TWO E15 DECISIONS
AFTER A DISAPPOINTING U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on its uit against the U.S. Environ– mental Protection Agency (EPA) over E15 fuel last August, the
National Marine Manufacturers Association
(NMMA) is back in court. As part of a coalition of organizations that challenged the EPA’s
authority to allow gasoline containing 15-per-
cent ethanol, or E15, in the marketplace,
NMMA filed suit in July 2011. But the court,
by a 2-1 decision, said the coalition members
didn’t have standing to bring the suit, so the
court could not consider the merits of the case.
In other words, the court said NMMA and the
other plaintiffs could not prove they had been
harmed directly by the EPA action.
While the appeal could settle that question,
the EPA’s 2011 decision to allow the sale of E15
in the first place still stands. But it stipulates that
the fuel can be used only in motor vehicles 2001
and newer. Thus, the EPA had to come up with
procedures to guard against consumers inadvertently using E15 in the wrong engines (and that
includes all inboard and outboard boat engines).
A solution, announced last fall, is the “
four-gal-lon rule,” meaning that consumers buying E10
from a pump that also dispenses E15 through
the same hose must buy a minimum of four gallons, even if they need less. The rationale behind
the rule is that just as single-hose pumps widely
used today offer octane choices at the push of a
button, these “blender pumps” could be used
to dispense gasoline with varying percentages of
ethanol through the same hose.
But what happens when the next customer
needs E10? Just push the E10 button, right?
Sure, but residual amounts of E15 likely would
be left in the hose so EPA requires the customer
to purchase a minimum of four gallons of E10.
Theoretically that would dilute the concentration to the legal 10-percent level, but if you
need less, say to fill the two-gallon gas can for
your dinghy’s outboard motor, you’re stuck. The
EPA directive states, “a minimum transaction of
4 gallons must be required for E10 purchases
and communicated to consumers by means of
a prominently placed label stating: ‘Minimum
Fueling Volume 4 Gallons; Dispensing Less May
Violate Federal Law.’” — R.L.