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Ethanol Debate Hits Capitol Hill

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Hill Briefings
Currie represents the NMMA on Capitol Hill, trying to educate and influence legislators. Many other industries are also there to speak out against ethanol. “We are continually trying to educate the members of Congress. In this office, we do lots of meetings,” Currie said.

On February 5, a large group from many industries held a briefing for legislators. The group included petroleum refiners, poultry and dairy producers, the motorcycle, RV and snowmobile industries, and some environmental groups. Currie said some groups are concerned with the effects of diverting corn to ethanol production on rising food prices. “We were the only ones talking about marine engines,” Currie said, but all together some have heard the chant.

Currie said in talking with legislators, some are better informed than others. For the most part, Currie said it is not a partisan issue; it is a regional one. States with big boating populations generally understand the issue, and farming states are a tougher sell.

Currie spoke at the briefing about many of the tests done on marine engines run with E-15, specifically some done by Mercury Marine in 2010 and 2011. It did the study under contract with the Department of Energy and coordinated by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The final report, released in October 2011, can be found on the NREL website (

Where To?
Retailers are still not widely distributing fuel with 15 percent ethanol. Currie said many are reluctant to open up to the fuel, in fear of what else it might open them up to – like complaints or worse, lawsuits from dissatisfied customers.

Although the E-15 waiver has never included marine engines, from the beginning, the NMMA has sounded its disapproval for the programs labeling measures in order to prevent misfueling (a 3-inch by 5-inch sticker on gasoline pumps).

NMMA still fights mainly to overturn the waiver, with Currie pushing its more comprehensive bill, in search of a legislator to sponsor it.

Currie said under current Renewable Fuel Standards, the 2022 mandate could put ethanol percentages at 25 to 45 percent. “That’s totally unreasonable,” he said. “We’re looking for a hero, somebody who will really take this on and go at the renewable fuel standard, and let’s correct this mistake.”

Eds. Note: This article is from HeartLand Boating's sister publication, Marina Dock Age. Find out more about the magazine at

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