On May 4, a letter was sent from a group of industry partners to the Trump administration and Congress. The coalition of recreational boating and sportfishing interests urged action to fix America’s broken ethanol policy. The American Sportfishing Association , Boat Owners Association of The United States, National Marine Manufacturers Association and Marine Retailers Association of the Americas on behalf of the nation’s 12 million recreational boat owners, 46 million recreational anglers and 35,000 recreational boating businesses respectively expressed concern with the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The RFS is the 2005 law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into gasoline. When written, it was assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, U.S. gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the law forces more corn ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline.
Boaters and anglers need access to safe and approved fuels. The letter said the RFS “…has discriminatorily affected the boating public – groups of boaters and anglers who purchase fuel for their boats… We write to ask that you to set a new course for the RFS – one that takes into account the objective concerns expressed by the boating community.”
Because of its ability to damage boat engines, federal law prohibits the use of gas blends greater than E10 (10 percent ethanol) in recreational boats. However, as the RFS forces E15 (15 percent ethanol) and higher blends into the market, the chance of misfueling increases. A 2016 Harris Poll found that 64 percent of consumers were not sure or did not pay attention to the type of gas they used. ASA, BoatUS, NMMA and MRAA believe that the increased volumes of E15 and other higher ethanol-blend fuels also reduce the availability of E10 and ethanol-free gas.
“Our members, who sell and service recreational watercraft nationwide, have seen first-hand the damage decreasing availability of ethanol-free gasoline has caused to consumers,” said William Higgins, public policy manager for MRAA, “the sooner this unworkable policy is fixed, the better.”
The letter asks for common-sense reforms, such as ensuring that any future ethanol volumes do not exceed 9.7 percent of the nation’s total fuel supply; protecting true consumer choice at the pump by not artificially decreasing the supply of ethanol-free gasoline, and implementing new and more effective misfueling mitigation protections that will educate and protect all consumers.
Additionally, an appeal by the coalition of the four groups to the boating public and their members to petition for RFS reform with their local congressional representative and President Trump received over 26,000 responses from across the country.