Marketing Act zeros in on biofuels equipment

By Holly Jessen | July 15, 2010
Posted July 23, 2010

A bill to set up a U.S. EPA system to evaluate new and existing retailer equipment for safe use of renewable fuels has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reps. Mike Ross, D-Ark., and John Shimkus, R-Ill., introduced the Renewable Fuels Marketing Act of 2010 on July 20, saying it would open up a greater potential market for ethanol or biodiesel blends. The bill, if passed, would also require retailers to post signs if the fuel they sell is not approved by the EPA for use in certain vehicles or equipment.

"Given the BP oil spill and the billions of dollars we send overseas for fuel, now, more than ever, we must invest in alternative and renewable sources of energy and keep that money here at home," Ross told EPM. "At the same time, we must also ensure consumers have safe and affordable access to these fuels as they are released."

Associations representing the petroleum marketing and ethanol industry sent a letter to the Congressmen, commending them on their leadership in introducing the bill. In signing the letter, the Renewable Fuels Association joined groups that represent, convenience stores, truck stops, petroleum markers and independent gasoline marketers. "The Renewable Fuels Marketing Act is a critical step towards removing some of the obstacles that stand in the way of increasing the availability of renewable fuels at petroleum retail outlets across the nation and will greatly facilitate the successful implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard established by Congress in 2007," the letter said.

Having established guidelines through which equipment can be evaluated will enable retailers to obtain legal authorization to sell greater volumes of renewable fuels. With an approval process for existing equipment, retailers won't have to replace all of their storage and dispensing systems, an unsustainable cost for businesses. "Further, it will expedite the review and approval of new equipment, removing a bottleneck that has stifled innovation in recent years," he letter said.

The bill also sets up a labeling program so consumers know what fuels they are using and their approved uses. "This will also ensure that retailers who sell these fuels in a lawful manner are not held responsible for the actions of self-service customers who may ignore the notifications concerning approved uses of these fuels," it said.

It's important to look to the future, Ross said, and prepare the U.S. infrastructure for the day when it no longer depends on Middle Eastern oil. "As we move toward these new renewable fuels, safety, affordability and accessibility should be our top priorities," he said.