The ongoing struggle between the US Government and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) over the proposed 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements has turned another corner on this controversial matter.
A quick overview of what’s at stake. Bills such as the 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements decide how much ethanol-blended fuel will be available at the local gas station, even down to the allowable concentrations of the corn-based additive.
E15 fuel is a blend of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol over the common E10 blend most Americans currently use in their vehicles.
None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the United States is approved by the EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. Not only is using higher-ethanol blends in those vehicles is illegal, they may cause engine and fuel system damage and technically void the manufacturer's warranty.
Obviously, this isn’t good for bikers and the riding community is being represented by the AMA as its government relations experts work with the EPA on the pending standards. This and the other advocacy efforts of the AMA are discussed during our interview with the motorcycle association at Daytona Bike Week.
The interview with the AMA starts at 22 minutes, 51 seconds in the above video
Aside from the damage the ethanol blends can cause to motorcycles, the AMA argues there is a low demand for higher ethanol blends and an inadequate distribution and sales network.
"Even though the total obligations are lower than the statutory requirements, the EPA is creating an untenable situation for the marketplace and raising the risk to motorcyclists and ATV owners," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "The country is not on track to meet the 2016 standards, and the distribution network can't absorb any more ethanol. The consumer demand simply is not there."
By increasing the amount of ethanol in America's gasoline, the AMA points out, the EPA will further strain the fuel marketplace by exceeding the blend wall by hundreds of millions of gallons. The blend wall is the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing consumers to use higher blends, such as E15, E30 and E85.
The AMA also is concerned the increased reliance on corn ethanol could further reduce the amount of ethanol-free fuel available.
"Increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply, coupled with America's decreasing demand for gasoline, is going to result in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and stations," Allard said. "The widespread availability of E15 and higher-ethanol fuels increases the risk that owners will inadvertently misfuel their motorcycles."