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  • The Debate on E15 is not over, thanks to the EPA

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bowed to pressure from the ethanol industry when it increased the 2016 Renewable Fuel Standard to 18.11 billion gallons in November 2015. The increase is hundreds of millions of gallons higher than its initial recommendation in May of 2015 of 17.4 billion gallons.

    This latest regulation will result in a marked increase in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and fueling stations across the country in the coming year. Of equal concern to motorcyclists is a drastic reduction in the availability of E0 (fuel with no ethanol, favored by vintage bike owners) from 9.2 billion gallons to just 130 million gallons in 2016.

    None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in the United States is approved by the EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent, which is the E10 blend most Americans use for their vehicles.

    Because of the EPA's latest actions, the debate about the Renewable Fuel Standard and E15 is far from over. Support for the RFS has long been considered a requirement of any presidential candidate hoping to win the Iowa Caucus, largely because Iowa leads the country in the production of ethanol.

    Yet, for the first time since the RFS was established, a candidate who did not support the RFS defeated a field of opponents that did. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) position on the RFS shifted as the campaign progressed. The presidential hopeful had originally supported ending the RFS immediately, but now supports a phasing out of the mandate.

    While the AMA supports reforming the RFS to be sure that motorcyclists have access to safe fuels, it does not support its outright repeal.

    Outside of the 2016 presidential election, several measures have been introduced by lawmakers from each party in Congress that would reform or end the Renewable Fuel Standard. One amendment to the Energy Bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), would prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using funds to support or provide grants for blender pumps. These pumps blend several types of fuel, such as pure gas and ethanol, and can retain as much as a quart of the blended fuel in the delivery hose after fueling. Even that small volume of E15 or higher ethanol blends in a motorcycle's low-capacity tank create a real risk for motorcycle engines and fuel systems.

    Another amendment, offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would eliminate the corn ethanol portion of the RFS, leaving volume requirements for other types of biofuels intact.

    Lastly, an amendment introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would repeal the RFS entirely, the senator stating that "the RFS is out dated," and "the drawbacks of the RFS greatly outweigh its benefits."

    The AMA will keep motorcyclists informed of any movement on legislation dealing with the Renewable Fuel Standard and E15, and will alert the motorcycling community when there are opportunities to make our voices heard on this issue.

    To be sure you are getting timely news, sign up for AMA Action Alerts here.

    In addition, we will be rolling out the AMA 2016 Vote Like A Motorcyclist campaign in the coming weeks to provide a resource for members, media and candidates on the issues most important to the motorcycling community.

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  • SUCCESSES IN 2015; NEW CHALLENGES IN 2016

    The year just ending brought some significant successes for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle riders across the country, with perhaps the biggest win coming in the form of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill.

    That bill, known as the FAST Act, included on- and off-highway victories for riders, including continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program, a ban on federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints, a reauthorization of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council that helps guide decisions in the U.S. Department of Transportation, and easier access for states seeking federal grants to make the roadways safer, particularly in regard to distracted driving.

    But the coming year holds new challenges for motorcyclists, and the AMA needs your help in meeting those challenges.

    E15

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its new Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations in November, raising the required amount of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a $100 million matching grant program to buy and install pumps at service stations in 21 states to dispense the higher-ethanol blends.

    Since none of our motorcycles or ATVs can legally use fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol by volume (E10), the increased availability of these higher-ethanol blends – such as E15, E30 – creates a hazard. Using blender pumps places motorcyclists and ATV owners at risk of inadvertent misfueling because leftover high-ethanol fuel in the hose can end up in your tank. And high levels of ethanol can cause fuel system and engine damage and void manufacturers’ warranties.

    Access to Public Lands

    During his first seven years in office, President Obama used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish or expand 19 national monuments. In July 2015 alone, the president designated three national monuments covering more than 1 million acres of public land. With those actions, Obama has increased restrictions on more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other president.

    We expect the president’s land designations to continue, and possibly increase, during 2016, as he tries to build a legacy and dole out political favors before leaving office. While we support monument, wilderness and other designations when they meet the legal criteria and have local and stakeholder support, we object to the use of presidential authority to bypass Congress and ignore the wishes of nearby residents and responsible recreationists.

    Use of Private Property

    Local governments and officials often bow to emotional pleas from residents who object to any off-road-vehicle activity at all in their towns. We expect this bias to continue in 2016, and we hope to counter it with facts, logic and grassroots support for dirt bike and ATV riders.

    More communities will attempt to use sound ordinances and zoning and nuisance regulations to close existing OHV parks and prevent new ones from opening. While we support reasonable restrictions on vehicle exhaust sound, we oppose arbitrary and subjective rules, because riders have no way of determining whether their vehicle meets the standard.

    The key to success is early recognition of the issue and involvement of the AMA, along with local riders and clubs. We can provide model legislation, alerts to rally rider support, advice on addressing officials and handling the media and petitions and letters showing support for OHVs.

    What You Should Do

    Let your elected and appointed officials know where you stand on the issues that are important to you. Support other riders in their efforts, even if you don’t think you are directly affected. Sign up for AMA alerts and respond when the call to action is sounded. And contact us at the AMA any time something comes up that concerns you. The more information we have – and the sooner we have it – the more effective we can be in promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling.

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  • Coalition Building for Urban Riders

    Print media and TV reports have been full of stories of rogue, urban dirt bike and ATV riders doing wheelies and stoppies, sometimes riding in groups large enough to block traffic and taking over city parks and private parking lots.

    On the big screen, Baltimore has its Twelve O’clock Boys documentary, released in 2013, that tells the riders’ story. Philadelphians will see familiar streets when “Ride 2 the Death” opens this fall, depicting the urban dirt bike scene in the City of Brotherly Love.

    Within the AMA’s mission of promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling, we have been researching alternatives to illegal city riding, especially for urban youths.

    While some riders are unquestionably talented, it’s clear that their illegal and unsafe antics do not represent the AMA’s definition of the “motorcycle lifestyle.” It’s similarly clear that, left unchecked, the expansion of this illegal activity is not protecting the future of motorcycling. Quite the opposite. The illegal riders are creating a public safety problem that requires police action, disrupts neighborhoods and creates a poor public perception of the general motorcycling community.

    The political, economic and public-opinion hurdles in the path of efforts to create alternate outlets for urban riders are significant. Still, urban and suburban OHV parks in Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Iowa and elsewhere prove there are ways to successfully channel the passion for riding in a positive direction.

    At the request of local riders, the AMA has provided testimony to city officials in Pittsburgh when illegal riding peaked there in 2014. More recently, the AMA has accepted an invitation to represent motorcyclists on a Baltimore City Councilman’s OHV park task force. And we have joined forces with the National Youth Program Using Minibikes and others in Philadelphia who are working to encourage responsible riding in urban settings.

    NYPUM has been teaching responsibility to boys and girls ages 10 to 17 nationwide for more than 40 years, using minibikes.

    Their message and participation was ideal for young enthusiasts and curious adults who attended the motorcycle lifestyle event Clutch Control in Philly on Oct. 3.

    It has taken years to get other public OHV parks from concept to welcoming riders. With the active involvement of national partners like NYPUM, powersports manufacturers and dealerships, enthusiast associations, local riders, law enforcement, religious and civic leaders and politicians, we might just have an urban formula that will encourage young enthusiasts to ride responsibly and help protect the future of motorcycling for all of us.

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  • Washington is hearing from motorcyclists!

    The American Motorcyclist Association is keeping the pressure on Washington when it comes to choice for access to safe fuels.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to increase the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply through the Renewable Fuel Standard. As you know, if this proposal is adopted, it would increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle riders by forcing the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15 – fuel with 15 percent ethanol by volume. In turn, it decreases the availability of E0, fuel that has no ethanol added, and E10, which is covered by manufacturers’ warranty.

    AMA members and others concerned with unsafe fuels are acting to voice their concerns with the EPA and Congress.

    Thanks to your efforts, the elected officials and agency chiefs in Washington know that we do not approve of their actions.

    Here are the impressive numbers generated by motorcyclists in recent weeks:

    a) 23,571 petition signatures
    b) 7,341 emails to Congress
    c) More than 365,000 emails sent from the AMA to advocates

    If you have not signed the AMA petition to protect your choice to access safe fuels, please go to https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/sign-petition?2&engagementId=108574.

    Again, thank you from the AMA for taking action!

    Join the AMA—it’s where riders belong.

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  • Why All Motorcyclists Need Your Support

    It takes all of us, working together, to protect our rights as motorcyclists, no matter what type of riding we do.

    Chances are you receive many email alerts from the American Motorcyclist Association each and every year. This year, the government relations team has sent a record number, in our ongoing effort to keep you informed on the most pressing issues facing motorcycling and the motorcycle lifestyle.

    We focus on segmenting these emails, so you receive information directly related to issues in your area and based on your particular interest in motorcycling, whether it be on-highway or off.

    To better serve the membership, we have implemented a series of banners that appear at the top of our email alerts identifying each based on select categories. Some of the most common categories are:

    • Federal Action Alerts
    • State Action Alerts
    • Local Action Alerts
    • Meeting Notices
    • Informational Alerts

    We understand that you do not want your inbox cluttered with emails on topics that don’t interest you. If you are a recreational rider, your top priority might be riding the open road with friends. If you are racer, your top priority might be your next competition. You may be concerned with the dirt bike ban in the county next to you or the closing of public lands in your neighboring state.

    However, all of these topics affect the motorcycle lifestyle and the future of motorcycling. It is important to take action on all of the email alerts that you receive, even if it appears to be  outside your immediate area of interest or geographic location.

    We need you to help preserve the motorcycle lifestyle for fellow riders and future generations. If you finish your racing career, continue your membership to afford others the same opportunities. Dirt bike bans threaten the ability of racers to practice and continue their sport, just as discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints harm street motorcyclists’ ability to ride.

    Threats to the motorcycle lifestyle and the motorcycling community affect everyone and must be addressed with a unified response.  The AMA does that, with your help.

    There are many voices in the motorcycling community, but the one with the loudest megaphone is the AMA, because of our rich history and active members willing to voice their concerns. The next time you receive an email alert, keep in mind that the right to ride is universal and all of us need your support.

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  • Government “knows what’s best” for motorcyclists


    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?

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  • Federal Agencies Hosing Motorcyclists at Both Ends

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosed motorcyclists by announcing the Renewable Fuel Standard proposal that would increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle owners by forcing the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15.

    Then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosed motorcyclists by unveiling a $100 million slush fund to double the number of higher-blend renewable-fuel pumps. Under the blender pump subsidy program, the USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85.

    Here is the kicker.

    The EPA calls for higher ethanol blended fuels, and the USDA spends taxpayer dollars to make it happen, on the same day. I liken this regulatory tsunami to taking a one-two punch to the gut and having to say, “Thanks, I want more.”

    Was it coincidence?

    Our government took these actions 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. Using those fuels in motorcycles and ATVs is illegal and may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer's warranty.

    Had it with being hosed? Join the AMA—it’s where riders belong!


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  • All Politics is Local?

    Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is credited for coining the phrase “All politics is local,” and local AMA members are proving that his observation has merit.

    At the American Motorcyclist Association, we believe the power of local advocates is our greatest resource in the fight to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. To highlight the relationship between the AMA and local advocates, we launched the “Local Action Center.” The Local Action Center is intended to:

    Highlight AMA members and staff working together on local issues
    At any given time, members can see snippets of events in which the AMA is actively involved or recently was successful at the local level. If you hover over an icon on the page, a description of the involvement by AMA members and staff will appear.

    Showcase the breadth and depth of the AMA
    The AMA works on many issues at the local level, from places like Livermore, Calif., to Coos County, N.H. and everywhere in between. While AMA staff members cannot attend every local meeting or write letters supporting or opposing every local ordinance, we have been very active in many localities all over the country. The grassroots activism of the AMA membership has multiplied our efforts at this level.

    Differentiate local alerts and state alerts
    Understanding how government works is confusing enough and, unfortunately, many organizations combine state and local activities. We want to build greater civic understanding among AMA members so our members know how to communicate with government, at the appropriate level and in the proper office. This year, we created new banners for our email AMA Action Alerts to notify members whether the issue was federal, state or local. Ultimately, we hope to increase the understanding of the government process and build the civic capital of our membership.

    Create a page that targets local government where the public trust is the highest
    Statistically, Americans trust local and state government more than they trust the federal government. In fact, Gallup polls show the Congressional approval rating in 2014 was 15 percent, while trust in state government was 62 percent and trust in local government was 72 percent. Trusting in government means, in part, being confident that government respects your views, opinions and feedback and will act on them. The AMA wants to ensure that you have an effective platform to use to communicate with local officials -- with whom you have more access to and can connect with on a more personable level as an average community member who happens to be a motorcycle enthusiast.

    Dispel the myth that the AMA is solely a federal advocacy organization
     The AMA takes pride in representing motorcyclists at the local, state, federal and international level. The AMA has had some big wins on issues like the “Lead Law” and is the leading voice on current issues like E15 fuel. But the AMA also is concerned with motorcycle tolls and parking rates in your town.

    Provide an additional outlet to communicate with government
    All of the AMA Action Alerts pertaining to local political activity will appear on this central page. In addition to receiving a local email action alert, you will have the opportunity to view the action alert on the AMA website and view other local activities that may provide insight on the issue going on in your area.

    In addition to these local tools, the AMA will continue to provide valuable resources at the federal and state level and search for new ways for you to interact with your elected officials and communicate to them the value of the motorcycle lifestyle.

     If you have a local issue and need assistance, please contact our grassroots team at (202) 742-4310 or grassroots@ama-cycle.org.


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  • Lane Splitting

    2015 has become the year of lane splitting (also called lane sharing and white lining in some places). Riders across the United States have been contacting the AMA expressing their desire to learn more about this somewhat controversial -- yet well documented -- riding technique.

    Several bills in have been introduced this year, including in Oregon, Washington, California, Tennessee and Texas. While some of these bills will undoubtedly fail to be enacted this session (or be amended to the point where the AMA cannot support them), a bigger question remains: How and why do riders often feel so strongly about lane splitting?

    Within the road-riding community, perhaps no single issue (other than helmet laws) provokes as strong a response as lane splitting. Riders typically fall into two camps: Those who are convinced it is dangerous (and often have never done it) and those who see it as yet another advantage of riding, especially in congested urban areas and during rush hour commuting.

    Lane splitting, long employed in much of Europe, South America and Asia, is often misunderstood. We encourage AMA members to review and understand the issue before deciding for themselves. The AMA position on this subject (and other important ones) can be reviewed at: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements.

    However you feel about the subject, we would remind all of our members that lane splitting is simply a choice that some riders will continue to make, and, in those instances where it is allowed (or under consideration), we hope every member will see the value in supporting that decision. Dividing ourselves is a sure recipe for failure and will ultimately result in non-riders making important decisions that will negatively affect all of us.

    Ride Safely!

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  • Sustainable Off Road Means Access Education

    Before joining the AMA staff, I had jobs in land management and powersports retail. An odd mix perhaps, but it was perfect training for my current AMA role.

    Often, I had conversations with off-highway vehicle riders who were buying their first bike after a long break and whose primary thought was where they could ride it. Maybe it was a trail they’d just seen or heard about or, more commonly, the place where they’d last ridden many years years ago. The new or returning riders gave scant thought to whether the trails they had their eye on -- public or private -- were legally accessible or what permits or permissions would be needed to ride there.

    More recently, I swallowed hard when an AMA member knowledgeable about access described the AMA’s advocacy efforts as “western focused” and oriented toward “federal access.” He dismissed our efforts as irrelevant to him on the East Coast.

    Soon after that conversation, another AMA member contacted me for help after he’d been cited for riding illegally on federal land in an eastern national forest. He wanted to better understand the charges he faced and the rules they were based on.

    The lessons for us in these encounters are:

    • East or West, public land or private, land-access realities have changed and continue to evolve.

    • Federal policies affect all riders, especially those using public lands. And, sometimes, decisions made in one locale are cited as precedents or models for future decisions in other jurisdictions, including states.

    • It is important, and admittedly involved, for today’s OHV riders to know all the access rules.

    • Consequences of making land-access assumptions can easily ruin an otherwise carefully planned trip and, much more significantly, cause the permanent loss of a favorite riding area for everyone.

    The AMA works hard to communicate the importance of being aware of and involved in access issues where you ride and beyond. Through our magazine, American Motorcyclist, AMA Action Alerts, the AMA Extra e-newsletters, the monthly AMA News & Notes and our website, www.americanmotorcyclist.com[PT1] /rights, we provide you with the most current information available on the most important issues.

    The U.S. Forest Service’s public hearings, federal and state motor vehicle use maps and “Call Before You Haul” programs are all great ways for OHV enthusiasts to remain aware of access rules.  Local clubs are often the best source of information on legal access to private lands. 

    With the off-highway-riding season at one of its seasonal peaks -- between the cold winters in the North and the oppressive summer heat in the South -- we strongly encourage you to ensure your knowledge is current on land-access rules where you ride. While you are at it, educate yourself on the broader access issues and efforts in your area.

    If you need help with the particulars in your local riding area, please contact the AMA at grassroots@amacycle.org for assistance.


     [PT1]Be sure to hyperlink these

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