Recreational marine groups are urging boaters to speak up on ethanol-blended gasoline before July 20, the deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency's comment period on E15 gasoline.
In March, Growth Energy, a pro-ethanol lobbying organization, and 54 ethanol producers petitioned the EPA to allow an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. BoatU.S. and the National Marine Manufacturers Association want the EPA to deny the petition until more testing is done on marine engines and fuel systems.
The boating groups say boat engines are not designed, calibrated or certified for use with gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Recreational boat warranty documents and manufacturer owner manuals advise boaters not to use gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol, and therefore, the use of E15 in marine engines could void engine warranties and damage motors and fuel systems.
"This is not about growing renewable energy," said Margaret Podlich, BoatU.S. vice president of government affairs, in a statement. "This is really about a group of investors attempting to profit at the expense of 13 million recreational boat owners.
"We had significant problems with the nationwide rollout of E10 a few years ago, and without further independent testing of E15 with marine engines we are very likely to see similar issues," Podlich adds.
Problems include ethanol's ability to attract water into gasoline or "phase separate," which has led to boat engine failures and major repair or replacement costs for boaters. It also degrades fiberglass boat gas-tank walls.
"Science - not politics - should ultimately determine EPA's decision on whether to allow the sale of any increased ethanol blend that's more than 10 percent," NMMA legislative director Mathew Dunn said in a statement. "At present, it is clear there is insufficient scientific and technical data to justify granting the increase, and EPA should therefore deny it outright."