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No Super Bowl is good, but no E15 would be better

Concerns that the Super Bowl would be called for “clipping” the marine industry’s iconic winter boat shows in Miami were benched on Tuesday when the NFL team owners voted to go to a new stadium in San Francisco in 2016 and Houston in 2017.

According to NMMA president Thom Dammrich, concern for the Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail centered on the possibility that the NFL would add two more games to the season schedule by 2016. Miami was pitching hard for Super Bowl L in 2016 and the NMMA did not oppose Miami’s bid because it was considered unlikely that the NFL schedule would see such a two-game expansion.

However, if that actually happened, the problems for the Miami show, as well as the nearby Yacht & Brokerage Show, would be immense. Certainly the capability of the area to successfully house and host these two existing events while adding a Super Bowl would raise serious problems. And, in doing so, Miami would be clearly ignoring the undeniable fact that these boat shows deliver their enormous audience and economic impact not just once, but every year.

Miami has hosted 10 Super Bowls, the last in 2010. Whatever the reason Miami was not picked — some believe it’s because the Florida legislature did not pass a bill to renovate Sun Life Stadium — it’s now at least four years before the question could surface again and then only if games were added to the regular-season schedule. Still, it’s thumbs up that this potential dilemma is off the table.

E-15 thumbs down

It’s like a bad rash you can’t get rid of. The Renewable Fuels Association and the Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition are cheering the first location in Wisconsin to start pumping E15.

The SmartStation in Platteville is owned by Badger State Ethanol LLC and has begun offering E15 to the public from eight pumps. Badger State Ethanol currently produces more than 57 million gallons of ethanol annually and, according to its website, advocates the “optimal blend level” of ethanol and gas lies somewhere between E20 and E30. “Here at Badger State Ethanol, we believe it to be E25,” they say.

According to RFA president Bob Dinneen, “[Wisconsin drivers] have the opportunity to choose a new renewable fuel mix that provides cost savings as well as engine and environmental benefits.” Conveniently he ignores the opportunity for misfueling that will destroy thousands of marine and other small engines.

“The additional use of ethanol,” Dinneen added, “will in fact increase our energy security and further reduce our dependence upon foreign oil. Three cheers for Badger State and the Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition for their hard work.”

Although EPA pandered to the ethanol producers by approving E15 and, in doing so, violated the Clean Air Act, few gas stations have actually begun selling it because of the widespread controversy surrounding the EPA decision.

In addition to ongoing legal challenges by the engine products manufacturers, bills have been introduced in Congress, for example, by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and David Vitter (R-La.) to overturn the EPA waiver that allows E15 to be sold. The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Environment has also held hearings to determine if the EPA waiver should be suspended. However, that committee has failed, thus far, to move forward.

The subject of E15 was at the top of the agenda during the recent American Boating Congress in Washington. Hundreds of industry members went up to Capitol Hill to push for legislative action. But, like anything else in Congress these days, talk comes fast, action doesn’t.

The time for all those who will be adversely affected by E15 to push hard is now. As more gas stations opt to start selling E15, increased pressure will be exerted to look the other way on the EPA’s decision to allow E15. Kansas-based gas station chain Zarco 66 became the first to offer E15 last year.

Moreover, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the ethanol producers have clearly indicated their sights are on E20 or E25 or E30 or more. We’ve got to get rid of the rash now.



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