Delay on ethanol blend welcomed

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The Environmental Protection Agency says it will delay a final decision on increasing the amount of ethanol that is now found in gasoline. This comes as great news for boaters who fear that if more of the questionable corn product is added to gasoline it could seriously damage outboard motors.

There was a move to increase the ethanol content to as much as 15 percent (it would be known as E15) in all the gasolines now sold in stations everywhere, but the EPA’s decision to slow down the pro-ethanol lobby is greeted with joy by fishermen and recreational boaters who depend on outboard motors to get them around on the nation’s waters.

Not only that, there has been considerable opposition from a number of conservation groups — it’s not just the boat engine manufacturers — that oppose the ethanol increase because they fear that ethanol blends will have an undesirable effect on the environment and public health.

Matt Dunn, the legislative director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said, “We are pleased that [the] EPA has acknowledged our concerns with E15 and elected to delay final judgment until more studies can be completed.

“We continue to call for more testing on marine engines and boat fuel systems. Any attempt to ‘bifurcate’ the fuel supply by allowing E15 for only certain automobiles would lead to a myriad of misfueling, liability and consumer safety issues and likely cause the price of fuel for boaters to increase while availability of compatible blends decreases.”

Dunn’s organization wants to be sure that no matter what is done, the nation’s 70 million boaters will be protected. Even if the EPA demands better pump labeling for gas stations that would show an increase in the ethanol, it would be of little comfort to outboard motor owners who currently are buying expensive additives to neutralize the effects of as little as 5 and 10 percent of the ethanol that now is added to commercial gasolines.

What I’ve always wondered about is the obvious uselessness of ethanol. It doesn’t work better than gasoline and it only helps a small number of corn growers and market speculators. It certainly is of no benefit to the rest of us.

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