No Laughing Matter: E15 Still Poses Risks For Motorcyclists

on September 26, 2018 at 10:00 AM

More than three years ago we posted a blog with the humorous cartoon below to highlight the distinctly unfunny risks that E15 gasoline can have for motorcycle-riding Americans.

Unfortunately, as debate over ethanol mandates in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues, those concerns remain. They’re heightened by the administration’s plan to facilitate year-round sales of E15, which contains 50 percent more ethanol than E10 fuel that’s standard across the country.

That’s a problem for owners of motorcycles – and also owners of all-terrain vehicles – because using E15 in them can void warranties. Wayne Allard, vice president for government relations of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA):

“The American Motorcyclist Association objects to any additional ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply because it would increase the risk of inadvertently misfueling motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, which are not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for ethanol blends of more than 10 percent (by volume).”

Motorcyclists and ATV owners aren’t alone in their E15 worries. They’re joined by boat owners – as well as millions of Americans who own cars and trucks that weren’t designed to use E15. Studies have shown E15 can damage engines and fuel systems in those vehicles.

Owners of motorcycles and ATVs also point to concern that an influx of E15 in the fuel supply could crowd out E0 – gasoline containing zero ethanol. In that way, E15 could have the perverse effect of foisting a fuel on Americans that has valid and wide concerns while potentially limiting access to a fuel, E0, that Americans actually want to buy.

Allard says AMA favors legislation that would cap mandated ethanol content in the fuel supply at 9.7 percent (which API also supports). AMA says EPA should prioritize the use of cellulosic biofuel over other biofuels in determining required volumes under the RFS.

One of the RFS’ purposes was to spur commercial-scale development of cellulosic biofuel (made from corn stover, wood chips and other materials), but that hasn’t happened. Allard:

“Capping the ethanol mandate helps ensure the availability of fuels safe for motorcycles, such as E10, and a continuing place in the market for ethanol-free gasoline (E0) for older motorcycles.”

We keep saying it: The RFS is broken and poses real-world risks to consumers that should be addressed so that millions of Americans aren’t potentially on the hook for a failed, out-of-date program.

By Mark Green 

Originally posted September 25, 2018

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