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Chicago puts brakes on E15

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Chicago City Council’s finance committee took a no vote on a proposed rule that would force city fuel retailers to sell E15 – a gasoline blend containing 15% ethanol.

According to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), if passed the proposed ordinance could have cost station owners anywhere from US$ 8000 to US$ 100 000 to install the special equipment needed to safely pump the fuel. Consumers could also have faced steep prices at the pump on account of E15.

Chicago City Council heard from Taylor Smith, a policy analyst with the Heartland Institute, that Chicago consumers won’t see lower fuel costs with E15 unless a sales tax credit worth approximately 11 cents/gal. is expanded to cover the fuel. Even then, AFPM explains that higher ethanol blends like E15 contain approximately 33.3% less energy than regular gasoline, meaning consumer will have to fill up more frequently and at a greater cost to travel the same distance.

AFPM holds that the Chicago City Council is wise to put the brakes on E15 – a fuel condemned by the AAA (formerly the American Automobile Association) for its unsuitability with more than 90% of the vehicles on the road today.

Most vehicles, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles, boats and small engine equipment are incapable of handling fuel containing more than 10% ethanol and have been banned from using higher ethanol blends like E15. However, the government has permitted sale of the fuel in vehicles manufactured after 2001 despite the fact that condensation created by E15 can damage engines, resulting in corrosion, clogging and deterioration of fuel system components.

AFPM has highlighted that the threat is so serious that BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have stated that their warranties will not cover E15-related damage, while GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo owners could face void warranties if they fill up with the fuel.

Adapted from an press release by Emma McAleavey.

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