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We thought we had put this issue to bed in 2012. But it appears that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still subjecting motorcyclists to a 4-gallon minimum fuel purchase at blender pumps that dispense both E10 and E15.
As part of its E15 Misfueling Mitigation Program, the EPA is allowing retailers to sell fuel with 10 percent ethanol from the same pump used for blends of 15 percent ethanol. This creates a problem for motorcyclists, who could wind up with as much as a quart of E15 in their tanks even if they select the proper grade of fuel.
And the ethanol lobby is promoting this approach.
In its “E15 & Flex Fuel Retailer Roadmap” for fuel retailers, a pro-ethanol group offers this advice:
“E15 can be sold on the same hose with gasoline (E0 to E10) using this configuration: Require a minimum purchase of four gallons and apply a label stating ‘Minimum Fueling Volume 4 Gallons. Dispensing Less May Violate Federal Law.’” (P. 80, emphasis added).
The AMA spotted this minimum-purchase policy in 2012 and, with the voices of thousands of motorcyclists, made enough noise that the EPA backed away from it. You can read about that battle here.
Since the average fuel tank for motorcycles holds less than 4 gallons, riders are unable to buy the required minimum of 4 gallons. And, even motorcycles with larger tanks could end up with a blend with more than 10 percent ethanol. Or, end up fueling what you think is safe fuel and end up with something much worse! Check out what some motorists experienced in Oklahoma recently.
We thought common sense prevailed at the EPA when on Dec. 17, 2012, the agency informed the AMA it had reversed its decision to require the 4-gallon minimum purchase.
After the AMA read the pro-ethanol group’s “roadmap,” we immediately sent a letter to the EPA and contacted the EPA public relations office for clarification. The agency has not yet responded to our letter. But the media inquiry prompted a response.
According to an EPA spokesperson:
Dispensing E10 in volumes less than 4 gallons from a pump that supplies E10 only is absolutely NOT a violation.
The excerpted portion you highlighted should refer only to the less than 1% of gas stations that have gasoline pumps that that dispense BOTH E10 and E15 from a single hose or nozzle. The 4 gallon fueling minimum for E10 is only required for these “co-dispensing pumps” and is there to protect consumers. The 4 gallon minimum ensures that engines, that are not allowed to use E15 (like those in motorcycles) do not inadvertently get too much ethanol in the tank. To comply with EPA regulations, most stations with co-dispensing pumps simply put up a sign that says the co-dispensing pump may only be used for passenger vehicles and separately offer a dedicated E10 pump for motorcycles and other engines that cannot use E15. Motorcyclists or other types of vehicles and engines that require E10 in volumes of less than 4 gallons should not have a problem finding E10 in any volume they need.
Apparently, common sense comes only in fleeting moments—and, once again, motorcyclists end up getting hosed from an ill-conceived program created by unelected Washington bureaucrats.
Congress and the EPA are not protecting you. Ethanol producers and their lobbyists don’t care about the danger of inadvertently misfueling your motorcycle with E15. And confusing labels at the pump don’t get the message across.
The key takeaway for motorcyclists is this: If you pull up to a fuel pump that offers E10 and E15, play it safe and look for the legally required pump that only dispenses E10. If you have an older or vintage bike, you need E0 – fuel with no ethanol.
As motorcyclists, we have to watch out for each other and get the word out: E15 fuel is unsafe and we’ve got to keep it out of our tanks.
Please send a prewritten comment to your senators and representative by clicking on the “Take Action” link.
Now more than ever, it is crucial that you and your riding friends become members of the AMA to help protect our riding freedoms. More members mean more clout against the opponents of motorcycling. That support will help fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. If you are a motorcycle rider, join the AMA at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.