Senators Introduce Retailer-Focused Fuels Legislation

Domestic Fuels Act of 2012 reduces cost of entry, streamlines storage, equipment, more

John Hoeven

WASHINGTON -- Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Domestic Fuels Act of 2012, which they said provides a "market-based, no-cost approach" to produce more energy, increase competition, foster greater sales of alternative fuels, provide more consumer choice and lower the cost of motor fuels at the pump.

Currently, legal and infrastructure obstacles, such as cost of entry for retailers, inconsistent standards and other regulatory factors limit the amount of renewable fuels that can be sold through existing motor fuel retail outlets. The Domestic Fuels Act takes a market-based approach, driven by supply and demand, that makes it easier to market all fuels and give consumers more choice at the pump, they said.

It achieves this by:

  • Streamlining the process so that all fuels, both traditional and renewable, can be stored and dispensed with common equipment. The bill requires the EPA to develop streamlined criteria so that underground tanks can be used to dispense gasoline, diesel, ethanol or some combination of fuels, rather than requiring the use of separate tanks.
  • Providing liability protection for retailers that meet the streamlined EPA standards, so that they can sell multiple types of fuel with less red tape, providing consumers with more choice and lower fuel prices.
  • Establishing a new pathway for retailers to ensure that their equipment is safe and legally recognized as compatible to sell new fuels, thereby reducing the cost of entry for many retailers.

"We need to make all fuels available to American consumers and businesses, and we need to do so by using tested market-based measures that increase competition and remove bureaucratic obstacles to producing and marketing both domestic and traditional fuels. This is really about giving customers more choice and better prices at the pump by empowering retailers to market multiple fuels using the same equipment. That's good for the customer, good for business and good for the nation," Hoeven said.

"I'm pleased to work on this bipartisan bill with my colleagues in order to cut red tape and remove legal barriers standing in the way of new fuels as we work towards greater energy independence. This bill provides a new pathway for job creators to use existing equipment in order to safely store and dispense newer fuels while reducing costs for retailers. As Americans suffer from skyrocketing gas prices, making use of alternatives, in addition to all available domestic fuels, will allow us to provide more consumer choice, lower prices at the pump, and reduce our dependence on unstable foreign sources of energy," said Blunt.

"This would cut through red tape and help provide the clear standards needed to increase competition and bring homegrown energy to consumers. Now is the time to increase domestic production of energy, focus on the homegrown energy solutions that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and give consumers choice at the pump," said Klobuchar.

"This legislation ensures that safeguards remain in place for consumers while eliminating unnecessary regulations that could drive up costs at the pump. The process will allow retailers to sell new fuels without incurring unreasonable costs or liability, while granting consumers confidence when choosing higher ethanol blends," Crapo said.

The measure is supported by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, American Petroleum Institute (API), Tesoro Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA), National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO), American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

"The Domestic Fuels Act is a critical step in removing some of the technical barriers complicating the effort to bring new fuels to market. In particular, this bill will save many retailers across the country from needlessly investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace equipment that does not need to be replaced; it will protect innocent parties from certain liabilities associated with misfueling when consumers are informed about fuels that are approved for only certain engines; and it will establish that an entity who complies with today’s laws and regulations cannot be held retroactively liable even if those laws and regulations change tomorrow," the groups said in a letter.

"This legislation is the culmination of an unprecedented and multi-year collaboration among all parties in the transportation fuels universe--marketers and retailers, auto engine manufacturers, non-road engine manufacturers, renewable fuel advocates and manufacturers of transportation fuels," said Gregory Goff, president and CEO of San Antonio-based Tesoro.

"This bill is a thoughtful approach that will help speed this country's transition to E15, higher ethanol blends, and other advanced biofuels," said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. "The bill would avoid unnecessary infrastructure investments by providing gasoline marketers with a commonsense certification pathway for existing equipment that assures safety while accelerating consumer access to these new fuels. The Domestic Fuels Act could help deliver price relief at the gas pump for consumers while increasingly liberating this country from its unhealthy, unsafe dependence upon foreign oil."