PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it should stop increasing the amount of required ethanol in the nation's fuel supply and, instead, lower the Renewable Volume Obligations for 2017.
The comments submitted to the EPA were accompanied by the signatures of 18,162 motorcyclists, all-terrain-vehicle owners and others who are concerned that increased amounts of ethanol in their fuel could void warranties, damage engines and harm other components on their vehicles.
The EPA's proposed Renewable Volume Obligations, part of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, call for 18.8 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The obligations for 2015 were 16.93 billion gallons.
"The current proposed volumes would greatly increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and ATV owners by forcing the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends that are unsafe for these vehicles, such as E15," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations. "And the EPA has proposed the increases, despite its acknowledgement that the market can't absorb the higher ethanol production rates."
The proposed percentage standards call for renewable fuel to compose 10.44 percent of the transportation fuel pool in 2017. The most widely used transportation fuel in the United States is E10, fuel containing 10 percent ethanol by volume.
To meet the proposed standards, the EPA is calling for increased use of E15 fuel in model year 2001 and newer vehicles and expanded use of E85 in flex-fuel vehicles. E15 fuel has 50 percent more ethanol than E10, and none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in the United States is approved to use E15 or higher ethanol blends. For engines and fuel systems not designed for E15, serious damage can occur.
"The AMA is fighting to ensure a safe fuel supply for motorcyclists, ATV riders and users of other small engines," Allard said. "As the volume obligations continue to rise, even as fuel consumption declines or remains the same, the risk of inadvertent misfueling increases dramatically.
"The EPA has made it illegal for motorcyclists and ATV riders to use E15 fuel, yet shows little interest in the misfueling issue."
The least the EPA could do is initiate a public information campaign on the dangers of misfueling, what fuel blend to select at the pump and what to do if a higher-ethanol blend gets into the vehicle tank.
Allard said that, because the Renewable Fuel Standard is broken, Congress needs to address it with a long-term fix. All concerned individuals are urged to visit the AMA Action Center and to find and contact their representatives about this issue.