EPA Waives More Ethanol Restrictions – Boaters Beware

In response to a request by Growth Energy under section 211(f)(4) of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has partially expanded their earlier waiver to allow fuel and fuel additive manufacturers to introduce into commerce gasoline that contains greater than 10 volume percent ethanol and up to 15 volume percent ethanol (E15) for use in model year 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, subject to several conditions.

As we reported back in October, the EPA waived the ban on selling greater than 10 percent ethanol fuel for vehicles 2007 or newer. Now according to the EPA, it’s safe for 2001 vehicles or newer. These decisions were based on test results provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other information regarding the potential effect of E15 on vehicle emissions.

Taken together, the two actions allow, but do not require, E15 to be introduced into commerce for use in 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles if conditions for mitigating misfueling and ensuring fuel quality are met. EPA is in the process of completing work on regulations that would provide a more practical means of meeting the conditions.

On their website they list offroad vehicles like snowmobiles and boats as vehicles that MAY NOT use E15 fuels. The problem is finding non-ethanol fuel is already difficult at best due to lack of signage at stations.

The EPA has said that they will not allow anyone to sell E15 fuels until there is a ruling on the required signage for E15 equipped pumps at fueling stations.

It is well documented the engine problems, repairs and warranty voiding that E10 has caused boat owners and now the problem may be compounded with the E15 Waiver expanding yesterday. The problems that boat owners have had is that it is not lawful to sell E15 ethanol to those types of vehicles, yet many if not most marinas are already selling ethanol fules knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. Gas stations lack adequate notification of which pumps have ethanol fuel and which don’t. Hopefully they do a lot to at least let us know we’re putting ethanol in our boats before we do it.

We would like to see signage on the gas price signs so we can avoid those retailers all together, rather than pulling into a station only to find out all the pumps have ethanol.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association continues to fight an uphill battle on the regulating and testing and signage of ethanol based fuels. You can read more about their efforts at nmma.org.

To read the EPA’s information page on E15 fuel, click here.

With fuel prices possibly projected to top $4 a gallon this summer in some parts of the country, it has many anglers and boaters scratching their heads as to why we’re using ethanol at all. It didn’t lower prices significantly, it didn’t provide fuel mileage gains, it’s caused the price of other goods to go up as well, it damages small engines, fuel lines and more and voids warranties.

We encourage folks to voice their opinions to their local congressmen and women and support groups like the NMMA that continue to keep boaters interests at the forefront.