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RFA Asks Lowe’s CEO to Remove ‘Ditch the Ethanol’ Sign

March 17, 2016


WASHINGTON The Renewable Fuels Association today sent a letter to Lowes CEO Robert Niblock, urging his company to remove a sign appearing at several Midwest locations that inaccurately warns consumers to not use ethanol blends in small engines. The sign, Ditch the Ethanol, contains numerous statements that are simply incorrect and are contrary to the very guidance found in the owners manuals on the shelves of your own stores, RFA explained in its letter. We find the sign very troubling and are concerned with the massive amount of misinformation posted to ostensibly educate consumers, said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. We urge Lowes to remove the misleading sign, or else we may be forced to pursue legal efforts to prevent the further dissemination of false information to consumers. In the letter, RFA rebutted each statement made on the sign, including: --Ethanol burns hotter and wears out your small engine faster.
  1. Every small engine that you offer at Lowes was designed and engineered to run on ethanol blends up to 10% ethanol. If you read any small engine owners manual found at Lowes, you will see this fact, and that all warranties cover the use of ethanol blends up to 10% ethanol. If this sign was intended for higher blends of ethanol, it should be clarified, and also should be noted that any blend of ethanol in small engine applications would be illegal. This would include E15 and E85. All blends above 10% are clearly labeled at the pump to ensure consumers know that they are not purchasing E10 (or 10% ethanol).
  2. Ethanol blended gasoline does not wear out your engine faster, or the manufacturers could not offer warranty to cover todays fuel. I have personally used E10 in all of my small engines for more than two decades, and have yet to have an issue. This statement makes it seem like Lowes has some unique insight and data on engine wear that the own manufacturers that make the engines do not. I highly doubt that is accurate.
--Most pump gas contains 10% or more ethanol.
  1. It is true that most pump gas contains ethanol, but 10% ethanol or less, otherwise known as E10 (or fuel approved for all small engine use). Roughly 96% of all unleaded sold today contains 10% ethanol.
  2. There are only ~180 stations that sell E15 and ~3,400 stations that sell E85, both of which are not approved for small engines. But, these two higher blends are definitely not commonplace in the 140,000 retail fuel stations.
I am asking respectfully that Lowes work with us to remove this misleading signage at your stores immediately, Dinneen concluded. Read the letter in its entirety here.