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I suspect ethanol caused boating mishap

Why do I keep coming back to the subject of ethanol? Because it’s that important to us and our customers! And, I really don’t like what I’m seeing lately.

What got me going today is an explosion and fire aboard a 33 Sea Ray in Tampa Bay last Saturday. The boat was anchored, generator running, some kids below watching cartoons, adults on deck enjoying what boating is all about. Amazingly, no one was killed but, sadly, six remain hospitalized.

Now, for the record, there’s been no official cause established, yet. I am purely speculating here, but my mind is running straight to ethanol. (E10 is prevalent on Tampa’s waterfront.) The boat was 10 years old. I don’t know if ethanol was involved but there’s no denying it could have affected fuel lines or fittings or internal generator parts and so on? Whether ethanol played a role in this or not, we all agree that E10 is a potential problem for our older boats and engines. And now the push is on for higher E15.

As you know, the price of crude oil and gas at the pumps is rising. It’s due to increasing demand, say some experts. Others say it’s because of the falling dollar. But what’s really bothering me is that these price increases are playing right into the hands of the ethanol producers who are pursuing a waiver from EPA to go from E10 to E15. (See Dealer Outlook from April 28, 2009 for details.)

Growth Energy, a slick name for the lobbying group representing 54 ethanol manufacturers, is telling the EPA that E15 will “increase energy security.” Boy, there’s some real bull! The only thing it will increase is the producer’s revenues which, they admit, have tanked from reduced demand lately. However, here’s my concern: Every time oil and gas prices rise, the cry for more “energy independence” also rises. So, the rising gas prices we’re seeing now will likely add pressure on EPA to grant Growth Energy’s E15 request. In fact, the EPA reportedly says one possibility is that it could approve the use of E15 in some engines but not for others. Good grief, there’s a budding government-made nightmare!

No matter how we look at this, E15 is not an option for boating. Many of you have previously commented on this. Jeff E. Sleight put it well when he wrote: “If I had a dollar for every one of my mechanic accounts of who has complained of gelling issues, I’d be retired from my 32 years in the marine industry.” Amen, Jeff.

WE CAN STOP E15, but only if you, your employees and your customers take action. Simply instruct everyone to go to an excellent Take-Action website developed by NMMA at: http://capwiz.com/nmma/home/. There you just click on the “Take-Action” button and you will find it easy to email EPA telling them to deny the E15 petition. The deadline for making comments is fast approaching so, come on, do it today.

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