E-Z Mart CEO Speaks Out Against E85 Legislation

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E-Z Mart CEO Speaks Out Against E85 Legislation

WASHINGTON -- Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart Stores Inc., spoke out last week on behalf of NACS and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) against legislation that would require retailers to install equipment for E85, an alternative fuel made up mainly of ethanol.

Hubbard, appearing Thursday before a U.S. House subcommittee that is looking into draft legislation on alternative fuels, infrastructure and vehicles, said the issues at hand are cost, consumer need and getting product supply.

"It is anti-free market; it will put retailers in significant economic jeopardy; it is an extreme overreaching by the federal government into private enterprise; and it is unsupported by existing or anticipated market conditions," Hubbard told the committee, the Texarkana Gazette reported.

It would cost about $100,000 to make an E-Z Mart gas station capable of dispensing E85, Hubbard told the Gazette in a phone interview, adding retailers are "agnostic about the motor fuels which we sell."

She explained that they also need to be able to acquire the supply and see that consumers want to purchase the fuel -- both challenges to E85.

Hubbard also pointed out that prices of the alternative fuel can fluctuate so much that drivers -- even if they own a flexible-fuel vehicle -- may not buy the alternative fuel.

"The fundamental fact is that most drivers of FFVs (flexible-fuel vehicles) do not want to buy E85 unless it is offered at a substantial discount compared to gasoline," she said in her testimony. "Because these drivers can purchase either E85 or gasoline, they make economic decisions when at the pump."

E85 is seen as a cleaner, renewable, domestically-made and more environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline, as well as a good way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC).