Eric "Ric" Foster, the owner of a Gardner, Kan., gasoline station, doesn’t like ethanol. No, that's not quite right. He despises the stuff.
A sign in front of the station alerts motorists that his gas contains no ethanol, and in case you miss it, an electronic sign in the window boasts of the station’s ethanol-free fuel.
Once his supplier mistakenly delivered a load of E-10, a blend of gas with 10 percent ethanol, and Foster sent it back even though it was cheaper.
For 16 years, he has taken pride in saying he has never knowingly sold a drop of ethanol.
But those days appear to be over if he wants to stay in business. His supplier recently told him that if he wanted to sell regular gas — by far the most popular grade — it would be E-10 or nothing.
"It's not right," said Foster. "I'm going to fight this tooth and nail."
The long goodbye for ethanol-free gas may be in its final stretch. It will snare dealers such as Foster and an unknown number of consumers who say they prefer pure gas, in part, because it delivers better fuel mileage and is worth it even if it costs more.
Many of them also think their engines have easier starts and are smoother running with ethanol-free gas, even though there are studies that show E-10 should not be a problem for most vehicles.
Websites such as pure-gas.org track places in the United States and Canada where people such as Rick "Hollywood” Stallsworth, a Gardner resident who buys gas at Foster’s station, can buy ethanol-free fuel. When traveling, he routinely leaves the interstate in search of pure gas.
Ethanol blends, mainly E-10, now account for an estimated 80 percent of sales nationwide. With more ethanol being produced each year, it is a sure bet that pure gas is on the endangered list.
"I will never say never, but in the future we're going to pretty much be saturated with ethanol," said Al Manato, manager of fuel issues for the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing oil companies.
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