Auto Club Monitoring Proves Ethanol Blending Safe

Guest columnist for ACE's Grassroots Voice column in the November EPM writes about the AMCM and Travelers Motor Club experiences with ethanol.
By Gene Hammond | October 17, 2016

I woke up Sat., Dec. 1, 2012, to a front page headline in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus Leader that made this former South Dakota farm boy mad! The headline read “AAA issues warning on E15.” 
I was raised on the farm, and after a short career in teaching, I have been in the motor business for the past 42 years. I founded both the Association for Motor Club Marketing and Travelers Motor Club. Based on my experience, I could not understand what AAA was talking about. I knew off the top of my head that ethanol had reduced road service calls for our corporations because ethanol use had reduced wintertime gas line freeze.

As a principle owner of AMCM and Travelers Motor Club, representing over 19 million members, my next move was to contact our claims departments to see how many road service claims we could attribute to ethanol use. An initial road service analysis of past claims could not attribute one single service call to ethanol use. I immediately ordered the monitoring of all road service claims going forward to determine if AAA knew something about E15 that we didn’t.  After two years of monitoring claims, we shared our claim history with the American Coalition for Ethanol and Growth Energy. We reported to both groups that after two years of claims monitoring we could not attribute one claim to ethanol use. Today we can report that during a four-year period, we still cannot report one claim attributed to ethanol use, E15 or any blend, for that matter.

Since sharing our real-life claim history with ethanol industry leaders, we have made two trips to Washington, D.C., to convey a very simple message to Congress and the U.S. EPA. Our four-year record of monitoring motor service claims indicates ethanol poses no problem, so when AAA spouts oil industry talking points about E15 damage, we demand that AAA provide its real-life road service claim history. We are confident that AAA’s claims mirror ours.

Besides sharing our findings with decision makers in our nation’s capital, we also have lobbied in favor of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and sent a letter of support to the mayor and city council of Chicago during their E15 debate. I have also had the opportunity to be interviewed a number of times on the radio to tell our claims history. Long story short, we are doing all we can do to tell the truth about ethanol and encourage AAA to tell its story about E15 claims, rather than repeating the petroleum industry’s self-serving talking points.

We did not engage in this fight for E15 and the RFS to sell motor club memberships. We just wanted to set the record straight and to support rural America. We believe the ethanol industry has done a great job of adding to our nation’s security through oil independence and contributing to a cleaner environment. Add that to the economic benefits of ethanol for farmers and small town America, and it makes it easy for us to stand up and set the record straight. With that being said, we do want to thank the many ethanol industry individuals who have purchased motor club memberships and the ethanol plants that have gifted their shareholders and employees with AMCM memberships.

We are going to continue to stand up for ethanol and rural America. We are going to continue to pressure AAA to talk about its claims and not petroleum industry studies. If you or your ethanol plant would like us to address your board of directors meeting, shareholders meeting or a community event to tell our real life motor club claims story, we are available and more than willing to do so.


Author: Gene Hammond
CEO, Association Motor Club Marketing
605-261-6083
ghammond@travlersmotorclub.com