Check twice when fueling your boat

Make sure you know what you are putting in your gas tank when fueling up your boat. (Photo by Mike Schoonveld)

The boating season never really ends in Michigan, but if there’s a peak season it’s right now. That means it’s the peak season for stopping to fuel up ol’ Wavewhacker before you hit the lakes. It’s also the peak season to make fueling mistakes.

We can thank the national political schedule that brings the Hawkeye State (Iowa) into national prominence every four years. The Iowa caucuses are the first “formal” kickoff to the national series of elections, lotteries and other events that help determine which two candidates square off in the next presidential race.

Iowa is the epitome of a fly-over state for most politicos three out of four years. But in the run-up to the caucus season, Iowans can hardly stop for a cup of coffee without running into a contender. Campaign buses clog the highways. If you want to be president, you better embrace all things Iowan.

One of the things Iowan is ethanol fuel. Not only does Iowa lead the country in corn production, it leads the country in ethanol production. So whether a politician is a “green” candidate, ambivalent to environmental issues, or has a D, R or any other letter associated with their affiliation, at least for one year in four, he or she better embrace alcohol-impregnated gasoline.

Despite a wide coalition of citizens and citizens groups objecting to boosting the federally mandated 90/10 (percent gas to ethanol) mixture in regular gasoline by 50% to 85/15, the EPA did it anyway – sort of.

The EPA wanted to make all regular gasoline E-15, but when owners of older cars, outboard motors and lawnmowers all started blowing up, the bureaucrats changed their tune. The new proposal required E-15 to be available, but not mandated. The EPA then backed off again by only requiring E-15 during the fall, winter and spring. The regulators judged that would diminish the number of irate citizens complaining about their old cars, golf carts, chainsaws and weed-whackers falling apart from drinking too much of the booze-fuel.

That didn’t satisfy “Big Ethanol” headquartered in “Little Iowa.” They wanted it to be available all year. So what better time to make the push than in an election cycle when every presidential hopeful will be in Iowa, proclaiming to be in touch with every Iowan?

I swear, if Iowans were in favor of killing butterflies or pumping raw sewage into the Mississippi or Missouri rivers, so would the contenders in the Iowa caucuses.

So the EPA capitulated to the political pressure and ignored common sense and the will of nearly everyone not from Iowa – especially anyone with a lawnmower, old truck or outboard-powered boat. Across the country (including Michigan), E-15 fuel is going to be dispensed during all seasons, including the boating season. So when ol’ Wavewhacker needs some go-juice this summer, check the button you push before you pump. Make sure you use either alcohol-free gasoline or, at most, E-10.

Categories: Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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