Ethanol industry, small-engine manufacturers clash over damage from fuel
Manufacturers of lawn mowers, snowblowers, chainsaws, and other small-engine equipment continue fueling a debate over the supposed dangers of ethanol, but the ethanol industry argues that they are merely looking for a scapegoat to mask operator error.
Gasoline blended with ethanol has become commonplace for American drivers, especially since Congress enacted the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard and began mandating increasing amounts of the fuel at gas pumps across the country. Critics argue that while such blends — including the most common, E10, which combines 10 percent ethanol with regular gasoline — pose no problems for automobiles, they can often wreak havoc on small engines.
“You’re putting alcohol into the fuel. They’re different atoms. They don’t like to stay married,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, the leading trade group for power equipment and utility vehicle manufacturers. “This is a big deal, and everybody wants to downplay it. But we’re pretty sensitive to it.”