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NMMA provides update on EPA bio-isobutanol approval

By The National Marine Manufacturers Association

Earlier this week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt approved the registration of bio-isobutanol as a fuel additive.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has been a leading voice in the effort to secure approval for bio-isobutanol, raising it directly with Pruitt on multiple occasions since he took office.

May’s American Boating Congress featured a special question-and-answer session with NMMA President Thom Dammrich and Pruitt.

“We applaud Administrator Pruitt’s approval of bio-isobutanol as a biofuel additive, which will provide consumers a safe, efficient, and environmentally-friendly E15 alternative that is highly compatible with marine products," Dammrich said. "This decision will promote an innovative fuel supply, with direct benefits to American boaters and consumers.

As Congress continues to discuss potential reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard, it is absolutely critical that all stakeholders remember the threat posed by fuel blends exceeding 10 percent ethanol, Dammrich added.

"Thanks to the leadership of Administrator Pruitt and champions in Congress like Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA-1), who highlighted the value of bio-isobutanol during multiple committee hearings, consumers could now have much-needed additional choices at the pump" he said.

While additional steps by EPA are needed to break down other regulatory impediments to the full-scale commercialization of bio-isobutanol, EPA’s recent actions are very encouraging, Dammrich said.

In addition to increased fuel options, the boating industry needs a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign in place prior to any E15 expansion

"We owe it to the millions of American boaters and the 650,000 workers that the industry supports," Dammrich said.

Background:

  • According to the NMMA, 95 percent of boats are fueled at retail gas stations. Boat owners depend on safe, reliable and proven fuel choices to be universally available.
  • Misfueling of engines voids warranties, leaving consumers with expensive repair and replacement bills.
  • Biobutanol is a four-carbon alcohol produced from renewable, plant-derived energy sources in a fermentation process similar to beer and wine production.
  • Biobutanol can be produced using existing ethanol feedstocks, such as corn and sugar beets, or advanced feedstocks (cellulosic biomass) such as crop residues, wood residues, dedicated energy crops, and industrial and other wastes.
  • Unlike E15, which causes severe damage to small engines like those used in recreational boating, biobutanol delivers more renewable energy content than ethanol while remaining compatible with current vehicles, boats, and infrastructure.

According to a Harris Poll commissioned by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (2018):

  • Nearly two thirds of Americans (65 percent) assume that any gas sold at the gas station is safe for all cars, as well as boats, mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, generators and other engine products;
  • As a result, an ever-increasing number of outdoor power equipment owners are using the wrong type of fuel in their products, including boats. In 2018, 11 percent reported using E15, E30, E50, or E85 to fuel their equipment, up from 7 percent in 2015;
  • The EPA issued a small voluntary label for gas stations to post if they sell fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol. When asked about the label, more than 3 in 5 Americans (63 percent) feel it is inadequate to inform consumers about E15 fuel being illegal to use in outdoor power equipment.

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