In this case, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes it knows what type of fuel is best for your motorcycle.
On May 29, the EPA proposed setting the renewable fuel standard for 2014 at the levels that were actually produced and used, which totaled 15.93 billion gallons. But for 2015, the standard rises to 16.3 billion gallons. And for 2016, the total increases again, to 17.4 billion gallons.
The corn-ethanol volumes would be 13.25 billion gallons for 2014, 13.4 billion gallons in 2015 and 14 billion gallons in 2016.
By now you are asking, “How do these fuel mandates affect my ride?”
The practical effect of the EPA’s action is that ethanol production will exceed the “blend wall,” the point at which no more ethanol can be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply without resulting in blends higher than 10 percent. That means more E15 and less E10/E0 on the market.
It is apparent that the EPA’s proposed rule does not consider the concerns of motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle 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.
What does the EPA propose to ensure the sale E15 increases?
The proposed rule calls for stakeholders to overcome market barriers to expand the use of renewable fuels to meet the 2016 fuel mandate by:
•“Increasing the number of retail stations offering E15 and E85 through direct installation of new equipment or providing grants to retail owners, and locating stations offering E15/E85 closest to higher populations of vehicles that can use those fuels” and
•“Developing contractual mechanisms to ensure favorable pricing of E15 and E85 at retail compared to E10 to boost sales volumes” (emphasis added)
In other words, the EPA is proposing federal grants and price controls to increase amount of the higher-than-E10-ethanol blended fuels into the marketplace.
The AMA strongly disagrees with this approach. Instead, the market should dictate demand and let the consumer choose the proper fuel for each vehicle. These government mandates will lead to more inadvertent misfueling and, very likely, engine and fuel system damage to countless motorcycles and ATVs not designed for E15 use.
Does the EPA address the misfueling concern for motorcyclists in its proposed rule?
The EPA responded once to our concerns. If you think by addressing the AMA’s most important concern just one time is sufficient, then the EPA did a bang up job. Otherwise, read on.
The EPA only mentioned misfueling once as part of a run-on sentence in its proposed rule. 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. It was eventually revised in 2013 to the current plan, but it is still easily misunderstood, misapplied or ignored by state governments and producers, distributors and vendors.
With the misunderstood and unenforced misfueling plan and the proliferation of E15 in the marketplace, especially through blender pumps, motorcyclists and ATV riders face an increased risk of unknowingly fueling their vehicles with a blend higher than the federally approved E10.
It appears the government shows it “knows what is best” by mandating the type of fuel produced, the amount produced and the methods of distribution, all to increase sales of a fuel that 22 million motorcyclists and ATV users can’t – and definitely should not -- use.
Does anyone think this makes sense?