Boaters Urged to Speak Up on Ethanol: EPA Decision Coming Soon

The EPA could decide to add up to 50% more ethanol to the nation’s gas supply, without testing it first to ensure it’s safe for millions of boats.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a matter of days, the US Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce its decision on whether to approve the addition of up to 50% more ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply, from the current 10% (E10) concentration to a potential 15% (E15).

The nation’s largest boat owners group, Boat Owners Association of The United States, and the marine industry’s largest manufacturers organization, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, are urging recreational boaters to speak out now and tell the Obama Administration that scientific testing on E15 must precede EPA’s decision and not come at a later date.

Both groups believe that there is a need to diversify the country’s energy sources. However, organizations are concerned that EPA may put the “cart before the horse” by granting increased ethanol before understanding its operational effects on marine engines. A strong solvent, ethanol has been known to degrade fuel systems and lead to expensive repairs.

“Last year, a record number of recreational boaters asked the EPA to test marine engines before allowing up to 15% (E15) ethanol in gasoline,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “While this testing has not been completed, we believe the EPA is getting ready to announce their decision on increased ethanol in the next couple of weeks. We expect the agency will allow E15 for some engines and not others. In addition to the lack of scientific testing data, we suspect this will create different fuels with different prices, availability and add consumer confusion.”

“Many boaters, having suffered through the last ethanol transition to E10, agree that we should learn from recent history and first completely understand what the new fuel will do before approving its use in boats,” added Podlich. “It may turn out to be harmless, but what if it’s not? What happens if safety is affected or boaters are forced to pay for expensive repairs? Remember that most boat engine warranties are void when using ethanol beyond the 10% level.”

BoatUS urges recreational boaters to go and let President Obama know your concerns about ethanol and ask him to require the EPA to compete testing and get the science first.

BoatUS and the NMMA are part of, a coalition of 46 motor sports, environmental, food and citizen advocate groups asking for “science first” before the EPA allows a new fuel on the market.