Joined by Congressional leaders and industry experts, members of the SEMA Action Network (SAN) participated in the "Fuel for Thought" Rally on Capitol Hill. The event raised awareness of the corrosive effects of ethanol-blended gasoline on automobile engines and the dangers of consumer misfueling. Hosted by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in partnership with the SAN, the event drew car enthusiasts and motorcycle riders from across the nation.
Ethanol's chemical property poses a risk to older cars and motorcycles. Ethanol absorbs water which can lead to metal corrosion. It can also dissolve plastics and rubber. Most older vehicles and many motorcycles were not constructed with ethanol-compatible materials. The EPA has made it illegal to fuel pre-2001 vehicles and motorcycles with E15. However, the EPA only requires a warning label on the pump.
"Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), lawmakers have eliminated the free marketplace and mandated that an ever-increasing amount of ethanol be mixed in gasoline," said Dan Sadowski, SEMA's congressional affairs director. "A mixture of 10 percent ethanol no longer achieves the arbitrary RFS mandates. The EPA has now authorized 15 percent ethanol while acknowledging the dangers posed to older vehicles and motorcycles. Despite the EPA's restrictions on ethanol in older cars, there has been an inability to obtain unblended gasoline for engines that may be damaged by ethanol."
Members of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), an active segment of the SAN, circled the U.S. Capitol in their classic and vintage automobiles. Their message was clear – hit the brakes on ethanol. AACA believes the collection, restoration and preservation of automobiles is an activity shared across generations and across all segments of society. AACA represents thousands of local car clubs and related businesses that have been instrumental in preserving this part of our unique historic heritage by encouraging the restoration and exhibition of these vintage cars.
"For over 75 years, AACA has fostered the growth and development of this American pastime by bringing together thousands of car enthusiasts and their collector vehicles to honor the past and our shared history," said AACA president Tom Cox. "Now, due to a shortsighted government mandate, these vintage vehicles are at risk due to ethanol. On behalf of AACA and the SAN, I encourage Congress to amend the RFS mandates and conduct further research on the damaging effects of ethanol fuel. The future of our older antique vehicles depends on it."
Rally speakers included Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Tom Petri (R-WI), Bill Posey (R-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT) and David Valadao (R-CA). These members of Congress are not only concerned lawmakers but are also automotive and motorcycle enthusiasts committed to addressing ethanol concerns.