For the last two years, the National Marine Manufacturers Association has been fighting a well-funded effort by corn-based alcohol fuel producers who have been trying to force a new 15-percent ethanol fuel blend onto the marketplace and into gas pumps across the U.S. For corn producers, the motivation is clear: increased demand and higher prices for their crop.
Unfortunately, boats, motorcycles and off-road vehicles cannot run on the new E15 fuel blend without experiencing serious damage to engine and fuel system components. And neither can 95 percent of the cars on the road today.
Despite the protests of car and boat builders, the EPA went ahead and approved the sale of E15 fuel — and a court rejected an appeal by the National Marine Manufacturers Association to prevent E15 from going to market. The rationale was, if an E15 label was affixed to each gas pump dispensing the new fuel, consumers would be adequately informed and wouldn’t accidentally wreck their engines — even if E15 was the only fuel provided at a given station.
Just when it seemed as if no one was listening to any of the input from thousands of boat owners, motorcycle enthusiasts, gasoline-powered tool users and scores of others who depend on gasoline with either no- or low-ethanol content, the American Automobile Association (AAA) weighed in on the issue.
This month, AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet released a statement decrying the current situation, saying “The sale and use of E15 should be suspended until additional gas pump labeling and consumer education efforts are implemented to mitigate problems for motorists and their vehicles.”
A new AAA survey discovered that a whopping 95 percent of all consumers contacted had not even heard of E15. “With little consumer knowledge and less than 5 percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected,” Darbelnet said.
Hopefully, AAA’s strong statement on this issue will resonate with the nation’s lawmakers. And, perhaps, they will finally act to prevent potentially catastrophic misfueling from occurring at hundreds of fuel docks and gas stations across the U.S.