Boating and Biofuels

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of the latter type represented among those who claim to serve boating enthusiasts but have become dupes of a well-funded fossil fuel campaign. Listening to these voices, you would think that boaters have no idea what kind of gasoline to put in their marine engine. In turn, the oil industry insists that cleaner fuel options should never be offered at the pump — simply because there is a chance that boaters could select the wrong fuel. Given that marinas don’t even sell higher biofuel blends containing 15 percent ethanol (E15), the chances are far greater that someone would put diesel fuel in their favorite go-kart. So, why all the fuss about ethanol and boats? A full 97 percent of all gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel made from plants. Interestingly, honest brokers in the boating community are actually big ethanol fans. There’s simply no credible reason why trade associations that claim to represent boaters would side with the oil industry against clean energy, but that’s the exactly what we’ve seen with groups like the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BOAT U.S.). Let the oil industry pay for their own lobbyists. ~ Former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-MA, served in Congress from 1997 to 2011.

By former U.S. Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA)

Washington, D.C. is full of advocates. Some are very effective champions for important causes, but others get sucked into the maelstrom of competing special interests. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of the latter type represented among those who claim to serve boating enthusiasts but have become dupes of a well-funded fossil fuel campaign.

Listening to these voices, you would think that boaters have no idea what kind of gasoline to put in their marine engine. In turn, the oil industry insists that cleaner fuel options should never be offered at the pump — simply because there is a chance that boaters could select the wrong fuel. Oil lobbyists use that demeaning excuse to demand lawmakers pull blends of homegrown biofuels off the market.

Given that marinas don’t even sell higher biofuel blends containing 15 percent ethanol (E15), the chances are far greater that someone would put diesel fuel in their favorite go-kart. In fact, a new poll of 500 U.S. boaters finds that an overwhelming majority, 94 percent, find it easy to pick the right fuel and are confident in their selection. It also doesn’t hurt that higher ethanol blends, which typically cost less and contain more octane than regular unleaded, are only sold with a giant orange sticker to prevent misfueling. You can’t miss it.

So, why all the fuss about ethanol and boats? It’s part of the Big Oil spin machine. A full 97 percent of all gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel made from plants. We use it every day and every major marine manufacturer — Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC, Pleasurecraft, Tigershark, Tracker, Honda, Yamaha and others — approves 10 percent blends (E10) in its marine engines. Oil companies hate it because America displaced over…

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