E0, or ethanol-free gasoline for boaters may be hard to come by this summer as
a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate forcing more ethanol into the
February 24, 2016
E0 Gas Is Going Away for Boaters
by: Margaret Bonds Podlich, President of BoatUS
presidential candidates turn their attention to South Carolina, it is worth
considering how a particular federal law that both candidates support wreaks
havoc on the state’s boaters. That law is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and
it has led to some significant, albeit unintentional, negative consequences for
owners of the roughly half-million boats registered in the Palmetto State.
containing ethanol and boats mix, boat owners lose. That’s because of something
called “phase separation” – think oil and vinegar – that can turn fuel stored
in a boat’s gas tank into corrosive, water-soaked ethanol mixture, unusable in
any engine. Half of those who responded to a recent informal national survey by
the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) said they have had to
replace or repair boat engine or fuel system parts because of suspected
ethanol-related damage. The average cost for these repairs was $1,000.
ethanol mandate requires increasing amounts of biofuels – primarily corn
ethanol –to be blended into America’s gasoline supply every year. In part
because of the mandate, more than 90 percent of American fuel today is E10, or
10 percent ethanol. In addition, higher ethanol-blend fuels such as E15 are
becoming more prevalent in the marketplace, even though federal law prohibits
the use of 15 percent ethanol in marine engines, ATVs, motorcycles, lawnmowers
or any cars made before 2001.
long preferred ethanol-free gasoline to other fuels, so much so that many refer
to E0 as “marine fuel.” However, our country’s supply of E0 is projected to be
reduced dramatically from over 8 billion gallons in 2014 to just 200 million,
possibly as early as this summer’s boating season. E0 is in effect being pushed
out of boat fuel market to make room for the RFS’ mandated E15 and other higher
ethanol blends. The prospect of this disappearing act has the boating community
in South Carolina and around the country extremely concerned.
RFS before it wipes out the availability of E0 for boating families and wreaks
additional havoc on marine engines is the responsibility of our next
president—perhaps Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders—and Congress. Ted Cruz,
by becoming the first candidate to win Iowa while opposed to the mandate, shows
that supporting the RFS is not a political necessity. It is now time to fix
this broken law. Thankfully, there are bipartisan ideas to fix the ethanol
mandate in Congress, but the question remains whether our elected leaders will
act and solve the problem. America’s boaters, and certainly those in South
Carolina, hope they will.
Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation’s leading
advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half-million members with
government representation, fighting against unfair federal taxes, fees and
regulations that single out boat owners. BoatUS is also non-partisan and works
with state agencies to promote boating laws that make sense.