While acknowledging the greater availability of E15 – gasoline with 15 percent ethanol content – may reflect “good intentions,” the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure American consumers are aware of E15’s effects on small engines.
OPEI, the trade association representing power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, submitted comments to EPA regarding the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018.
“Because all gasoline-fueled outdoor power equipment is designed and warranted to operate on E10 or less fuel, OPEI and its members are gravely concerned about the risk of inadvertent mis-fueling by consumers,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI’s president and CEO. “Mis-fueling can damage or destroy small engines, leaving the consumer with costly repair or replacement costs.”
Kiser said Americans operate 250 million pieces of outdoor power equipment, and many of them are counting on that equipment to last a decade or more. As the availability of E15 expands, he said, “the risk of mis-fueling and damage to these products is very real.”
“If you are going to introduce blender pumps and more E15 into the marketplace,” Kiser said, “then you also need a robust consumer education campaign so consumers understand which fuel blends are safe for which product.”
The trade group’s letter to EPA says labeling for E15 and other blended fuels is both inadequate and inconsistent.
National polls conducted earlier this year by OPEI showed that only 19 percent of respondents had seen or heard any communications about ethanol in the past year. Only 31 percent of respondents knew that gasoline blends in excess of E10 are harmful to outdoor power equipment, and only 5 percent knew gasoline blends in excess of E10 are not approved for use in small engines.
Moreover, 60 percent of respondents assumed any retail fuel would be safe for any type of engine.
Since 2014, OPEI has conducted its own consumer education campaign with the tagline “Look Before You Pump.” Similar efforts need to be undertaken on consumers’ behalf, the organization’s letter to EPA states.