Rising Ethanol Blends Don’t Float All Boats

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)
has similar concerns about the RFS, since ethanol
mandates also have the potential to cause engine
damage for marine vessels.

“With nearly 13 million registered boats (and nearly
16 million boats in the field) and 70 million boaters
nationwide, the recreational marine industry is a
major consumer goods and services industry that
contributed $30.5 billion in new retail sales and
services to the U.S. economy in 2009 and generates
nearly 340,000 jobs nationwide. … NMMA strongly
opposed – and continues to oppose – the granting of
a “partial” or “conditional” waiver for E15 or any other
ethanol blend level over ten percent ethanol (“E10”)
because it will substantially increase public confusion
and lead to persistent misfueling and consequent
engine performance failures, emissions control failures,
and consumer safety concerns.”

—NMMA Comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

“The Department of Energy’s National Renewable
Energy Laboratory has tested the effects of E15
gasoline on some standard marine engines, and the
majority of these engines suffered significant damage
or exhibited poor engine runability, performance, and
difficult starting – none of which is acceptable on a
boat at sea.”

—NMMA Letter

“… we have determined that e15 blends of ethanol
would cause considerable damage to the 7.5 million
outboard engines in use in this country today. This
damage is unnecessary and can be avoided by
freezing the ethanol content of gasoline at 10% by
volume. NMMA has never been anti-ethanol. We
are simply opposed to fuel blends that will ruin our
engines and place lives at risk.”

—Thomas J. Dammrich, President NMMA

“There is a significant amount of technical and
anecdotal information that concludes that the
introduction of E10 into the gasoline supply has
caused significant damage and failure to boats.
Although boat and engine manufacturers have
adjusted and now design equipment to run on E10,
the introduction of E15 will result in:

  • Damage to rubber parts;
  • Water contamination in the fuel system due to
    ethanol’s hygroscopic properties;
  • Increased water absorption and phase-separation
    of gasoline and water while in tank;
  • Corrosion of fuel system components and fuel
  • Higher exhaust gas temperature due to
    enleanment; performance issues, such as
    drivability (i.e. starting, stalling, fuel vapor lock);
  • Damage to valves, push rods, rubber fuel lines and

    —Minnesota Testimony, NMMA

“Currently, there are nearly 13 million registered
recreational boats in operation in the U.S. No
gasoline marine engine – or any other marine
equipment including gasoline generators – currently
in the field was designed, calibrated, certified or
is warranted to run on anything over 10 percent

“EPA’s own “engineering judgment,” as well as all
available data (supported by these two new studies),
strongly suggests that all of the 12.8 million registered
boats on the water today (with the exception of
approximately 260,000 diesel-powered boats and
the roughly 430,000 registered non-motorized craft)
may be negatively impacted by any gasoline with
more than a 10 percent ethanol blend.”

—NMMA Petition to EPA

“The Renewable Fuels Standard must be revised to
prevent the damage that ethanol blends above the
10% level will cause to engines of all types. … Unless
the renewable fuels mandate is changed, it is likely
that EPA would require 35%-40% ethanol in gasoline
by the year 2022. Every time EPA changes the
percentage of ethanol in gasoline, engines have to be
recalibrated and engine designs changed.”

—NMMA Policy Brief