Two US senators have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to find out if Big Oil is pulling strings to block gas stations from accessing gasoline blended with extra ethanol – or 15 percent ethanol (E15). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D – MN) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA) said they've received reports of oil companies pushing independent gas stations to sell premium gasoline along with regular gasoline. Since most US fuel stations are built with two large storage tanks, pressure to bring in premium grade gas, E15 wouldn't make it to these gas stations. The senators would like to find out from the FTC if the oil companies' actions were a possible antitrust violation. The FTC said in a letter that it would look into the issue.

Klobuchar and Grassley represent two states where a lot of corn is grown and ethanol is produced. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard calls for 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels to be sold this year and 18.5 billion gallons in 2014. The US Environmental Protection Agency admits that the US may have hit the "blend wall," where more biofuel is being produced than the amount that is being demanded. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute have been petitioning to get that biofuel volume down to a little more than 14.8 billion gallons for next year. Big Oil has been warning Washington that producing too much biofuel would mean "severe economic harm" for the US. The American Petroleum Institute thinks that the senators' allegations are "a distraction from the fact that the [renewable fuels standard] is broken."

While the EPA has approved the use of E15 in newer cars, demand for it hasn't yet grown. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says there are only about 30 gas station in eight states offering E15. Biofuel organizations say oil companies are pulling shenanigans to stop E15 from spreading; RFA says it knows of at least one gas station owner in Kansas who was pressured by Big Oil to stop offering E15.


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  • 13 Comments
      diffrunt
      • 1 Year Ago
      When fiscal crimes are committed , the usual question is---who profits?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      On other words, they are 'accepting donations' ;)
      Carac
      • 1 Year Ago
      Keep that ethanol junk out of my 25 year old E30 M3. I just had the engine rebuilt and don't look forward to accelerating the process to another, new fuel pumps, fuel lines, etc. You can offer 100% ethanol for all I care...as long as there is a 0% ethanol pump right next to it.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carac
        Too bad you didn't convert it to an EV... they can never muck with your electrons when you run on sunshine :)
      SteveG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm why would a senator from Iowa and a senator from Minnesota care I wonder, hmm. Perhaps the FTC should look into the influence the corn growers lobby has.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem is that the gas stations are so tightly tied to the oil industry. The Ethanol industry needs to build their own fuel stations, and set their own prices. For the last decade, E85 prices at the pump have tracked with gas prices, even when ethanol prices were dropping. The oil industry, starting with the blenders, is systematically trying to sabotage the ethanol industry. From the blenders manipulating E85 prices, to pedaling false information about ethanol in TV ads, to oil industry plants posting anti-ethanol BS in websites, the ethanol industry needs to break completely from the oil industry. Open E85, E15, and E10 stations of their own, so they can sell E85 based upon the real cost of ethanol, and not based upon how much gas prices are. Open their own blenders, so they can't get screwed by the blenders manipulating E85 prices. That is the only way ethanol will finally compete on price in the market. The oil industry's dirty tricks trying to shut down E15 is just the tip of the iceberg. They've been manipulating E85 prices for years. And everyone can watch it while it happens. Like when the wholesale price of ethanol goes down, yet the blenders manipulate E85 wholesale prices, making E85 go up in price tracking the gas prices at the same time. Make the break from the oil industry manipulated gas stations, and open ethanol stations. That is the only way to start breaking ethanol away from the oil industry.
      Actionable Mango
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since there are almost no farmers left, a more accurate title would be Big Agri vs Big Oil.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      The environmental cost of ethanol is horrendous, not to mention all the soldiers who have died in the corn wars in Iowa.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        The soldiers from the French and Indian war...
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        @ brotherkenny4 Your attempt at sarcasm fails when the environmental damage caused by US corn based ethanol has been so well documented. Just hating oil and oil companies, is not sufficient reason to produce and mandate ethanol, which has proven to be an even more inefficient, economically disastrous, and environmentally destructive fuel ! End the US corn based ethanol mandate, today !
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Are you talking about the damage to the Gulf of Mexico due to fertilizer runoff? Your attempt at finger pointing fails when the environmental damage to the Gulf of Mexico caused by the oil industry is so well documented. And not just the BP spill, but endless spill after spill in the gulf, along with leaking pipelines and leaking capped wells. Just hating US farmers is not sufficient reason to mandate that cars run on 100% gasoline, and eliminate ethanol from the US market. End being an oil ***** marcopolo, today!
      Afrosheenix
      • 1 Year Ago
      My 2013 GS 350 specifically states nothing higher than E10 on a sticker on the gas cap. I don't want more filler in gasoline, I want choice.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Afrosheenix
        You will always have choice under the E15 regulation. Not a drop of E15 can be sold unless the gas station has a dedicated pump that always just distributes E10 and nothing else. On top of that, most blender pump will allow you to choose E10, E15, E85, and sometimes other blends in between. Glad I could solve that for you. BTW, if you would have bought a 2013 Ford or GM, your car would say E15 is perfectly fine for your car. Doesn't it surprise you that even the cheapest Fords and GM's are built with better fuel systems that can handle E15. Not to mention cheap Fords and GM's that can take E85. But your expensive GS 350 is inferior, and can't hack the job?
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