Late last year, the EPA proposed a blending volume requirement of 15.21 billion gallons in 2014, which is down from the 16.55 billion gallons mandated in 2013 and far less than what was called for in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This was the first time the agency lowered the target from the previous year.
BoatUS Government Affairs Program Manager Nicole Payla Wood, along with a coalition of representatives from environmental groups, fuel and manufacturing associations as well as food, restaurant, poultry and meat producers testified at a December 5 hearing to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard. She was quoted in a press release from the organization saying, “We believe in a national renewable fuels policy, but one that is both safe for boaters and sound for the environment. However, until the current ethanol mandate is removed, there is little room for investment in other renewable fuels that may not have the current negative impact of corn-based ethanol.”
She was also quoted saying that as the Renewable Fuel Standard policy pushed higher blends of ethanol gasoline into the market, there would be an increased potential for mis-fueling and engine failure.
“Not all Americans can afford to drive tow vehicles made after 2001, and for boaters these higher blends are poison to our marine engines. There is a critical safety and soundness issue related to the use of higher blends of ethanol in marine engines that cannot be denied. More than half of Boat Owners Association of The United States members fuel their boats at roadside gas stations. With 11 states now approved to sell E15 – a fuel that no marine engine is warrantied to run on – the opportunity for mis-fueling is growing. And what may result in a roadside breakdown for a car, can quickly lead to a search and rescue mission or search and recovery in a boat,” Wood told the commission.
“We think it’s also important to point out that EPA’s role in the Renewable Fuel Standard is to implement the policy, not reform the law. Although there are implicit waiver authorities written into the law, the EPA shouldn’t have to use that authority to modify policy to meet the realities of the current marketplace every year. It is the responsibility of the EPA and Congress however, to ensure that the fuel they approve for our consumers is a safe and reliable fuel for our engines, all engines. It is our hope that Congress will now accept the baton, and continue their work on a permanent fix for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” she said.
In the meantime, Stoufer said owners of older boats should take their vessels to a qualified mechanic so they can be retrofitted to handle the blended fuel.
“At best, people could be stranded out on the water if a fuel line is damaged. At worst, they could have a very serious problem if that gas leaks into the passenger compartment,” he said.
More than 90 percent of all gas sold at public gas stations now contain ethanol alcohol. E10 gas has become the “conventional” fuel and ethanol-free gas is now a “specialty” fuel.
Several U.S. states, including Missouri, do not require gas pumps to be labeled when ethanol alcohol is added to gasoline. Other states only label pumps when alcohol content is above 1 to 2 percent.
G & G Marina sells 89 octane ethanol free marine grade gasoline with ValvTect, a lead substitute additive.