Selling E15 Fuel In 2014 U.S. Market May Stall

November 2013 Powersport News American Motorcyclist Association

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to reduce the total amount of ethanol required in transportation fuel nationwide in 2014, which could slow the introduction of E15 fuel into the marketplace, the American Motorcyclist Association reports. 

That's good news for motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders who fear they may inadvertently put E15 fuel in their machines and possibly cause engine damage once the fuel becomes widespread nationwide, the AMA said. 

The federal Renewable Fuel Standards program, which the EPA administers, requires that 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuels such as ethanol be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel in 2014. The standards ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. 

But federal law also gives the EPA administrator flexibility to reduce the required volume of renewable fuels in any year. On Nov.15, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took advantage of that flexibility by recognizing the "blend wall" and proposed reducing the amount of renewable fuels to be blended in 2014 from 18.15 billion gallons to a proposed range of 15.0 to 15.52 billion gallons, with a recommendation of 15.21 billion gallons. 

The EPA said, "Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. is now 'E10,' which is fuel with up to 10 percent ethanol. Production of renewable fuels has been growing rapidly in recent years. At the same time, advances in vehicle fuel economy and other economic factors have pushed gasoline consumption far lower than what was expected when Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007. As a result, we are now at the 'E10 blend wall,' the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol." 

"We're glad to see that the EPA is taking this action today, though this is not a long-term solution for motorcyclists who worry that the use of E15 fuel could damage their engines and void their warranties," said AMA Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard. "The American Motorcyclist Association remains committed to AMA members-and all motorcyclists-as we continue to support legislation that prohibits E15 fuel." 

Since 2011, the AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in use in the United States by the inadvertent use of E15 fuel, which first became available at gas stations in 2013. E15 is currently offered in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin

E15 is a fuel blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline that the EPA has approved for use in 2001-and-newer passenger vehicles but not for motorcycles, ATVs, boats, lawn mowers and other small engines. Ethanol is grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel. 

"The bottom line," said Allard, "is that this decision certainly slows the unnecessary rush on bringing E15 fuels to market for at least the next year, but it doesn't address the central issue that real-world motorcyclists face, and that is that no motorcycle currently on the road is approved for E15 use, and the risk of inadvertent misfueling is tremendous once it is available at the pump. 

"Access to safe fuels for motorcycles remains an AMA priority, and we continue to be a watchdog for our members on this issue," he said.

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