Boating industry testifies at EPA hearing on year-round E15 sales

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NMMA’s Nicole Vasilaros speaks on Capitol Hill.

NMMA’s Nicole Vasilaros speaks on Capitol Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on its proposed rule to lift the restriction on summertime sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, or E15.

Tim Reid, vice president of product development and engineering at Mercury Marine and David Slikkers, director of government relations at Tiara Yachts, testified along with National Marine Manufacturers Association senior vice president of government relations and legal affairs, Nicole Vasilaros, according to the NMMA.

Jim Stewart of the Michigan Boating Industries Association and Jim Coburn of the National Marine Lenders Association and MBIA also testified.

Coburn’s testimony asked the EPA to “take into consideration the significant financial and safety implications for millions of consumers as a result of the proposed rule.”

“When you pull into any gas station here in Michigan, you are very likely not to see an ‘Unleaded 88’ label,” said Coburn. “Most consumers we talk to have no idea what Unleaded 88 even means.”

A recent Harris Poll commissioned by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute shows that more than 3 in 5 Americans mistakenly assume any gas sold at a gas station is safe for their gas-powered products, according to testimony from Vasilaros.

Additionally, many gas stations have E15 labels smaller than a pack of gum. Boat owning Americans who have small, towable boats that they fill up at their local gas stations remain at increased risk of mis-fueling.

“The EPA should consider more education of the public, better identification of fuel that is E-15 at the pump, and specific safety measures to assure that no errors occur with consumers,” said Stewart during his testimony. “This education should be done prior to the approval of year-round sale of E-15.”