|Senators Introduce Mid-Level Ethanol Bill to Protect Boaters, Consumers|
|Wednesday, September 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM|
|Last updated: Thursday, October 01, 2009 4:34:00 PM|
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) on Sept. 14 introduced strong legislation designed to protect consumers, the environment and manufacturers from the introduction of intermediate “mid-level” ethanol blends in gasoline, such as the currently prohibited 15-percent ethanol blend called E15.
|Photo by: yachtphotography.com|
|Science First — S. 1666 is designed to ensure fuel blends are safe and efficient.|
The Clean Air Act now sets the maximum permitted ethanol level in gasoline at 10 percent; however, a consortium of ethanol producers called Growth Energy is petitioning the EPA for a waiver to allow blends of up to 15 percent in all gasoline sold -- including marine fuels.
S.1666, the “Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Act of 2009,” would require that new fuels introduced into the marketplace be compatible with the inventory of on-road and non-road gasoline engines -- including boat engines -- currently in use nationwide.
Taking a “science-first” approach, S. 1666 is designed to protect consumers with marine engines, outdoor power equipment and other non-road engines, as well as automobiles. The bill would require that EPA’s Science Advisory Board study the compatibility of mid-level ethanol fuel blends with current engines before a waiver can be granted. The study would also include a comprehensive analysis of available independent scientific evidence on the compatibility of mid-level ethanol fuels with the emission requirements of the CAA and the operability of engines, among other things.
“During these difficult economic times, equipment damage due to ethanol-gasoline fuel blends only adds to the many challenges facing our nation’s farmers, fishermen, independent woodsmen and recreational industry,” Sen. Collins said. “As we pursue strategies to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, we must also take action to ensure that ethanol fuel blends are safe and efficient for small engines.”
“Ethanol simply burns differently than gasoline,” explained Sen. Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I fully support the development of biofuels to help cure the U.S. of its dependence on foreign oil -- but we need to make such a transition in a way that helps, not hurts, commercial and recreational equipment, as well as the environment.
“We need to let good science guide us in making sure that we are getting the clean air benefits and engine performance that boaters, lawn care companies and others who rely on smaller engines deserve,” he added.
NMMA President Thom Dammrich applauded the senators for their introduction of a common-sense bill that addresses the issue of ethanol-blend fuels, and the numerous complaints of boaters who have already sustained major damage to their fuel tanks, fuel system components and engines through the use of existing ethanol fuel blends.
“This legislation validates a science-first approach to ethanol policy and shines the spotlight on the myriad issues associated with hasty attempts by ethanol advocates to introduce mid-level ethanol blends into the marketplace,” Dammrich said.
NMMA has raised serious concerns about the potential impacts of mid-level ethanol blends on recreational marine engines and boats, including increased air emissions, performance and durability issues, as well as warranty concerns. No recreational marine engines, fuel systems or boats are currently designed, calibrated, certified or warranted to run on any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol.
S. 1666 is supported by a wide and diverse coalition of organizations, including environmental groups, engine manufacturers, food groups, consumer groups and refiners.
This article first appeared in the September 2009 issue of The Log Newspaper. All or parts of the information contained in this article might be outdated.