Just when it seemed no one was prepared to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from authorizing widespread sale of potentially engine-killing new 15-percent ethanol blended fuel at gas pumps and fuel docks nationwide, two U.S. senators announced that help was on the way.
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana have introduced legislation to block an increase in the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline. If it becomes law, the bill, introduced Feb. 14, would overturn EPA waivers that allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol — better known as E15.
E15 fuel has been found to cause engine damage and fuel system component failure in boats — and in motorcycles, off-road vehicles, RVs, lawn-care equipment and cars built before 2001. Several automobile manufacturers — including Toyota — have warned that use of E15 even in its new vehicles is not recommended, and would void all warranties.
In addition to the risk of engine damage, the use of E15 has been cited as negatively affecting overall fuel efficiency. And ethanol production is a major contributing factor in higher corn prices and rising food costs for American consumers.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association has long been opposed to the introduction of E15 into the marketplace — and it has long complained that adequate testing was not done before EPA authorized the sale of E15.
Now, perhaps with the introduction of the Wicker-Vitter bill, Washington will finally begin to listen to the concerns of boaters, the marine industry, automakers and countless others who have been trying to bring reason into the discussion of the negative impacts of the nation’s current Renewable Fuel Standard.