Feds should include motorcycles, ATVs in ethanol study, says AMA

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The American Motorcyclist Association is asking a key U.S. House of Representatives panel to include motorcycles and ATVs in any future study of ethanol-blended gasoline. E15 mistakenly put into motorcycles and ATVs could potentially cause engine damage.

In a letter sent July 11 to the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, the AMA and All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) urged subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-Md.) "that on- or off-highway motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) be part of any scientific study by the NAS" related to ethanol-blended gasoline. NAS stands for the National Academy of Sciences.

The subcommittee held a hearing on July 7 entitled "Hitting the Ethanol Blend Wall: Examining the Science on E15." The hearing focused on E15, a new gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent alcohol by volume. The EPA last October approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles) and then in January added model year 2001-06 light-duty vehicles to the list.

No on- or off-highway motorcycles or ATVs are currently approved.

At its hearing, the subcommittee indicated that it may require EPA to arrange with the NAS to study a full range of issues related to E15. In the letter, AMA Washington Representative Rick Podliska said the AMA and ATVA have concerns about:

  • E15 being put in motorcycles or ATVs mistakenly and damaging engines;
  • the continued availability of gasoline that has no ethanol, or gasoline with only a 10 percent blend that is safe for use in motorcycles and ATVs;
  • the possibility that "blender pumps" -- which dispense multiple grades of gasoline through a single hose -- could introduce enough ethanol into gasoline to be used in a motorcycle or ATV to damage the vehicle; and
  • that ethanol absorbs water, which could be harmful to motorcycles and ATVs.

"The AMA and ATVA urge that on- or off-highway motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study by NAS," Podliska wrote. "Not only should the study focus on the short- and long-term impacts on vehicles and engines, but [it] should consider financial implications of increased ethanol use in gasoline on consumers; fuel producers, distributors and retailers; vehicle and engine manufacturers, dealers and service facilities; and the environment."

To read the letter, click here.

From a press release. Posted by Mary Slepicka