that can't. She informed me yesterday that she has also filled up with super. When I asked why and I pointed out that I had done the leg work for her already and what was the problem. Answer......I am not sure about it, there was not that much information about E10. That my love is because you did not get off your backside and check, left your husband to do it and still do not believe.....................You can always tell a German, but you can't tell them much!
12:48 March 4, 2011 by stux
Either that, or the people that did read up on it realized they were paying the same price for fewer MPG. I think most did it out of fear, but there are some that just do not want it in their cars.
13:33 March 4, 2011 by Landmine
how about a link to the Deutsche Automobile Treuhand? Now that would be good public service from a newspaper wouldn't it?
14:42 March 4, 2011 by Frenemy
15:59 March 4, 2011 by twisted
Now I could be wrong but think about it...for the same price you are now buying only 90% of the gas you bought previously with 10% of some sort of vegetable matter added which probably cost less than the other 10% that was gasoline, so in the end, the oil companies are making more money of the sale of one liter of fuel. Gov't is happy because it still pulls in the same amount in taxes. Who is unhappy? The folks whose car can't run on this stuff.
21:44 March 4, 2011 by DrGideonPolya
Legislatively mandated biofuel in Germany is an obscenity because it uses food for fuel in a hungry world (about 20 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year; see my book "Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950").

Further, the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction premise of biofuel has been shown to be false - for most major crop sources the net effect of biofuel is to increase GHG polution and create a huge carbon debt (see "Biofuel Genocide".

The Global Financial Crisis and collapse was associated with a collapse of mass starvation-threatening record high food prices that had increased parallel with oil price. Now history is repeating itself. Biofuel is helping to push up global food prices which currently are at a post-2008 record highs (Google FAO's "World food situation").

In 1943-1945 the British deliberately starved to death 6-7 million Indians in the man-made Bengali Holocaust, the Bengal Famine in which food prices rose 4-5-fold and those who could not buy food starved under a ruthless, racist colonial regime. Yet the Bengali Holocaust, the first WW2 atrocity to be described at the time as a :holocaust" has been almost completely erased from British history books and from public perception (see my book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History). Remember that of the 5-6 million Jews killed in the Jewish Holocaust 1 in 6 died from deprivation.
11:49 March 5, 2011 by Johnny Cash
Just another screw up of anything official and new being introduced in Germany, like the gelbsach debacle, plastic bottle return debacle,road toll debacle,now the biofuel debacle. Doesn't anyone get it yet. You keep electing idiots. Vote party politics out of existence. Vote independent candidates who you personally know are competent and answerable only to their electorate not a party heirarchy.
12:09 March 5, 2011 by Frenemy
"Vote independent candidates who you personally know"???

That's a completely ludicrous notion! Nobody would be in office if everyone only voted for people they knew personally.
13:42 March 5, 2011 by jbaker
Let's use 100% Alcohol and Vegetable Oils to Fuel our cars and trucks. The technology was developed years ago and perfected in the 1960's, but was immediately gobbled up by the Oil Industry. The Oil Company Executives like their control over Humanity at the Expense of Our Enviroment. Additives have been created to keep these fuels solvent in freezing temperatures. Other Technologies are available to Propel Vehicles and Heat Homes, but they are squashed before the public gets to know them(All in the Name of Profits and Control).
01:46 March 8, 2011 by Johnny Cash
The line was "who you personally know are competent and answerable only to their electorate not a party heirarchy". Maybe that is not clear enough. I mean voting for people you are aware of in your community who have shown themselves to have intelligence , integrity, courage and first and foremost, common sense. Not words you hear bandied around in politics anymore but that is what I am looking for in a candidate not some party sycophant (Dictionary.com definition " a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite"

No party politician puts the electorates concerns first. Their loyalty is to a party first or they would not have received the party approval to run for office.Does that sound logical? Independants can speak their minds without fear or favour, party politicians must follow the party line or be booted out. If an independent representative screwed up you can fire him and put someone else in without effecting any balance of power. Maybe this would be a way of breaking the back of power hungry politicians. But first the electorate would have to get the idea. And after years of anti independent propaganda this would not be an easy task. Maybe the question should be, why do we need parties. Government is only a committee set up to run the country. Does your football club need parties in their committee to run the club. Please, I would love to read your response
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