Standoff at Pump Over New Fuel: Ethanol Lobby vs. Station Owners
by Ryan Tracy (The Wall Street Journal) …Since the blend known as E15 first hit the market for regular cars in July, eight fuel stations in Kansas and Iowa have started to sell it, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol trade group. The group says regulators in three other states—Nebraska, South Dakota, and Illinois—have cleared it for sale and expects stations there to offer the fuel soon.
But concerns over storing the fuel and burning it in older vehicles have stalled its adoption. Most stations are in “sit back and wait” mode, in the words of R.J. Rymas, director of fuels for Rockford, Ill.-based gas-station owner Road Ranger LLC.
…Mr. Rymas said most of his underground storage tanks aren’t certified to hold fuel with more than 10% ethanol, meaning it would take an investment of tens of thousands of dollars to replace them with tanks that can store E15.
…Scott Zaremba, whose Zarco 66 stations in Kansas were the first in the country to sell E15, said the biggest benefit of offering more than one gasoline blend is that his prices are less tied to the “take it or leave it” prices of oil refiners. “We have a little bit more control over our destiny,” he said.
The industry is holding information sessions for gas-station owners and pushing to make it easier for them to offer the fuel. The latest hang-up: The EPA said in August it would require some stations that want to sell E15 to make customers purchasing a typical, 10% ethanol blend buy at least four gallons of that fuel at the pump.
The EPA said the policy applied only to pumps that are dispensing E15 and 10% ethanol blends from the same hose—a situation that could lead consumers to unknowingly buy E15, since some fuel remains in the hose after each use. READ MORE