Ethanol bill introduced in Senate

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Legislation designed to protect boaters and manufacturers from the problems associated with mid-level ethanol blends in gasoline was introduced Monday in the U.S. Senate.

The Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Act of 2009, S. 1666, was introduced by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Mary Landrieu, D-La.

The Clean Air Act prohibits the sale of mid-level ethanol blends, but the ethanol industry is seeking a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to sell E15 as a general purpose fuel. The new bill requires that the EPA’s Science Advisory Board study the compatibility of such fuels with current engines before a waiver can be granted.

The study would also include a comprehensive analysis of available independent scientific evidence on the compatibility of mid-level ethanol fuels with the emission requirements of the Clean Air Act and the operability of engines, among other things.

“NMMA applauds and thanks Senators Collins, Cardin, Whitehouse and Landrieu for introducing this important, common-sense bill,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich, in a statement. “This legislation validates a science-first approach to ethanol policy and shines the spotlight on the myriad of issues associated with hasty attempts by ethanol advocates to introduce mid-level ethanol blends into the marketplace.”

To read the bill, click here.

Click here for the full NMMA release.


10 comments on “Ethanol bill introduced in Senate

  1. David Foley

    As a marine surveyor, I can attest to the fact that use of E10 in boating is causing many problems.  The problems manifest themselves in older boats and there is no recourse for the owner.  I encourage all of my customers to use non-ethanol fuels. 

  2. Jetty

    The proposal before the EPA is to “allow” up to a 15% blend not require it. I want to use a 15% blend in my car and there is no environmental consequences so why shouldn’t I be able to choose that. Use pure gasoline in your boat. I don’t care. I would use 30% (I have on many occasions) if it were readily available. Support U.S. business not Middle East business.

  3. kd3pc

    how can one say there is no “environmental consequence” to using ethanol?  Have you tried to buy corn products lately, have you researched the Real cost of producing ethanol and the coming cost of building and installing a distribution system that would parallel the exisiting petroleum one?  How are they to build or transport without an enevironment al impact?
    Unless your car was built in the last few years as a flex fuel using engine, you are going to suffer lesser gas mileage, system corrosion and numerous other known (and some as yet unknown, since this is “new” i.e. long term problems are still a few years away) problems.
    Sure you can have a choice, but do not force ethanol on customers.  It has destroyed a fuel tank in my boat, one in my motorcycle and if you want to see for yourself, buy a cheap plastic one-two gallon gas can, partially fill with ethanol and wait a year…it will be sticky and separated in the can…

  4. boatdawg

    Jetty, I’m all about U.S. businesses in that I work the (very quickly shrinking) manufacturing sector. I would if I could (use ‘pure’ gaoline in my boat), but it is no longer available in my area, even at marinas. So I don’t have a choice. Hopefully, this legislation will give that back to me. It’s only a minor (but perhaps not inexpensive) inconvenience if high ethanol contectin gasoline causes a problem in my car. But it might be a life threatening problem it causes in my boat 20 miles or more offshore.

  5. Dan Whitton

    I am a certified marine outboard technician and can testify to the problems with ethanol, as I installed a new motor (4 stroke efi) on a boat and we had only run it on out test tank, the customer had to be towed back after filling up a new tank of gas at the local gas pump. we didn’t know what was wrong a new motor just did not run? after checking it out a little gas was needed to cut the lawn at our shop so he extracted it from the gas tank and it ran for 2 seconds and cut of would not re start.
    then we drained the fuel from the new outbord and put in fresh fuel and it started up ran fine. testing the fuel he purchased ended up 33% ethanol. let the gas sit up and the separation will be obvious.

  6. Half Tide Rock

    We all know ethanol is a cruel joke. We can present the evidence until we are blue in the face. We assume that the motivation of the politicians is to do “good” and we are angry and perplexed when the logic falls on deaf ears. If they hurt us and our customers then they hurt the country…. why would they do this? 
    We are so hopeful….
    “And here one must not that hatred is acquired just as much by means of good actions as by bad ones; and so, as I said above, if a prince wishes to maintain the state, he is often obliged not to be good; because whenever that group which you believe you need to support you is corrupted, whether it be the common people, the soldiers, or the nobles, it is to your advantage to follow their inclinations in order to satisfy them; and then good actions are your enemy.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

  7. Cole

    One thing to note that I am sure most boaters know is that boats get wet from time to time…..believe it or not.  Marine engines more often than not have little if any specialized fuel needs that are different from automobile engines, save for a higher octane blend in high performance motors (ethanol has a an octane of 110).  The problem with ethanol in boats, which is the same problem experienced by pipeline companies is……. water.  Yes it is H2O that causes the problems with ethanol blends in marine use.  When ethanol mixes with water it become corrosive which is why pipeline companies don’t allow it to be shipped in their lines. 
    To respond to the ”certified” person who found their gas to contain 33% ethanol, you are mistaken or someone sold an illegal blend of fuel (of coarse I am sure it was the latter).  10% by volume is the maximum amount of ethanol allowed to be blended with gasoline (save for E85 for flex-fuel use only).  The 15% request is for an allowance not a mandate. 
    Ethanol and Biofuels in a matter of 5 years have cut refiners market share by 10%, and destroyed refining margins.  Petroleum companies have every reason to smear ethanol, which they have done successfully.  As for the corn price comment; its not you fault! Who would want to care enough to try and understand the impact of index funds controlling higher proprtions of open interest on the Chicago Board of Trade or the shift to using commodities as a spec play or inflation hedge. But that is also irrevelant;  the price of commodity inputs acount for 5-10% of the total food product costs.  Corn is $3.26 a bushel as of today, it was $2.20 per bushel in Sept. 2001 which is a 53% increase.  That would mean  a 5.3% (10% x 53%)increase in the cost of your corn bread at the store.  Corn usage for ethanol has increased from 18 million bushels per year in 2001 to 4 billion bushels today which is a 21,900% increase. 
    Call your congressman and ask why local jobbers and wholesalers cannot buy unblended gasoline from their suppliers (refiners). That will be your best solution instead of debating the chemical properties of ethanol or food prices. 
     Thats alot….but it could be alot more.  Like almost everything, the facts on most issues are deeper and more complex than journalists and newspapers have the time or ability to report.

  8. SacramentoE85

    Yes, this is for an allowance.  Marinas can and would still stock up with 100% gasoline (why wouldn’t they when they CAN and their customers request it?).  Corn was about $8.00 on the CBOT last year when oil was $147 per barrel.  Oil went down to now around $70, and corn is near $3.00.  Corn was $3.00 in 1974.  35 years later it’s the same price.  Does THAT seem justifiable, when inflation is factored in?  I think not.  Fighting to decrease the money supply in America’s rural economy is a shameful act.  Corn should be well above $5.00 per bushel.
    It is high energy prices that drives up food prices.  As well as food companies taking advantage of volatility to blame others while they greatly increase their profit margins (see the financial returns of many of the food companies in early 2009).
    In areas where it makes sense, an allowance of 15% ethanol E15 would work well to decrease dependence on imported foreign petroleum, and keep dollars in the rural communities as well as boost American jobs.

  9. Brandon

    Even as an enthusiastic ethanol supporter, I don’t need another government study to tell us what we already know – that mid-grade ethanol blends and even E10 blends can cause difficulty in some applications.  Given that fact, what are you going to do?  Just because a blend can’t be used in ALL situations doesn’t mean it should be PROHIBITED in all situations.  I support boat owners in not wanting to be required to use ethanol blends.  I wouldn’t put it in my boat while I happily use E30 in my vehicles.  The American public is smart enough figure out when they want to use a certain blend. 

     I view this legislation merely as an anti-ethanol stalling tactic which mis-represents the nature of  Growth Energy’s waiver request.  Boat owners should have the choice of using unleaded gas, just as I should have the choice to use E30 (even though I am presently required to use at least 90% gasoline).  The ethanol community supports freedom of choice and supports flex or blender pumps that provide that choice.  To protect boat owners, the correct legislative approach would be to require all stations to sell unleaded – even in areas needing reformulated gasoline.  Some stations could be exempt due to practical limitations, but an unleaded pump could be placed at marinas or in an area inaccessible to vehicles where it can only be pumped into human portable containers.

    While there is a place for government mandates, they often morph into something unreasonable that interferes with consumer choice and the free market to our collective detriment.  It may be appropriate for government to mandate the EPA to regulate the emissions from our vehicles whether they come from the tailpipe, the fuel tank, the AC system, etc.   This mandate, however, has now morphed into mainly regulating what we put into our fuel tanks.  I don’t believe this was the original intention of the law at all.  In the long run the government’s schizophrenic and restrictive policies toward ethanol will put us at an economic disadvantage with the developing economic powerhouses of Brazil, India, China and others which are embracing ethanol as an efficient and economical fuel that can be very environmentally friendly.

  10. Aureon Kwolek

    EPA Way Off on Biofuel Carbon Score
    The EPA plans to regulate the green house gas emissions of producing and using biofuels – by comparing them against producing and using petroleum based fuels.
    Using a bogus land use theory, outdated information, underestimating and overestimating, inconsistent methods, and omissions – the EPA has done its best to make biofuels look much worse than they actually are, and to make petroleum based fuels look far better than they actually are.
    Until now, we have overlooked the biggest EPA Omission. For the burning of biofuel vs petroleum fuel, the EPA only measures the quantities of the final emissions. In the end use, EPA ignores where the carbon-CO2 came from.
    We all know that a gallon of biofuel displaces what would have been another gallon of petroleum fuel. In other words, biofuel made from “Recycled CO2” displaces “Newly Mined” crude oil, which would have added New Carbon to the atmosphere.
    Aside from energy inputs, burning a gallon of biofuel does not release any new CO2 into the air. It releases recycled CO2, which Does Not add any new carbon to the atmosphere.
    In contrast, burning a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel releases “NEWLY MINED” Carbon brought up from deep underground. Burning petroleum fuels causes New Carbon, in the form of additional CO2, to accumulate in the atmosphere.
    If the EPA was correctly comparing the end use of biofuels vs petroleum fuels, this must have a huge impact on their carbon scores. But instead, the EPA makes no distinction between the release of “Recycled CO2” vs “Newly Mined CO2” brought up from deep underground.
    When you burn petroleum based fuels, and when you burn biofuels, such as ethanol, you Do Not get the same carbon result. One adds more and more New CO2 to the atmosphere, and the other recycles CO2 that was already there.

    The EPA has totally omitted this from their end-use comparative analysis.

    Straight gasoline should be available for boaters and small engine owners, but that should be phased out. This should be a bill to make all future boats and small engines compatible with ethanol. This should not stop us from getting more domestic biofuel into our cars and trucks. That’s more important. In Brazil, ordinary cars and trucks are all running on E-24, yet somehow we can’t do that here with the same types of engines.

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