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The fundamentally broken and failed federal corn ethanol mandate is creating serious threats to boater safety all while stinging consumers with costly fuel and repair bills. And worse, it’s hurting — not helping — our environment, especially from an emissions perspective.

This failed Washington mandate — one that EPA refused to fully and once-and-for-all correct in its recent blending volumes announcement — is an anchor that’s threatening to stall the U.S. recreational boating industry, which supports 650,000 jobs and has an annual $121.5 billion economic impact. And with 12.1 million recreational boats currently registered in the U.S. and 88 million Americans participating in boating, the failed federal corn ethanol mandate negatively impacts millions of American consumers and countless local economies.

So boaters beware: Corn ethanol blended gasoline at levels greater than E10 (10 percent mandated-ethanol) can result in significant engine damage, performance failures and increased overall emissions. In fact, the corn ethanol mandate has failed by virtually every metric, from consumer savings to environmental benefits.

In fact, recently released University of Minnesota and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studies joined the growing body of independent scientific research concluding that corn ethanol actually worsens our air. The growing body of science is clear: Corn ethanol degrades our environment and for boaters — who fish and swim in waters and enjoy clear skies — these findings are especially troubling.

Yet, and as noted, one of the biggest threats to the recreational boating industry is corn ethanol’s well-documented damage to marine engines and danger to boater safety.

A series of laboratory tests on marine engines running E15 — conducted under the supervision of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory — found the engines did not easily start, consumed more fuel than pure gasoline (a function of ethanol being far less energy dense than traditional gasoline), ran hotter resulting in gasket and rod bearing failures, and produced exhaust emissions out of compliance with California standards. Other independent laboratory tests demonstrated issues with overall engine performance, including greater occurrences of engine stalling and difficulty maintaining speed.

As boaters know, engine failure on the open water creates enormous — and potentially life-threatening — safety risks. Despite the fact that boats and other non-road engines from lawnmowers to snowmobiles — and even millions of vehicles on the road today, according to the Coordinating Research Council — are not mechanically designed to run on fuel greater than E10, EPA continues to mandate increases in the amount of corn ethanol blended into gasolines.

The result of this government-mandated market distortion is a lack of consumer choice for the correct fuel — such as E0 or pure gasoline — to properly power cars, boats and lawnmowers. And since 95 percent of recreational boats are towable and refueled at regular automotive gas stations, it’s vital to boater safety that consumers — both in the water and on land —have access to ethanol-free options.

Source: Thomas Dammrich, who is the president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a trade association representing boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers.

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