Bill would require marine-engine ethanol study

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A bill headed to the U.S. House of Representatives calls for a study of blended fuels in marine applications.

H.R. 2652, the Maritime Safety Act of 2009, is sponsored by Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., and Section 23 of the bill calls for the study. The bill received a favorable report from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which is chaired by Oberstar.

“We think this is a good study, we think its doable and we think that in general there should be more studies, research and  investigation into the impacts of mid-level ethanol and E10,” Matthew Dunn, legislative director for the National Marine Manufacturers Association told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

“We would be interested to see what the Coast Guard could do and what they would find out based on the relatively narrow scope here, which seems to be safety and consumer applications of blended ethanol,” he added. “But we would emphasis with respect to the federal government allowing a new blend, like E15, that additional research would need to be done to make that determination and it would need to be done by the appropriate federal agencies.”

Specifically, the act calls for a survey, not more than 180 days after the enactment of the act, of published data and reports pertaining to the use, safety and performance of blended fuels in marine applications, including in recreational marine engines.

Not later than three years following the enactment of the act, a comprehensive study would be conducted on the use, safety and performance of blended fuels in marine applications.

The study would include the impact of blended fuels on the operation, durability and performance of marine engines; the safety impact of blended fuels on consumers that own and operate marine engines; and fires and explosions on board vessels propelled by engines using blended fuels.

The act appropriates $1 million for the survey and study.

Dunn noted that the study does not specify what kind of ethanol blends would be studied, though the question today is should the government move forward with higher ethanol blends, such as E15.

“E10 has pretty much saturated the market and there’s no going back,” Dunn said.

Boating industry officials are concerned about a request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that seeks to raise the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. The boating industry says it harms marine engines and that no tests on the impact of E15 have been conducted.

The EPA recently announced it was extending the comment period on the issue to July 20. The agency says it is required to make a decision by Dec. 1.

— Beth Rosenberg


5 comments on “Bill would require marine-engine ethanol study

  1. Jerry Nessenson

    ValvTect Petroleum supports the study as proposed by Representative Obestar as requested by NMMA, AMI and others, however it seems the movement to allow 15% blends is very strong and most likely will be enacted regardles of the results of the study.
    ValvTect works closely with marine engine manufacurers who have indicated that all thier new engines and most recent models will be able to operate on E15 with the installation of a simple computer chip. The bigger concern is adapating the 15% ethanol fuel to prevent fuel related problems such corrosion, phase seperation, stability and higher level of carbon deposits that develop in the more humid marine operating conditions and hotter operating conditions.
    We have provided data to engine and boat manufacturers assuring them that ValvTect Ethanol Gasoline Treatment would be formulated to prevent stability, corrosion, destabilization and carbon deposit build up with E15 as it currently does with E10. Since this product is available in aftermarket containers for trailer boaters as well in ValvTect Marine Gasoline, currently available at over 500 Certified ValvTect Marinas, we believe E15 could be used without serious problems by most boaters with engines that can be upgrades with the computer chips.
    Should the E15 waiver be granted by the EPA, we believe it should be “allowed” not “madated” so that conventional (non-ethanol) gasoline, E10 or E15 could be available depending on the market requirments.
    ValvTect Petroleum Products
    Jerry Nessenson President

  2. wadamson

    As owner of a marine repair facility it dawned on me why not nip thr whole problem in the bud by madating a stabillizer be added to all gas products before it ever gets to a distribution point. Down here in subtropicle climate of South Florida it raising havock with not only marine engines but also most of the rest of the small motors around homes. The reports in this article only address newer engines where in fact most of the engines out there are of the older models and are going to be there for quite a while longer especially in the down turned economy. By the nature of marine engines they should be FAIL SAFE and modern COMUPTERS are not. You can’t walk on water therefore the engine must be able get you back when most everything else fails. I have found that a majority of the boaters out there don’t even have a clue of the enthinol problem. If it was front page news some them might catch on to the problem.
    William L. Adamson
    Owner/ Tony’s Marine Inc.
    DBA Tony’s Marine Service

  3. Mat Dunn

    The federal government should not allow E15, and certainly not before conducting any tests on existing marine products. There are myriad anticipated problems associated with higher ethanol blends that would not be remedied solely by a fuel treatments or tech-add ons, including anticipated emissions increases, enleanment, corrosion and performance and driveability issues. Although fuel treatments alleviate problems with E10, I am unaware of any technology that would solve anticipated problems associated with E15 or a higher-level blend.  I am also not aware of any “computer chip” or similar such technology that would be feasible on the millions of legacy marine product in the field. Is every boater going to have to retrofit their engine and boat?  Manufacturers and consumers have a right to have stable federal regulations and design product without the eventuality of the government unwisely changing the rules of the game and allowing an incompatible fuel for sale.  I hope our entire industry continues to aggressively pushback on calls for higher ethanol blends until the science is in.
    Mat Dunn, NMMA

  4. Kiko Villalon

    Whereas there are other countries using up to E-25 fuel,
    Whereas it would be economically a win-win situation if we could reduce paying for foreign oil, and start paying our farmers for domestic fuel.
    Whereas we use-to-be the technology leader of the world, and can go to the moon.
    Therefore, I suggest that the proposed study be named;  ”What must we do to our engine design to make our equipment operable with high blends of other fuels”.
    Rather than starting with a negative approach, let us all pull together to see if this country recovers its leadership. I can’t stand the approach to a problem by starting with…. Study this thing because we know it is not viable and it is full of problems (Negativism in the name of progress is NO-PROGRESS) 

  5. dave boso

        Now the price of “marine fuel” will go sky hi and nobody will buy it or sell it.

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