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Bill Pending To Increase Amount Of Ethanol In Gasoline

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Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – A bill that would pave the way for ethanol-based E15 fuel in Illinois is rattling around the Illinois House.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, the bill passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly last year, but was caught up in constitutional red tape over a veto.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports

It would set the stage for E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, to begin appearing at gas pumps, as opposed to the current E10, for which the ratio is 10-90 ethanol to gasoline.

But opponent Dan Eichholz of the Illinois Petroleum Council spars with the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).

“Ninety percent of the cars on the road have vehicle warranties that avoid more ethanol than E-10 has used,” Eichholz said.

“Mr. Chairman, these are the same sky-is-falling arguments that have been rejected overwhelmingly by the General Assembly last year,” Bradley replied.

Bradley said an amendatory veto last year led to the constitutional snag.

The bill is now in the House Rules Committee, after passing the Revenue Committee over the concerns of big oil.

By contrast to what is proposed in the bill for gas stations, most vehicles operated by the state of Illinois run on fuel that is mostly ethanol.

In April 2004, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an order encouraging the use of biofuels and flexible fuels in state vehicles, and since then, 75 percent of all vehicles purchased by the state have been equipped to run on E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, according to the state Central Management Services.

State vehicles have been using ethanol-based fuels for more than three decades. Then-Gov. Jim Thompson issued an order that all 10,000 state cars and trucks begin running on E10, then commonly known as gasohol, on Nov. 2, 1979.

Back that year, CBS 2 Health and Science Editor Roger Field explained that in addition to the environmental and conservation benefits, fuel containing ethanol yields better mileage than pure gasoline because it burns cooler, causing the engine piston to move more slowly and make more efficient use of gasoline. Diluting alcohol with water would have the same effect, Field said, but obviously would not be advisable because the fuel would freeze.

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