On October 14, 2011, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R. 3199. This bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek independent scientific analysis on the effects of 15 percent ethanol blend (E15) gasoline.
"The EPA's decision to allow E15 into the marketplace will impact every American who owns a car, lawnmower or boat," Sensenbrenner said. Automakers insist that using E15 will void warranties, lower fuel efficiency and cause premature engine failure. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users.
"There are serious concerns that the EPA used only one Department of Energy test and rushed E15's introduction into the marketplace," Sensenbrenner said. "This test was limited in scope and ignored a plethora of evidence - albeit inconvenient evidence for the EPA - that shows E15 gasoline has a negative effect on engines."
The Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), held a hearing entitled "Hitting the Ethanol Blend Wall: Examining the Science on E15" on July 7. To watch an archived webcast of the hearing, click here.
The new E15 gasoline formulation may appear at a fueling station near you and you need to be careful where you use this new fuel blend. That is because the EPA, in October 2010, approved E15 for use in model year 2007 and newer light duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles). In January 2011, it added model year 2001-2006 light duty vehicles to the approved list.
Riders should pay attention to this list because no motorcycles or ATVs are currently listed.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is concerned about E15 because it burns hotter than gasoline that contains a lesser amount of ethanol. In engines not designed to dissipate that extra heat, damage in the form of premature wear can result. Although this is a concern in all motorcycles, it's particularly problematic for air-cooled engines found in many bikes. Moreover, use of E15 may even void the manufacturer warranty.
Since the approved list includes many light-duty vehicles in use today, refineries, distributors, and fueling stations may choose to offer primarily E15 gasoline because of this action by the EPA. This should concern all motorcyclists and off-highway enthusiasts since this may affect the availability of gasoline with less or no ethanol (E10 or E0).
We need your help to pass H.R. 3199. You can find contact information for your Representative at AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation, then enter your zip code in the "Find your Officials" box. A prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your federal elected official immediately by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information.
For more information on this issue, read the August issue of American Motorcyclist magazine, which includes a column entitled "Alcohol and Motorcycles Don't Mix." To view the column, click here.
In a previous AMA alert, Representative Sensenbrenner also introduced H.R. 748. This bill would prohibit the Administrator of the EPA from authorizing the use of gasoline containing greater than 10 percent ethanol in certain vehicles. For more information on H.R. 748, click here.
Again, the AMA urges you to write your Representative today and ask them to support H.R. 748 and H.R. 3199.