Top Concern for Boaters: Ethanol and Misfueling

NMMA policy survey reveals E15 as number one hot-button issue in boating world.

NATIONWIDE—Ethanol topped the list of what issues matter most to boaters and industry leaders, according to a National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) policy survey. The public sector also acknowledged the importance of addressing ethanol and boating, as two House of Representatives members are pushing an E15-themed bill through the legislative process; E15 fuels are gasoline blends containing 15 percent ethanol.

NMMA’s policy survey found ethanol was the most pertinent of issues facing boaters in 2018; the other four issues on the list were recreational fishing, tax, trade and boating safety.

Conservation, infrastructure and workforce were also identified as key issues facing the recreational boating industry, according to the NMMA survey.

The surveys indication of ethanol being front and center of what matters most to recreational boaters dovetails into the efforts of Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Florida, and Austin Scott, R-Georgia, to prevent misfueling of E15. Both representatives recently reintroduced the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act in order to regulate misfueling in light of 15 percent ethanol blends potentially becoming available year-round.

Frankel and Scott, who are members of the Congressional Boating Caucus, introduced the bill on Feb. 6, almost two months after they jointly sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency about concerns they had with a proposed policy on year-round availability of E15.

“With the EPA working to authorize year-round sales of E15 ahead of the 2019 summer season, the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act is needed now more than ever,” NMMA President Thom Dammrich said in a released statement. “Representative Frankel and Representative Scott have been tireless advocates in the effort to protect countless American consumers and 141 million recreational boaters from the dangers of misfueling.”

The bill introduced by Frankel and Scott pushes for more detailed labeling at fuel pumps where E15 gasoline is pumped. E15 fuels aren’t suitable for recreational boats, according to boating industry leaders, as it causes corrosion and reduced fuel storage. Other modes of transportation negatively affected by E15 fuels include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), automobiles manufactured before 2001, lawn mowers, motorcycles and weed eaters.

“As we are presented with more choices at the gas pump, it is imperative that American consumers know exactly what kind of fuel they are putting into their engines. Gas pumps today are riddled with confusing labels and fail to adequately warn consumers of the dangers of fueling small engine equipment with E15,” Scott said in a released statement on Feb. 6, shortly after reintroducing the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act.

“I introduced the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act … to ensure that E15 is more clearly labeled and consumers are made better aware of the damages misfueling can cause to their vehicles, power equipment, and boats,” Scott continued. “By making fuel pump labels easier to decipher and coordinating public education programs at multiple levels, this legislation can save consumers time and energy at the pumps and avoid headaches and costs down the road.”

Other specific policy concerns within the recreational boating and fishing world, according to the NMMA survey, include aquatic invasive species, red tides and harmful algal bloom, boat recycling and derelict vessels, water access, vessel titling, current condition of boat launch ramps and anchorage restrictions.

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