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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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  • 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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  • R(S)VP: Responding to the misinformation about higher ethanol blends


    Your reservations are justified when it comes to E15, a fuel blend with as much as 15 percent ethanol in your gasoline. E15 represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol, compared to the regular E10 found at most service stations across the country.

    For years, the American Motorcyclist Association has been warning legislators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the dangers of motorcyclists and ATV owners inadvertently pumping E15 or higher ethanol blends into their tanks.

    In fact, none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation is approved for E15 use.

    But you may say, “I know what fuel to put in my ride!”

    We are sure you do. And yet you may end up with some E15 in your fuel tank anyway, causing costly fuel system or engine damage. Even voiding your warranty. How can that be?

    Because some service stations are using labels on their fuel pumps that can be confusing, at best. And some blender pumps may have E15 left over in the hose when you select your preferred blend. So as careful as you are, you could inadvertently misfuel your vehicle with some fuel greater than 10 percent ethanol (E10).

    According to federal regulations, E15 may be sold legally during the summer months if the pump label meets EPA regulations and care is taken to ensure that the Reid Vapor Pressure does not exceed federal standards.

    The AMA clued you in about RVP in an earlier blog post.

    But, briefly, RVP measurement is used by the EPA to regulate the vapor pressure of gasoline sold at retail stations during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). The goal is to reduce evaporative emissions from gasoline that contribute to ground-level ozone and diminish the effects of ozone-related health problems.

    And yet it appears that some fuel retailers have relabeled E15 as flex-fuel. According to a letter from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute, “The attempt to label and sell E15 as ‘flex-fuel’ is an unlawful attempt to bypass the existing RVP regulatory requirements. If this labeling is allowed, then theoretically, the same logic could apply to virtually any blend of ethanol and gasoline, such as E10.”

    Furthermore, the same AFPM and API letter states that some labels [See Figure1] being used by fueling stations may not meet the current labeling requirements per the EPA misfueling mitigation plan.[1]

    Confused yet?

    Changing the labeling creates even more confusion with an already confusing issue and raises the risk that some of us, no matter how much we know, will unintentionally pump E15 or higher ethanol blends into our fuel tanks.

    It’s bad enough that our engines are not built for E15, but now — adding insult to injury — the EPA says we are violating the law even if we unintentionally pump some of it into our bikes and ATVs!

    The AMA recently sent another letter to the EPA reiterating our concerns and also asked the agency to issue an Enforcement Alert concerning the improper relabeling of E15 as a flex-fuel.

    We will keep you up to date as more information becomes available. Meanwhile, be vigilant when refueling your ride. Be sure you are using the fuel your vehicle manufacturer recommends.


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  • Distracted Driving

    With motorcycles located in the cooler climates coming out of the garage and more riders taking to the roads, we at the AMA are getting more inquiries regarding distracted driving and how to effectively fight back.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes,” and “nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.”

    The good news is that state legislators are beginning to understand the gravity of the problem and take appropriate action by increasing penalties for distracted drivers who cause serious injury or death.

    The bad news is this action often comes too late.

    Pennsylvania Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) has prepared legislation that would create new penalties for drivers who injure or kill other motorists while texting and driving. The legislation, named after Daniel Gallatin who was killed pulling into his daughter’s driveway by a motorist who was texting, already has 39 cosponsors in the state assembly.

    Similarly, legislators in Florida, Massachusetts and Texas have introduced bills that would require motorists to provide minimum clearance to vulnerable road users when passing, essentially increasing the right-of-way for motorcyclists.

    Unfortunately, legislation alone will not fix the problem of distracted drivers. Fourteen states already have a ban on using handheld devices while driving and 45 states ban texting while driving. However, even in states with these bans, motorists are still texting and talking on the phone while driving – not to mention all of the other distracting activities that drivers perform.

    What can you do to make a difference? Ensure your kids and family members are not driving while distracted. Tell your neighbors about the importance of anti-distracted driving campaigns.

    Have you had a close call with a distracted driver? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper reminding everyone to share the road. Support legislators who support anti-distracted-driving legislation and increased motorist awareness of motorcycles.

    Most importantly, riders need to educate other motorists about the myriad forms of distracted driving. We need to remind everyone that the fact that you aren’t on your cellphone doesn’t mean you are focused on the road. Eating, drinking, adjusting the radio or GPS and engaging in personal grooming all divert attention from the road.

    We have the numbers on our side. Nearly 80 percent of crashes could potentially be avoided if all drivers focused on the road. Let’s tell fellow motorists and other lawmakers about this problem and work toward a solution.

    Ride safe!



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  • Motorcyclists want a choice, too!

    For many years, the American Motorcyclist Association has expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers -- and educated our members -- about possible damage to motorcycle and all-terrain-vehicle fuel systems and engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 fuel (15 percent ethanol by volume). 

    While we are working to protect motorcyclists’ interests from unsafe fuels, pro-ethanol groups are wheeling and dealing to force retailers nationwide to sell E15, even though its use can be bad news for tens of millions of motorists. Ethanol lobbyists argue that consumers should have a choice in fuels.

    It’s a straw man argument. Here’s why.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not approved E15 for use in any of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in operation, and increasing E15 in the marketplace can decrease the availability of E10/E0, fuels that are safe for these vehicles. Inadvertent misfueling with E15 can cause damage to motorcycle and ATV fuel system and engine components. It can also void manufacturer warranties.

    It is not a choice if an unsafe fuel is mandated for the public.

    Even the EPA has publicly acknowledged that E15 in gasoline can damage internal combustion engines not designed for its use by increasing exhaust temperatures and indirectly causing component failures. In motorcycles and non-road products, the EPA raised concerns about engine-failure caused by overheating.

    In AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member Jay Leno’s column in Autoweek titled “All I want is to be able to choose when to use ethanol-laced gasoline,” he says he wants the ability to choose to not fill his older vehicles and motorcycles with ethanol blended gasoline.

    The AMA agrees and wants our members to have a choice, too. Learn more about the AMA’s efforts to keep E15 out of the marketplace here.


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  • AMA Advocacy Advancements


    Reporting congressional action, state legislation, and local government initiatives has proliferated due to technology advancements. To meet the challenges of innovative technology, the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department is expanding its communication capabilities, so AMA members can obtain and act on information that is accurate and up-to-date.

    I urge you to take time to visit the AMA website to open the door to a wealth of knowledge designed to help riders be more effective when communicating with their elected officials. Go to www.americanmotorcyclist.com and click on “Rights.” This is the Government Relations homepage where, you will see a rotating window that will introduce you to a presentation of federal and state issues. The list first includes Advocacy Center, then areas labeled Counter the Threats, Position Statements, D.C. Insider, Advocate for the AMA and Get Informed.

    The Advocacy Center is about the future challenges facing motorcyclists at the federal and state level. This information is constantly changing. The legislation affects off-highway and on-highway vehicles. The Federal Action Center takes you to legislation that has been introduced in Congress and rules and regulations being considered by federal agencies. It presents an opportunity to address your concerns.

    The federal legislation includes the fuel mandates forcing marketers to offer more E15 (15 perent ethanol), a fuel blend that fails to meet the warranty requirements on your motorcycle engine and, if misfueled, can damage your engine and fuel system. Other federal legislation includes public-land access issues, mostly in the western part of the United States, funding for the Recreational Trails Program and issues related to discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints.

    The State Action Center contains a state map that brings you within a click of viewing legislation in each state. In addition to the legislative updates, the state pages offer a calendar to track meetings within the state and various action tools. The pointer is an image of a motorcycle!

    Most of the issues at the state and local level deal with distracted driving, helmet laws, fuel mandates, the right to ride on private property, and insurance discrimination. Chicago, for example, is considering a mandate requiring retail service stations to carry E15 fuel. The proposal, if it becomes law, could become a model for other cities. The Advocacy Center also contains a section on the AMA’s official position statements and key issues, and a social media page where you will be able to directly Tweet @ your elected officials. The Advocacy Center also contains a legislative scorecard to show you how your members of Congress score, based on their support and involvement with issues facing motorcyclists.

    Because the AMA is constantly updating the Rights section, I encourage members to frequently visit this section to maintain familiarity with the services and issues on the political action section. The AMA’s Washington, D.C., office uses the latest technology to bring you the most recent and most valuable information.

    Modern technology allows the AMA Government Relations Department to provide you with more services and information. We urge you to join the AMA if you are not a member and — if you are a member — encourage your riding friends to join. Then get active. Use the tools we make available to you and help your fellow motorcyclists protect the right to ride.

    We value your suggestions. Please share them with us by sending an email to grassroots@ama-cycle.org. We will also showcase positive testimonials from AMA members on our state pages in the Advocacy Center.

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  • Highway Bill or No Highway Bill

    MAP-21, the acronym for our nation’s current surface transportation bill, is scheduled to expire at the end of May. Since Congress has yet to determine how the next highway bill will be funded, it is more than likely that MAP-21 will be extended for a short period of time. This will allow Congress time to determine the length and funding sources for the next transportation bill.

    In the meantime, the administration released its preferred version of the highway bill—the Grow America Act 2.0. It is basically the same bill the administration introduced in 2014.

    It includes some items the American Motorcyclist Association strongly supports, such as the Recreational Trails Program. The RTP was created on a bipartisan basis in 1991 to provide funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for motorized and non-motorized recreational trail users.

    However, the administration’s proposed bill does not include language to prohibit federal funds for motorcycle-only checkpoints. These checkpoints are discriminatory and the funds being used to operate them should be used to implement proven strategies that help prevent a crash from occurring in the first place, such as rider education and motorist awareness programs.

    It also includes language to allow the federal government to “…engage in activities with States and State legislators…” to change state laws. The AMA opposes this language because we do not believe the federal government should use federal taxpayer dollars and politically charged studies to influence the creation of state laws. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services in a letter to the AMA, “We used a wide body of research from various organizations to identify/define evidence-based interventions. We include studies conducted by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the World Health Organization [Part of the United Nations], and other organizations.”

    Of course Congress will soon have their versions of the next highway bill too. To ensure motorcyclists’ rights are protected, the AMA has been very active on Capitol Hill monitoring proposed legislation and regulations. In the past three weeks, the AMA has met with more than two dozen congressional offices to make sure your voices are heard. Be assured, the AMA is working diligently to make sure Congress includes the interests of motorcyclists in the next highway bill.

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  • All Motorcyclists Feel the Impact of Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints

    We hear feedback from members all the time. Feedback helps us do a better job of serving the AMA mission and we welcome it.

    One of the many issues you have sounded off on is the AMA’s interest in motorcycle-only checkpoints. “What are motorcycle-only checkpoints?” you ask. “I have never experienced them. What is the big fuss?”

    This is what AMA member Brian LeSchander thought until he encountered one in New York.

    “I was directed by a trooper to pull off the main road into a dead end road that was less than 50 yards long with at least a dozen bikes parked in every direction. The area was covered with rocks , stones and debris. I have a 850-pound motorcycle with a passenger aboard and would not choose this as a stop point if I wasn’t directed to. I was ordered to shut down and get off the bike, produce my license, registration and insurance ID card. The officer held my documents and said he would return them to me after we do a lights, horn and tire check, in case he had to write me a citation. I have a current NYS inspection sticker on this bike, and that apparently wasn’t sufficient. My paperwork was also in order. He still insisted that we proceed with the check. He did the check and with a smile handed me my paper work back and released me.”

    It is true that, currently, only a few states implement these checkpoints. And with your help, we have pushed back to prohibit them from appearing in many areas.

    However, New York state still routinely targets motorcyclists with motorcycle-only checkpoints.

    New York budgeted $490,000 in the past two years alone for these discriminatory stops. Even more troubling, the state used motorcycle safety funds from Section 402 of Title 23. These funds should promote programs like rider education to prevent motorcycle crashes from occurring and not be used to arbitrarily pull over riders and randomly subjecting them to roadside inspections.

    We know New York spends much more. It states in its highway safety plans that it has conducted motorcycle-only checkpoints “officially” since fiscal year 2009, but conveniently fails to mention its costs for fiscal years 2009-11.

    I hear you still saying, “But that is New York, I don’t live there”

    The problem is, the funds New York uses to operate motorcycle-only checkpoints are federal dollars. Federal dollars that your state can use in the same way. When we pay our taxes, we should not have to worry the funds will be used to target us with discriminatory checkpoints.

    Still not moved to act to end motorcycle-only checkpoints?

    There is a report soon to be published from an international organization with a long name and broad influence on motorcycle safety: the Joint Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Transport Forum. Buried in the initial report is a section on use of law enforcement. According to the draft report, “A mix of traditional visible enforcement (with on-the-spot roadside checks by police) and automated enforcement for offences such as speeding or red light has the biggest deterrence effect” (emphasis added).

    Now, not only are we fighting how our federal dollars are spent, but also an international body that supports the use of checkpoints.

    Fed up? You can do something about it.

    The AMA supports S. 127, federal legislation that would prohibit federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Doing so would severely impact the implementation of these discriminatory checkpoints nationwide. In addition to S. 127, we are pushing for support of H.R. 1861, a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives..

    Act today by letting your federal lawmakers know that you oppose motorcycle-only checkpoints and support this legislation.

    You — the motorcyclist — can count on the AMA to guard your freedoms while you enjoy the ride.

     

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  • Safety and Trail Fund Raids

    Whether through a registration fee, a special use permit or an OHV sticker purchase, motorcyclists often pay directly for the services they use.

    The motorcycling community does not expect a free lunch and lawmakers tend to respect that fact. We want rider training, increased motorist awareness and accessible trails, and we are willing to chip in to make those needs a reality — even agreeing to additional fees for special accounts intended to enhance the experiences of motorcyclists. But we also demand accountability.

    Unfortunately, many legislators view these accounts as a means to balance or certify a budget or provide a funding boost for a pet project unrelated to motorcycling.

    This year, riders in Texas took notice that motorcycle deaths are rising in their state while dropping across the country, all while the state sits on nearly $16.5 million in unspent motorcycle safety funds. Each year, the funds in the account — accumulated through a $5 surcharge on motorcycle license fees — were held so Texas could certify that its biennial budget balanced.

    As a result, state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) introduced S.B. 754, a bill that would increase the revenue dedicated to motorcycle education and push other legislators to end the practice of using motorcycle training funds to hide budgetary shortfalls.

    New Mexico faces a different fight.

    Registrations for off-highway vehicles in New Mexico are $50 per owner, collected biennially. The New Mexico Off-Highway and Motor Vehicle Act of 2005 specifically earmarks this money for OHV programs.

    However, buried within the 200-page appropriations act is a transfer of $500,000 to the conservation services program of the New Mexico State Park system. As the New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance states, “This is especially ironic (and wrong) because by current law, OHVs are not even allowed in any state park!”

    In both of these situations, riders are paying into funds that are not being deployed correctly, if at all. This is unfair and should be immediately rectified.

    Lawmakers can’t fix what they don’t know about. That’s why you need to make sure you are communicating with your elected officials. Haven’t advocated for motorcyclists’ rights before? Read the AMA’s recently updated “How To Communicate With Government” for tips on getting started.

    Are the funds in your state being spent for their intended purpose? If you suspect they are not, please contact the AMA Government Relations Department at grassroots@ama-cycle.org.

    If you live in Texas or New Mexico and would like to take action on either of these important issues, please view the AMA Action Alerts for each state, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and click the red “Submit” button.

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