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Bad Gas? Something Stinks About E15 Fuel

  • Dealernews
  • Oct 29, 2018


The American Motorcyclist Association disagrees with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowing year-round sales of E15 fuel. None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in this country is certified by the EPA to use fuel containing more than 10% ethanol by volume. Allowing additional E15 sales increases the risk of inadvertent mis-fueling by motorcyclists.

In addition, as E15 begins to permeate the marketplace, the AMA is concerned it will further reduce the availability of the E0 fuel preferred by many motorcyclists and required for older machines.

Rather than increasing consumer choice, this move could ultimately reduce choice for motorcyclists and ATV riders.

"We told the EPA in May of 2016 that increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply creates an untenable situation for the marketplace and raises the risk to motorcyclists and ATV owners," said Wayne Allard, AMA VP for government relations at the time. "The agency ignored our comments and the concerns of millions of motorcyclists."

The Renewable Volume Obligations called for 19.28 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The final EPA figure for 2017 was higher than the 18.8 billion gallons proposed in May, 2016. Most recently EPA opened the taps to year-round E15 sales... a move opposed by the AMA and the Motorcycle Industry Council.

The AMA objects to this increase in the Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"Increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply is going to result in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and stations," Allard warned two years ago. "The widespread availability of E15 and higher-ethanol fuels increases the risk that owners will inadvertently mis-fuel their motorcycles."

E15 fuel is a blend of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol over the common E10 blend most Americans had been using in passenger vehicles.

None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the United States is approved by the EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. Using higher-ethanol blends in those vehicles is illegal and may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer's warranty.

By again increasing the amount of ethanol in America's gasoline, the EPA is further straining the fuel marketplace by exceeding the blend wall by hundreds of millions of gallons. The blend wall is the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing consumers to use higher blends, such as E15, E30 and E85.

The AMA also is concerned that the increased reliance on corn-based ethanol could further reduce the amount of E0 fuel available. Since the distribution network for E15 and E85 is limited, fuel producers may be forced to reduce E0 output to stay within the RVO rule, leaving owners of older and vintage motorcycles without a reliable fuel supply.

Of the 19.28 billion gallons of biofuels mandated for 2017, 15 billion gallons were conventional corn ethanol. Of the remainder, 4.28 billion gallons were supposed to be biofuels, 2 billion gallons would be biomass-based diesel and 311 million gallons would be cellulosic.

MIC has also been opposed to the E15 mandates from the beginning. The MIC was instrumental in convincing the U.S. EPA to prohibit the use of E15 (15% ethanol in gasoline) in motorcycles, ATVs, and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and to specify this prohibition on the gasoline pump label. The MIC was a founding member of the Alliance for a Safe Alternative Fuels Environment (AllSAFE), a coalition formed to address this issue with other associations representing automobiles, outdoor power equipment, snowmobiles, recreational boats and marine engines. 

The MIC also joined a diverse group of environmental, public health, state and industry organizations to launch a joint campaign, Follow the Science, to oppose higher blends of ethanol in gasoline until thorough scientific tests are completed and concerns are addressed regarding consumer safety and environmental protection.

The original EPA 2017 rule can be found here:

Photo by Jeff Kardas


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