The fight over high-ethanol fuel is heading up, with the boating industry warning that President Trump’s plans to let E15 be sold year-round could damage the engines of millions of boat owners. “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 last week.
The immediate problem started the previous day when President Trump told Iowa farmers that his Administration is “getting very close” to approving a waiver to allow E15, a fuel blend including 15 percent ethanol, to be sold year round. Currently, E15 sales are restricted because of its volatility; sales after June 1 require a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Farmers want the waiver to increase their market for ethanol. The Administration’s trade wars with China could block a major export market for many of their farm products.
But Dammrich said the year-round sale of E15 puts 142 million boat owners at risk. “There’s a reason that previous proposals to expand the sale of E15 have failed,” he said. “It’s simply bad policy.”
E15 can damage engines not designed to take the such a high percentage of ethanol. The ethanol industry has launched its own campaign to make boaters aware of the difference in fuel blends. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, E10, or fuel with 10 percent ethanol, is safe for boat engines.
“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 in small engines,” Dammrich said. “These engines – like those in boats, lawn mowers and motorcycles – suffer immediate damage when fueled with blends exceeding 10 percent ethanol, thus voiding their warranty and saddling consumers with high repair and replacement costs.” Read more: