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    South Carolina Fuel Retailers Claim Victory on Ethanol Blending Bill

    State legislature overrides governor's veto of bill that would have prevented delivery of unblended fuel at terminals.

    By Hank Behar

    CHARLESTON, S.C. -- In a big victory for South Carolina's convenience stores and petroleum marketers, both sides of the state legislature overrode Governor Sanford's veto of a law that would have prevented the delivery of unblended fuel at the terminal. The margins left no doubt where the sentiments of the lawmakers stood: 34-7 in the Senate, and 91-2 in the House.

    "We fought hard for this bill that effectively permits splash blending of ethanol fuels," declared Leigh Faircloth, executive director of the South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores (SCACS). "We weren't going to be denied by the Governor's veto. Splash blending allows distributors to take advantage of fluctuating ethanol prices and collect tax breaks plus other government incentives, which benefits consumers and retailers with lower prices. It also keeps most tax revenues within the state, which doesn't happen when big oil does the blending."

    As of June 15, terminals will be required to offer unblended product for all fuel grades.

    Meanwhile, c-store retailers hope for a successful veto of a 50-cent per-pack increase in South Carolina's cigarette tax, which at 7 cents a pay, is currently the lowest in the nation.

    "Raising the tax to a total of 57 cents will put us at a distinct disadvantage with our neighboring states of Georgia at 37 cents and North Carolina at 45 cents," said SCACS's Faircloth. "Retailers all along the borders will see their customers disappear as they cross state lines to buy their cigarettes, and South Carolina will lose tax revenue, as well. Keeping the tax at 7 cents, which we support, is a win-win for everyone."

    The governor has indicated he will veto it.

    By Hank Behar
    • About Hank Behar

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