EPA seeks comments on ethanol increase

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The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comments on a proposal to increase the allowable ethanol content of gasoline to 15 percent, a move opposed by many in the marine industry.

In March, Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers submitted a petition for a waiver to allow ethanol blends of 15 percent, or E15, compared to the E10 currently in use as part of the EPA’s renewable fuels standard.

Both the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of America oppose the petition.

Ethanol in gasoline has been shown to damage marine engines, fuel-handling systems, fuel tanks, and pollution control and safety equipment.

“It’s been pretty well devastating,” Ed Lofgren, president of 3M Marine Service and chairman of the MRAA, previously told Soundings Trade Only.

“The biggest repair costs for my customers have been fuel, and these fuel problems have been exacerbated by ethanol in the last few years,” he said. “If they increase ethanol in fuel, the problem could get worse.”

Ethanol supporters are trying to circumvent the Clean Air Act process and get an administrative action declaring that E15 is the same as E10, according to the NMMA.

“That’s a slippery slope where it is gradually increased over time,” NMMA legislative director Matthew Dunn previously told Soundings Trade Only. “We will take firm action to prevent that from happening.”

Click here to comment on the proposal.



16 comments on “EPA seeks comments on ethanol increase

  1. James Haupt

    I vehemently oppose the use, much less the increase, of ethanol in fuels.  It is nothing more than a money grab by the agricultural concerns.
    Ethanol is an extreme fire hazard, it destroys the very engines and associated systems it runs in, it is a negative carbon output product and is a scab on the environment as land is being destroyed to plant “fuel” crops.  The rising cost associated with farming said crops for “fuel additive” versus “food” should be enough reason alone to eliminate ethanol from being used in any way.
    Scientifically, it lowers the expendable power in gasoline and diesel making them less efficient.  Padding fuel with ethanol makes about as much sense as using water to extend our fuel supply.

  2. Steven R. Moore

    We are buying fuel with no ethanol here at Holly Bluff Marina.  The fuel with ethanol is causing numerous problems with our customers when they buy fuel with the ethanol in it, especially when their boat sits without being ran for at least a month or longer. 

  3. captpalmtree

    That is the most insane proposal I have ever heard, 90% of our customers problems in the last few years have been fuel related do to the 10% ethanol content. The negative effects that ethanol has had on marine motors are fact not fiction. Some motor manufactures will void your motor warranty if a higher then 10% ethanol content is used. What are they thinking?

  4. John Polek

    I have been a marina operator in Maryland for 30 years, President of the Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County for 7 of the last 9 years, past VP of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland.
    In the capacities mentioned above, I have seen the devastating effects of ethanol of the hundreds a gasoline marine engines and related fuel systems. The introduction of ethanol in our gas has created an unnecessary burden on average boaters for unreasonable repairs required on their boats. The increase of ethanol content would be a further disaster to recreational boaters and would drastically injure an industry already struggling from the state of the economy.
    Recreational boating is NOT a rich-person’s activity. The overwhelming majority of our customers are average-income citizens who are desperately trying to keep their boats and continue in their chosen recreation.
    I strongly urge that the ethanol content of marine gasoline be REDUCED and certainly not increased.
    John Polek
    Sunset Harbor Marina, Baltimore, MD

  5. Tom

    E-15 would be a mistake, as ti costs more to produce a gallon of E-15 than coventional gas.  It has been proven that horsepower is reduced due to the ethanol content, so less horsepower moving that same amount of mass.  The corn crops used to make the ethanol are driving the price of staple gods higher.  There is not definate data to show ethanol and the costs associated are worth continuing let alone increasing the ethanol content.
      It must be the NEW math they are doing.

  6. Bill Gardella Jr cmm114

    I have read that it takes 1000 gallons of water and a HEAVY U.S. taxpayer subsidy to make each gallon of ethanol, whose selling price is propped up by import tariffs of 50 cents per gallon. Ethanol costs quite a bit more than gasoline, and is considerably les efficient than gasoline, and there are reports that ethanol INCREASES air pollution.  Ethanol has severely adverse effects on stored fuel quality, even at 10% blend with gasoline. Probably millions of dollars of repair costs attributed to ethanol, and the frustration and ethanol costs among our customers likely drove plenty out of boating.  And now our government want to allow, even require, MORE of this stuff into our customer’s boats?   Would someone please wake me up from this nightmare!!

  7. Kiko Villalon

    I am for allowing the 15% Ethanol and starting research to bring that to 35% in some years. It is ridiculous to know that the Brazilians use 30% Ethanol, have been doing it for years and the USA claims we do not know “that” much, claims that our engineers can not figure this out.  Our technological advance has been stopped? Can you imagine the benefits of cutting foreign oil import by 30%? and pay our own farmers and distilleries to produce Ethanol?  The guy that said that it costs more to produce a gallon of Ethanol that a gallon of oil probably got his degree at Wal-Mart.  What are the economics of keeping the money at home?

  8. Shaun - St.Lawrence Recreation

    This very well  may be a devastating blow to the state of the present Marine Industry coupled w/ the present economy we are trying to survive in. When you cripple a recreational sport/pastime with failures and hi dollar repair bills- that segment of the market goes away,gets forfieted,traded etc etc. The negative trickle down economics of this are more than has been determined. More importantly is the potential safety issues related to possibly having a fuel tank rupture in a vessel while underway, Have these items been considered? Pretty vital in my opinion. In some areas moving to fast is not always a good thing and we learn when its to late…Look at our present state of the economy…need I say more.  

  9. Kiko Villalon

    Let me follow up on my previous comment. Brazil has higher technology in this field than the US. Higher technology in sugar production, higher technology in sugar cane by-products, and consequently that are enjoying savings from foreign oil purchases to the point that based on gasoline only, they are saving 25% of their imports and when you consider the diesel, this comes to 16.2% of their transportation energy is from Ethanol.  Time for the USA to wake up. Look at this table.

    Historical evolution of ethanol blends used in Brazil(1976-2008)









    Source: J.A. Puerto Rica (2007), Table 3.8, pp. 81-82[12]

    The 1979 Brazilian Fiat 147 was the first modern automobile launched to the market capable of running only on hydrous ethanol fuel(E100).


  10. Justin

    Here is a good independent guide to the fuel additive clutter to treat problems associated with ethanol fuel. New additives seem to pop up everyday, but many contain emulsifiers, alcohol, detergent and even anti-freeze! EMULSIFIERS thicken fuel past ASTM specs and will cause other problems!!! Take a second to educate yourself because this problem is not going away anytime soon…

  11. greig

    We should wait until we have more efficient means to produce ethanol than using corn.  It is not cost effective and the ethanol causes so many problems at the same time. When we can efficiently make cellulosic ethanal in large quantities it might be worth putting up with the problems that are caused by ethanol. 

  12. Phin Sprague

    Thank you for considering our negative response to the proposed increase in Ethanol to 15% in the marine engine environment. Please do not ignorantly pass on Politically Correct ideological issues which are life safety concerns to the marine industry.
    Portland Yacht Services is a full service “salt water” boatyard and Marina in Portland, Maine. We have approximately 3,500 individuals and businesses that have done business with us over the past years. We are dealers for most of the gasoline inboard engiine manufacturers as well as Mercury, Evinrude, Suzuki and Yamaha. My personal background is Geology. I worked briefly for Shell and my family has been in the fuel oil distribution business for generations.
    Ethanol is an exceedingly poor choice for a fuel additive in the marine environment, for among other’s the following reasons:
    1.FACT: Ethanol is a strong solvent that attacks gaskets, hoses and fiberglass.
       Background: Boats are often multi generational possessions and do not have the short replacement life cycle of automobiles. It is not unusual to have boats from the 1950’s and before used regularly. The hoses and gaskets and tanks were not designed for the ethanol and in many cases uninspectable. Embitterment of these components and subsequent cracking poses significant safety hazards because unlike a road vehicle the fuel leaks enter the confined bilge spaces and as such become explosive.
    2. FACT: Ethanol is Hydroscopic and absorbs water directly from the atmosphere. Water is miscible in ethanol but leads to the separation of the ethanol from the gasoline. An engine cannot run on the separated mixture. A filter cannot remove the water when it is suspended in the ethanol. Manufacturers will not warrantee engine damage from separated fuel.
    Background: Boats operate in water. It is normal not the exception for the environment to be at 100% humidity. Fuel tanks are normally much larger than found on land Vehicles and are vented directly to the atmosphere and are normally designed at to low PSI tolerances. They can not be retrofitted to be API pressure vessels. With changes in atmospheric pressure these tanks “breath” and the fuel becomes contaminated with moisture. Unlike land vehicles boats may not consume the fuel in the tanks or refuel on a regular basis. The re is a considerable change in the octane and condition of ethanol fuel over a relative short period of time.
    Boats like airplanes operate in environments where engine failure represents a serious life and safety issue to the occupants and it is our experience that the present application of ethanol fuels is sub optimum and to consider a higher percentage in marine applications is in our opinion a complete disregard of contrary facts regarding safety effectiveness and functionality. 

    Frankly I can’t fly and I hate swimming but I can walk so if PC has the votes to win on this matter exclude mareine uses like airplanes and use it in cars if it is economically feasible. 
    Thank you for your consideration,
    Phineas Sprague Jr., President. Portland Yacht Services

  13. Mark Lull

    Something is wrong when we start burning our food as fuel. 
    This may seem to be a simplistic comment but stop and think about it.  It is becoming harder to feed the hungry in this time of global recession and using our food to make ethanol exacerbates the problem.
    Ethanol is not a solution to our dependence on foreign oil.  We really need to be developing alternative energy sources that do not wreak havoc on the earth.  Oil drilling and oil dependence as well as corporate farming practices plunder our resouces and environment without considering the long-term impacts.
    No, ethanol was never a good idea and will never be a good idea.

  14. Steve Crane

    I had to remove the carburetor on my own outboard 4 or 5 times because of Ethanol fuel. The small size holds the white milky substance that might usually pass a larger carburetor. If I had to pay for this it would have been $300.00 or $400.00 for the repair. A small fiberglass fuel tanks that started coming apart and leaked in a sailboat cost a friend over $1,500.00 to replace. Lawn mowers are also a victim. It causes problems just like water in fuel but it still keeps on destroying.

  15. Larry Holcombe

    Did anybody notice that the EPA estimated MPG vehicle stickers went down 10% between 2006 and 2007 when E-10 was introduced in our area?  I can imagine what it is doing to our marine engines.  Ethanol has kept our service departments very busy with fuel related issues!  Now I have engine manufacturers recommending replacing $500 worth of fuel filters every season.  Now that’s a very tough sell in this climate, but if you want your engine to run flawlessly, you will pay the price.  Most manufacturers tell you their engines will NOT run well on E-15.  Let’s stop this from happening in the marine world.  We don’t need anymore hemmoraging at this time.

  16. eastbayfl

    EPA wants this they will get it. They really don’t care about business. If they did the EPA wouldn’t exist. If you take out the GOV subsidies, ethanol add in the cost increases of animal feed and our food stock it would shock most people. Most don’t understand what’s going on. Most people are robots when is comes to “green living”. If it has “green” labeled on it then it must be good right? 

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