VIDEO: Ethanol-free gas leads to boating boom in Texas

Boat traffic is up at an east Texas lake and one worker attributes it to the availability and steady prices of ethanol-free gas.
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Boat traffic is up at an east Texas lake and one worker attributes it to the availability and steady prices of ethanol-free gas.

Tyler Caughman has been working at Lake Tyler since January and he says the marina's $4.84 gas price and ethanol-free gas keeps the docks filled. Although gas is more expensive at the lake about 120 miles east of Dallas than at roadside stations, boaters aren't seeing much change in price.

"We try to maintain a competitive edge. We know other lakes and other marinas that do charge up to seven, eight, sometimes 10 dollars a gallon," Caughman told CBS 19.


"The use of ethanol-free gas is going to prolong their engines and stuff like that,” he said.

That’s a plus for customers such as Rachel Magee, who say their money is well spent on ethanol-free gas, otherwise known as E0, despite a price tag of about $100 to fill up.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Petroleum Institute released data to the media in late May showing an increasing demand for E0. As demand for fuel with higher ethanol blends waned, demand for E0 increased from an all-time low of about 2 percent in May 2012 to between 7 and 10 percent in 2014, the data showed.

A couple of weeks after that release, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an increase in ethanol in the overall fuel supply for 2014, 2015 and 2016 — although it lowered the amounts required by the Clean Air Act’s Renewable Fuel Standard — angering both critics and supporters of ethanol.

The proposal prompted groups that include the National Marine Manufacturers Association to voice concern over hitting the so-called blend wall, or the amount of ethanol in fuel that engines such as marine can handle. That is commonly thought of as gasoline with 10 percent ethanol — E10 — but a flat increase in ethanol in the overall supply means that more E15 would be at pumps, said NMMA legal and regulatory affairs director Nicole Vasilaros. That would increase the threat of boaters misfueling or contaminating fuel supplies with trace amounts of E15 from shared hoses.

“As the blend wall creeps up, we’re concerned about the continued availability of E10, which we are required to use, and E0,” which has seen widespread increasing use in the marine industry, Vasilaros said.

The public comment period on the EPA’s proposal lasts until July 27.

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