New York Legislation Supports Unbranded Gas

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New York Legislation Supports Unbranded Gas

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A new bill was introduced here that would allow gas retailers to offer "unbranded" gasoline at discounts equaling 20 cent per gallon.

The "Open Supply Bill" would require oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Hess and Sunoco to allow station owners to sell unbranded gasoline.

"We think it’s a great idea," Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops, told the Albany Times Union. "There’s no competition at the wholesale level. This would level the playing field to some degree."

Currently, major oil companies make station owners sell only their own branded gas. The Open Supply Bill would "null and void" any contract provisions that prohibit a station from selling unbranded gas as long as they own their tanks and pumps, reported the paper.

And while previous versions of the bill were presented in the past, this year’s high gas prices have garnered more support, according to the report.

As gas station owners post flyers in support of the bill, Michael Doyle, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, told the paper his group opposes it, adding it doesn't allow oil companies to control their own gasoline. It would be impossible, he noted, to know if branded and unbranded gas is getting commingled as tanks are emptied and refilled with the different types.

In related legislation news, gas retailers in Shreveport, La., are facing a recently passed law that holds both the customer and the storeowner responsible for gasoline theft.

Under the terms of the prepaid fuel legislation, gassing up without paying first is against the law. Credit or debit cards at the pump or inside are still accepted, but cash or checks must be presented before the transaction, reported the Shreveport Times. Attendants and managers face a fine or jail time if a fuel theft happens on their watch, the paper reported.

Since January, more than 200 drive-off calls have been logged, marking a 43 percent increase over last year.

"One of the biggest things that we try to do is prevent crime from happening," Police Chief Henry Whitehorn, who authored the ordinance, told the paper. "This is a crime that could be easily prevented by requiring prepay."

Nearly two-thirds of reported fuel theft came from the city’s two Murphy USA stations. The company has mixed feelings about the legislation.

"We can sell gas either way," Murphy USA President Hank Heithaus told the paper. "It's just a lot more customer unfriendly. What this does—it just slows up the transaction a bit."