Big oil, tear down this wall

Big oil companies in the United States appear to have convinced the Environmental Protection Agency and many members of Congress that there is a “Blend Wall” that prevents refiners from complying with the terms of the Renewable Fuel Standard. They say this 10% ethanol blend wall must remain in place – for America – not for Big Oil’s benefit. Of course not. They claim they’re protecting automobile owners from political extremists and nefarious farmers and ethanol producers who have conspired to prevent the will of the people to fuel their cars with gasoline that contains at least 90% petroleum (at whatever quality and/or combination of chemicals the oil companies feel like using).

Funny, that’s almost exactly the reason the German Democratic Republic (GDR) gave for building the Berlin Wall. They said political extremists from the West were interfering with all the East Germans who just wanted to get on with forfeiting their property and right to self-determination in favor of building an industrial complex that would determine each person’s career, and meet their needs for food, clothing, and shelter (and probably transportation fuel).

From the end of World War II until the summer of 1961, however, three and a half million East Germans entered West Berlin – a democratic city completely surrounded by communist-controlled East Germany – claiming they wanted to be free of communist rule. The GDR said those people were duped by fascist West German propaganda, and decided to protect future generations of East Germans from accidentally making that decision by building a wall all the way around West Berlin. As a further “safeguard” for East German citizens who might someday forget how much they love being members of the proletariat, GDR soldiers promised to shoot any East Germans who tried to sneak into West Berlin.

Big Oil fiercely defends their blend wall by spreading anti-ethanol propaganda and threatening branded station owners with contract termination for selling E15. They need their blend wall to keep retailers and drivers from being free to choose more ethanol and less gasoline, because given that choice, people generally do choose more ethanol and less gasoline.

Retailers already operating on the other side of the blend wall, offering ethanol blends above E10, say E15 has become their second best selling fuel, and their overall ethanol percentage is well above 10%. Meanwhile, they’re gaining new customers and improving profit margins, all with zero consumer complaints. If I were Big Oil, I would probably want a wall, too.

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