WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Amy Klobuchar of Minn. have asked the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to further study possible anti-competitive practices regarding certain oil companies.

    Grassley and Klobuchar forwarded a comprehensive analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) detailing how some oil companies block the sale of renewable fuels.  The report from the RFA found that unbranded or independent stations are roughly four to six times more likely to offer E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15 than stations carrying a “Big Five” oil brand.

    The senators asked that the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission review the RFA report, investigate the claims and findings included in it, and reply with a substantive evaluation of the agencies conclusions regarding possible anticompetitive behavior by certain oil companies and any proposed solutions or actions the agencies will take to resolve this issue.  

    Almost a year ago Grassley and Klobuchar wrote to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission asking the agencies to investigate possible anticompetitive practices by oil companies that limit consumers’ access to homegrown renewable fuels.  The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department responded that they would look into the allegations, but the agencies haven’t responded further.

        Here is a copy of the text of the letter.

                            July 17, 2014

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Edith Ramirez
Chairwoman
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Attorney General Holder and Chairwoman Ramirez:

In August of 2013, we contacted you both to express our concerns regarding oil companies that seemed to be engaging in anticompetitive practices aimed at blocking market access for renewable fuels.  As you may recall, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to promote the development and use of domestic renewable fuel.  Our previous letter to you expressed our concern that oil companies were taking steps to undermine the efforts to distribute renewable fuels, and were doing so to undermine the RFS and bolster their desire to see the law repealed.

Since our last letter, the concern regarding anticompetitive behavior by oil companies has grown.  Just last week, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a trade association representing the U.S. ethanol industry, released a comprehensive analysis detailing how some oil companies block the sale of renewable fuels.  The report from the RFA found that unbranded or independent stations are roughly four to six times more likely to offer E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15 than stations carrying a “Big Five” oil brand.  The report provides a series of tactics some oil companies use to prevent or discourage the sale of renewable fuels.  We have attached a copy of the RFA study to this letter.

We ask that the DOJ and the FTC review the RFA report, investigate the claims and findings included in it, and reply to us with a substantive evaluation of your conclusions regarding possible anticompetitive behavior by certain oil companies and any proposed solutions or actions the DOJ and FTC will take to resolve this issue.  We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely,

________________________________                ________________________________
Senator Chuck Grassley                        Senator Amy Klobuchar
 

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