A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would help make consumers aware of the risks associated with E15, or ethanol blended with 15 percent ethanol, addressing one of the industry’s main issues during American Boating Congress last week.
Reps. Austin Scott, R-Ga., and Lois Frankel, D-Fla., introduced the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act of 2018, which requires clearly labeled E15 in pumps in an effort to protect engines in boats, motorcycles, and pre-2001 model year vehicles and outdoor power equipment.
“As we are presented with more choices at the gas pump, it is imperative that American consumers know exactly what kind of fuel they are putting into their engines,” said Scott in a statement. “Gas pumps today are riddled with confusing labels that fail to adequately warn consumers of the dangers of fueling small engine equipment with E15.”
“In Florida, recreational boating is more than just a way of life — it’s an $11 billion industry supporting more than 56,000 jobs,” said Frankel. “This bipartisan bill educates people on their fueling options to keep boats running well, so it’s calm waters all year long.”
The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which focused heavily on E15 education during meetings on Capitol Hill last week, applauded the move.
“American consumers and our country’s 142 million boaters need this bill to pass so they can be protected from the dangers associated with improperly fueling their boat, or other small engines," said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in an NMMA statement.
Currently 63 percent of consumers assume all products sold at gas stations are safe for all their engines, despite the fact that fuel with high levels of ethanol are prohibited in marine engines, and 95 percent of boaters fill up at local gas stations, according to the NMMA.
To address this problem, the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act of 2018 will promote much-needed public education on the proper use of E15, mitigating the risk of misfuelling at the pump for our nation’s boat owners, who collectively own more than 12 million recreational boats, Dammrich said.
“To combat the EPA’s current inadequate E15 labeling, this bill directs the agency to involve consumers, through focus group-testing, in creating labels and pump safeguards that effectively raise awareness of the prohibited uses of E15. A key component of this effort is the implementation of safeguards that reach the consumer at the point of sale. To be successful, these safeguards must provide a seamless experience and instantly alleviate consumers’ risk, such as requiring confirmation of fuel choice on a gas station keypad before dispensing E15.
“Additionally, the legislation requires stakeholder input – something our community has consistently sought – from engine manufacturers who’ve seen the impact of E15 first-hand and can advise on how to effectively communicate misfuelling risks to the boating consumer,” said Dammrich.