BoatUS - Where Big Ethanol is King, Many Prefer Ethanol-Free Gas

Report: More ethanol-free fuel sold in Iowa than E15 and all flex fuels combined

DES MOINES, Iowa, May 3, 2018 – Even in Iowa, it appears many Hawkeye State residents aren’t fond of ethanol fuels mandated by the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

A report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that ethanol-free gas (E0) is a more popular fuel choice than E15 (15 percent ethanol) and all flex fuels (E20, E85) combined, with Iowans purchasing more than 200 million gallons of E0 fuel in 2016.

That’s more fuel that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects the entire US will be able to use in the near future while still satisfying growing annual biofuel obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The nation’s largest boating advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), says citizens of the number-one ethanol-producing state in the nation choosing ethanol-free fuel for their own personal vehicles and equipment is another example of the need for RFS reform. “This is the part of the country where Big Ethanol interests dominate, but right in their backyard the citizens of Iowa have spoken with their pocketbooks and wallets,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “They know what ethanol can do to their vehicles, power equipment and boats. We support every effort to recognize an Iowan’s right to choose safe ethanol-free fuels. It’s time to fix the RFS.”

When it was passed in 2005, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since then, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecast, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate and avoid hitting a “blend wall” in which the volume of ethanol production would exceed consumption and infrastructure constraints, in 2010 EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace. Most recently on April 12, President Trump also proposed the sale of E15 year-round that would require a waiver to the Clean Air Act.

Only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats, and anything greater voids many marine engine warranties. However, 92 percent of readers of a prominent boating industry publication reported in 2017 that they have seen damage caused by ethanol, which also decreases fuel economy, thus increasing fuel cost, and has questionable environmental benefits. BoatUS also has concerns over potential consumer misfueling as E15 pump labeling requirements are minimal – just a small orange warning label.

BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition. For more information, go to

Iowans purchased more than 200 million gallons of ethanol-free fuel in 2016.

Iowans purchased more than 200 million gallons of ethanol-free fuel in 2016.