Federal Judge Rejects NMMA Appeal Challenging E15 Fuel

Ruling opens door to higher ethanol blends at the pump

E15 ethanol and boats

E15 ethanol and boats

Jim Hendricks

A federal court judge last week rejected an appeal by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and other industry leaders that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to allow E15 (15 percent blends of ethanol fuel) into the U.S. fuel supply. The NMMA says the decision puts E15 at gas pumps across the country; it calls that "a troubling scenario for American boaters and the recreational boating industry."

The NMMA says E15 is hazardous to marine engines and fuel tanks and can cause issues such as stalling, corrosion leading to oil or fuel leaks, increased emissions and damaged valves, rubber fuel lines and gaskets. The agency distributed warning labels to manufacturers in July to help educate boaters.

An automotive organization also released a study in May saying that E15 could damage late-model vehicles.

The NMMA called the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling a setback, but the organization said the dismissal (on procedural grounds) “does not speak to the underlying merits of the case — whether EPA was in fact correct in its interpretation of the Clean Air Act to allow for a partial waiver in the first case.” As a result, the NMMA says it will evaluate further legal action.

At the same time, Bombardier Recreational Products is testing butanol as a potential alternative fuel for boats. Results have not yet been announced.