As the war of words between ethanol advocacy and petroleum groups rages on about the safety and availability of ethanol, one group says public support for the fuel should be the key factor in the debate.
The group, Fuels America, says the public supports having a choice at the pump, either for 15% ethanol or higher blends. In fact, they say, 8 in 10 support E15 availability, according to a new poll released Thursday.
"The overwhelming majority of Americans understand that having options when you fill up at the gas station is a good thing," Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said in a statement regarding the poll results. "They have spoken loud and clear that they want access to clean, homegrown renewable fuel."
The poll, comprised of responses from 1,211 Americans, also showed that 76% want higher ethanol blends of E20 or more. Buis suggests that could be because ethanol is currently trading 80 cents lower than regular unleaded gasoline.
"What we clearly see from this poll is that consumers like higher blends of ethanol in their gas because it saves them money," Buis said.
Even though the group suggests the demand is there, they note that the primary barrier to getting fuel to people who want it is station regulations and perceived costs of retrofitting existing stations.
Buis, who was joined in a press call by station owner Scott Zaremba and Renewable Fuels Association spokesperson Robert White, said those perceived costs really aren't that high.
“Depending on the equipment already at the station, it could be as little as $1,200, or less than the increased profits a retailer could see in just one month," White explained." If more significant retrofits are needed, it could still cost as little as $4,200 to upgrade a dispenser.
White said the figures of $200,000 or more quoted by the American Petroleum Institute are "beyond absurd."
Zaremba, who was owns the first station to sell E15, said the addition of ethanol to his petroleum offerings gives his small business an edge over corporate competitors.
The poll release follows a significant media campaign urging support of the Renewable Fuels Standard. The American Petroleum Institute is running a similar campaign against the legislation.
"They're saying consumers don't want E15. Our poll certainly contradicts that," Buis said during the press call. "We are the clear winner but we have to get beyond all these campaigns of misinformation."