Hoeven stumps for gas pump planFARGO — With consumers feeling the squeeze at the gas pump, Sen. John Hoeven is pitching a plan to ease prices by making it simpler for gas stations to sell alternative fuels.
By: Marino Eccher, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — With consumers feeling the squeeze at the gas pump, Sen. John Hoeven is pitching a plan to ease prices by making it simpler for gas stations to sell alternative fuels.
Hoeven’s proposed legislation, the Domestic Fuels Act, would streamline regulations governing how gas stations store and distribute fuel. It would let retailers use the same equipment to dispense different fuels — a move the North Dakota Republican said would lower infrastructure costs and increase competition, in turn driving fuel prices down.
“It makes it easier and cheaper to market a variety of fuels,” said Hoeven, speaking at a media conference at Petro Serve in Fargo on Tuesday. “With more choice and more competition, you get lower prices.”
Hoeven said the impact the bill would have on gas prices is unclear.
“How much? We’ll see. The more supply, the more downward pressure we can create on prices.”
Under current rules, he said, installing separate distribution systems for different fuels can cost retailers hundreds of thousands of dollars, limiting the availability of alternative fuels such as ethanol blends, even if those fuels are cheaper for
The bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new standards for how distribution equipment can be shared safely among different fuels.
It also shields retailers who meet those standards from litigation if consumers put certain fuels in the wrong cars or equipment. That’s important to retailers who fear an influx of lawsuits about gutted engines and the like.
“If you drive up to my gas station and you put diesel in your gas tank, you wouldn’t think about suing me because it’s clearly labeled,” said Kent Satrang, chief executive of Petro Serve USA. “Well, shouldn’t the same thing be true for E-30?”
Satrang was among handful of energy industry leaders who attended Tuesday’s conference. North Dakota Corn Council President Kevin Skunes, Tharaldson Ethanol Vice President Russ Newman, and North Dakota Corn Growers Executive Director Tom Lilja were also on hand.
Hoeven said the legislation has bipartisan support. It’s co-sponsored by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, among other senators.
Hoeven said he expects the Obama administration to support it, though he’s not sure where the EPA will stand.
“It solves the problem that they’re not solving,” Hoeven said of the agency. “They’re making it too difficult to do business. This makes it easier to do business.”
Eccher is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.