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AMA’s Broken Record on E15

May 6, 2016


The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has been front and center on the E15 discussion since 2012 and has done everything in its power to stop or slow its expansion by attempting to induce fear amongst riders. As an avid motorcycle rider for nearly 30 years, AMA’s continued resistance to ethanol fuels has been especially frustrating. In the latest example, on Thursday, AMA attacked a recent blog I wrote, highlighting disagreements. As the saying goes, people are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. By clearly ignoring the facts and refusing to cite any sources, AMA has no leg to stand on, instead using fear to drive membership higher. The group’s blog item is here. Let’s go point by point. AMA’s main claim is that the hose residual (max of 0.17 gallons) that is left from the previous customer will cause damage to motorcycles. In order for this to be an issue, a nearly impossible set of occurrences has to take place. First, a retailer must offer E15 and E10 from the same hose. RFA and EPA recommend separate hoses for E15 and most gasoline manufacturers follow that practice. Next, the previous person fueling must have purchased E15. Then, the motorcycle rider would need to choose 87 octane E10, despite the fact that motorcycles require premium fuel. Finally, should all of the stars align for such an event, the rider would still need to purchase less than one gallon of fuel in order for there to be an issue. If the rider purchases any additional amount, the total percentage of ethanol in that purchase is again E10, or regular unleaded. AMA’s next claim is that E0 is disappearing because of the volume obligations assigned by EPA under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and that riders want E0. I have no idea where AMA is getting its information, but the website that tracks stations that offer E0 has shown exponential growth in recent years. Further, the American Petroleum Institute (API), a petroleum industry lobbying group, the very companies that make the fuel, has stated and repeatedly told Congress that E0 sales and availability is increasing. AMA? Its next claim is that riders choose their fuel on price, not what fuel is recommended by the manufacturer. What? It even cited the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) that 73% of motorists solely select their fuel on price. While I believe that to be true of motoring consumers in their vehicles, I don’t believe that for their motorcycles. In fact, the small number of motorcycles could easily fall into the 27% that say they don’t choose on price. I have never seen a rider put regular unleaded into their motorcycle unless it was their only option (another thing AMA should be concerned about). One should also note that the last two claims by AMA contradict each other. If riders want E0, they are not shopping by price. E0 is more expensive than E10 today and historically. If the E0 is above 90 octane, it is substantially higher than E10. Which is it AMA — price or ethanol content? In my previous blog, I explained why additional funding for fueling infrastructure can actually benefit motorcyclists. The funding goes to retailers, not the ethanol industry, and allows retailers more flexibility to offer all fuels that their customers have demanded, including putting E15 on its own hose, offering ethanol-free fuel, or ensuring premium is still available. If AMA was truly concerned about E15, it would just work with retailers to make sure that it got its own hose to eliminate any chance of misfueling. And yes, misfueling can happen. It happens with diesel fuel hundreds of times each week. The good news for E15 is that in the nearly four years since it has been offered, there has yet to be one single reported case of misfueling. Not in a car, motorcycle, boat or any other application. As a motorcycle enthusiast, I am amazed that fellow riders listen to such misinformation. I have been going to Sturgis for years, and have promoted ethanol every year I have been there. I have stood there and listened to the concerns of riders from all around the United States, and from many other countries around the world. Anti-ethanol groups like AMA have been successful in confusing the issue, but not educating. Last year I reviewed the materials at the AMA booth during the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and found no images of the E15 label, or any information on how to identify a proper fuel for motorcycles. Seems that would be a good start? RFA not only had images of ALL of the fuels that should not be used in motorcycles, but also the warranty statements from each manufacturer’s owner’s manuals. Who better to trust with your motorcycle than the very company that engineered it, built it and provides the warranty? The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is not seeking membership from riders like the AMA. We have nothing to sell but the facts. Their efforts, occasionally funded by the major oil and food companies, should tell you all you need to know. AMA is focused on membership, and nothing drives membership like a manufactured crisis. I look forward to talking with fellow motorcycle enthusiasts at Sturgis again this August, helping to correct the misinformation being distributed by AMA.