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  • rlp2451 rlp2451 Aug 22, 2013 7:19 PM Flag

    FTC Examines Allegations That Oil Industry Blocks Greater Ethanol Use

    The Federal Trade Commission said it was looking into assertions by some members of Congress that oil companies are using their influence over retail gas stations to block consumers from accessing gasoline blended with extra ethanol.

    The inquiry underscores the deepening divide between the renewable-fuels industry, which wants to promote "E15" gasoline containing 15% ethanol, and the oil industry, which says consumers don't want E15.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) called for the FTC inquiry, saying they had reports of oil companies pressing independent gas stations to sell premium gasoline in addition to regular gasoline.

    Since most stations own only two storage tanks, such a demand would make it impossible for gas stations to offer higher ethanol blends without installing a new tank, said the senators, both of whom are from states where ethanol is produced.

    "Given the implication these alleged activities…could have on competition in the marketplace, we urge you to investigate them and consider whether any action is necessary," they said in an Aug. 2 letter to the FTC that described the oil companies' alleged actions as a possible antitrust violation.

    House lawmakers are considering bills to amend the renewable fuels law but it is unclear what they will propose or whether there is enough support in Congress to pass a measure.

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