Boaters need to know that recreational vessels are never compatible with gasoline containing 15% ethanol, known as E15. It is prohibited by federal law to use E15 in boats (as well as motorcycles, off-road vehicles and power equipment), may void the warranty, and it has been proven to cause damage to marine engines. Recreational vessel engines may only use gasoline containing no more than 10% ethanol (E10).
BoatU.S. is concerned that fuel retailers may market E15 using imprecise, mis-leading descriptions such as “regular 88”’ or “regular unleaded” as a lower cost alternative to E10. And therein lies the problem, as the majority of recreational boats are refueled at roadside gas stations and, with almost no safeguards in place, there is a real chance that boat owners, looking for a bargain, could mis-fuel their boats with E15 fuel.
E15 dispensing pumps are only required to have a single orange label, an ineffective way of informing consumers. A 2020 Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) poll shows that only about one in five consumers know that “regular 88” or 88 octane fuel has more ethanol (15%) in it than 87 octane (10% ethanol) fuel. The study also noted that 64% of consumers assume that any gas sold at the gas station is safe for all of their cars, as well as boats, mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, generators and other engine products.
The Biden administration’s April 12, 2022 “fact sheet” notes USDA is considering additional action to facilitate the use of E15 year-round and other actions to significantly increase the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol fuels. BoatU.S. is demanding the EPA, the federal agency charged with regulating fuels, do more to protect boaters by requiring better labeling and other methods to protect boaters from using damaging E15 or higher ethanol blends.