An Environmental Protection Agency official has reported that the agency will require customers to buy a minimum of four gallons of gasoline for certain pumps as a solution to the American Motorcyclist Association’s concern about E15.
E15 is a gas blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume. It has not been approved for use in motorcycles or ATVs, and the AMA is concerned it could inadvertently be pumped into motorcycle or ATV tanks when riders use pumps that dispense multiple types of fuel. Adding E15 to a motorcycle and ATV tank lowers fuel efficiency and voids many manufacturers’ warranties, and it could cause premature engine failure, according to the AMA.
"With E15 gasoline, our members who make a concerted effort to fuel their motorcycles or ATVs with E10-or-less gasoline may be unknowingly refueling with residual fuel left in the hose," Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, wrote in a June 20 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
"Unlike an automobile or SUV that has a large fuel tank, the residual fuel left in a fueling hose could be detrimental to the performance of motorcycle or ATV engines due to the small size of their fuel tanks and the higher concentration of ethanol that would, therefore, be present in the fuel," Allard wrote.
Byron Bunker of the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory responded to the AMA on behalf of Jackson.
"EPA requires that retail stations that own or operate blender pumps either dispense E15 from a dedicated hose and nozzle if able or, in the case of E15 and E10 being dispensed from the same hose, require that at least four gallons of fuel be purchased to prevent vehicles and engines with smaller fuel tanks from being exposed to gasoline-ethanol blended fuels containing greater than 10 volume percent ethanol," Bunker wrote.
"Additionally, EPA is requiring that retail stations that offer E10 and E15 from the same hose and nozzle use additional labeling to inform consumers about the minimum purchase requirement," he added.
The AMA was unsatisfied with this answer, as not all motorcycle tanks hold four or more gallons.
"Not only do we find it unacceptable for the EPA to mandate that everyone – including our members – buy minimum amounts of gas, but the EPA answer simply won't work because of the sizes of many motorcycle and ATV gas tanks and the fact that off-highway riders take containers of gas with them on their trips, and most times those containers are much smaller than four gallons," Allard said.
"The EPA needs to come up with a better solution," he said. "The EPA also needs to back an independent study to determine whether E15 is safe for motorcycle and ATV engines."
E15 has only been approved for 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passengers. The AMA has asked government officials and lawmakers to include motorcycles and ATVs in any scientific study into the effects of E15.