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Machinery Groups Launch Awareness Campaign Amid Ethanol Shift

As the Trump administration works on a rule change that would allow higher-ethanol gasoline blends to be used year-round, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the National Marine Manufacturers Association are launching awareness campaigns warning against the use of such fuels in small-engine machinery.

An upcoming rule change that would allow year-round use of fuel with higher ethanol content drew a mixed response when President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rulemaking  earlier this month, and already the move is prompting a coordinated response from the power equipment industry.

This week, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) announced a collaboration with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on a program called Protect Your Power, an awareness campaign to draw attention to the potential negative effects that E15 fuel—gasoline made of 15 percent ethanol— can have on equipment such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, generators, and boats. The campaign is an extension of OPEI’s existing Look Before You Pump campaign.

The groups say that fuels containing ethanol levels above 10 percent can wreak havoc on small-engine machinery. In a news release, OPEI President and CEO Kris Kiser called using E10 fuel or below “the best way to protect your outdoor power equipment and keep it running strong.”

“The last thing you want is for your generator to not work during a storm, your chainsaw not to start when you need to remove fallen trees and limbs, or other equipment to fail when a job needs to get done,” Kiser said. “Read your owner’s manuals for guidance on correct fueling for any equipment or small engine product. Don’t just choose on price. Protect your power.”

NMMA President Thom Dammrich echoed those comments, noting that E15 can potentially void the warranty on these small engines.

“Because the risk of mis-fueling is increasing, it’s imperative that we redouble our education efforts to better ensure consumers have the tools they need to protect themselves at the pump,” Dammrich said.

The campaign comes as consumer confusion on the issue is growing. OPEI earlier this year conducted a study that found that 11 percent of consumers had used E15 fuel or higher in their power equipment, even though doing so violates current EPA rules. Additionally, the study found that nearly 40 percent of Americans considered any blend of ethanol safe for gasoline engines, despite warnings to the contrary.

“We believe this lack of knowledge is due to consumers blindly trusting that gas stations will only sell fuel that is safe,” Kiser said at the time. “EPA must do more to educate fuel users.”

On the other hand, the Renewable Fuels Association has attempted to make a case for ethanol in smaller engines, including through a collaboration with the television show American Chopper.

(PamWalker68/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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