The RFS is Broken.  Let’s fix it.

Over the last six months, ethanol has been a hot topic in the halls of Congress. If you own a boat, use any gasoline-powered outdoor equipment like a lawnmower, or operate any other small engines like an ATV or motorcycle, this is an issue that affects you.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal program that mandates the blending of a certain amount of renewable fuels, including ethanol, into our gasoline. The RFS was created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in an attempt to make the US more energy-independent. A major assumption of the RFS was that US gasoline consumption would continue to rise.

That hasn’t happened.

In fact, changing driving habits, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and other factors have actually led to a decrease. However, the RFS still operates under this assumption made back in 2005 and the program does not allow for the flexibility to take into account how Americans actually consume gasoline. In order to meet the hardline mandate of 36 billion gallons of ethanol blended into our fuel supply, the EPA determined that we would have to increase the concentration of ethanol in gasoline across the US to 15% – known as E15.  E-15 is well known to be an unsafe fuel for boat engines, small engines, and even older cars.  In fact, E-15 is so unsafe to these engines that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits the use of ethanol blends higher than E-10 in recreational boats.

Do you know what you’re putting in your small engines?

As the US increases the concentration of ethanol in its gasoline to try and meet these out-dated standards, the chances of a boater putting the wrong type of fuel in their boat increases. Most boaters gas up their boats at gas stations and E15 is already available at gas stations in 28 states. Even if you do choose the correct fuel type for your boat, did you know that up to 4 gallons of gas can be held in the tubes and pipes at the pump? If your local gas station is one that offers E15 at the same pump as E10, you could be getting a few gallons of E15 in your engine before your selected fuel. That may not be a big deal for your boat, but how about your jet ski? There is only a sticker warning on the pump to tell you if the fuel is E15, so you’ve got to pay attention. Since the RFS as it is now forces E-15 into the marketplace at increasing levels to meet the mandates, the chance of misfueling at your local gas station is increasing.

On May 3, a coalition of sportfishing and recreational boating groups submitted a letter to President Trump urging him to fix America’s broken ethanol policy.  The head of the EPA and Members of Congress who serve on key committees were also sent the letter.

The letter asked for common sense reforms such as ensuring that any future ethanol volumes do not exceed 9.7 percent of the nation’s total fuel supply; protecting true consumer choice at the pump by not artificially decreasing the supply of ethanol-free gasoline; and implementing new and more effective protections against misfueling that will educate and protect all consumers.

Included with the letter was a petition signed by more than 26,000 citizens from across the country. The petition illustrates the widespread support for reforming the RFS among the boating and fishing community.

We haven’t heard back from the President yet, but we have a meeting scheduled with EPA officials to discuss our concerns with E15 and the RFS. You can be sure this is going to continue to be a hot issue throughout 2017, so check the Keep America Fishing website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.