Grassley demands answers on ethanol from oil execs

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded Friday that Big Oil executives explain why their companies’ testimony on ethanol in a committee hearing last year contradicts the practices revealed in a recent article.

In four similar letters to the chief executives of ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Chevron and Conoco Phillips, Grassley says an April 2 Wall Street Journal article revealed ethanol policies that gainsay the protocols the companies discussed under oath in a March 14, 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

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“Your testimony before the committee clearly stated that ExxonMobil was perfectly willing to allow the sale of alternative fuels at ExxonMobil stations,” Grassley wrote ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson. “However, a recent Wall Street Journal article … detailed many of the obstacles your company and other major integrated oil companies apparently use to effectively prohibit or strongly discourage the sale of alternative fuels.”

The senator also noted some of the specific practices oil companies have engaged in to deter the sale of ethanol.

“Chevron’s agreement with franchises discourages selling E-85 [ethanol] under the main canopy and includes policies that are claimed to prevent franchises from deceiving customers as to the source of the product,” he said in his letter to Chevron chief executive David O’Reilly.

Grassley, a staunch supporter of developing E-85 ethanol as an alternative to gasoline, said the article shows the companies are “a key obstacle to expanding the availability of alternative fuels” and asked each executive to reconcile their companies’ testimony with the findings of the article by May 25.

“Renewable fuels are a key factor in our energy future,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “And it appears Big Oil is throwing up roadblocks every chance they get.”