Skip Navigation LinksBlog / RightsBlog
  • DC Insider: Is E30 fuel coming to a pump near you?

    If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has its way, then E30 fuel is coming to a gas pump near you.

    Here’s why.

    Automobile and motorcycle manufacturers must certify that the on-highway vehicles they produce will meet applicable U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emissions, fuel economy and safety requirements prior to selling the vehicles. The fuel that the vehicles must use for this requirement is called the “certification fuel.”

    By administrative fiat, the EPA now proposes to change the certification fuel to E15, with an allowance for manufacturers to petition the EPA for an E30 certification. This proposal, if promulgated, will create an environment where this country will have a divided fleet of engines requiring different types of fuel.

    The current certification fuel is E0 – that is, fuel that has no ethanol content whatsoever.

    Changing the certification fuel to E15 or E30 is at odds with the 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in use, not to mention the legacy fleet of cars, boats, lawnmowers, generators and hundreds of millions of small engines in commerce today. None of these vehicles and engines is designed to operate on fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol.  

    The AMA believes that the current certification fuel should not be changed to reflect what the EPA calls “forward-looking” assumptions about what “could become a major gasoline blend over the next 10-15 years,” such as E15 or E30.

    Currently, the risks of increasing E15 in the marketplace will negatively impact every American. Since the EPA used only one test to determine whether E15 is safe for vehicles before granting a waiver allowing E15 into the marketplace, the AMA urges the agency to allow for an independent scientific study of E15. We also request that motorcycles and ATVs be included in the study.

    The AMA has expressed concerns about E15 being mistakenly used and damaging engines in motorcycles and ATVs, and about the continued availability of gasoline that has no ethanol, or gasoline with only a 10 percent blend, that is safe for use in motorcycles and ATVs.

    With the EPA wanting to certify fuel at possibly E30, every motorcyclist should be very concerned.

    This is why we urge you join the American Motorcyclist Association and fellow motorcyclists at the AMA E15: “Fuel For Thought” lobby day in Washington, D.C., on June 19. The event includes a ride and a rally at the U.S. Capitol, and will educate lawmakers about the need to research the possible harmful effects of E15 fuel on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines. For more information, go to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/AMAFuelforThought.aspx.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: Why buy more, you don’t use what you already own?

    It seems every time I pick up a newspaper or watch TV, I see another story about federal budget cuts and continued budget shortfalls. This is especially true for federal land management agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

    With budgets being cut, many – including myself – are worried how these cuts will affect access to our public lands, especially for responsible off-highway-vehicle use. This is particularly concerning because one of the most frequent reasons given by land managers for closing an OHV trail is lack of funding for trail maintenance.  

    However, we are not getting the whole story.

    As federal agencies are faced with shrinking budgets, instead of working to reduce inefficiencies and wasteful spending, the Department of Interior is attempting to expand the area it already manages. Let me say that one more time: As its budget is shrinking and federal land managers are curtailing operations, the DOI is purchasing more land!

    I am not the only one to notice this disturbing trend.

    U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop recently said, “It’s ironic that the Department of Interior can’t find money to keep normal operations at our parks, yet they always seem to have money to buy more land.”

    I find it sad. As OHV trails, campsites and visitor centers across the country are delaying opening day to save money, the DOI is trying to increase the size of its domain. We need to ask the people’s representatives in Congress to keep a close watch on the budgets of federal land agencies.

    We -- the OHV community – also need to be involved in maintaining trails and creating a proper and responsible riding environment so that federal land managers don’t have excuses for closing trails.

    We can do this in several ways. First, by following all posted rules and regulations regarding where we are allowed to ride. Second, we must always pack out what we bring in. Third, we must remain vigilant and keep our lawmakers informed when government tries to limit access to our lands for responsible recreation. Lastly, we can volunteer with the BLM, USFS and NPS to help ensure the trails we all enjoy are well maintained, safe and fun.

    The AMA is currently attempting to secure a list of trails that were closed due to lack of funds. With this information we hope to work with federal, state and local land managers and volunteers to reopen trails across the country.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: May is Motorcycle Awareness Month

    The month of May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, which is one of the most important months of the year for the safety of all road users -- especially motorcyclists.

    As the largest motorcycling rights and event-sanctioning organization in North America, the American Motorcyclist Association urges drivers to avoid crashes with motorcyclists by taking extra care and looking twice to spot motorcycles in traffic -- especially at intersections – and respect the motorcyclists' space on the road and not follow too closely.

    The AMA recognizes that distracted or inattentive driving has become a major concern for all road users. Far too many cases have been documented of motorcyclists being injured or killed as a result of other vehicle operators being distracted or inattentive.

    Recently, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood issued voluntarily guidelines that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk associated with electronic devices built into their vehicles. High-tech devices designed for communications, entertainment and navigation, known as “infotainment systems,” will inevitably increase distracted driving and add to the ever-increasing number of crashes and fatalities attributable to distracted and inattentive vehicle operation.

    The AMA sent a letter applauding LaHood for issuing the guidelines to combat distracted driving because we share his view that “Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways.”

    Responding in a letter on behalf of LaHood, the National Highway Safety Administration expressed pleasure that the AMA supports efforts to curtail distracted driving. Furthermore, the NHTSA pointed out that in-vehicle technologies distract driver attention and increase the risk to all motorists, including motorcyclists.

    To view AMA position statements on distracted and inattentive vehicle operation and rider education, as well as other subjects, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: Take the money and run! California to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program

    Recently, at a meeting with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff, the AMA learned that California intends to opt out of the federal Recreational Trails Program. This means California will spend approximately $5.7 million less on recreational trails in 2014.

    The RTP functioned as a standalone program within the federal highway trust because it is based on a user-pay/user-benefit system. All of the funding for the program came from taxes paid on gasoline by OHV users (you and I) when we filled up our gas tanks. In essence, when groups applied for grants from the program they were simply applying for their money back.

    This will no longer be the case.

    According to the governor’s proposed budget, the funds that were congressionally authorized to fund trails will be diverted to fund active transportation projects. This will include only walking and bicycling projects that will reduce greenhouse emissions.  

    Starting in 2014, Brown is asking OHV users to continue to pay the federal and state excise tax on gasoline and derive no benefit. In fact, he is telling the OHV community to fund other projects instead.

    The RTP program in California is exceptionally popular and well run. Each year RTP administrators receive more applications for grants than they can fund. Additionally, in 2011 California was recognized by the Coalition for Recreational Trails for administering the program efficiently.

    In proposing this state budget, Brown has shown how much he values the OHV community in California and surrounding states. The AMA does not plan to sit out this budget battle on the sidelines. In fact, we – along with other users of recreational trails – have begun a large grassroots campaign to get the governor to reconsider his decision to opt out of the RTP.  

    We need your help! Please send the governor a letter – you can do so by going here and clicking the “Take Action” button. Additionally, share this link with all your friends and urge them to do the same.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: Is progress being made to end motorcycle-only checkpoints?

    One word—yes.

    On May 7, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced H.R. 1861, the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act. The bill will protect motorcyclists’ rights and promote crash prevention as the most effective use of taxpayer money to save motorcyclists’ lives.

    The bill incorporates Sensenbrenner’s legislation (H.R. 904) introduced in the previous Congress. H.R. 904 would have prohibited the U.S. Department of Transportation from providing funds to state and local authorities for the purpose of creating motorcycle-only checkpoints.

    This bill is critical to ending the discriminatory practice of MOCs.

    To view the AMA's efforts to end motorcycle-only checkpoints, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/motorcycleonlycheckpoints.aspx.

    You—the motorcyclist— can count on the AMA to watch your six while you enjoy the freedom of riding.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: A Ride A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

    It turns out that riding your motorcycle can help keep your brain fit.

    A study performed by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima of the University of Tokyo demonstrated that people who rode their motorcycles daily experienced improved memory and spatial reasoning capacity.  

    The study examined three groups. One group of riders had been riding their bikes daily for an extended period of time. The second was a group of former riders who had not been on a motorcycle in over 10 years. Each group had their brains scanned while riding and performing other activities. Finally, they examined a group that did not ride a motorcycle at all.

    Interestingly, the images of each groups’ brains showed vast differences. When riding, the riders who had continuously motorcycled used the right hemisphere of the prefrontal lobe – the area associated with higher mental functions, such as speech, planning and motivation – and demonstrated higher levels of concentration. Those who had not been on a motorcycle for over 10 years did not.

    The benefits of riding more do not stop once you get off your bike. Current riders experienced higher levels of cognitive faculties. Interestingly, at the end of the study, the former riders also experienced these benefits as compared to the control group which did not motorcycle.

    These effects are vastly different that those generated from driving a car, which does not produce the same benefits. This is largely due to the fact that driving a car under normal condition does not create similar stimuli, or require the increased levels of concentration, as motorcycling.

    An added bonus, all participants reported a more positive mental state and lower levels of stress at the end of the study.

    As if you didn’t already need another reason to ride your motorcycle more!

    Full story

  • DC Insider: Bureaucrats’ Attempting to Override Congress….Again

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the Bureau of Land Management using arbitrary standards to decide when an event is considered “significant,” thus, needing to be officially “noticed” in the Federal Register. At that time my curiosity got the best of me and the AMA wrote a letter to the principle deputy director of the BLM asking for clarification. Just this week the BLM responded to the letter the AMA sent out asking for clarification.

    The BLM’s response was disappointing.    

    The BLM directed me to 40 CFR 1508.27 which, theoretically, lays out the legally binding definition of a “significant” event. The legal definition leaves much to be desired. At the end of the day, this flexible definition of a significant event gives nearly total discretion to (unelected) federal decision-makers on the ground.

    The BLM went on to say that, “Although Federal regulations do not require a comment period for environmental assessments… [we] strongly encourage public involvement, leaving the type of involvement at the discretion of the decision-maker.”

    As a result, if an unelected bureaucrat wants to make an unpopular decision he/she first gets to decide if an event is significant enough to legally warrant public comments and being noticed in the Federal Register. That same bureaucrat can then decide the level of public involvement. Since the law is so vague, any decision is difficult to appeal.

    I am not one to argue for more levels of arbitrary bureaucracy. But, the BLM, as well as all other federal land management agencies, should have quantitative measurements that apply when determining the significance of a proposed decision. These metrics should be applied to every project so the public can be involved in decisions that affect them, no matter how insignificant the federal government claims them to be. After all, our nation’s citizens and their treasured natural resources deserve nothing less.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: They are at it again

    Unelected bureaucrats are trying to restrict responsible OHV access once again.

    In 1964 Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which established the legal basis for designating federal public land as Wilderness. This important legislation was passed to protect the most pristine federal lands for future generations – certainly a noble endeavor.

    A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are prohibited – including riding a bicycle or using a wheelbarrow. This is why, to prevent abuse, only Congress can create Wilderness.

    The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by the 1964 law. Until recently, this rule was generally followed by federal land management agencies. However, as we have seen in recent years, federal agencies have increasingly attempted to limit access to public lands by creating new land-use designations that mirror Wilderness.

    However, these agencies are not seeking congressional approval to do so.

    On Dec. 22, 2010, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating a new land-use designation called "Wild Lands" that essentially allowed officials in the federal Bureau of Land Management to manage public land as if it had received a "Wilderness" land-use designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy would have restricted responsible off-highway riding in the designated areas.

    When the "Wild Lands" policy first emerged, federal lawmakers called the policy a "land grab" and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. The AMA agreed.  

    The AMA opposed the "Wild Lands" policy because it would restrict responsible OHV riding with little or no public input whatsoever. Fortunately, Congress asserted its authority and blocked the "Wild Lands" proposal by refusing to fund it.

    However, the fight did not end there.

    On Aug. 2, 2012, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that despite a lack of funding, Wild Lands had been reincarnated within the federal Department of the Interior. Instead of designating targeted land as Wild Lands, the DOI would label them as having “Wilderness characteristics.” This was the defining language used to describe the Department of the Interior's "Wild Lands" policy.

    This de facto resurrection of the Wild Lands policy was in violation of the congressional funding moratorium that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310.

    Senators and representatives from western states were opposed to the administrative attempts to circumvent Congress.

    "Even though these proposals have already been overwhelmingly rejected, the administration is attempting to administratively put these policies in place," Hatch said. "This proposal will give Washington bureaucrats more control over the lands in Utah and across the West. It's wrong, and the Interior Department needs to stop trying to keep the public off public lands."

    "This is a prime example of why Congress must exercise vigorous oversight," said House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings. "The Wild Lands policy expressly circumvents Congress' statutory authority to establish Wilderness areas."

    Now an additional threat has emerged.

    The AMA recently noticed the National Parks Service introducing the concept of “semi-primitive areas.” According to a recent draft environmental impact statement, semi-primitive areas are “areas [where] visitors would experience a more natural setting with an opportunity for solitude away from roads…semi-primitive zone[s]…could be accessed by visitors using only nonmotorized means.”

    The BLM has a similar definition, though less restrictive – motorized uses are allowed but kept to a minimum to protect a natural looking environment with only subtle evidence of man-made structures.

    This sounds like Wilderness Lite to me.

    The AMA is concerned that this designation will be used to ultimately limit – or even end -- OHV use on public lands. In the DEIS cited above, the NPS has stated that its goal is to increase the level of funding for these semi-primitive and rural zones to make certain national parks a destination for non-motorized activities.

    Opponents of motorized recreation want to eliminate OHV use so that Wilderness characteristics can return to an area. If this happens, the agencies can then use language lifted from Secretarial Order 3310 to designate an area as having Wilderness characteristics. While the DOI has insisted this will not affect land-use within an area, this designation will be taken into account when designing future resource management plans and DEISs.

    This is another example of federal agencies trying to do an end run around Congress to limit OHV access. Wilderness designation, because of the strict limitations that accompany it, is supposed to be difficult to obtain. Designating areas as semi-primitive is one administrative step closer to designating the land as having Wilderness characteristics. In turn, this is one step closer to a de facto Wilderness designation.

    Because the restrictions in Wilderness are so great, only Congress should have the authority to designate it. What the agencies are trying to do is rule by administrative fiat, without utilizing public input.  

    The American Motorcyclist Association opposes all of these administrative land-use designations because they can restrict responsible OHV riding.

    Please join us in working together to defeat these proposals and any that are certain to follow. More members means more clout against our opponents, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/membership/join.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: Risk of E15 misfueling may increase with federal program

    Last August, I posted a blog titled, “Paying from both ends to support ethanol.” It was about how the U.S. Department of Agriculture was subsidizing ethanol production from the start by providing grants to purchase special ethanol blender pumps.

    The blog post elicited several comments and I wanted to provide an update on the latest efforts of the AMA on the E15 front. E15 is a blend of gasoline that includes up to 15 percent ethanol by volume.

    On April 24, the AMA provided comments regarding grants and loans for the Agriculture Department’s Rural Energy for America Program’s renewable energy systems (e.g., special ethanol blender pumps).

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in 2011 that the USDA intends to install 10,000 blender pumps by 2016. REAP will be a key component to achieve the secretary’s goal and, thus, help grow the availability of E15 fuel.

    These special ethanol blender pumps will further limit access to E10-or-less fuel in rural areas. This will be a problem because rural areas tend to have an older “legacy” vehicle fleet than other parts of the country. Moreover, rural areas are the most vulnerable places for motorcyclists and users of small engine devices because options for regular gasoline may be few or even non-existent.

    The REAP will help one segment of the rural economy at the cost of other segments. Ultimately, the higher costs will have a negative impact on small rural economies.

    These special ethanol blender pumps may increase misfueling by consumers. In fact, the EPA is concerned enough to issue a plan for retailers on its website’s “E15: Misfueling Mitigation Plans” page to try to avoid misfueling by consumers.

    The REAP grant and loan program to purchase special ethanol blender pumps will only worsen the possibility of misfueling by consumers.

    Like always, the AMA has you—the motorcyclist—in mind concerning the unproven effects of E15 fuel on your ride.

    Full story

  • DC Insider: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

    On April 23, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released distraction guidelines that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk associated with electronic devices built into their vehicles. High-tech devices designed for communications, entertainment and navigation, known as “infotainment systems,” will, inevitably, increase distracted driving and add to the ever-increasing number of crashes and fatalities attributable to distracted and inattentive vehicle operation.

    The American Motorcyclist Association sent a letter on April 24 thanking LaHood for his actions regarding his ongoing efforts to combat distracted driving and shares his view that “Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways.”

    Issued by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the voluntary guidelines establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to use them.

    The guidelines recommend disabling several operations unless the vehicle is stopped and in “park,” such as:

    •    Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing;
    •    Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;
    •    Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.

    The AMA supports NHTSA efforts to curtail distracted driving, and agrees with LaHood that infotainment systems are a step in the wrong direction toward achieving safer highways for all users, especially motorcyclists.

    Driver, rider and pedestrian safety should never be compromised in the effort to introduce yet another technology distraction to an already overly distracting automobile cockpit.

    You can count on the AMA to keep fighting for you—the motorcyclist—on this important issue of safer highways for all users. 

    Full story

  1. Previous page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. Next page