SEMA News—September 2013
SEMA Provides “Fuel for Thought”
SEMA has a long history of monitoring federal and state legislative topics that are of interest to the automotive industry as well as the association’s member companies and their customers. One key topic of current concern is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—a law that requires annual increases in the amount of ethanol to be added to gasoline. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) recently helped organize antique-car owners and motorcyclists from all over the country to participate in a “Fuel for Thought” rally on Capitol Hill in opposition to the RFS.
This issue is important to automotive enthusiasts because ethanol’s chemical properties pose a risk to older cars and motorcycles. Ethanol absorbs water, which can lead to metal corrosion. It can also dissolve certain rubbers and plastics. Most older vehicles and many motorcycles are not constructed with ethanol-compatible materials.
SEMA has been actively engaged on this topic and recently won victories in Florida and Maine to eliminate the ethanol requirement for fuel sold in those states.
The Hill—The Hill’s Congress Blog
Steve McDonald, SEMA’s vice president for government affairs, succinctly laid out the case against ethanol and the RFS. McDonald indicated that opposition to the RFS and the damage ethanol can cause to engines in the form of rust, corrosion and clogging is growing in Congress. Most vehicle manufacturers have not authorized the use of 15% ethanol (E15). They will deny vehicle warranties for E15-related damage, leaving consumers to foot the bill for costly repairs.
SAN participated in the “Fuel for Thought” rally with congressional leaders and the American Motorcyclist Association to raise awareness of ethanol-blended gasoline’s corrosive effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15) while also acknowledging that it can cause damage to older vehicles and motorcycles. The EPA made it “illegal” to fuel these vehicles with E15 but only requires a warning label at the pump.
Technology Tell also covered the “Fuel for Thought” rally. Attendees of the rally urged Congress to enact legislation to halt E15 sales pending more research. SEMA has voiced concern over the damage that a higher concentration of ethanol can do to older cars and motorcycles. SEMA has long been an advocate of vintage and collector cars and also supported legislation in Maine and Florida that eliminates the ethanol requirement for gasoline.
Before It’s News
Before It’s News detailed the Rally from a mostly legislative perspective. The publication noted that while the sale of E15 has just been authorized, the EPA is now recommending that the content be raised to 30% in order to meet growing RFS mandates. The Antique Automobile Club of America indicated that E15 and any further increase will be detrimental to car enthusiasts and collectors across the country. Two pieces of legislation are pending in Congress that would suspend the sale of E15 fuel pending further review of its effects.