OPEI expands misfueling campaign that warns against E15

By Erin Voegele | February 25, 2014

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute has announced an expansion of its Look Before You Pump campaign, an initiative that the group calls an educational campaign designed to warn against misfueling of outdoor power and small engine equipment. The ethanol industry, however, has criticized the campaign for singling out E15.

On Feb. 20, the OPEI announced that Lowe’s and Walmart have signed on to support the program through in-store signage and circulars, while True Value Hardware will highlight the program on the back cover of its spring oudoor power catalog. Scripps Networks Interactive DIY Network is also supporting the program through social media promotion, custom research and in-show messaging.

The Look Before You Pump campaign was originally launched in October 2013. According to OPEI, the campaign “cautions consumes that it is harmful and illegal to use higher than 10 percent ethanol gas in any outdoor power equipment, such as mowers, chain saws, snow throwers, UTVs, generators and other small engine products.” The campaign includes radio and video public service announcements, fact sheets, in-store displays, labeling and product hang-tags. The campaign materials featured a red warming hand indicating that that the equipment can be fueled by E10 blends, but not by E15, E30 and E85.

Robert White, director of market development at the Renewable Fuels Association, criticized the campaign for singling out E15 even though several other fuels present the opportunity for misfueling.  “OPEI claims that their campaign is about education for small engine owners to help them avoid using the wrong fuel, but if you explore the materials of this campaign, it is solely focused on E15. E15 is just one of the fuels that would cause issues with small engines, and it is the one with the least potential for problems,” White said. “E15 is available at less than one half of one percent of all stations while other non-approved fuels blanket many parts of the country. Furthermore, E15 is the ONLY non-approved fuel that has a warning label telling small engine owners to not use it. We wish that OPEI would adjust their efforts to truly educational, and make sure the owners of small engines do indeed use the proper fuel. We have offered to work with them, and did again recently, to no avail.” 

Retail stations offering E15 are already required comply with U.S. EPA misfueling mitigation measures. These retailers must place a labels on E15 dispensers indicated that E15 is for use only in model year 2001 and newer vehicles. The label also states, “Don’t use in other vehicles, boats or gasoline-powered equipment. It may cause damage and is prohibited by law.” According to information published by the EPA, there is also a requirement that product transfer documents accompany all transfers of fuels for E15 use and that all parties involved in the manufacture of E15 must participate in a survey of compliance at fuel retail dispensing facilities to ensure proper labeling of dispensers. Parties that wish to offer the fuel blend use also submit a plan to EPA for approval.