Senators seek probe into ethanol access

January 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNS) - Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Thursday asked the General Accountability Office to investigate whether big oil companies are restricting consumer access to alterative fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel.

Obama's staff obtained an internal oil company memo that said gas station franchise owners are prohibited from selling non-brand name renewable fuels like E85 and B20 from fuel islands or underneath canopies bearing the oil company's name or logo. Any alternative location must be approved by the company, the memo stated.

Obama's office wouldn't identify the company.

E85, a less-polluting fuel made from corn, contains 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. B20 includes 20 percent bio-diesel fuel made from soybeans.

The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.