Buried deep in the bottom of the news last week was the fact that the EPA gave its approval for E15 fuel to be sold alongside current gasoline and gasoline / ethanol blends. If you own a motorcycle, use gas-powered lawn equipment and drive cars older than the 2007 model year, this is potentially bad news. Why the concern? There are several reasons, but the big one is that fuel formulated with 15% ethanol may damage plastic and rubber components used in automotive fuel systems prior to 2007. In motorcycles using plastic fuel tanks, there is already significant evidence that E10 formulations cause the plastic to distort, creating the potential of a fuel leak and associated fire. If you’re the owner of a small gas station or convenience store, the news gets even bleaker.
Since E15, like diesel fuel, can’t be used by every car on the road, station owners may be required to install separate tanks just for E15 fuel. Installing new underground tanks (and, presumably, more pumps) is a major financial burden, particularly when the product in question has limited demand. Worse, what happens when you need gas in your bike (or pre-2007 car) and find that only E15 is available? Do you roll the dice and hope that one tank won’t cause permanent damage? Will that even be an option, since E15 is technically not “approved” for pre-2007 vehicles?
You can call me an alarmist, but a group of engine manufacturers (the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) recently sued to block the approval of E15 fuel. If they’ve got concerns that E15 may not be safe to store in existing underground storage tanks, or use in outdoor power equipment or older engines, maybe you need to be concerned as well.
Source: New York Times