Ethanol additives will destroy your boat, ruin your marriage, and cause California to calve off into the sea

A non-ethanol gas station in coastal NC. Price per gallon across the street is $3.45. People are willing to pay a premium for their ethanol fears. Photo by Andrew David Thaler

Ethanol. For many boat owners in coastal North Carolina, it’s a dirty word. Since the mid 2000’s, various federal and state regulations have mandated the addition of up to 10% ethanol in gasoline. The reaction has been a combination of legitimate concern and hyperbolic declarations of doom (ecoterrorist have taken over our government and it’s a vast conspiracy to force you to buy a new car every three years – yes, someone said that too me). The rationale for federal mandates come primarily from the Energy Policy Act (2005), the Renewable Fuel Standard Program (2006), and the Energy Independence and Security Act (2007), while state mandates tend to deal with air quality and the recent appearance of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in the drinking water (ethanol fulfills the same role as MTBE in gasoline). Renewable resources, energy independence, national security, and clean air and water, it would seem that ethanol has a little something for everyone.

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