If you’re looking to safely fuel your boat this Labor Day weekend, there’s a good chance you may be out of luck.
According to a poll from the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), over 91 percent of boaters want ethanol-free gas. The problem is only about half of those surveyed have access to it at their local marinas and gas stations.
Thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates that the American fuel supply is blended with ethanol, ethanol-free fuel offerings are harder and harder to come by. Instead, boaters are forced to fill their tanks with ethanol-laced fuel like E10, which contains 10 percent ethanol, and E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol. Despite claims that they are safe, engine manufacturers and consumer advocacy groups warn against using high-ethanol fuel blends because they are both inefficient and highly damaging to engines.
"We need to make sure that no matter how they get their gas, boaters have a fuel that works in their marine engine,” says BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy. “And if we don’t fix the federal mandate known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that aims to increase the volume of corn ethanol into the nation’s gas supply, there will be higher blends of ethanol (i.e. E15) in gas pumps increasing the chances of misfueling with the possibility of more extensive engine damage continuing to rise.”
As it stands, small-engine vehicle owners including boaters face a harsh reality. More than half of boaters surveyed say they have had to replace or repair their boat engine or fuel system parts due to suspected ethanol damage, with an average price tag of $1,000.
Marina owner Terry Hill can certainly attest to it.
“The RFS has impacted our business by chasing people out of boating,” Hill says. “It’s costing them more money. They’re not going to be able to spend the money on their boat to enjoy their boat, which is a negative impact to the boating industry.”
Boat owners should be enjoying the high seas, not swimming in high repair costs. If you agree, go on the record against the ethanol mandate today!