Congress heavily subsidizes the price of E85 in a number of ways to the point that E85 is almost always cheaper than gasoline. Apparently, the gas mileage that this family member gets is so significantly lower with E85 that if gas is cheap enough, he is unwilling to drive a few extra miles to fill up with E85.
We might have forgotten the conversation but for stumbling across a lengthy and readable CSU Coloradoan article that includes some very useful information on the future of ethanol, not corn ethanol. We only sample it here:
"When you start thinking about what kind of plant you should grow to best utilize its biomass, corn is not the answer," said Ken Reardon, a Colorado State University chemical and biological engineering professor who researches ethanol production. "Because corn uses a lot of water, people are now looking at crops that take less water to grow and produce more mass per acre than corn...”
"Once you produce the product you have to be able to get it to market, and building infrastructure from scratch cannot be done overnight,” said Ritter spokesman Evan Dryer. “Using corn ethanol helps us create a new market for the corn industry and helps us create a new consumer base for ethanol in general, and the governor supports that.”