Obama Ends Controversial E15 Ethanol Fuel Subsidy

By J. Joshua Placa

An end is in sight for potentially engine damaging E15 ethanol blend fuels. President Obama has signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, which effectively relieves the worries of some 22 million motorcyclists and ATV enthusiasts. Mounting evidence indicated gasoline fuels made with 15 percent ethanol by volume causes small engine failure.

The Agricultural Act includes a rider that prohibits the Rural Energy for America Program’s grant money from being used to purchase or distribute E15 fuels at the pump. The fuel often creates confusion at gas stops, where motorists sometimes accidentally use the controversial fuel, which can void owner vehicle warranties. 

The farm bill runs through 2018.

The alcohol in E15 is made mainly from corn, which has also been blamed for rising food prices. Alcohol contains less energy than gasoline, which at an additive level of 15 percent, may be the cause of small engine failure.

Reportedly, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intended to use REAP funding to install 10,000 blender pumps by 2016. 

Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, said, “It is gratifying to see our efforts on behalf of U.S. motorcyclists and ATV riders achieve this level of success. We plan to continue to monitor the E15 issue, including the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce the 2014 requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Although the EPA has approved E15 use in 2001-and-newer light-duty vehicles, which include cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, the agency has not approved its use in motorcycles or ATVs, according to the AMA. 

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 1462, the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act. The bipartisan bill, in part, eliminates corn-based ethanol requirements and caps the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent. If passed, it would rescind the EPA’s E15 waivers and cap the amount of ethanol content in gasoline at E10, or 10 percent.

E15 Label.03.09.12



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