Although the Chicago City Council recently hit the brakes on a proposed ordinance that would require gas stations offer E15, the measure hasn’t stalled completely.
If the ordinance is approved, Chicago would become the first major U.S. city to mandate the sale of E15. Under the proposed ordinance, stations selling more than 850,000 gallons of gas per year — representing almost 25% of stations in Chicago — would be required to offer the 15%-ethanol blend. Retailers would have 360 days to install E15 dispensing equipment.
Chicago has a history of leading change in the fueling market, having been the first city to ban leaded gasoline in 1984 and MTBE in 2000. Alderman Ed Burke first proposed the E15 ordinance in July of last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel tabled the proposal Dec. 10, saying it needed to be refined in order to minimize burdens on small businesses while still meeting the city’s environmental goals.
Petroleum-industry groups and retailer organizations have opposed the ordinance, citing E15’s reduced fuel economy and the financial burden infrastructure requirements would cause to smaller, independent fuel retailers. Marine, motorcycle and small-engine groups object to the ordinance due to the risk E15 poses to engines, effectively voiding their warranties.
Ethanol advocates, the American Lung Association of Illinois and environmental groups applaud the proposal, saying E15 would cause gas prices to drop and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Burke has indicated that funding would be available to help retailers offset equipment installation costs.
Additional Resources: To brush up on the U.S. Department of Energy’s E15 dispensing guidelines, review the DOE’s Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 and Other Ethanol-Gasoline Blends.