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BoatUS and NMMA Warn Boat Owners Against Misfueling

With the busy Memorial Day weekend ahead and the boating season just beginning, Boat Owners Association of The United States and the National Marine Manufacturers Association are urging boaters “to be mindful when selecting fuel for their boats,” especially as the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is increasing the risk of consumer misfueling. The warning was issued in a press release from BoatUS, the nation’s largest and oldest organization of boat owners, this morning.


BoatUS and the NMMA are urging powerboat owners to be mindful in fuel selection. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“Boaters can’t assume that every fuel sold at gas stations will work in marine engines,” said Margaret Podlich, the president of the BoatUS, in the release. “Boats can only run on 10 percent or less ethanol content (E10) fuel—and we know many boaters prefer to use ethanol-free (E0) when possible. Unfortunately, as a result of the federal ethanol fuel mandates (RFS), boaters may face a much harder time this summer finding the E0 fuel they want. And with more E15 (gasoline with 15-percent ethanol) forced into the fuel supply by the RFS, the threat of accidental misfueling—especially at gas stations with blender pumps—is growing.”

According to the release, an estimated 95 percent of boats are filled at retail gas stations. However, a 2016 Harris Poll commissioned by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute found that 60 percent of consumers believe any gas sold at retail stations is suitable for all engines and products. Further, only 36 percent know E15 is harmful to some engines— with just 5 percent aware that its use in those engines is also illegal—according to the release.

“Our priority is always to keep boaters safe,” said Thom Dammrich, the president of the NMMA, in the release. “By increasing the share of fuels in the marketplace that are unsafe for marine engines, the federal government’s RFS is putting boaters at risk. Research shows the costly price of accidentally misfueling a boat with E15 can include stalling, corrosion, fuel leaks, damaged valves and complete engine failure – each of which could put boaters and their safety in jeopardy. Now more than ever, with E15 on the rise, the threat of misfueling is real.”

According to the release, the federal ethanol mandates,—known as the RFS, require increasing amounts of biofuels including corn ethanol—to be blended into the US fuel supply every year. This growing mandate forces higher quantities of fuels such as E15 into the marketplace, often at the expense of E0 ethanol-free fuel, and even though fuels with more than 10 percent ethanol are illegal to use in marine engines, motorcycles, outdoor power equipment and cars model year 2000 and older.

The release went on to state that while the government is aware that the RFS is changing the makeup of the fuel supply, it has undertaken no serious education campaign—beyond requiring small warning labels on fuel pumps—to inform boaters and other consumers about the problems they may face from improper or accidental fueling. The boating industry and others reportedly have sought to fill the gap and inform the public about the need to be vigilant when fueling and not assume that just because a gas station sells several fuel types from the same pump that each is suitable for marine engines.

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