Editorial: States need to act to get ethanol at pump

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2006

To get ethanol at the pumps, states need to encourage oil companies to act &045; by laws or incentives &045; because in many states the oil companies are reluctant.

Green sells. Consumers want to help their environment. U.S. oil companies that own large fuel-station chains generally won’t offer ethanol at the pumps. They are married to fossil fuels. Much like railroads didn’t see themselves as transportation companies, oil companies don’t want to see themselves as fuel companies.

If they did, they would embrace ethanol and other biomass fuels as the wave of the future. Supply is there. Demand is there. Car companies are willing to build. But the oil empire doesn’t want to participate because it could reduce the global demand for their product. They have the infrastructure in place and goodness knows change is scary.

By the same token, companies that do offer E85 or other cleaner fuels at their stations should be commended for seeing themselves as fuel providers, not just gas stations. If automobiles needed lutefisk for fuel, heck, they would provide that fuel. That’s the outlook of a good chain of service stations.

We commend Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate why major U.S. oil companies rarely offer high-ethanol fuel at their branded service stations.

It’s going to take many fronts to replace oil as our energy source. But if one front lets the others down, it could ruin the hard work of the others.