The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed a plan to cut back the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline by next year. It is still unclear exactly how the change will affect Oklahoma consumers.
“We're really excited they're going to take a look at that,” said Jim Griffith, CEO of Stillwater-based OnCue Express. “That mandate has been causing problems in the marketplace, not only for refiners, but also for consumers by causing them to pay a lot more for a clear product that should be normal.”
Griffith said he expects the change to cause the price difference between ethanol-blended gasoline and that of non-ethanol blended, or pure gasoline, to drop.
“I believe the mandate is the reason the spread is as high as it is,” he said.
The EPA recommendation would reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amount of ethanol and other biofuels required in gasoline next year.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said he expects the change to have little effect on consumers.
“It was a realization that the initial legislation they passed that had incremental increases of all products containing ethanol just was not achievable,” he said. “I really don't see it changing anything for consumers.”
Ethanol-free gasoline recently has averaged about 25 cents more per gallon than the more common e10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.
E10 is the most common blend available throughout the country, but for some Oklahomans, there is an especially strong demand for the ethanol-free fuel, Griffith said.
“Throughout the country, the overwhelming majority is selling e10. We're one of the few places that still has the clear product,” Griffith said. “Why our customers prefer it, I don't know. But when you look at sales, it's very obvious that they prefer it.”
Most car and truck manufactures for more than two decades have designed vehicles to handle up to 10 percent ethanol. The fuel can pose challenges, however, for smaller engines such as boats and lawn equipment.