BoatUS survey shows boaters seek out non-ethanol fuel

A recent informal survey sent to BoatUS members reveals recreational boaters’ frustrations with E10 fuel.
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Many boaters want ethanol-free gas in their boats, but not all of them can find it, a recent BoatUS survey shows.

Many boaters want ethanol-free gas in their boats, but not all of them can find it, a recent BoatUS survey shows.

As boaters head into the Labor Day weekend and fill their boat’s gas tank before wrapping up the season, a majority say they want ethanol-free gas, but only about half of those in a BoatUS survey say it is available at marinas and gas stations they visit.

This means boaters are filling up with gasoline that is 10 percent ethanol, or E10 fuel. Although the federal government says this fuel is safe for boats — and is even looking to require higher use of corn-based ethanol fuel at gas retailers across the country — boaters are wary.

A recent informal survey sent to BoatUS members reveals recreational boaters’ frustrations with E10 fuel.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they want ethanol-free gas for their boat and more than half have had to replace or repair their boat engine or fuel system parts because of suspected ethanol damage. The average price tag for those with damage: $1,000.

“Our members said that they fill up their boat(s) in a combination of ways, with about half of them using a fuel dock, about 40 percent filling up at a gas station and 35 percent using portable gas cans,” BoatUS government affairs senior program manager David Kennedy said in a statement.

"We need to make sure that no matter how they get their gas, boaters have a fuel that works in their marine engine. And if we don’t fix the federal mandate known as the Renewable Fuel Standard that aims to increase the volume of corn ethanol into the nation’s gas supply, there will be higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, in gas pumps, increasing the chances of misfueling with the possibility of more extensive engine damage continuing to rise.”

Signed into law in 2005, the RFS requires that an increasing amount of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, be blended into the gasoline supply. When it was written, the RFS assumed that gasoline use in the United States would continue to grow.

Since 2005, however, gasoline use has declined steadily, and that forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA allowed E15 into the marketplace. Even though E15 is prohibited for use in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers and any vehicle made before 2001, it can now be found in 24 states.

BoatUS encourages boaters and others who have small-engine equipment to ask their congressman to amend the RFS to ensure that the future gasoline supply works for all engines. Click here to take action.

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