If you do not own a flex-fuel vehicle, you should be aware of Senate Bill 52 sponsored by Senator John Sullivan (D), Quincy, IL and House Bill 165 sponsored by Representative John Bradley (D), Marion, IL.
Currently, consumers in Illinois pay 20% less sales tax on gasohol. Gasohol, according to the Illinois Use Tax Act, is defined as a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% denatured ethanol. This blend is also known as E10.
These two bills propose a change in the definition of gasohol from E10 to “the maximum proportion of ethanol authorized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under Section 211 of the Clean Air Act,” which states the “allowable ethanol content of 15%.” This means there would no longer be an incentive for E10. The bills also add definitions for E20 and E30 gasohol and assigns tax incentives for those blends.
According to an article in Oil Express, a newsletter published by Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), the American Automobile Association (AAA) travel group warns not to use E15 because it may damage your car engine. The EPA has approved the E15 fuel for all 2001 and later model year vehicles. However, AAA surveyed automakers and found that only 12 million of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the road today have the manufacturers’ approval to use E15 fuel.
Five auto manufacturers have gone on record to state their warranties will not cover fuel related claims caused by E15. Those five manufacturers are BMW, Chrysler, VW, Nissan, and Toyota. In addition, seven manufacturers state that using E15 does not comply with the owner’s manual and may void your warranty. Those seven manufacturers are Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. Engine warranties will not be honored if E15 is used in motorcycles, marine engines, lawn mowers, and other small 2 and 4 cycle engines.
AAA has called for sales of E15 to stop until motorists are better informed about the fuel blend. AAA worries that uninformed motorists may inadvertently, due to its lower price, use the blend and damage their vehicles. Fuel lines and pumps, emission systems, gaskets, and other engines parts can corrode. All of which can lead to costly repairs. The EPA has required all retailers of E15 to post an orange and black label to the pumps. Critics also contend that, in a non-flex-fuel automobile, the blend could also create leaks, impacting the environment and ground water.
Most gas stations will not want to go to the expense of putting in new underground tanks for the E15. Many may opt to, instead, install blender pumps. Blender pumps mix the gasoline and ethanol together in the right proportion to the fuel type selected. However, it has been found that if a customer selects E10 immediately after someone has used E15, as much as a third of a gallon of E15 remains in the fueling hose. Such a small amount may not affect an automobile much, but the potential for adverse effects to vehicles and equipment with a small tank, such as motorcycles, lawn mowers, and ATVs.
Initially, the EPA considered imposing a requirement that E10 customers purchase a minimum of four gallons at gas stations using blender pumps that dispense both E10 and E15 through the same hose. But that idea has been scrapped. Instead, they are requiring labeling of such blender pumps are solely for passenger cars and trucks.
The two bills also mandate $20 million in grants to be split between projects that are “next generation ethanol/renewable fuels.” Currently, these grants are awarded by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to companies that are constructing, modifying and retrofitting a plant in Illinois.
The Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMA) and Illinois Association of Convenience Stores (IACS) represent small businessmen and women that distribute and retail gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products throughout Illinois. The IPMA/IACS has been a National leader in the blending and selling of ethanol blended gasoline, and they oppose Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 165. In a recent press release they state “While a few members of the agricultural community will benefit, Illinois fuel retailers and consumers will realize none of the benefits while bearing all the cost and liability.”
Watch the Prairie Advocate News and www.pacc-news.com for other perspectives on this issue.