Are the oil majors rigging the free market?

The big oil companies aren’t blind to the threat posed by ethanol. And now it appears they’re doing all they can to hamstring wider access to the fuel by artificially increasing the price of E85 at their gas stations.

study put out by AJW Inc. — a company dedicated to the preservation of free markets — revealed that E85 is not only four times more likely to be sold at independent gas stations, but those same gas stations nearly always offer more attractive prices. With the exception of one month since early 2013, E85 has been consistently 14 percent cheaper than regular gasoline at independent stations. Meanwhile, at major-brand stations, E85 has only reached a 14 percent discount once during that same time period.

Could that be a coincidence? Maybe. But when you consider all the anti-competitive tactics they’ve deployed to prevent franchisees from selling E85 — from posting misleading warning labels on E85 pumps, to preventing franchisees from advertising E85, to forcing them to install needlessly expensive equipment before they can sell E85 — the bigger picture becomes clear.

Oil majors are scared of ethanol’s potential to disrupt their stranglehold on the U.S. fuels market, and they’re willing to resort to underhanded practices to stay on top. After all, if oil were truly superior to ethanol — as any oil industry shill will tell you — they should be able to just sit back and let the market do the work for them. Instead, it appears they’ve decided to try to rig the playing field. And when you get the facts on ethanol, it’s easy to see why they have.

Not only does ethanol burn more efficiently and cleanly than gasoline, it has a higher octane rating and can be produced from a variety of feedstocks such as sugarcane, corn, municipal waste, and even natural gas. The latter of which is a resource we have in such abundant supply we’re literally burning off over $100 million worth of it each month into the atmosphere.

What’s more, there are 17.4 million E85-friendly flex-fuel vehicles on the road today, and millions more being sold each year.

Every day we hear from people who wish ethanol was more widely available, but of course the oil majors don’t care. That would hurt their bottom line, and they can’t have that — even if it means cheating Americans out of their hard-earned dollars.

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