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On the Road Again

July 30, 2015


The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is once again headed to Sturgis, South Dakota, for the annual Motorcycle Rally, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. Organizers are anticipating a record crowd that just might top more than 1.5 million riders and will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to discuss ethanol with motorcyclists from every state in the country and from all over the world. RFA has attended seven straight rallies in Sturgis and each year it has partnered with the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. This 500-plus acre facility provides an excellent backdrop for reaching out to and educating the motorcycling community about the benefits of ethanol. While motorcycles represent a very small amount of our nation's total fuel usage, every person who attends the rally owns either a car, a truck, an SUV, a lawn mower, a chainsaw, an ATV or a generator back home. The education starts with motorcycles, but quickly expands to all things ethanol. In recent years, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has been aggressively railing against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and E15. AMA claims that E15 will suddenly become available at every fuel station in the country, and it will either cause misfueling because riders cannot read the required fuel dispenser labels, or it will replace E10 and there will no longer be any legal fuel for motorcyclists to use. Obviously these examples are inaccurate and have no chance of becoming reality. Instead of engaging in scare tactics, RFA decided to take a more measured approach to educate riders about ethanol. Three years ago, RFA began to host a Free Fuel Happy Hour promotion at the Buffalo Chip; the association will continue this popular promotion this year. Riders will be able to fill their tanks with free 93-octane E10 (10% ethanol/90% gasoline). E10 is approved by every motorcycle manufacturer. AMA has taken great efforts to confuse what the RFS means for consumers. The law states that gasoline producers and importers must purchase and blend renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, or purchase credits. Most choose to blend renewable fuels because ethanol is cheaper than gasoline, but the availability of credits assures no marketer will ever have to offer higher level ethanol blends if they don't want to. The RFS was meant to increase the amount of biofuels mixed in our gasoline supply each year, but that has not happened at the pace required by law. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for implementing the RFS has chosen to ignore the statute and is proposing to substantially reduce the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs). AMA, among others, claims the only way to accomplish injecting higher biofuel volumes in the marketplace is with E15. But, as mentioned above, no marketer will ever have to move exclusively to higher ethanol blends and E10 will always be an option for non-approved engines. In fact, EPA requires it. Last year, the ethanol industry produced several hundred million gallons more than were required by law, yet we still saw E0 available in the marketplace, and very little E15. EPA's current three-year RVO proposal doesn't even have the required volumes at the ethanol industry's current production levels. Why would one assume E15 is all that will be available and will be our only option? In a blog post the AMA released before last year's Sturgis rally, it encouraged its members to come to the RFA free fuel promotion and sample some of our AMA-approved ethanol. We told riders that they shouldn't be concerned with what AMA approved; instead, they should be concerned about what their motorcycle manufacturer approves. The manufacturers, after all, are the ones that engineered their bike's fuel system and will honor the motorcycle's warranty. We urge you to check your owner's manuals and read the labels at the fuel station. If you are attending this year's Motorcycle Rally, please stop by the Buffalo Chip RFA promotion. We will have our Free Fuel Happy Hours Sunday, August 2nd through Thursday, August 6th, from 1–4 p.m. daily. I will also have my flex-fuel Harley, a 2009 Harley Road King Classic, capable of running any blend of ethanol from E0 (0% ethanol) to E85 (85% ethanol). We will also gladly answer your questions about ethanol and even top off your tank, should you desire. Ride safe, fuel right.