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Corn+Soybean Digest

NACS Calls Country-of-Origin Fuel Labeling Bill “Ridiculous”

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) believes the bill introduced earlier this week by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) that would require a country-of-origin label on U.S. motor fuels is "misleading" and "ridiculous."

H.R. 4512 would require that no later than one year after passage, the DOE secretary, in conjunction with the administrator of EPA, would conduct a study to determine appropriate methods and standards for requiring that motor vehicle fuel suppliers disclose country-of-origin information for the fuel to the next person in the motor vehicle fuel supply chain and for motor vehicle retailers to disclose such information to consumers. The secretary would then make recommendations to the most feasible and cost-effective country-of-origin information disclosure requirements that can be imposed on motor vehicle fuel suppliers and fuel retailers.

The bill is an outgrowth of an effort launched by Growth Energy in September 2009. Earlier this week, the ethanol advocacy group released findings from a poll, which found that 68% of American voters support country-of-origin labeling on gasoline.

"I understand that the ethanol community is trying to refocus attention on domestic sources of renewable energy, and that is a fine objective," NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger explained in a statement posted on NACS' Web site. "However, trying to mandate that every pump in the nation contain a label that informs the consumer where the gasoline they are purchasing came from is unproductive and simply a diversion from addressing the real issues facing the market," he explained.

Eichberger then provided a "where crude comes from 101" primer, noting that "[c]rude oil used to produce fuel consumed in the U.S. comes from 43 countries other than the United States....At each stage of the process, it is mixed with similar gasolines produced by other refineries using other streams of crude oil and motor fuel components. In addition, it is mixed with finished motor fuel products imported from 33 different countries," he added.

"On another note, sure, it is feasible to stick a label on each and every dispenser in the United States that tells customers which country their fuel came from, and it will look something like this: 'This motor fuel may contain components produced in one or more of the following countries,' and that list will likely include more than 80 different countries. Case in point – clearly there is no method for determining the percent of the gallon being sold that was derived from which country," Eichberger continued.

Similar comment came earlier this week from the American Petroleum Institute, when Braley announced he planned to introduce his legislation.

"This is a populist effort to refocus attention to promote domestic energy resource, an ultimate objective every American supports. But the legislation ignores the realities of the motor fuels supply and distribution system in the United States," added Eichberger.

Growth Energy, however, disagreed with NACS' assessment. "Trying to bring transparency to the retail fuel market is far from a ridiculous objective," says Growth Energy spokesman Chris Thorne. "Considering that Americans can find a label with country of origin on nearly everything they buy – from clothes to electronics to the food they eat – it is not a ridiculous or misleading idea to bring a country of origin label to transportation fuel. They seem to do a good job of knowing when to change the price signs. It stands to reason there's a way of figuring out how to post country of origin, as well," he adds.

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