The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which represents the small engine industry, just released their annual survey results concerning consumer knowledge of small engine fuel options. Based upon the results of the survey, corn farmers and small engine manufacturers can agree that consumers need and deserve more information about today’s fuel options. We know from our own consumer research that consumers are hungry for information about the positive effects of ethanol blended fuels.
Further, we agree with the OPEI on two other points: 1) The OPEI acknowledges that E10 is safe for use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats and snowmobiles; and 2) The OPEI notes that federal law prohibits the use of higher ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment. Beyond these points of agreement, however, lays a significantly different view of the future.
Our farmers believe that consumers having a choice of fuels is a good thing. Whether you choose renewable ethanol because you want cleaner air or because you like purchasing an American grown fuel or because higher blends of ethanol are frequently priced lower than gasoline — the bottom line is that you should have the choice if you want to kick your oil addiction. The OPEI’s press release suggests that you, as a consumer, can’t handle this choice — that you lack the ability to know the differences between regular gasoline and higher ethanol blends like E15 or E85.
We trust consumers to make the right choice of fuel — whether it is for their cars or small engine.
Today, our farmers are working with the auto industry to examine how higher blends of ethanol, ranging from E15 to E25, can boost gasoline octane. Higher gasoline octane can improve engine performance and help the auto industry achieve higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy mileage targets. Likewise, it is time for the nation’s small engine manufacturers to stop fighting renewable fuels and, instead, begin working to ensure tomorrow’s small engines can run on tomorrow’s renewable fuels.
Rather than fighting choice and change, our nation’s small engine manufacturers should work to develop engines that can run safely on higher blends of renewable fuels. Perhaps then, instead of bemoaning the lack of consumer knowledge and issuing dire warnings, the OPEI can offer consumers something real: the opportunity to make a clean and renewable choice.
Chris Novak is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Corn Growers Association.