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Posted by on May 13, 2009 in Boating Law, Environment, Fuel, Outboard Engines, US | 1 comment

Don’t Let Ethanol Ruin Your Day, Your Engine, Your Bank Account

Don't wait to see what happens when there's 50-percent more of this additive running through your gas engine.

In case you missed it, Charles Plueddeman’s latest story for had an important message for you, that is, if you’re someone who ever uses a boat that has a gasoline engine aboard. More ethanol could be coming to a gas pump near you very soon.

The ethanol producers in North America have petitioned the EPA for an increase in the percentage of ethanol content allowed in gasoline, from 10 percent to 15 percent. As a move to make us less oil-dependent, that might sound sensible, but there’s more to the story.

The outboard motor intake valve on the left has been completely fouled with fiberglass resin dissolved in E10 ethanol-blend fuel.

The outboard motor intake valve on the left has been completely fouled with fiberglass resin dissolved in E10 ethanol-blend fuel.

First, anybody with one of the 18 million boats in the country would be better served to find other ways to conserve. Simply put, ethanol already does bad things when mixed into our fuel, as Charles has described in previous columns, such as this one about problems identified due to E-10 that he wrote a couple years ago.

(E-10 describes the current mix in gasoline of 10 percent ethanol. For more on E-10, you can read this Washington Post columnist Angus Philips’ take on the topic. The site that reprinted his column calls Angus “venerable”…those of us who know him might choose other names, but if having personal experience with a topic makes you venerable, then it suits Angus just fine.)

Second, many, many people (me included) disagree with the federal government’s ethanol policies in the first place. Charles is certainly in this camp, but as he says, we could debate the downsides of ethanol until the cows come home; the immediate challenge is to avoid having a fuel forced on us that, among other things, will void warrantys and cause millions of dollars in damage to our fuel systems and our engines,

The EPA’s comment period for this proposal ends on May 21st. [Eds note: Subsequent to this writing, the EPA extended the comment period to July 21st.] Please click on the links in Charles’ article, or go direct to this National Marine Manufacturers Association link for an easy letter template to write to the EPA and tell them what you think.

—John Burnham

1 Comment

  1. Needless to say, I am writing because I am among the unlucky millions, owning a boat, having it’s motor ruined by this so called fuel from hell. Class action suit anyone? After all I paid the first time to have this problem solved, but no it never went away, it just got worst. Low RPMs, running sounding like popcorn in a microwave, and thats just the problems, the solutions have been $3,000 and counting. We need to sue someone over this problem. It makes me sick. So guess what folks, no motor running, no use of gas, no fun, no money being spent at docks, overnight fees, taxes, etc., oh, forgot fishing equipment, license, taxes. What will they do to us next.