Marine industry rails against year-round E15

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President Trump vowed last week that he would make E15 available year-round, a move the boating industry has lobbied against for years.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which issued an alert via its grassroots Boating United effort earlier this month, said the administration was “trying to fix bad policy with more bad policy.”

“This shift in policy is simply a political decision meant to appease American farmers who, like American marine manufacturers, will be severely harmed by the administration’s recent trade actions,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in a statement issued today. “Rather than negotiating smart policy that benefits all stakeholders, the administration is trying to fix bad policy with more bad policy.

President Trump signaled support Thursday for changing a biofuels policy that currently limits the percentage of ethanol used in summer months, according to The Hill.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump promised that the administration would allow E15 fuel — a gasoline mixture that's 15 percent ethanol — to be sold year-round.

“President Trump’s promise to expand E15 sales into the summer months will needlessly put 141 million American boaters in danger,” Dammrich said. “Unfortunately, far too few boating enthusiasts are aware that boat engines cannot process higher blends of ethanol safely. In fact, 63 percent of consumers assume any gas sold at a retail gas station must be safe for their product.

The change could threaten the 650,000 American jobs and the $36 billion contribution to the economy each year, Dammrich said.

The NMMA is calling on the administration to implement additional policies that recognize the harmful effects of E15 and high-ethanol fuel blends have on marine products.

“We are calling on the EPA to revise the labeling requirements for ethanol fuel blends exceeding 15 percent, implement a consumer education campaign to raise awareness, and approve the registration of isobutanol as a gasoline additive in order to expand access to innovative, renewable fuels that do not pose a threat to consumer safety,” Dammrich said. “Without these additional steps, the millions of hardworking men and women who enjoy recreational boating will be at risk, something we must avoid at all costs.”

The boating industry has opposed gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol because studies have shown it causes damage to marine engines, as well as other small engines such as lawnmowers.

Boating retailers that responded to a survey last month indicated E15 was among their top concerns facing the marine industry.

A coalition of industries affected by E15 issued a statement in late February asking the Trump administration to participate in the negotiation process over RFS reform; to date, negotiations have included the corn and oil industries, but excluded others.

NMMA, as part of the National Taxpayers Union, says the discussions should be more inclusive. The coalition, which opposes the RFS in its current form, includes a variety of stakeholders, from the Sierra Club to those representing the marine industry and chain restaurants.

“It’s one of those things that’s behind closed doors and unfortunately, we haven’t been part of the process as have others interested parties,” legal and federal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros told Trade Only Today after the Boating United alert was issued.

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