E15 ethanol blend adds another fuel option for drivers
By SCOTT ZAREMBA Special to The Star
Since its founding, America has long believed that its citizens should be free to make very basic choices for themselves. Americans can choose to practice any religion they like, or to not practice any at all. They can choose to vote for one candidate over another, or for no candidate at all. Americans are also free to make the most basic of choices — chocolate or vanilla — or not.
Yet when it comes to how we fuel our vehicles and our economy, that choice has largely been taken from us. Oil-derived fuels dominate the marketplace. Oil-based gasoline monopolizes 90 percent of the nation’s fuel market today.
Just because this is the way it has always been is not a reason to accept it as the only way to do it. Previously, true alternatives to gasoline were hard to find in volumes needed to truly make a difference.
Today, all that has changed.
Domestically produced ethanol represents 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline supply and one out of every four gallons of gasoline produced from domestic sources, be those fossil fuels or renewable sources.
With nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol production, and tens of billions of gallons of potential production in the wings, ethanol is offering American drivers with the first real choice at the pump they have seen.
At our eight Zarco 66 stations all across Kansas, I have long offered cost-competitive ethanol blends from the common E10 (10 percent ethanol) up to less common E85 (85 percent ethanol). Today I am very proud to say that we are the first fuel retailer to offer the newly minted E15 ethanol blend to American drivers behind the wheel of cars and trucks built since 2001.
As a fuel retailer, I firmly embrace the mantra of an all-of-the-above energy approach. We must continue to responsibly produce energy from the fossil fuel resources under our feet. Concurrently, we must foster and support the increasingly diverse renewable and alternative fuel options available today. That means giving consumers a choice of fuel options.
To be clear, I am a small-business owner who is concerned about my bottom line. Building in infrastructure, securing the appropriate fuels to blend and properly informing consumers about the choices available to them all takes investment.
I believe that these investments are not only essential to the future of the country but also to the success of the stations I own and operate.
When 75 percent of Americans say they want more choice at the pump, it is incumbent upon independent station owners to respond. Today, given fuel availability and vehicle technology, that means a menu of fuels all enriched with varying percentages of ethanol.
Despite efforts by some to discourage and scare drivers about using E15, my experience with ethanol blends suggests that Americans will embrace E15 as they learn more and find it increasingly available.
Challenges to widespread use remain, including access to the proper gasoline feedstocks with which to blend 15 percent ethanol in the summer months. These challenges, as evidenced by the operation of E15 pumps at Zarco 66 stations in Lawrence and Ottawa, are far from insurmountable.
I look forward to a day when gas stations are truly fueling stations, offering a wide range of choice. For today, I am content to be able to offer American drivers fuel options that go beyond an only oil ingredient list.
For the first time in 30 years, Americans can exercise their freedom of choice and can fuel up with a new option at the pump — E15 ethanol fuel.
Scott Zaremba, of Lawrence, is the owner of Zarco 66, an energy marketing company with eight fuel stations in Kansas. He is vice president of the Kansas Petroleum marketers.