E15 Sputters Out in Chicago

No vote on proposal to require large stations to offer higher ethanol blend

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

Ed Burke

CHICAGO -- Legislation to require Chicago gas stations to sell gasoline with a higher mix of ethanol stalled in the City Council on Monday, after a Finance Committee hearing, reported CBS Chicago.

The proposal, sponsored by alderman and Finance Committee chairman Edward Burke, would require large stations in the city to install pumps that dispense E15, gasoline which contains 15% ethanol. Most gas currently sold at gas stations has a blend of 10% ethanol.

Stations that sell fewer than 500,000 gallons of gasoline a year, or those with underground storage tanks incompatible with E15, would be exempt from the mandate. No stations would be barred from continuing to sell a 10% blend.

According to the report, Burke said E15 burns cleaner than the gas now on the market, and saves money for motorists, "providing Chicago drivers with an option at the pump that can actually save them real dollars."

Thomas Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, which represents ethanol producers, said station operators need not fear the cost of converting their stations to pump E15.

"We hear these fear stories all the time. It's a scare tactic to try to run up the costs," he said.

"The Petroleum Equipment Institute … estimates that the average cost would be about $1,000," according to Buis.

Opponents have said the transition to E15 pumps could cost $8,000 to $100,000 per station, however.

AAA has said more than 90% of all cars on the road have not been approved by manufacturers to use E15, and the blend should only be used by vehicles with "flex-fuel" engines, even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved E15 for use in cars manufactured since 2001.

The committee took no vote on the proposal, the report said.

Click here to read the full CBS Chicago report.