President Donald Trump’s pledge last week that he would allow the year-round sale of E15 has raised alarms across the boating industry. Trump told farmers in Iowa on Thursday that his administration is “getting very close” to approving a waiver to allow 15 percent ethanol fuel blends, or E15, to be sold all year. Currently, sale of the ethanol blend is restricted to the summer months because of its volatility.
The boating industry is raising the alarm over Trump's promise to let higher-level-ethanol fuels be sold year-round, which the industry believes could place millions of boaters at risk for potential engine failures or expensive repairs.
“President Trump’s pledge to allow the year-round sale of E15 will needlessly put consumers in danger,” Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said in a statement.
According to the Washington Examiner, U.S. farmers want the waiver approval to increase the market for ethanol, as a possible trade war with China could block the export market for many other agricultural products.
Dammrich said the move would put 142 million American boaters at risk. “There’s a reason that previous proposals to expand the sale of E15 have failed — it’s simply bad policy,” he said. “Sixty-five percent of people assume that any gas sold at retail gas stations is safe for all their products, when in fact federal regulation prohibits E15 use in small engines.”
NMMA and off-road-engine manufacturers support a House bill that would require the EPA to revise labeling requirements for ethanol fuel blends that exceed 10 percent. The Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act of 2018 was introduced by Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Austin Scott, R-Ga.
The ethanol industry has launched its own education campaign to make boaters aware of the differences between fuel blends, recommending them not to use E15 or higher ethanol fuels. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, 10 percent ethanol fuel, or E10, is safe for boat engines.
Dammrich said former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt approved the commercial sale of an alternative to ethanol called biobutanol. The renewable fuel is similar to conventional gasoline and poses no problems for marine engines when blended in higher amounts. But it is not being produced in significant quantities for mass distribution.