The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

E15: Don’t Get Lost in the Tall Grass

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 15, 2015

While the potential negative impacts of E15 fuel on machines that weren’t designed to use it – from vehicles to outboard marine engines and weed-eaters – isn’t funny, some humor can help illustrate important points in that key public policy debate.

API has three new cartoons that take a light-hearted look at the potential harm from using E15 – containing up to 50 percent more ethanol than E10 gasoline that’s standard across the country – in outdoor equipment, boat motors and motorcycles. Today, outdoor power equipment:

mower

Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), has warned against using E15 in lawnmowers and other outdoor gear because they can cause permanent damage. Click here for a series of E15-related cautions from OPEI and other authorities.

At a gathering of a wide variety of groups concerned about efforts to push more E15 into the U.S. fuel supply, Kiser said 27 million to 30 million pieces of small-engine equipment are sold each year, with up to 300 million units already in Americans’ garages, sheds and basements. Kiser:

“When E15 was approved my industry and our friends in the marine industry and the automobile industry … said you can’t do this. You can’t reverse-engineer the marketplace, the legacy equipment, the legacy fleet, legacy automobiles, the refueling infrastructure and people, frankly, who use it. These people have fueled their products since the beginning of engines the same way. Everything that goes into the car goes into the (gas) can, what goes into the can goes into the chainsaw or the generator or the bass boat, the ATV and the mower.”

He added:

“What happens is, failure of one of those products not only is an economic failure, this is engine destruction. So the product is destroyed. … Regrettably, if your boat fails 30 miles offshore, your snowmobile fails out in the wilderness in inclement weather, your chainsaw engages while it’s in neutral – somebody gets hurt. ”

The E15 push is a result of the dysfunctional Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing volumes of ethanol in the fuel supply – which EPA itself acknowledges is forcing more ethanol into the market than can be safely absorbed as E10 fuel – amid consumer concern for the potential impacts detailed by Kiser and others. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“I believe consumers are becoming more and more aware of what the ethanol blend is doing. … The government can issue all sort of mandates. If consumers don’t buy it, at that point we’re just interfering in the marketplace. … (Y)ou can’t try to compel the consumer to do something that the consumer knows is not in their best interest.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.