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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ethanol And Motorcycles

Pardon the bureaucrat speak, but on May 29 the Environmental Protection Agency:
“announced proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry.” That’s how your government speaks to you; Like they are Foghorn Leghorn and your name is “Boy.”
“’This proposal marks an important step forward in making sure the Renewable Fuel Standard program delivers on the Congressional intent to increase biofuel use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security,’ said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air. ‘We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels.’”

In Other Words

What the EPA is talking about is increasing the amount of alcohol, or ethanol, in the nation’s gasoline. Specifically, the government wants to increase how much gasoline is actually a mix of 85 percent gas and 15 percent alcohol.
Ethanol presents well known problems for motorcyclists. Because alcohol has less energy than gasoline, so-called “E15” dangerously leans out the fuel air mixture. Harley-Davidson cautions riders about using gasoline blends that contain 10 percent ethanol. “You may find that some ethanol gasoline blends affect the starting, driveability, or fuel efficiency of your motorcycle. If you experience one or more of these problems, it is recommended you operate your motorcycle on straight unleaded gasoline,” the Motor Company says.”
Ethanol also corrodes metal, plastic and rubber parts and absorbs water from the atmosphere which can cause numerous engine problems. The E15 blend is actually illegal to use in motorcycles. The EPA thinks the E15 blend will only be pumped from blender pumps that carry a warning label that reads, “Passenger vehicles only. Use in other vehicles, engines and equipment may violate Federal law.”

AMA Petition

Opponents of the increase are skeptical of that safeguard and among the opponents is the venerable American Motorcyclist Association which distributed its own press release yesterday. The release correctly states that the distribution of gasoline blends that are 16 percent ethanol “increase the risk of misfueling for motorcyclists.”
The AMA has published an online petition “that urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to increase the proposed renewable fuel volumes this year…The EPA opened a comment period to allow the public to voice its opinion on the proposed rule. The AMA plans to submit every name and address with its comments to the EPA on July 26.”
Wayne Allard, the AMA vice president for government relations said, “Our goal is to present more than 10,000 signatures supporting our stance against the wrongheaded policies of the EPA and the USDA on this matter.”

It is not a sexy issue. You will not hear about this on television but the amount of ethanol in gasoline is peculiarly important to bikers. If you are so inclined, whether you are an AMA member or not, you can sign the AMA’s petition here.