You won’t often get auto, marine, motorcycle, outdoor power equipment, personal watercraft and snowmobile groups to agree on anything, but there is one thing they do see eye-to-eye on: They don’t like the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that allows the sale of a gasoline-ethanol mixture that contains significantly more ethanol than before. Called E15, the gasoline-ethanol mixture has 50 percent more ethanol than the currently sold E10, and it has all these manufacturer groups worried. They are worried because they say the 400 million engine products used by tens of millions of people every day in the U.S. were not designed, built or warranted to run on any fuel that contains more than 10 percent ethanol. Because of that, they have filed a petition asking the EPA to ensure the continued sale and availability of E10.
“Misfueling is our prime concern, and we foresee that consumers will be forced to fuel with E15 — unless EPA requires stations to carry both legacy (E10) and new E15 fuels,” says Kris Kiser, speaking on behalf of the organizations. “Many stations may not be equipped to accommodate an additional fuel, leading them to choose between E15 and E10 fuels — and E15 will likely win out, since it may be more profitable for them to carry. This means consumers might have no choice but to fuel with E15, and there will be little to prevent them from mis-fueling when they come in with a lawnmower, chainsaw, motorcycle, snowmobile, boat or older car.”
The organizations point out that the EPA’s prior experience with fuel transitions and mis-fueling demonstrates that labeling alone is insufficient to prevent consumers from using the wrong fuel either intentionally or by mistake. In 1974, as the EPA led the transition to unleaded fuels, the agency reported a mis-fueling rate of 15 percent some 10 years after the introduction of unleaded gasoline. The organizations also claim that E15 might impair vehicle emissions-control systems.