Every month, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) releases notes on the various happenings and movements that are occurring in the two-wheeled political landscape. September being no different, one of the AMA’s line items is the return of a four-gallon minimum purchase recommendation of E15 fuel, courtesy of the American Coalition for Ethanol. If this issue sounds familiar, it is because a similar provision was put forward by the EPA back in 2012, but was ultimately withdrawn when it was clear most motorcycle carried only 3-5 gallons of gas, and were not EPA-approved to run E15 fuel. I wasn’t planning on rehashing this story when the AMA’s note came out, but since there have been a few reports with some inaccurate information, I thought it best to address what is going on with E15 fuel this time around.
Since Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as a means to “combat our growing energy problems” and “reduce our independence on oil”, the debate over how safe ethanol additives really are has raged on. As you may know, the Act lead the introduction of E10, which vehicle owners have been claiming causes serious damage to engines, such as damaged catalytic converters, improper combustion, and component deterioration. While proponents of ethanol claim that it is a cleaner burning, higher octane fuel source that is renewable, opponents feel that the mixture of gasoline and ethanol is causing more problems than it is solving. This week marks a victory for the latter camp, as the EPA has now publicly confirmed that ethanol does cause serious damage the engines.
I have to admit, the whole E15 controversy that has been brewing between the EPA and AMA has me a bit confused. Namely, I do not know how the EPA ever thought that a four-gallon minimum purchase requirement solved anything for powersport users who were concerned about putting E15 in the tanks of their motorcycles and ATVs. Realizing that a solution to the actual problem had to be devised, the EPA has now dropped the four-gallon minimum on fuel pumps that dispense E10 and E15 from the same pump, and instead the government body says it will likely require gas stations to label shared pumps, as well as offer a dedicated E10 pump/hose for vehicles.