A bill recently introduced to the state House of Representatives would require certain motor fuel terminal operators and wholesalers to make gasoline without ethanol available to watercraft fuel dealers.
State Rep. Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland) said he is sponsoring the measure because he has some “pretty strong feelings” about gasoline containing ethanol, especially when it comes to marine engines.
“Ethanol can be corrosive, especially in marine engines where it has disintegrated parts,” he said. “I introduced this bill so that those people fueling their boats will not have as much destruction created in their engines.”
According to a boater’s alert circulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, ethanol has caused many mechanical problems in boats, such as plugged fuel filters, fuel leaks, fiberglass gas tank failures, and ruined engines.
“Marine mechanics will tell you that over an extended period of time, ethanol causes significant damage which can be very costly to repair,” LeBlanc said. “When ethanol-containing gas sits in your boat for periods of time, the repair bills can become very costly. It’s just not designed to accommodate this particular item.”
According to a draft of House Bill (HB) 4823, if a wholesaler or terminal operator sells gasohol to retail fuel dealers for use in watercraft, then they must also have gasoline that does not contain fuel-grade ethanol available for sale to any retail fuel dealer that sells at least a quarter of its motor fuel for use in watercraft.
Currently, the bill only applies to fuel dealers that dispense fuel at marinas or other places where boats are predominantly fueled. This does not include the corner gas station at this point, according to LeBlanc.
“I hope (the bill) receives a hearing. And anybody who has an interest in this should contact me or their representative or senator to express their thoughts,” he said.
The Michigan Boating Industries Association would support the bill, according to Nicki Polan, the association’s director of communications.
“It’s very important for off-road products, including watercraft, to have access to gasoline without ethanol in it,” she said. “They have not performed enough research to find out the impact it has on off-road vehicles. We think it may cause elevated exhaust and evaporative emissions and may also potentially cause engine failure. Not only do we want to make non-ethanol gas available, but we are pushing the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) to step up the education on the ethanol gas available to stop consumers from misfueling at gas stations,” she said.