Ethanol industry weighs in on API E0 claims 

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015

Several ethanol trade associations have weighed in on recent announcements by the American Petroleum Institute regarding demand for E0 and the use of E10 in marine and small engines.

On May 20, API held a joint press conference with the National Marine Manufacturers Association addressing E0 demand and urging the U.S. EPA to take small and marine engines into account when setting 2014, 2015, and 2016 renewable volume requirements (RVOs) under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

“Once again, API and its allies are trying to keep Americans addicted to foreign oil, said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “They are afraid of competition, plain and simple, and are using every possible tactic, whether it be legal, regulatory or through false public relations campaigns designed to fool people to buy into their false narrative to discourage the use of a cleaner, less expensive, homegrown renewable fuel.”

“All major manufacturers of outboard and marine motors, as well as small engines, are approved for the use of gasoline blended with up to 10 percent ethanol. The largest problems associated with engine failure in such equipment and machinery is associated with failure of proper maintenance, not ethanol. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, which represents manufactures of small engines, has even gone on the record to say, ‘We pump E10 without a second thought.’

“What probably does concern boaters is the amount of time they spend dry docked as a result of oil spills, like the one that dumped 21,000 gallons of oil along four miles of coastline in Santa Barbara, California just yesterday,” Buis added.

“This latest charge by API and NMMA does, however, raises a more important question. In Brazil, consumers only have a choice of 27 percent or 100 percent ethanol,” Buis said. “To my knowledge, they have boats, outboard motors, lawnmowers, weed whackers and other outdoor power equipment, as well as cars identical to the ones that are sold right here in the U.S., which begs the question, how is the sky not falling there from ethanol use? The answer is pretty simple, ethanol is a safe, reliable alternative fuel that is taking away from the market share of Big Oil and they, along with their aligned special interests, will do and say anything to fool the American consumer and protect their bottom line.”

Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also stressed that E10 can be safely used in marine engines. “There has been a fair amount of misinformation lately about the use of ethanol in marine engines,” he said. “But boating enthusiasts heading to the water this weekend need to know that E10 has been used successfully in marine engines for 30 years now. E10 has been approved for years in engines made by popular marine manufacturers including Johnson/Evinrude, Mercury Marine, Pleasurecraft and more. Indeed, E10 gives boaters the extra octane boost they need to pull skiers, tubers, or wake boarders while also keeping the water clean by reducing harmful exhaust emissions.”

Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, has also weighed in on the information presented at API’s press conference. “Big Oil knows that small engines are built and warrantied to operate on any blend up to E10, but that doesn’t help their cause, so their presser included a chart showing dwindling E0 sales and availability, a boat lobbyist trying to frighten people about potential misfueling, and the requisite imagery of stranded boaters being swallowed by Moby Dick… The chart was ironic, because it showed that E0 makes up 5 percent of gasoline sales, which is about twice as much as every small engine in America would use, if every one of them were fueled with E0, every time. Put that together with 94.5 percent E10 (which, again, every small engine can also use), and that means the skipper of any given boat only has a 99.5 percent chance of buying the right fuel for his three-hour tour,” he said.

“But here’s the thing – oil companies don’t have to ask EPA to make sure there is plenty of E0 around. They can do it themselves,” Lamberty added. “The RFS doesn’t require ethanol in every gallon of gas, it says refiners must use a certain amount of renewable fuel or buy credits from other refiners. That means all Big Oil would have to do to make more ethanol-free fuel available is sell some fuel(s) that have ‘extra’ ethanol. How lucky are they that 80 percent of all cars and light trucks can use E15? If you’re a refiner, and you sell 10 gallons of E15, you earn enough extra credits (RINs) to sell 4 or 5 gallons of gasoline with no ethanol in it. In the real world, there is a 100 billion gallon market for E15, and it would only take two billion gallons – 2 percent of that market – to create ALL of the extra RINs refiners would need to maintain volume of E0 they say they is ‘required’ (but actually not needed at all).”

“None of this would be an issue if Big Oil were looking for solutions instead of erecting roadblocks to the RFS. Most retailers that offer E15 tell us it makes up between 15 percent and 25 percent of their fuel sales,” Lamberty continued. “One of those marketers, Bruce Vollan, provided the simple solution to Big Oil’s dilemma in some comments he made at an EPA hearing last year: ‘The best way to get over the blend wall is to TRY to get over the blend wall.’”