Ethanol advocates are continuing to throw down the gauntlet with Big Oil. Jabs have been thrown through satire and blogging – now the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is throwing a hook by going after ConocoPhillips, one of Big Oil's top five conglomerates.
RFA says that ConocoPhillips has threatened the franchise agreement with fuel station retailer Zarco 66 unless it offers premium gasoline. This gasoline would have to replace the ethanol stored in one of Zarco 66's two fueling tanks; these tanks have stored ethanol that's been used for years in the blend of 85-percent ethanol (E85) at Zarco 66 fuel stations. ConocoPhillips put the pressure on to sell premium gasoline not long after Zarco 66 became the nation's first retail chain to offer gasoline with 15 percent ethanol (E15) last summer. "ConocoPhillips quickly threatened to terminate Zarco 66's franchise agreement and charge Zarco 66 hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties unless Zarco 66 started offering 'premium' gasoline," said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. If ConocoPhillips gets its way, it would mean "far fewer [ethanol] sales than the ethanol blends that would be available if Zarco 66 maintained the current ethanol contents," Dineen said.
After offering E15, "ConocoPhillips quickly threatened to terminate Zarco 66's franchise agreement unless Zarco 66 started offering 'premium' gasoline."
RFA is also asking for a federal investigation into the matter. The ethanol advocacy association sent a three-page letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, US Department of Energy and US Department of Agriculture. RFA is requesting the agencies to investigate and put an end to the "oil industry's highly discriminatory and unlawful conduct – conduct that is impeding the delivery of renewable fuels to the American marketplace," the letter stated. Zarco 66 could become the "first casualty" in the oil industry's war against renewable fuels.
"I am a true believer in energy independence, alternatives [and] domestic fuels, and I will continue to fight for that."
Zarco 66 has yet to cave in to Big Oil. "I am a true believer in energy independence, alternatives [and] domestic fuels, and I will continue to fight for that, because I believe that is what is in the best interest of our country," Zarco 66 owner Scott Zaremba told Ethanol Producer Magazine.