EPA Proposes Year-Round Sales of E15 Gasoline

Boat owners are closely watching a proposed change to the federal rules about ethanol-blended gasoline use in summer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to allow year-round sales of 15-percent ethanol gasoline (E15). Right now sales of the alternative fuel are limited to eight months out of the year. Because E15 is less expensive for fuel retailers, President Donald Trump directed EPA to expand E15 waivers for the summer driving season.

E15 gas is approved for cars and light trucks from 2001 and newer, but it can be dangerous and damaging to marine and other off-road engines. That’s why keeping it out of gas pumps during the summer months helped prevent “misfueling,” when people don’t realize they’re filling their gas cans with E15 , and put it in their boat by mistake.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) spoke out against the proposal this week:

“The EPA’s legally questionable decision to allow year-round sales of E15 needlessly puts millions of American boaters – not to mention hundreds of millions of people with chainsaws, generators, and lawnmowers – at an increased risk of misfueling just so a powerful, politically important constituency can reap a financial windfall. NMMA is adamantly against this proposal and we encourage the administration to abandon this reckless policy,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich.

NMMA points out that federal law bans the use of E15 in marine engines, but argues that EPA’s “efforts to inform the public about the dangers of E15 are woefully inadequate.” The association cites a recent study from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute that finds more than three out of five Americans mistakenly assume that any gas sold at gas stations is safe for all of their engines.

NMMA vows to push for safeguards to protect boaters from misfueling, including labeling standards and keypad confirmation.

EPA is holding a public hearing on March 29 in Michigan, and will take public comments through May 17. For more information on how to submit a comment, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano