EPA seeks public comment on alternative fuel

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The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on approving isobutanol — another term for biobutanol — for highway use.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is urging the recreational marine industry to say yes to making the biofuel available to the public via a Boating United alert.

The marine industry has done significant testing on isobutanol and has determined it to be a solution for marine engines, versus fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol, which has been shown to harm marine and other small engines.

“This is something the marine industry has been pushing for years,” NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros told Trade Only Today.

Approval for highway use would start the process of integrating that biofuel into the fuel supply.

Adding isobutanol into the fuel supply would also mean the nation could comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard, which was updated in 2007, to mandate an increasing use of biofuels in the overall supply, without continuing to increase the percentage of ethanol.

The RFS was written to increase the amount of biofuel over time with the assumption that fuel consumption would continue to rise.

Since the RFS was written in 2007, however, there has been an unforeseen decline in fuel consumption.

Legislative attempts to change the language and keep the amount of biofuel blended into the supply as a percentage rather than a flat increase, for example, have been unsuccessful.

That has meant the amount of ethanol going into the nation’s fuel supply has had to increase, despite many industries saying it harms their engines and products, since it has been the only biofuel approved for highway use.

“This is a big step in getting biobutanol to market and having it widely distributed,” Vasilaros says.

The public comment period is open until April 30.