September 2016 Region 5 Newsletter

September 1st, 2016

Welcome to the September edition of the Region 5 newsletter.

Butler-Clermont-Hamilton Counties September Meeting Cancelled

Friday, September 1st, 2016

Due to the Labor Day holiday, the September Region 5 meeting for Butler-Clermont-Hamilton Counties has been cancelled.

Driverless Car Manufacturers Await Guidance from Agency, Motorcyclists Raise Concerns, Questions

Information from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation(MRF)

Over the last several months, we've seen more and more companies announce plans to pursue the creation and manufacture of self-driving cars. Tesla has already been successful, announcing their intention to have an autonomous vehicle ready by 2018 for consumer purchase. Google's prototype currently has a fleet of 58 self-driving vehicles being tested on public streets in California, Washington, Texas and Arizona. GM, Daimler, Volvo, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Audi and BMW have also announced plans to pursue the technology. As with most new technologies, the federal government has to play catch-up to this evolving area as it relates to rules and regulations.

This was made apparent when last month, a Tesla Model S on auto-pilot caused a fatal crash in Florida. Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation on the incident, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind indicated that the recent controversy around the crash would not deter the agency from embracing self-driving cars as part of the future of safety on the nation's roads. However, the question remains as to what criteria must be established to ensure that driverless cars are safe for consumers. The Department of Transportation (DoT) has indicated that this guidance is likely to be issued sometime this summer. DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated that this will come in the form of federal government guidelines for self-driving vehicles. Critics concerned over the technology have reacted negatively to this announcement, stating that guidelines are only voluntary and that enforceable standards must be established.

For some motorcyclists, there is the hope that a rise in driverless cars could eliminate many of those crashes caused by human error in car versus motorcycle accidents. However, others have expressed concerns over whether motorcyclists on the road can be accounted for by the autonomous technology, given their smaller dimensions. At a recent DoT symposium, staff from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation raised the question to the agency. The spokesperson indicated that motorcycles would absolutely need to be accounted for when developing requirements for self-driving vehicles, given their smaller size on the road.

Other motorcyclists fear a far-worst case scenario, if driverless cars prove successful on the road and significantly lower accident rates, is there a possibility where ALL vehicles on the road are required to have this technology? Would this result in opening up a world of self-driving motorcycles? Though far from likely, these are examples of the many questions being raised. Answers to these questions will largely be dependent on time and the success or failure of this new technology.

MRF's Jay Jackson Elected to Serve on Executive Committee for State Motorcycle Safety Administrators Association

Information from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation(MRF)

This week, the State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) announced the results of its recent elections. Notably, Jay Jackson, Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, was elected to serve on the SMSA Executive Committee as the Individual Members' Representative.

The SMSA is an Association representing State Motorcycle Safety Administrators from across the country. The purpose of the group includes goals to influence national policy and standards affecting motorcyclists, provide guidance on state policies or standards, as well as allow for communication, collaboration and partnerships between Motorcycle Safety Administrators across the U.S. The SMSA's recent elections resulted in a number of new appointees to the Executive Committee which leads the organization. Jay Jackson is one of those recently elected.

"The SMSA really can serve a valuable purpose," stated Jackson who indicated his excitement about rider education programs. "The previous and incoming Executive Committees members are dynamic individuals and have the enthusiasm to make things happen," he went on to say.

According to Jackson's SMSA nominee biography, he became a certified motorcycle instructor in 1986 and a decade later became State Director of the Motorcycle Safety Division for ABATE of Indiana where he is still working today. Under his leadership, ABATE of Indiana's rider education program expanded exponentially and he started to develop an extensive network of motorcycle safety professionals. In 2000, Jackson received his designation as a Chief Instructor by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. He has conducted and assisted in numerous training courses across several states.

As the Individual Members Representative to the SMSA Executive Committee, Jackson is hopeful he can help "cross pollinate" in getting motorcycle rights enthusiasts and motorcycle safety administrators to work together. Given his extensive background in motorcycle rights, his work with the MRF and ABATE of Indiana, and his strong interest and success in rider training and education programs, Jackson may be just the guy to do the job.

The RFS Standard and the Next President

Information from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation(MRF)

Over the past several years, motorcyclists have shown an increasing interest in the politics surrounding ethanol, and more specifically, the Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels like ethanol with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022.

Ultimately, the effects of the mandatory increase in renewable fuels will be seen at the pump. Critics of the RFS are concerned that they will be forced to use higher ethanol-blended gasoline like E15 in their bikes. And their concern is valid. There is reason to believe that ethanol can impact smaller engines like those used in motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and power equipment among others. Higher levels of ethanol put into a small engine, can make it run at higher temperature. Further, because ethanol is an alcohol, it attracts water. When you have water that comes into an engine, the potential of corrosion can occur.

Needless to say, motorcyclists are concerned. But so are many others. Because there is so much controversy over the ethanol mandate, we have seen Congress introduce dozens of measures that both support and criticize the current mandate. However, as the legislative year winds down, it is looking less and less likely that any of these proposals will be passed into law. As an effect, both ethanol proponents and critics are looking at the issue through the lens of a possible Trump Administration or Clinton Administration. Rhetoric on the issue between the two candidates can give some indication of where they might fall on the contentious issue of ethanol.

At an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump clearly stated to the room of ethanol supporters that he supported higher blends of ethanol and that the EPA should follow through on the ethanol mandates set forth by Congress. Though he made his position crystal clear, it's important to remember the setting for the speech and also that the speech was made just days before the Iowa caucus; a critical state during primary season. Although since then and more recently, Mr. Trump has been quoted as saying that ethanol is, "the key to complete American energy Independence," even meeting with major ethanol producers.

For former Senator Clinton, she made waves recently, when it was reported that that the Clinton campaign had discussed the Renewable Fuel Standard with Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, a noted critic of the ethanol standard, and potential Clinton EPA chief. Though when asked, a Clinton spokesperson rejected the notion that Mrs. Clinton would repeal the RFS. It also should be noted that in May, Mrs. Clinton wrote an op-ed for an Iowa publication where she indicated that she supported the ethanol mandate but there was room for improvement.

Given the controversy surrounding the issue, it's likely that both candidates will be asked for their positions during the presidential debates leading up to the November elections. Both those who support and those who oppose the ethanol mandates are likely to be listening with baited breath in an attempt to predict what the future holds for ethanol in America.

Government Study Announced on Motorcycle Conspicuity

Information from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation(MRF)

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) held its annual meeting this week in Seattle, WA. The theme for this year's event emphasized the importance of safe driving behavior in an era of rapid technological advancement. More than 500 state highway safety officials and advocates were in attendance including government officials from the Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as representatives from State Motorcycle Rights' Organizations and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.

During the course of the conference, plans regarding an upcoming motorcycle study, funded by money in the highway bill passed by Congress late last year, were announced. Though in the early planning stages, the study is aiming to address motorcycle crash prevention. This is a pivot from previous positions from government officials whose sole focus appeared to be geared towards "safer crashing" through the practice of universal helmet laws.

Though details of the upcoming study remain limited, it appears that it will examine the impact of high-visibility clothing and effects on motorcycle crashes. The project is in the solicitation process but the details suggest a hypothesis aiming to prove high visibility clothing can prevent motorcycle accidents. Details including available data, the entities or contractors conducting the study and when the study will be released will be available in the coming months. Depending on the outcome and findings of the study, legislative and regulatory activity by states and the federal government could follow.

Hosed again? The EPA is reviving the 4-gallon minimum fuel-purchase policy

Information from the American Motorcyclist Association(AMA)

We thought we had put this issue to bed in 2012. But it appears that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still subjecting motorcyclists to a 4-gallon minimum fuel purchase at blender pumps that dispense both E10 and E15.

As part of its E15 Misfueling Mitigation Program, the EPA is allowing retailers to sell fuel with 10 percent ethanol from the same pump used for blends of 15 percent ethanol. This creates a problem for motorcyclists, who could wind up with as much as a quart of E15 in their tanks even if they select the proper grade of fuel.

And the ethanol lobby is promoting this approach.

In its "E15 & Flex Fuel Retailer Roadmap" for fuel retailers, a pro-ethanol group offers this advice:
"E15 can be sold on the same hose with gasoline (E0 to E10) using this configuration: Require a minimum purchase of four gallons and apply a label stating ‘Minimum Fueling Volume 4 Gallons. Dispensing Less May Violate Federal Law.'" (P. 80, emphasis added).

The AMA spotted this minimum-purchase policy in 2012 and, with the voices of thousands of motorcyclists, made enough noise that the EPA backed away from it. You can read about that battle here.

Since the average fuel tank for motorcycles holds less than 4 gallons, riders are unable to buy the required minimum of 4 gallons. And, even motorcycles with larger tanks could end up with a blend with more than 10 percent ethanol. Or, end up fueling what you think is safe fuel and end up with something much worse! Check out what some motorists experienced in Oklahoma recently.

We thought common sense prevailed at the EPA when on Dec. 17, 2012, the agency informed the AMA it had reversed its decision to require the 4-gallon minimum purchase.

After the AMA read the pro-ethanol group's "roadmap," we immediately sent a letter to the EPA and contacted the EPA public relations office for clarification. The agency has not yet responded to our letter. But the media inquiry prompted a response.

According to an EPA spokesperson:
Dispensing E10 in volumes less than 4 gallons from a pump that supplies E10 only is absolutely NOT a violation.
The excerpted portion you highlighted should refer only to the less than 1% of gas stations that have gasoline pumps that that dispense BOTH E10 and E15 from a single hose or nozzle. The 4 gallon fueling minimum for E10 is only required for these "co-dispensing pumps" and is there to protect consumers. The 4 gallon minimum ensures that engines, that are not allowed to use E15 (like those in motorcycles) do not inadvertently get too much ethanol in the tank. To comply with EPA regulations, most stations with co-dispensing pumps simply put up a sign that says the co-dispensing pump may only be used for passenger vehicles and separately offer a dedicated E10 pump for motorcycles and other engines that cannot use E15. Motorcyclists or other types of vehicles and engines that require E10 in volumes of less than 4 gallons should not have a problem finding E10 in any volume they need.

Apparently, common sense comes only in fleeting moments—and, once again, motorcyclists end up getting hosed from an ill-conceived program created by unelected Washington bureaucrats.

Congress and the EPA are not protecting you. Ethanol producers and their lobbyists don't care about the danger of inadvertently misfueling your motorcycle with E15. And confusing labels at the pump don't get the message across.

The key takeaway for motorcyclists is this: If you pull up to a fuel pump that offers E10 and E15, play it safe and look for the legally required pump that only dispenses E10. If you have an older or vintage bike, you need E0 – fuel with no ethanol.

As motorcyclists, we have to watch out for each other and get the word out: E15 fuel is unsafe and we've got to keep it out of our tanks.

Please send a prewritten comment to your senators and representative by clicking on the "Take Action" link.

Click here to "TAKE ACTION".

Region 5 Monthly Meeting Info

Locations and times for the next Region 5 county meetings

Next Region 5 meeting for Clinton County is 11AM, September 11th at American Legion Post 49 in Wilmington, Ohio.

Next Region 5 meeting for Butler-Clermont-Hamilton counties is 11AM, October 2nd at The Train Stop in Foster, Ohio.