A newly released survey by Boating Industry magazine points to ethanol as playing an even “bigger role” in service issues than it was just a year ago, with a remarkable “87% of our respondents reporting seeing boat engine damage caused by ethanol,” said Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Sweet. The magazine reported that was up from 73 percent in the same survey in April 2015. BoatUS, a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition, hopes to share the survey’s findings to help change the broken federal ethanol mandate.
“Dealers, manufacturers and marinas are clearly very concerned about the increased use of ethanol,” added Sweet. “According to our readers, ethanol is playing an increasing role in causing engine damage and other repair issues.”
The survey, sent to a mix of readers from dealerships, marinas, engine and boat manufacturers around the country, was answered in April and May. Most notably, many respondents raised concerns of misfueling at roadside gas stations. The Boating Industry survey follows a Harris Poll study conducted for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute earlier this year, with 64 percent of American adults reporting they weren’t sure or didn’t pay attention to the type of gas they used.
“Misfueling is our #1 concern,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy. About 40% of over half a million BoatUS members report filling up the family boat at a gas station and another 35% use portable gas cans.
Continuing to make the connection between the Federal ethanol mandate and the negative consequences to recreational boat owners, survey respondents noted that while ethanol may be helping drive service department business, frequent issues run the risk of driving more people out of boating. As one boat manufacturer said in survey, “Ethanol is a boom for the service departments. Ethanol is a huge drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers. It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat and their entire boating experience.”
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the recreational boating industry in the United States has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion, supporting 650,015 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 businesses.
Signed into law in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires an increasing amount of biofuels such as corn ethanol to be blended into the gasoline supply. When it was written, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow.
Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually declined steadily which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15% ethanol) into the marketplace. Even though E15 is prohibited for use in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers, and any vehicle made before 2001, it can now be found in 23 states, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
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