Chicago Becomes First City to Ban MTBE

The city of Chicago has been commended for its ban of the fuel additive MTBE by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

WASHINGTON, DC – Ethanol is currently used in the Chicago area to provide octane and oxygen in gasoline, but concerns were raised that MTBE would move into the region as a result of numerous state bans on the water pollutant. “Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago City Council should be applauded for their foresight to protect their water supply by banning MTBE,” says RFA president said Eric Vaughn. “This action will save Chicago and Cook County from the MTBE nightmare that is spreading across the country.” “MTBE has been detected in over 27 percent of urban water wells nationwide, but not in Chicago,” he adds. “This ‘first-in-the-nation’ action by the city of Chicago will prevent future MTBE water contamination and will help ensure a strong market for home-grown ethanol.” Chicago Council passed the ban by a vote of 47 to 0 on Wednesday. The ordinance prohibits the “manufacture, blending, delivery, sale, distribution or use of MTBE” and becomes effective in two weeks. The ban ends a two-year process by the city of Chicago to deal with the MTBE threat. “Eleven states have already banned MTBE,” adds Vaughn. “As MTBE producers are forced out of those markets, they will seek new markets and MTBE will flow into areas where MTBE is not currently being used.” “The most logical place for MTBE to go first are Midwest oxygenate markets, like Chicago,” he says. “This action will prevent that very real scenario from occurring.” Mayor Daley sponsored a resolution that was adopted by the Conference of Mayors, supporting a ban on the use of MTBE in gasoline. “Chicago’s action can serve as a model by which other MTBE-free areas can protect their water and stimulate their rural economies by increasing the demand for grain used in ethanol production,” Vaughn concludes.

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