New York Law Prohibits Shutout of Alternative Fuels

September 6, 2006

A new law in New York will make alternative fuels such as biodiesel and E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) more readily available to consumers. New York Governor George Pataki on July 31st signed a law prohibiting the "exclusivity" contracts between fuel distributors and gas stations. These contracts limit service stations from purchasing or selling fuels from sources other than the main distributor. Because most major petroleum fuel distributors do not sell E85 or other alternative fuels in New York, service stations bound by these contracts were unable to offer renewable fuels to customers. The fuels covered under the new law include E85, biodiesel, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas.

The law should help remove access barriers for the owners of the roughly 200,000 flex-fuel vehicles in New York State. Flex-fuel vehicles can run on either E85 or gasoline, but only a few stations in New York currently offer E85. To further improve access, the New York State Thruway Authority will install renewable fuel pumps at its 27 Thruway travel plazas, the first of which should be operating this fall. See the press releases from Governor Pataki on the exclusivity law and the Thruway plaza pump groundbreaking.