NMMA joins effort to stop E15 fuel blends

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association is working with partners outside the marine industry to stop the push for higher ethanol levels in gasoline.

Growth Energy, a group representing U.S. ethanol producers, recently filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency 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.


On Tuesday, NMMA legislative director Matthew Dunn sent a letter to both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety detailing concerns over ethanol blends of more than 10 percent. On Wednesday, Charles Drevna, from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, appeared before the same subcommittee to offer testimony on behalf of his group, as well as the NMMA and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

Both cautioned subcommittee members on the need for comprehensive scientific research on the possible risks that “midlevel ethanol blends” pose to public health, consumer safety, and the environment.

“Ethanol should not be blended into gasoline at levels higher than 10 percent for use in non-flexible-fuel motor vehicles and non-road gasoline-powered engines until comprehensive, independent testing demonstrates that those so-called ‘midlevel ethanol blends’ are safe for consumers and do not harm the environment or public health,” Drevna told subcommittee members.

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 Marine Retailers Association of America, 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.”

The use of ethanol is increasingly under fire. More groups are speaking out against the corn-based oxygenate, and the political mood in Washington is beginning to shift, says the NMMA’s Dunn.

In fact, Maine state senator Linda Marrache in March submitted a bill that would require oil companies to make ethanol-free fuel an option at gas stations in Maine, according to an Associated Press report.

“Given a lot of efforts raising concerns on higher ethanol blends, I think the mood is changing,” Dunn told Soundings Trade Only. “But the ethanol lobby is very well-financed and working very hard to essentially force their way into the market.”

Since Growth Energy filed a petition, EPA must publish a notice in the Federal Register, schedule a public comment period, and draw up a formal proposal to authorize the waiver. Dunn says the NMMA and other groups will mobilize when that proposal becomes public.

In the meantime, he says, ethanol supporters are trying to circumvent the Clean Air Act process and get an administrative action declaring that E15 is the same as E10.

“That’s a slippery slope where it is gradually increased over time,” said Dunn. “We will take firm action to prevent that from happening.”

– Melanie Winters


4 comments on “NMMA joins effort to stop E15 fuel blends

  1. John Kaiser

    I feel a balance could be struk between high test and regular fuel. Since most marine gas engines require high octain, why not take ethanol out of high octain and add more to regular unleaded! My Bertrams fibergalss fuel tank will be spared replacement!
    Big oil will make more profits from the increased marine use/sale of higher priced fuels and the automobile industry/filling stations will have more dilluted fuels to sell and the ethanol farmers will continue to produce and sell their additive! The only looser are the people in MExico that still have to pay so much for corn and corn products!

  2. Disgusted

    Big agriculture got rid of its excess corn stockpiles. Government looked “green” and we’re saving right?
    We got 10% less milage/performance, glogging of fuel systems and higher food prices and sometimes more than just E10.
    It takes a gallon of oil to produce a gallon of E10, but no one is addressing that not only is the yield from corn low, compared to switchgrass (a weed), it also takes 17 gallons of water to produce the 1 gallon of ethanol.
    There is a drought, aquafers are low and people are already fighting over water rights. Farmers vs fisheries vs development.
    Time to call ethanol from corn what it is, a special interest, government approved rip-off. For the special interests, it has paid off handsomely that we the people elected a bunch of dummies who wont research what they are voting on. And much more unintended consequences to follow…

  3. WhalerDan

    Mark my words, ethanol will be responsible for deaths. These could be people who perish at sea because the carbs on their motors, fuel lines, or tanks are ruined by ethanol. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hasn’t happened already. Big corporate farming companies don’t want to use ethanol in their tractors, so why should the rest of us be forced to use it. Diverting corn to produce ethanol has increased fuel prices and has resulted in deaths in other countries due to starvation. Ethanol was supposed to be a way to decrease pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately it has achieved the opposite because it takes more energy to make ethanol than it saves. I truly hope the special interest,big agri-business lobbyists are not able to get away with this.

  4. Dan

    E10 has DESTROYED 1000’s of outboard engines.  Moving to E15 will be a massive disaster for boaters.
    Instead of approving E15, we need to go back to real gasoline without corn and farmers in the midwest can find a real jobs –

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