On Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. (EST), the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements announced in November by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle owners by mandating the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15 (15 percent ethanol by volume).
The practical effect of the EPA’s action is that ethanol production will exceed the “blend wall.” That means more E15 and less E10 and E0 (fuel with no ethanol) on the market.
Data from the federal Energy Information Administration shows demand for E0 rose from 3.4 percent in 2012 to nearly 7 percent in 2014. Consumers want E0 for their motorcycles, ATVs, boats, lawn mowers and other equipment, because it does not pose the risk of engine and fuel system damage.
Despite the increased demand, the EPA rule reduced the amount of E0 from 9.2 billion gallons to just 130 million in 2016.
Most importantly, the rule mentions the likelihood of misfueling only once. The rule states: “…in June of 2011, the EPA finalized regulations to prevent misfueling of vehicles, engines, and equipment not covered by the partial waiver decisions.”
This is the same misfueling mitigation plan that initially mandated a four-gallon minimum fuel purchase to address the concerns raised by the AMA. Following our complaints, the regulation eventually was revised in 2013 to the current plan, yet it is still easily misunderstood, misapplied or ignored by state governments and producers, distributors and vendors.
Indeed, the EPA has made it illegal for motorcyclists and ATV users to use E15 fuel, and yet seems to have little interest in the misfueling issue. It appears that the EPA does not consider the concerns of motorcyclists and ATV owners, despite knowing that none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in the United States is approved to use E15 or higher ethanol blends.
To view a live webcast of the hearing, go to http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=029AFD91-E4D1-48D6-B2DA-BAA43B9EA4DF