Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Breaking: Extra-Corny Fuel Update

If you follow my Twitter feed, you know I've been bugging my federal Senators and our lone Representative (Small State Syndrome) to support all efforts aimed at preventing 15 percent ethanol blend (E15) gasoline from being sold, at least until all the scientific data is in on its effects. Happily, there was a small breakthrough today when the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology reported H.R. 3199 favorably, as amended, with a vote of 19 - 7. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), a long-time supporter of motorcyclists' rights, would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek independent scientific analysis on the effects of E15. The bill now heads for consideration on the House floor. No date has been scheduled. Automakers insist that using E15 will void warranties, lower fuel efficiency and cause premature engine failure. Despite those concerns, in October 2010 the EPA approved E15 for use in model year 2007 and newer light duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles). In January 2011, it added model year 2001-2006 light duty vehicles to the approved list. Riders should pay attention to this list because no motorcycles or ATVs are currently listed. Motorcyclists should also be concerned that E15 burns hotter than gasoline that contains a lesser amount of ethanol. In engines not designed to dissipate that extra heat, damage in the form of premature wear can result. Although this is a concern in all motorcycles, it's particularly problematic for air-cooled engines found in many bikes (like mine). Sensenbrenner also introduced H.R. 748. This bill would prohibit the Administrator of the EPA from authorizing the use of gasoline containing greater than 10 percent ethanol in certain vehicles. Please write your federal Representatives today and ask them to support H.R. 748 and H.R. 3199. (Thanks to the AMA for quickly providing much of the above information through its Action Alerts program.)

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