The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is warning consumers that recent changes in fuel supplied to the Midwest by oil companies will reduce the quality of gasoline available in many states.
“If people notice that their gas doesn’t seem as good as it used to be, it’s because the gas isn’t as good as it used to be.” said Ron Lamberty, ACE senior vice president. “The ethanol is exactly the same as it was last week, last month, or last year – but on September 16th, the octane of gasoline just got much lower; however, consumers will pay the same as before.”
Lamberty explained that most of the Midwest is served by the Magellan pipeline system, and oil companies that use that system recently opted to supply 84-octane gas as their “base” gasoline instead of the 87 octane that has been the standard for as long as most people remember. He notes that 84-octane gas can’t even be used in vehicles without adding high-octane ethanol or some very expensive premium gasoline to the low-octane fuel.
The oil industry, continued Lamberty, is claiming that these changes were necessary because of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but there is absolutely nothing in the RFS that compels oil companies to reduce the quality of the fuel by lowering the octane.
“Oil companies are switching to 84-octane because it increases their profits and gives them complete control of ethanol and RINs. Oil refineries save a lot of money and get more gallons of 84-octane from a barrel than they get making 87-octane, and yet prices haven’t dropped in other U.S. markets where the change has already been made. Consumers won’t pay lower prices for these lower-octane fuels, the oil companies will just make more money,” said Lamberty.
“The news gets even worse for consumers. This change also means gas station owners will no longer be able to buy 84-octane gasoline and save money by buying ethanol and blending it themselves,” continued Lamberty. “Now, oil companies have complete control over how and when ethanol is blended. “As a result, gas stations will have to pay whatever the oil company wants to charge for the pre-blended E10 or pay the oil company a much higher price for the sub-octane gasoline, putting any savings from lower-priced ethanol in the pockets of Big Oil.”
“The only way consumers can share in the lower price of ethanol is by buying E85 or E15, and Big Oil is doing everything they can to make sure consumers aren’t even offered that choice,” he said.
Lamberty hopes that this change will open some eyes to the fact that the fight against E15 and the RFS is all about control of the fuel supply, and not about Big Oil’s concern for consumers. He said that if Big Oil were concerned about driver, they wouldn’t continue to reduce fuel quality.
“The ethanol industry wants motorists to have more choices at the pump, and the RFS was enacted so American consumers could have those options, not just choices between different oil companies,” concluded Lamberty. “Big Oil wants consumers to have fewer choices, and they want to control all the choices. There’s only one reason for that, and it isn’t concern for motorists, it’s huge profits.”