EPA proposes increase in renewable fuels for 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed increasing renewable fuel volume requirements for 2017.

The move was quickly greeted with dismay from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which has long opposed higher levels of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply, due to concerns about damage to engines and other boat components.

"The proposal increases the need for higher blends of ethanol to record levels, pushing further past the E10 blend wall, forcing an increase of 700 million gallons and endangering more consumers including recreational boaters," an NMMA spokesperson said.

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 Renewable Fuel Standards program is a success story that has driven biofuel production and use in the U.S. to levels higher than any other nation,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This administration is committed to keeping the RFS program on track, spurring continued growth in biofuel production and use, and achieving the climate and energy independence benefits that Congress envisioned from this program.”

The EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on June 9 in Kansas City, Mo. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 11.

NMMA released the following statement on the proposed levels:

The 2017 RFS proposed ethanol volumes released by the EPA this week once again fail to meet basic marketplace realities and represent another step backwards with regard to this unworkable mandate. By increasing the required amount of ethanol to record-levels in 2017, the EPA is not only denying consumers choice at the pump, but also putting the public at risk of misfueling. This week's announcement will only cause headaches for consumers who will no longer be able to obtain the low-ethanol and ethanol-free fuel blends they seek for their boats. The mandate further promotes the expansion of E15—a known harmful fuel to marine and off-road engines, and still does not include any plans for the widespread public outreach efforts needed to educate consumers on the problems they may face including engine damage, voided warranties and costly repairs. As we’ve said before, the RFS is a broken law which sets unrealistic fuel mandates. And as we have done in the past, we again urge Congress to act swiftly by reforming the RFS in order to protect our industry and the others negatively affected by this decision. NMMA will be involved in the final rule making process, and looks forward to working with the EPA, our members and other stakeholders to deliver a common-sense rule that keeps the 88 million boaters safe on the water.

Related story: Survey: Ethanol repair issues growing

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