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AMA supports study of ethanol-blended fuel

October 18, 2011
Filed under News

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has introduced a bill that calls for new research into the effects of certain ethanol-blended gasoline.

“The research sought by Representative Sensenbrenner is badly needed to ensure that new ethanol-gasoline blends won’t damage motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) engines,” said Wayne Allard, American Motorcyclist Association vice president for government relations. “We are urging all concerned motorcycle and ATV riders to contact their lawmakers to ask them to support Representative Sensenbrenner’s bill: H.R. 3199.”

On Oct. 14, Sensenbrenner, who is vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, introduced H.R. 3199. The legislation would require the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek an independent scientific analysis of the effects of E15 — a new gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent alcohol by volume — on engines.

“The EPA’s decision to allow E15 into the marketplace will impact every American who owns a car, lawnmower or boat,” Sensenbrenner said. “Automakers insist that using E15 will void warranties, lower fuel efficiency and cause premature engine failure. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users.

“There are serious concerns that the EPA used only one Department of Energy test and rushed E15’s introduction into the marketplace,” Sensenbrenner said. “This test was limited in scope and ignored a plethora of evidence — albeit inconvenient evidence for the EPA — that shows E15 gasoline has a negative effect on engines.”

The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available.

In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-2006 light-duty vehicles to the approved list.

No motorcycles or ATVs are currently on the list.

The AMA and ATVA have expressed concerns about E15 being mistakenly used and damaging engines in motorcycles and ATVs, and about the continued availability of gasoline that has no ethanol, or gasoline with only a 10 percent blend, that is safe for use in motorcycles and ATVs.

The organizations have also expressed concerns about the possibility that “blender pumps” that dispense multiple grades of gasoline through a single hose might introduce enough ethanol into gasoline to be used in a motorcycle or ATV to damage the vehicle; and that ethanol absorbs water, which could be harmful to motorcycles and ATVs.

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