Motorcyclists to circle Capitol in opposition to E15

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hundreds of motorcyclists and classic car drivers are set to swarm the nation’s capital Wednesday morning, making laps around the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings.

The drivers aren’t late stragglers to the nation’s Memorial Day festivities but rather opponents of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol. They’re in town as part of the American Motorcyclist Association’s “E15 Fuel for Thought Lobby Day,” a daylong event that the trade group says will feature speeches from the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus and visits to lawmakers’ offices, along with the motorcycle ride.

“We have a responsibility to ensure Americans operating gas-powered machines are not put at risk due to faulty fuel that has not been sufficiently examined,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), a vocal ethanol opponent and a scheduled speaker at the event.

The rally in the capital comes as gas stations around the country are slowly starting to sell E15, a fuel that could one day replace E10 as the most common fuel in the gasoline market and help expand biofuel use in America. U.S. EPA last year issued final approval for the fuel’s use in passenger vehicles with model years 2001 and newer.

Motorcycles, other small-engine vehicles and classic cars pre-2001 are explicitly prohibited from using E15, but their trade organizations say they worry that users will accidentally fill up with the fuel if it becomes widespread at gas stations. They’re seeking a reversal of EPA’s decision, further testing of the fuel and other legislative actions limiting the renewable fuel standard.

Scheduled speakers Wednesday include Reps. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), co-chairman of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus; Chris Stewart (R-Utah), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s environment subpanel; Tom Petri (R-Wis.); and David Valadao (R-Calif.).

Before the rally, biofuels organizations tomorrow plan to fight back with a press conference call featuring engine experts who will refute concerns about E15.

Also this week, the National Council of Chain Restaurants plans to launch a campaign called “Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu” to push for repeal of the renewable fuel standard, which mandates yearly levels of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuel that must be blended into the nation’s motor fuel supply.