The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the trade association representing power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, recently provided comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018. In a letter sent to the EPA, OPEI expressed significant concerns about the expansion of E15 in the marketplace without a solid consumer education program.
“Because all gasoline-fueled outdoor power equipment is designed and warranted to operate on E10 or less fuel, OPEI and its members are gravely concerned about the risk of inadvertent misfueling by consumers,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “Misfueling can damage or destroy small engines, leaving the consumer with costly repair or replacement costs.
“Americans rely on their outdoor power equipment, and many count on it lasting for a decade or more. There are 250 million pieces of legacy outdoor power equipment in use in this country today, and the risk of misfueling and damage to these products is very real.
“If you are going to introduce blender pumps and more E15 into the marketplace, then you also need a robust consumer education campaign, so consumers understand which fuel blends are safe for which product.”
The letter noted that labeling for E15 and other blended fuels is inadequate and not consistent.
National polls conducted by OPEI in 2016 showed that consumers remain confused about the changing fuels marketplace. Only 19 percent of respondents said they had seen or heard any communications about ethanol in the past year. Only 31 percent of respondents knew that gasoline blends in excess of E10 are harmful to outdoor power equipment, and only 5 percent knew that gasoline blends in excess of E10 are not approved for use in small engines. Sixty percent of respondents assumed that any retail fuel is safe for any type of engine.
Since 2014, OPEI has conducted its own consumer education campaign with the tagline “Look Before You Pump.” More efforts like this campaign need to be undertaken, noted OPEI’s letter to the EPA, so consumers are better informed to make fueling decisions.
You can download information about the survey results at www.opei.org under press releases. Get more information about the “Look Before You Pump” campaign at www.LookBeforeYouPump.com and #LookB4UPump. The letter is available by request.