EPA proposes increasing Ethanol in fuel supply

The EPA is proposing an increase in the amount of ethanol in the country’s fuel supply, saying it will help increase the growth of biofuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

CHARLESTON, SC – The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for your opinion and comments. They’re proposing an increase in the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply for 2015 and 2016. If this happens, the proposed levels will require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher level fuel blends into more gas stations.

But it’s not only cars and trucks that could be affected. After talking to boaters, News 2 learned not only would increased amounts of ethanol in the fuel cause damages, but any amount of ethanol can cause serious problems on the water.

Chris Cohen, West Marine Store Manager, says, “The ethanol has a tendency to eat away the inside of plastic gas tanks and rubber lines– rubber gas lines. The automotive industry probably uses metal in most of the gas tank applications but ours are still made of plastics, and the ethanol does affect that.”

With a different environment to consider, metal isn’t an option for boats to better accommodate ethanol fuel.

Cohen says, “It is lightweight and essentially we do anything we can to use materials that don’t rust. The salt environment is really tough on metal so we tend to use plastics and rubber whenever we can.”

The EPA is proposing an increase in the amount of ethanol in the country’s fuel supply, saying it will help increase the growth of biofuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel with up to 15% ethanol could become more common, and Boat US is concerned about the impact this could have on boaters.

Boater Jack Peeples says, “I’ve had some friends that have had to cut the gas tanks out of their boats and change the gas tanks due to the sludge getting in the tanks from ethanol.”

In a statement, the EPA says even though the higher percentage of ethanol, known as E15 gas, could be more prevalent, that doesn’t mean other gasoline companies are going away. They add, pumps that dispense E15 will be clearly labeled. Boat US argues there is still room for error and the consequences of mis-fueling could ruin an engine.

Peeples says, “It means more maintenance costs. I’m sure the people that work on motors are all for it, but I’m totally against it.”

Boat experts say this is an ongoing conversation between boaters, and the best solution is to track down a gas station selling non-ethanol fuel.

Cohen says, “I’ve been working at West for about five years and I’ve had the ethanol conversation at least weekly all that time. So it is an active conversation, however generally the boaters know about it and are dealing with it and most frequently on the weekend one of the largest asked questions about gasoline is, where can I get non ethanol gas?”

The EPA will make a final decision about the proposal on November 30th.

Boat US urges boaters to send a message to the EPA to ensure adequate supply of fuel for marine engines. More information can be found at http://www.capwiz.com/boatus/issues/alert/?alertid=67065646

For more about this proposal by the EPA, head to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm

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