Outdoor Corner: Ethanol--Why, Why, Why!

Lyle Johnson
Another birthday fish! Sarah Hymel holds the big redfish she shot on a birthday bowfishing trip with her husband, Tim in Leeville last month.

In Springfield, Va. on June 17 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently waived Clean Air Act provisions and did away with the three-and-a-half-month blackout period on the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel during the summer months that allowed the fuel to be sold year-round.

This happened in spite of the objections of a wide coalition of American citizens along with many environmental, conservation, food producers, fuel retailers, taxpayer advocates, and outdoor recreation industry groups.

So what's the big deal? A little history might be in order about the ethanol boondoggle that the U.S. governments arm, the EPA, perpetrated on its citizenry all in the name of the environment by reducing carbon emissions. You see, fossil fuels are the boogey-man.

Some well-meaning scientist came up with the formula for ethanol at 10 percent (made with corn) that could be added to normal gasoline to reduce carbon emissions. And while the emissions from the finished product might be lower in carbon, the unintended consequences greatly outweigh any reductions.

It has been proven that the efforts to make ethanol puts more carbon in the atmosphere than gas without it. Corn prices have gone up due to demand, and the subsidies from government have greatly reduced the food supply causing shortages especially in 3rd world countries. The damages to engines it causes have cost consumers millions if not billions. It has ruined many outboard motors, four-wheelers, and many other outdoor vehicles.

So what do they do? They make a blend with 15 percent ethanol. It's so bad that the fuel had been banned at the pumps from June 1 to September 15 over concerns that it contributed to smog on hot days.

So as a result of EPA's action, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters that they will need to be very cautious at the gas station to ensure they aren't filling their boats with fuel that's bad (and illegal, got that--it's illegal!) for boat engines.

"This summer, recreational boat owners will need to be vigilant when refueling their trailer boats at the gas station to ensure they don't accidentally fill up with E15," said BoatUS Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy. "E15 is often one of the lower-priced fuel options, and that may be appealing even with its lower energy content.

"The challenge when filling up the boat is that the only fuel warning you may see is a small orange label among the clutter of signage, prices, and advertising adorning the pump. It's very easy to miss."

Boaters have no love for ethanol in their gas. E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines, and its use – accidental or not – voids many marine engine warranties. E15 has been proven to damage boat engines and fuel systems.

A 2018 BoatUS Summer Fuel Survey reported that if they had their choice of fuel, more than four out of five boat owners (83 percent) would choose E0 (ethanol-free) fuel – if it was available.

The same survey reported about half (49 percent) of respondents were unaware that the use of E15 fuel in marine engines was prohibited under federal law and will void the warranty.

The push to sell E15 year-round is a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard's (RFS) mandate to blend biofuels such as corn-ethanol into the nation's gasoline supply. BoatUS is asking recreational boaters for help on the issue by contacting their member of Congress to urge him or her to fix the RFS.

The more than half-million-member boat owners group supports fuel choice, including smart biofuels development such as isobutanol, and the availability of ethanol-free (EO) fuels that are increasingly more difficult to find.

We are fortunate here in our area as the supply of ethanol free gasoline is not too hard to find. One really good source to find where it is available is www.puregas.org. There are twelve stations in Gonzales, St Amant, Sorrento, and Prairieville where you can find it. Believe me, it's worth the effort to find it, especially for older engines and all small engines.

Next, the Mississippi River is finally on the fall which is quite a relief for a great portion of our nation. I don't remember it staying this high for this long of a time in my lifetime. With all the concerns about the water level occupying our minds, fishing on the levee could well be overlooked.

Like always, many of our outdoor enthusiasts take this opportunity to catch some really big catfish. At normal levels these catfish are not accessible from the bank. But with the water so high and using a little ingenuity, one could be very successful in landing the fish of a lifetime.

My brother Alan is an enthusiastic bank angler when the river is high. He spent part of his birthday using night crawlers for bait at his favorite spot on the river and caught a 16.5-pound blue cat to put the icing on the cake (pun intended) as a great way to end his day.

Another phenomenon about all this high water is the fish have been inaccessible to angling pressure. That means they have not been bothered or harvested for a long, long time. They will be big, fat, and hungry when the water falls and folks can get back at them.

Bass fishing in Venice should literally be on fire as the Mississippi river falls and clears up. The Atchafalaya Basin is much the same as it is regulated by the Mississippi as well so the fish in the swamp should be extremely healthy and hungry.

So take this opportunity to get out and possibly experience some fishing like it's never been before. So until next time remember to keep the slack out, and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Wednesday Evening Bass Tourney: Every Wednesday at Canal Bank from 5 p.m. until dark. Fee $40/boat, one time registration fee of $40 going toward the Classic Tournament. Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Canal Bank for information. 225 695-9074

CCA Louisiana S.T.A.R. Fishing Rodeo: May 25 thru Sept 2 summer-long CCA Louisiana saltwater fishing event. Tagged Redfish, Offshore, Inshore, Ladies & Children's divisions. Registration required. Must be CCA member. Website: ccastar.com.

Leeville Fly Fishing Weekend: June 28 thru 30 in Leeville. Sponsored by south Louisiana & Mississippi fly-fishing clubs. Preregistration required. Call Randy Leonpacher 225-769-1895. Website: rsff.org.

Wounded War Heroes Fishing Rodeo: June 27 thru 30 @Bridgeside Marina. Founded 4 years ago, 50 of our wounded veterans will take part in this one of a kind, locally founded fishing event. For more info on the rodeo and how you could get involved go to www.woundedwarheroes.org

Golden Meadow/Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo: July 4 thru 6 Registration is $35. Each ticket includes one entry into the rodeo, fishing towel, rodeo book, boiled shrimp dinner, and a chance to win over $15,000 in rodeo awards and door prizes. Go to www.gmfourchontarponrodeo.com for all the info.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net