According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), higher percentages of biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are to be blended in the national fuel supply, but it seems that Big Oil might play a part in making it difficult.
While fuel-efficient vehicles use less fuel overall, one might think this is a good thing for American energy independence and reducing greenhouse gas emissions tied to the transportation sector. On the other hand, reduced petroleum consumption also cuts into Big Oil’s bottom line. Add to this the RFS requiring ethanol and biofuel blends upwards of 15%, and today’s vehicles use even less petroleum-derived gasoline, further cutting into petroleum utilization. Interestingly, in a reversal of the original RFS biofuels blending requirements, the EPA actually has proposed a reduction in ethanol blending, but at whose bidding?
Big Oil companies have repeatedly spoken out, saying the RFS doesn’t work, but how can they say this when Big Oil is responsible for offering it to the public? This is the argument that a couple of Corn-Belt Senators, Chuck Grassley and Amy Klobuchar, have made regarding Big Oil’s influence on the sale of ethanol blends and even on the EPA, saying “Big oil interests can’t argue for repeal of the RFS because it doesn’t work when they’re the ones responsible for ensuring that consumers don’t have the choice for higher ethanol blends.” A recent study by the Renewable Fuels Association shows that independent gas stations, as opposed to Big Oil branded gas stations like BP, Shell, or Exxon, were more likely to carry ethanol blends. Independents were up to six times more likely to offer E85, and forty times more likely to offer E15.
Grassley and Klobuchar have been pressuring the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for over a year to investigate possible Big Oil antitrust violations in the way these companies make ethanol inaccessible due to needlessly expensive contracts or outright lies regarding ethanol, the environment, and automobile engines.
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