The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it will require oil companies to pump about 700 million more gallons of ethanol into gas stations this year than it had indicated last May.
The EPA announced in the spring that it would require drivers and riders to use about 17.4 billion gallons of the alcohol based fuel. Monday it announced gas stations will be expected to pump about 18.11 billion gallons of ethanol next year.
Wayne Allard of the American Motorcyclist Association, which seems to be the only lobbying group that is cautious about increased ethanol consumption, released a statement that said in part, “We are extremely disappointed that the EPA bowed to pressure from the ethanol industry and agreed to foist more ethanol onto the backs of American consumers. Any increase in the amount of ethanol required in our fuel supply, coupled with America’s decreasing demand for gasoline, is going to result in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and stations. And the widespread availability of E15 and higher-ethanol fuels increases the risk that motorcyclists will inadvertently misfuel their bikes.”
In his statement Allard, who is the AMA’s vice president of government relations, said the increase “will severely strain the fuel marketplace by exceeding the blend wall by hundreds of millions of gallons. The blend wall is the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing consumers to use higher blends, such as E15, E30 and E85.”
The AMA is worried that “forcing higher-ethanol fuel blends into the marketplace will cause E10 – which most Americans currently rely on for their vehicles – to become less available, and that gasoline with no ethanol may become virtually unavailable. The amount of E0 will go from 9.2 billion gallons to just 130 million in 2016 per the rule.”
“Owners of vintage motorcycles already have trouble finding E0,” Allard said. “What are they supposed to do if ethanol-free fuel disappears entirely?”
Ethanol And Motorcycles
Motorcycle performance is significantly challenged by ethanol blends. Ethanol, which is the scientific name for grain alcohol, has less energy than gasoline. Blends above E10, which is ten percent grain alcohol, dangerously lean out the fuel air mixture in virtually all motorcycles. Harley-Davidson tells riders not to use gasoline blends that contain 10 percent ethanol. “You may find that some ethanol gasoline blends affect the starting, driveability, or fuel efficiency of your motorcycle,” Harley cautions. “If you experience one or more of these problems, it is recommended you operate your motorcycle on straight unleaded gasoline,”
Ethanol also corrodes metal, plastic and rubber parts and absorbs water from the atmosphere which can cause numerous engine problems. At present, the E15 blend is illegal to use in motorcycles.