You may recall in a posting last month on Louisiana Sportsman.com that I predicted that Marathon's decision to stop supplying ethanol free regular gas from their Garyville refinery effective June 21st would very likely have a major NEGATIVE impact on the number of ethanol free gas stations in both south and north Louisiana.
Since Marathon's announcement in early June, readers have been e-mailing me weekly with stations that were previously ethanol FREE that have now converted to ethanol gas. A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a reader who lives in the Monroe area. He informed me that 12 stations supplied by one Distributor alone in the area had to convert to ethanol gas because the distributor could no longer get ethanol free gas since Marathon stopped supplying it to north Louisiana he said (he says he knows this Distributor owner personally). In all, twenty eight (28) stations have been forced to convert to ethanol gas in less than a month since Marathon’s announcement – so far! Most that were forced to convert are in north Louisiana, but some in south and southwest Louisiana also. And, I'm fearful it will get much worse. As I have said before, I believe that Marathon was the largest remaining supplier of ethanol free gas to south and north Louisiana before they fell for the VEETC tax credit 'bait', and, like the rest of the major refiners in Louisiana, allowed their greed for the Federal $0.45/gallon tax credit subsidy to over come their sense of fairness to Louisiana consumers by blending ALL of their gasoline as ethanol gas instead of only the 8% required by the EPA. All of the stations I've contacted that have switched to E-10 cited difficulty in getting ethanol free gas as the reason for the switch. All said they would have preferred to continue to sell ethanol free gas if it were available.
Since the US Congress and Senate voted to kill the Federal refinery VEETC $0.45/gallon tax credit subsidy in late June (will take effect at the end of this year), hopefully this will take away some of the incentive for refineries to blend ALL their gas as ethanol gas even though EPA only requires them to blend 8.0% this year. We'll see what happens in 2012.
As I explained to the Louisiana Legislative Commerce Committee in my testimony in mid June in Baton Rouge, if the current E-10 stations all convert to E-15 later this year and in 2012, AND, there is not an ample and readily available supply of ethanol FREE gas, we will face a VERY SERIOUS CRISIS in Louisiana! The 319,950 registered boats in Louisiana will become big 'anchors' as NOT ONE marine engine can operate on 15% ethanol gas. It is possible that some boat marinas may be able to still get “recreational fuel” (ethanol free, but much higher priced than regular ethanol free regular), but not all marinas sell gas. In addition to marine engines, motorcycles, four wheelers, jet skis, chain saws, all lawn and garden tools and cars and light trucks model 2000 and older CANNOT OPERATE on 15% ethanol gas. In fact, the newly announced EPA labeling rule for E-15 gas (read it on PeteLandrysRealGas.com “Current Ethanol News” page) clearly says on the label that “it is prohibited by Federal law” to use 15% ethanol gas in engines it is not designed for. Let's hope this potential crisis is averted and that Louisiana refiners face reality and prevent it from happening by blending more ethanol free gas and make it available throughout the State! If not, there will be MILLIONS OF VERY ANGRY PEOPLE IN LOUISIANA who will be looking for someone's scalp. And, I predict that consumers will blame the Louisiana Legislature for not acting to address this issue and mostly Louisiana refineries, who will likely feel the wrath of Louisiana consumers affected if this happens, especially when they learn that the EPA only requires them to blend 8% of their total gasoline sales (only 8 gallons out of 100) as ethanol gas in 2011. And, I can assure you that the Louisiana newsprint and TV media will make consumers in Louisiana aware of this fact. Refineries will have no defense on this issue either since there is NO State or Federal requirement that they blend all their gas as ethanol gas as they have chosen to do.
I will try again in the next Louisiana Legislative session in 2012 to again make the Louisiana Legislature acutely aware of this looming crisis. Hopefully, they will elect to act on some of the recommendations I suggested to the Legislative Commerce Committee this past June. If the Legislature doesn’t act, and E-15 replaces all the E-10 stations and refineries do not blend more ethanol free gas to meet consumer demand, consumers only remaining recourse might be class action litigation as several readers have suggested. I do hope it does not come to that, but it will be up to the State Legislature and Louisiana refineries to address this issue before it becomes a crisis.
If you haven't read http://www.PeteLandrysRealGas.com
lately, I've posted several articles on the 'Forum' section you might be interested in reading (NOTE: You don't have to register on the Forum to read articles on the boards - only if you want to post a comment or info). One is the Louisiana State's law on ethanol gas. This law DOES NOT have ANY requirement that all stations sell ethanol gas now or at some point in the future as some distributors are misleading retailers into believing and coercing them to switch to E-10 even though ethanol free gas is still available in their area. I've also posted an article on Louisiana's ONLY ethanol manufacturing plant, a 1.4 million gallon per year “bio ethanol” plant owned and operated by BP, making ethanol from bagasse (a by product of sugar cane manufacturing) in Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish.
As I said earlier, I also posted a few days ago on the “Current Ethanol News” page the Federal EPA announcement of the final warning pump label for retailers for E-15 gas later this year when it is expected to become a reality and start showing up in stations.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com
should you learn of a station currently on the website's Ethanol Free Gas Station List that has converted to ethanol so I can take it off the list.
Please e-mail me should you have any questions.