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NMMA urges EPA to lower proposed RFS ethanol volume

By Brianna Liestman

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), along with American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), held a conference call on Monday to discuss The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed increase for the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2017. The proposal calls for renewable fuel volumes of 18.8 billion gallons in 2017, a 3.8 percent increase from 2016 and an 11 percent increase from 2015.

The concern of all associations on the call comes from consumer awareness about the dangers of misfueling, the expense of repairs for consumers and a preference among some consumers for the availability of E0.

On July 11, the NMMA submitted comments to the EPA urging the agency to use its wave authority to lower the proposed volume to reflect actual market conditions and guarantee that boaters remain safe on the water.

In the 2017 proposal, “EPA has ignored consumer demand for ethanol-free gasoline options,” said said Michael Lewan, National Marine Manufacturers Association senior manager, government relations. “Objective analysis from the Energy Information Administration showed that Americans consumed 5.3 billion gallons of ethanol-free gasoline in 2015, yet EPA is proposing a mere 200 million gallons. This proposal is denying the boating public choice at the pump.”

According to Lewan, if you review the RFS proposal for 2017 in conjunction with the biofuels infrastructure program and the $100 million grant issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 5,000 pumps will be installed across the country that will be able to dispense E15 to Americans, whether consumers are aware of it or not. This includes 892 pumps in Florida, a large boating market.

“We’re at the point where E15 will be spreading across the country at a much more significant volume than it has the last two years,” said Lewan, “and that is a significant concern for our industry and for our member companies, because we have not seen the correlating education and consumer outreach that needs to be done with such an introduction of a new fuel.”

Lewan said the NMMA has gone above and beyond the government’s call to assist against misfueling but asking manufacturers to study ethanol, partnering with awareness campaign such as the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s “Look Before You Pump” program, and endorsing alternative fuels like isobutanol. And yet studies show the public is uninformed: 31 percent of American understand that higher blends of ethanol can be harmful to small engines. A recent Boating Industry survey of its readers showed that ethanol repair issues are growing.

“A mere sticker on a gas pump won’t change the significant gap in consumer awareness. The EPA must do more and do more now,” said Lewan. “NMMA is hopeful that the EPA will address these very real concerns as it finalizes the 2017 RVOs and produces a more realistic and workable rule for all stakeholders.”

In its final rule for the RFS in November 2015, the EPA pledged to work with stakeholder groups and other government and non-government organizations, but Lewan said the NMMA has not heard from the EPA as of yet on creating a more comprehensive misfueling mitigation plan.

“The proposal breaks the blend wall and forces prohibitive blends like E15 onto the market, and yet next to nothing has been done to prevent a boat owner from misfueling his or her marine engine,” Lewan said.

Opposition to the RFS mandate has bipartisan support in Congress, and other opponents include livestock producers, anti-hunger groups, owners of restaurants and convenience stores and more. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, introduced HR 5180, the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act of 2016, which would require the EPA to cap the use of ethanol at 9.7 percent of the total volume of gasoline to be sold in a given year.

“Grassroots advocates submitted more than 513,000 comments to the EPA in opposition to the 2017 RFS proposal. Any policy that attracts such widespread criticism deserves immediate action, and API is calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to fix this broken RFS policy,” said Frank Macchiarola, API downstream and industry operations group director.

3 comments

  1. In the entire country of Brazil all of the gasoline is E27. You can't get straight gasoline in Brazil. This is a country that relies on the Amazon river as it's interstate system. Are you telling me that the boats in Brazil break down all the time? Do they make special boat motors for Brazil? The fact is that ethanol in gasoline doesn't pose any problems with boat motors or motorcycles. I'm lucky enough to live near a blender pump and have used E30 in all of my motors, car, motorcycle and small engine and have never had an issue. This is a political movement and is not based on science.

  2. I agree that everyone is over reacting to this insignificant amount of alcohol. Henry Ford intended all his vehicles to burn 100% of this simple one-molecule fuel but finally caved to outside pressure to use a mixture of many ingredients in this fuel we call gasoline. Because of this nonhomogenous mixture of heptane, isooctane, ethyl benzene and dozens of various compounds, many compromises have to be made in ignition timing, valve timing, combustion chamber design, etc. The oil companies are happy to use the 5, 6 or up to 10% ethanol to cheaply raise the octane rating of gasoline to whatever is wanted from about 87 to 94 (ethanol is 105). Too much ethanol, however, cuts into their profits. Let's look at this situation from an objective standpoint rather than from the hearsay and unproven assumptions that a little ethanol is destroying our boating industry.

  3. chauncey johnstone

    I think you and other advocates of ethanol are missing the point. The motors of Boats, motorcycles, antique cars and gas tools are not used all the time. Many are stored during winter months, even in good weather they are not in use all the time. This gives Ethanol the chance to BREAK DOWN into water, fuel mixture. I have an antique car, I use it on nice weekends and to shows in the summer. I buy 100 octaine leaded gas for the car. It is expensive, but given the fact that my first winter of owner ship resulted in clogged carbsm rust in a gas tank, and a break down in rubber fuel lines. I also have 2 friends who own boats with poly fuel tanks. In addition to the tanks springing leaks, and the motors gas having problems. Lastly I have a relative in Iowa who owns, "don't laugh" of all things. He hauls the animals in trucks with diesel engines, but , but he also has some gas trucks , he will not buy ethanol fuel because it raises the cost of his product, (Feed costs more), we pay the higher price.Lastly , the Amazon, give me a break, people who live in rivers like that, India, China, SE Asia many more, run their motors a lot, and do not worry about long term effects. Ethanol is a money maker for investors, of course they lobby for higher use. All I can say is that the first time I have a problem, or god forbid in my low use engine, a fire, I will be the first in line to testify in a class action suit, with pictures, which were taken by my insurance company adjuster.

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