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  • Facts are stubborn things

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” -John Adams, 1770.

    When U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) introduced H.R. 2733, the Nevada Native Nations Land Act, everyone seemed to be on board. After all, this was a Nevada delegation bill, with its companion piece being spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). It sailed out of committee with no opposition, even though the bill would transfer thousands of acres in Nevada from the oversight of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    The idea behind the bill sounds genuine and worthy.

    At first glance, it seems that Amodei reached out to all the stakeholders. In announcing the bill, he stated, “My bill carefully balances the unique needs of our Nevada tribal nations with those of local ranchers, land owners and businesses.”

    However, Amodei didn’t say anything about working with one major stakeholder: off-highway-vehicle groups. These groups comprise thousands of outdoor recreation enthusiasts who count on miles and miles of public roads and trails in the proposed transfer zone for the wholesome enjoyment of motorized recreation.

    Neither the American Motorcyclist Association nor any other OHV group was consulted or informed by congressional representatives about this bill. It was one AMA member who discovered by happenstance the true intent of this bill.

    Here is part of his conversation with a tribal law enforcement officer (LEO), as he related to the AMA:

    “…this land (as he [Tribal LEO] waved his hand to indicate the area to the West and North of our location) was soon going to be closed to OHV… We all commented something to the effect of "oh, really???" I believe his response was that this "federal" land was going to be transferred from BLM to the Indian Reservation because the Indians don't like the noise of OHVs…, so they want a "buffer area" around the Reservation.”

    Amodei revealed on his website that the intent of this legislation is to exclude OHV use and to create a buffer area around the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony to address quality of life concerns.

    What about the quality of life for the responsible Reno-Sparks area riders who use these roads and trails as a weekend getaway? What about the quality of life for thousands of riders who visit the area annually, generating revenue for local hotels, gas stations, restaurants and shops? And what about the quality of life of the merchants and hospitality workers who count on that recreational activity for their livelihoods?

    The Reid/Amodei legislation would transfer 13,434 acres within the BLM Hungry Valley Recreation Area to the colony. And according to the tribal law enforcement officer, the bill would eliminate access to many miles of public roads and trails that are now used for responsible motorized recreation.

    To defend his bill, Amodei has deployed the tactic of diversion by twisting the words of the AMA. His office has been telling everyone “…there may have been confusion… when AMA stated we were conveying away the Moon Rocks area.”

    This is not true. The AMA stated, “This transfer would make the land off limits to off-highway-vehicle riders in parts of the BLM-managed Hungry Valley Recreation Area (popularly known as Moon Rocks) northeast of Reno.” On its website, the BLM refers to the area as the Hungry Valley/Moon Rocks Area, and many other OHV-related sites refer to the area as simply Moon Rocks. The AMA did not state that Moon Rocks itself would be closed if this bill passes and is enacted into law.

    American Founding Father John Adams was correct. Facts are indeed stubborn things. And no amount of twisting and turning can alter the state of facts and evidence.

    Please contact your congressional representative now to voice your opposition to H.R. 2733 and help keep these roads and trails open to responsible off-highway motorized recreation. Read our AMA Action Alert and use the convenient online form to make your voice heard in Congress.

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  • 'REFUEL' means 'misfuel'

    Leave it to our federal government to place millions of American motorcyclists at greater risk of filling their bikes with unsafe fuel.

    That is exactly what could happen if H.R. 4673, the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership Act” – “REFUEL Act” – becomes law. The bill would provide federal grants to buy and install infrastructure, such as blender pumps, storage tanks, internal tank lining, piping or electric-vehicle chargers. The infrastructure must be used in the “process of dispensing fuel containing covered renewable or alternative energy.”

    These blender pumps would be a key component in helping to expand the availability of E15 fuel, a mix of gasoline that includes up to 15 percent ethanol by volume.E15 blender pump

    None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the United States is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to operate on fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Inadvertent use of E15 in vehicles not designed for its use can damage fuel system and engine components and void manufacturer’s warranties.

    Increasing the availability of E15 by subsidizing more blender pumps and other infrastructure raises the risk that motorcyclists will inadvertently pump the higher-ethanol blend into their gas tanks.

    What if you accidentally fill up with the wrong fuel? E15 is not like diesel, with a separate pump and special nozzle that won’t fit your fuel-tank filler. And it’s not enough to rely on the confusing warning labels on fuel pumps. One mistake may be all it takes to get a tank of unsafe, engine-damaging fuel.

    The bottom line? The REFUEL bill is a prescription for widespread inadvertent misfueling.

    Tell your representative “No” to unsafe E15 fuel and to oppose H.R. 4673. Use the American Motorcyclist Association’s alert to send a pre-written message.

    Join the AMA — it’s where riders belong.

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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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  • 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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