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Boaters outraged at E15 mandate proposal in Chicago

Chicago boaters say a city council push to make it mandatory for gas stations to sell E15, or gas with a 15 percent ethanol blend, is a slap in the face to the 8,000 boaters in the city.

The Great Lakes Boating Federation, which represents 4.3 million boaters on the Great Lakes, reacted to a proposal the Chicago City Council Finance Committee passed Monday that would require all of Chicago’s gas stations, which sell more than 850,000 gallons of gas a year, to offer E15.

The group called the move “a slap in the face to the more than 8,000 boaters who enjoy the waters of Lake Michigan and the many amenities the city has to offer.”

“This is no way to treat the boating community that contributes more than $87 million annually to Chicago’s economy,” Great Lakes Boating Federation president F. Ned Dikmen said in a statement. “Such a move could prompt boaters to purchase gas elsewhere. By passing this legislation, the city council is putting the interests of the ethanol industry above the needs of its boating citizens. In this case, what’s good for the ethanol industry is not good for Chicago boaters.”

The federation asked Chicago boat owners and anyone concerned about the issue to tell their alderman to vote “no” on Chicago’s E15 Consumer Choice Ordinance 02014-5037, which will come before the city council for a vote today.

The federation said no other major U.S. city has required the sale of E15 and that federal law prohibits the use of E15 in recreational boats.

The federation also said car manufacturers, including BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Kia, Mercedes and Volkswagen, advise that their warranties do not cover fuel or emission-related damage when drivers use gasoline blends that are more than 10 percent ethanol.

Most Chicago-area boaters refuel their trailerable boats at roadside gas stations, not marinas, and the current labeling requirements telling boaters not to use the E15 pumps are inadequate and inefficient, the federation said.

Those boaters could easily misfuel their boats at the proposed E15 pumps, which could become more common if the city council has its way, the federation said. E15 will take over existing E10 pumps at the gas stations.

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