An Iowa congressman and a fuel retailer in his state are claiming that the oil companies’ fuel distribution monopoly is forcing the discontinuation of 15% ethanol blended fuel (E15) sales during the summer.
Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) joined Linn Coop Oil Company service manager Jim Becthold and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw for a press conference at Bechtold’s station Monday morning.
“I’ve said on multiple occasions that there is a war on renewables being funded by Big Oil,” said Braley. “Consumers who want a higher grade ethanol blend (E15) are being denied that choice” due to oil companies refusing to ship the blendstock for E15 that is necessary during the summer months.
Braley, who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), says that is exactly why Congress passed the RFS in the first place, “to make sure that we were providing a cleaner burning fuel that would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provide consumers greater choices at a lower cost.”
Bechtold, who faced the same situation last summer as he was preparing to offer E15, said he actually had to bag his E15 pumps over the weekend. “We’ll be able to sell it again on September 15, but through the summer months with the high gas prices, we can’t offer that fuel,” he said. “Really can’t see why we can’t do that. We can sell E10, E85, E30, but we can’t sell E15.”
The E15 blend was approved by the EPA for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, while E30 and E85 can only be used in flex fuel vehicles. Earlier this year a number of Iowa’s E15 retailers sent a letter to the oil refiners supplying Iowa asking them to provide the proper summertime gasoline blendstock for E15. The letter noted that such fuels are already transported by the pipeline servicing Iowa. Yet, as of the June 1st summertime deadline, no oil refiner allowed Iowa retailers access to the necessary fuel. That refusal forced Linn Coop Oil Company and Iowa’s other E15 retailers to stop selling E15 as a registered fuel to 2001 and newer vehicles.
“We’re not asking for something that doesn’t exist,” said Monte Shaw. “The gasoline blendstock we need to make E15 in the summer is available, it flows through the very pipeline system that services Iowa, but they will not let us take it out of the pipeline here.”
Listen to press conference here: Iowa RFA E15 press conference