EPA delays ethanol decision

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it will delay a final decision on a waiver petition to allow ethanol gasoline blends of up to 15 percent until more testing data is available, according to a release from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

NMMA has long called for more testing because of its concerns about the potential impacts of mid-level ethanol blends on recreational marine engines and boats, including increased air emissions, performance and durability issues, and warranty concerns.

The EPA’s announcement notes that studies indicate that higher blends such as E15 potentially may be tolerated by newer automobiles, but that further and longer-term studies are pending. EPA has not conducted any studies on marine engines and a wide array of other non-road engines.

According to NMMA, the EPA suggests it may approve E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles by mid-2010 unless data reveal problems. NMMA’s view is that no decision should be made on E15 until all independent scientific studies confirm that it is compatible with both on-road and non-road engines.

“We are pleased that EPA has acknowledged our concerns with E15 and elected to delay final judgment until more studies can be completed. We continue to call for more testing on marine engines and boat fuel systems,” Mat Dunn, NMMA Legislative Director, said in the release.

In a separate statement, BoatU.S. said it was also pleased with the decision to wait on E15 but reiterated its concerns about higher levels of ethanol in gasoline.

“Waiting for the data is a step in the right direction,” said BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “However, focusing on automobiles leaves out millions of other gas-powered engines. If you own a lawn mower, chain saw, all-terrain vehicle, generator, or boat, I would be very concerned over the costs to repair or replace those items after using higher levels of ethanol gas.”

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