Klobuchar, Grassley call for investigation of ethanol sales restrictions

Sen. Klobuchar spoke at a Renewable Fuel Standard event earlier this year at Guardiant Energy in Janesville.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a democrat from Minnesota, and Chuck Grassley, an Iowa republican, are calling for a federal investigation to determine whether Big Oil companies have engaged in practices that restrict the sales of higher blends of ethanol.

In a letter to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the senators wrote:

The report from the RFA (Renewable Fuels Association) found that unbranded or independent stations are roughly four to six times more likely to offer E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15 than stations carrying a “Big Five” oil brand. The report provides a series of tactics some oil companies use to prevent or discourage the sale of renewable fuels. We have attached a copy of the RFA study to this letter.

We ask that the DOJ and the FTC review the RFA report, investigate the claims and findings included in it, and reply to us with a substantive evaluation of your conclusions regarding possible anticompetitive behavior by certain oil companies and any proposed solutions or actions the DOJ and FTC will take to resolve this issue.

More details on the RFA report referenced in the letter can be read here. Anti-competitive practices the senators want investigated include:

  • Branded stations can only sell products provided by the oil company.
  • Sales quotas of branded products unfairly restrict ethanol sales.
  • Slapping intimidating and misleading warnings about ethanol on pumps.
  • Forcing E85 pumps to be isolated away from other pumps.

Consumers deserve choices at the pump, not underhanded tactics from Big Oil to maintain their monopoly on vehicle fuels and their tight grip on our wallets. Kudos to Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Grassley for asking for an investigation.

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