Marine trade groups concerned over the EPA’s E15 decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced limited approval for the sale of gasoline containing up to 15-percent ethanol (E15) for model year 2007 and newer motor vehicles. This decision excludes marine engines and other non-road engines such as snowmobiles, lawn and garden equipment, as well as other gasoline-powered small engines.

However, both the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Marine Retailers Association of America are concerned about the implications.

NMMA said in a statement yesterday that it is worried that the EPA doesn’t plan to take significant steps to address anticipated problems with consumer confusion and the risk of misfueling. The EPA will also not take action to ensure compatible fuels remain available for the nation’s 13 million registered boat owners or the hundreds of millions of owners of gasoline-powered equipment, the association reported.

This decision is EPA’s response to a waiver petition filed in the spring of 2009 by pro-ethanol lobby group Growth Energy. Last December, the Agency announced it was delaying the decision in order to conduct additional testing on a limited set of cars and trucks. Gasoline retailers will not be able to sell E15 until EPA completes a new pump label rulemaking, which was also announced today, according to NMMA.

Boaters have been actively engaging Congress and the Administration on this issue, submitting more than 30,000 comments to the EPA during the initial comment period and contributing to the more than 26,000 emails to President Obama through requesting that studies on all gasoline-powered engines be completed before allowing E15, the association added.

“We are extremely disappointed that EPA is allowing this fuel to enter the market without the appropriate scientific data or consumer and environmental safeguards,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “This decision not only adversely impacts marine manufacturers, but creates a significant risk of misfueling for the nation’s 66 million boaters who will be left ‘holding the bag’ for performance issues and expensive repairs. We are astonished that EPA has decided to move forward with a fuel that will increase air pollution and damage hundreds of millions of existing products. In the coming months, NMMA will review EPA’s pump label rulemaking and explore additional options to protect the boating community and marine manufacturers from incompatible fuels like E15.”

MRAA also expressed concern over the implications of the decision.

“It is still unclear to us if appropriate fuels will be available to recreational boaters and if marinas will have to stock E15 fuel for engines made after 2007 and E10 fuel for engines made before 2001,” said Phil Keeter, MRAA president.

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