Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol Poisoning

Newbie ‘Hikeharder’ reminds us that there may be some changes coming down the US pike regarding ethanol (ethyl alcohol) content in gasoline, and that they might get awfully expensive for mariners of all kinds without much proven benefit.

Here are the details of what’s going on with ethanol in the US.

Right now about 75% of the gasoline in the US is E10 (ethanol 10%). Last month, the federal EPA was asked by the ethanol producers to go ahead and say "ok" to putting ethanol in gas at 15% (E15) – before required testing has been done to see what it will do in engines, including your marine outboard. There is considerable momentum, political pressure and money behind the ethanol producers to help them get their way.

But the good news is that the EPA is accepting public comments about this proposal until July 20. That means that YOU can let EPA know that tests have to be done before E15 should be considered. Sending in your thoughts only has to take 2 minutes using the link below. In order to stand a chance at convincing EPA (and Congress) of this need for testing, we need all the letters we can get from the marine perspective.


  • Most, if not all, marine engines and car engines and fuel systems are currently warranted to E10. While new engines could be built to a different fuel standard, what happens with the 500 million existing gasoline powered engines in this country?
  • Small outboards (the ones we use on a lot of race boats and lift down below to go racing) are expected to run hotter with this proposed 50% increase in ethanol.
  • Ethanol attracts water, so its’ not great for any engines that store the fuel for awhile without use. (Think about all the gasoline run engines in your life that are used sporadically – leaf blower, mower, weed whacker, and outboard motor.)

If you want EPA to do testing before E15 is the only thing you can buy, please send an email before July 20. Otherwise, be prepared for some more unpredictability with your outboard!

Click here to read more about the ethanol issue, including recent NYTimes articles.

Click here to send an email to EPA: