Boating, engine experts speak out in favor of ethanol

By Erin Voegele | May 10, 2016

On May 10, certified mechanics, engine performance experts and professional fishermen briefed federal lawmakers on the important of ethanol during an event on Capitol Hill hosted by Fuels America. The speakers stressed the importance of ethanol in protecting the environment, preserving America’s energy security, and providing a high-octane boost to marine engines. They also dispelled myths about ethanol and discussed the key benefits of the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Speakers at the event included Keith Holmes, president and owner of CK Motorsports in Nunica, Michigan, and a certified Mercury marine racing technician; Brian Sowers, cohost of Crappie Masters TV; Marc Rauch, executive vice president and copublisher at the Auto Channel, based in Louisville, Kentucky; and Joel Hennen, president and owner of Hennen’s Auto Service in Shakopee, Minnesota. Holmes, Sowers, and Rauch also participated in a media call held after the briefing.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, opened the media call by noting the event was particularly timely as the White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to complete its review of the U.S. EPA’s proposed RFS standards for 2017 later this month.

“Under the renewable fuels standard, EPA is obligated to ensure that America’s fuel mix continues to lower our dependence on oil, keep our air clean, and combat climate change,” Coleman said, noting that the experts that participated in the briefing came to Washington, D.C., to ensure that policy makers hear the truth about why protecting the RFS is important to boaters, racers, fisherman and mechanics around the country.

Holmes has been a technician for more than 28 years. He also races power boats. He said that he works on a wide variety of engines for watercraft, and those engines run best using higher octane blends of ethanol. “It burns cooler and helps engines burn cleaner,” he said.

According to Holmes, there are lot of myths associated with the use of ethanol blends in marine engines that are not true. He indicated that ethanol fuels may incorrectly be blamed for issues resulting from improper care, maintenance and storage.

He also stressed that the National Boat Racing Association exclusively uses E10 in its race boats and that nothing fuels better than ethanol.

According to Sowers, Crappy Masters firmly believes that E10 is a safe fuel to run in outboard marine engines. He said his organization has teamed up with Missouri Corn Growers Association and the Missouri Corn Merchandizing Council, along with American Ethanol, to institute a program were the winners of its tournaments can win bonus money if they are using E10 in their boats. The bonus is $250 for a one-day tournament and $500 for a two-day tournament. Every 2015 winner, and each winner so far in 2016, has been using E10 in their boat without any problems, he said.

“Tournament anglers, and frankly all folks in the outdoors, are finding out that ethanol and E10 is a good fuel,” Sowers added. He spoke about the importance of homegrown, renewable fuels in ensuring a cleaner environment, clean water, and clean air.

Sowers also stressed that all major marine engine manufacturers approve E10 fuel. Science and facts prove it doesn’t cause issues, he added.

Rauch provided a historical perspective of ethanol and fossil fuel use, noting that gasoline became the predominant transportation fuel not because it was better, but because it was cheaper. He spoke about the impact of prohibition and high taxes that were placed on alcohol, noting that if those factors were different ethanol would have become the primary transportation fuel.  “Ethanol does not hurt engines, it cleans engines, it helps engines,” he stressed.