Former Tonight Show host, comedian, and car enthusiast Jay Leno is being taken to task by automotive experts for a harshly-worded, negative article in AutoWeek entitled “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?”
The thrust of the article is to support reform or elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard and even attacks farmers.
I just don’t see the need for ethanol. 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 big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods.
Leno has been a long-time supporter of renewable fuels. This picture from an April 2008 Popular Mechanics article written by Leno shows him with a 2006 Corvette Z06 that he said “has a top speed of 208 mph and runs on a homegrown alternative to gasoline – cleaner-burning E85 ethanol.”
In this interview with DomesticFuel in 2007, Leno talks about biodiesel specifically but all renewable fuels in general about being good for America and agriculture. “We try to support companies that make products here in America,” he said. “To me, it’s a great thing to see people no longer losing their farms because they can’t make a crop that’s viable anymore …you support the farmers, they watch my TV show, I buy their products.” 2007 Interview with Jay Leno on Renewable Fuels
Syndicated car show host and technician Bobby Likis thinks Leno’s article seems uncharacteristic. “I cannot believe “what Jay said” is “what Jay really believes.” His words smack of otherwise invested horse-whisperers who use personal agendas to sway vulnerable-for-whatever-reason people towards their way,” says Likis in an editorial for the E-xchange Blog refuting all of Leno’s claims.
Bob Reynolds, president of Downstream Alternatives and automotive engine specialist, particularly countered Leno’s claims that ethanol causes corrosion in vintage cars. Reynolds cited a study by Hagerty Insurance and Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Lab that concluded “with minor updates and proper maintenance E10 will not prevent the ability to enjoy your collector car.”
Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen commented on Leno’s apparent biofuels about-face. “Will the real Jay Leno please stand up?,” said Dinneen. “Unfortunately, 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.”