Boating organizations disagree with White House memo, which requests EPA to make 15-percent ethanol fuel available for 12 months.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol will now be available year-round, thanks to a memo Pres. Donald J. Trump reportedly sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The controversial fuel blend, which is known as E15, has only been available for eight months per year prior to Trump’s mandate.
Trump, when speaking with reporters on the White House Lawn before his Oct. 9 trip to Iowa, stated the move was made to help bring down fuel prices.
“Well, I want more industry. I want more energy. I want more, because I don’t like $74,” Trump said while speaking to reporters on the White House’s South Lawn. “It’s up to $74. And if I have to do more, whether it’s through ethanol or through another means, that’s what I want. I want low prices. So I’m okay with it.”
The president added the use of ethanol-based fuel by cars racing in the Indy 500 indicates the corn-based additive would translate well into the everyday gasoline market.
“You know, it’s an amazing substance. You look at the Indy cars – they run 100 percent on ethanol. And you look at other certain forms of very modern energy, it’s ethanol-based, and that meant a lot to me,” Trump said.
Increasing the supply of ethanol into our national fuel supply would be a boost to the Midwest’s farming lobby, Trump continued.
“But what it really means is we’re helping our farmers and we’re also going to be helping our refiners, and you know that too – because they’re both very important. But the farmers have been so terrific, and they produce great product,” Trump said.
Extending the E15 fuel supply from eight to 12 months, Trump said, would be harmless.
“It has no impact –12 months,” Trump said. “That was a misnomer. There is no negative impact. In fact, there are those that say, you do this and the air is cleaner. I agree with that.”
The policy shift recommendation certainly serves as a morale boost to rural farming communities in states such as Iowa, where Trump flew to after making his E15 comments on Oct. 9. Many in the boating industry, however, would have a hard time agreeing with Trump, both on his policy shift and contention on the effects of E15.
Using E15 to fuel up a recreational boat would be cause to void its warranty. There is also the issue of misfueling. Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, stated 65 percent of consumers believe the fuels they pump into their respective engines are safe.
“[Nearly two our of three] people assume that any gas sold at the pump is safe for all their products, not realizing federal regulation prohibits the use of E15 in small engines – like those in boats, lawn mowers, and motorcycles,” Dammrich said in a released statement. “Lifting the restriction on E15 sales during the summer months will make misfueling even more likely.”
BoatUS was also vocal in its opposition to Trump’s decision to make E15 available year-round.
“E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines, voids many marine engine warranties, and is currently banned for sale in many states by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during summer months over concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days,” BoatUS spokesperson Scott Croft said in a released statement. “Under the administration’s new proposal, however, the … EPA would grant a waiver to the Clean Air Act to permit the sale of E15 in all 50 states year-round at the same roadside gas stations where most recreational boaters refuel their trailered vessels.”
Dammrich added Trump’s “no negative impact” policy shift would actually put 142 million boaters across the country at risk.
“As you know, small engines – like those in boats, lawn mowers, and motorcycles – can only use fuel with 10 percent ethanol or lower. Anything higher, like E15, destroys these engines,” Dammrich said in a Take Action message to NMMA members.
E15 fuel blends were not allowed for sale between June 1 and Sept. 15, due to a scientifically proven correlation between gasoline with 15 percent ethanol and increased smog levels.
The president’s memo, to be sure, is not a final action. EPA staff will not put together a ruling, which could take some time to deliberate. It is unclear how long it would take to implement a year-round E15 mandate, assuming the policy shift is allowed to move forward in the first place. Lawsuits challenging the year-round E15 plan could certainly be filed if the EPA moves forward with Trump’s recommendations.