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Blender pump confusion may lead to inadvertent misfueling with E15 fuel

Contact the AMA with information!

There is a serious push by pro-ethanol lobbyists to confuse consumers at fuel retail stations this summer in an effort to increase sales of E15 fuel.

What are they saying?

According to a recent news article, “federal regulators say E15 must be labeled as a ‘Flex Fuel’ in most areas of the country.” And, “it’s the same fuel that gas stations have called E15, and that regulators said was approved to use in any vehicle 2001 and newer.”

The article also stated “the E15 label change is only for the summer and doesn’t apply to some areas of the country.”

What is the truth?

There is no federal regulation to mandate a new “Flex Fuel” label for the summer. Retailers are attempting to sell E15 fuel in the summer months (June 1 – Sept. 15) as a “Flex Fuel” to circumvent the Reid Vapor Pressure restrictions. RVP is a measure of gasoline’s propensity to evaporate. As part of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, Congress enacted a provision allowing conventional gasoline to exceed the RVP limit by up to 1 psi provided it contained up to 10 percent ethanol. The 1 psi waiver is not available to ethanol blends greater than 10 percent (e.g., E15).  The ethanol industry has asked Congress to extend the 1 psi waiver from E10 to E15, contending that it is needed to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season.

Why does this matter to motorcyclists?

The American Motorcyclist Association opposes E15 fuel because using E15 in motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer’s warranty.

None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in the United States is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to use E15 or higher ethanol blends. Using E15 in motorcycles and ATVs violates federal law.

Yet the rush to force more E15 fuel into the marketplace by the ethanol industry greatly increases the chances of inadvertent misfueling by motorcyclists and ATV owners — as well as owners of boats, small engines and other machines that aren’t warrantied for E15 use — due to blender pumps, confusing pump labeling and the lack of any significant consumer education by the ethanol industry or the federal government.

AMA’s response

The AMA reached out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding this new so-called “mandated label.”

Their reply stated:

– There is no new rule effective this week.
– E15 is not a flex fuel. It is gasoline. Simply changing the label doesn’t make it a legal flex fuel.
– The agency made this clear in a proposed rule issued last year, the Regulatory Enhancement Support Growth Rule (REGS Rule). This rule provides the details of what is and isn’t legal.
– E15 is gasoline and as such needs to comply with all gasoline standards during all times of the year. This includes volatility standards in the summer.
– E15 also has specific labeling requirements that need to be met and maintained under the E15 misfueling and mitigation plans.

What you should do if you see an E15 “Flex Fuel” label on a blender pump?

Please take a photo and note the retailer and address. Send the photo and information to the AMA at grassroots@ama-cycle.org.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that you and your riding friends become members of the AMA to help protect our riding freedoms. More members mean more clout against the opponents of motorcycling. That support will help fight for your rights – on the road, trail and racetrack and in the halls of government. If you are a motorcycle rider, join the AMA at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.

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