July is Independent Retailer Month, a designation designed to encourage people to “buy local” whenever possible. Is buying local even possible, when it comes to fuels for our vehicles? It is, but it takes a little research. The first question you have to ask is “Is my vehicle flex fuel?” It’s easy to find out – just open your vehicle’s fuel lid and see if the words “flex fuel” or “E85” are written inside. It may have a yellow fuel cap, or a yellow ring around the cap-less fueling area. You can also consult your owner’s manual, or this list from www.CleanAirChoice.org.
If your vehicle is a flex fuel, congratulations. You can use locally-produced E85, sold at more than 400 stations in Minnesota. It is less expensive than gasoline, and using it helps to reduce air pollution. If your vehicle is not flex fuel, there are still options to buy home-grown fuels. If your gasoline-powered vehicle is 2001 or newer, you can opt for E15, also known as 88 octane gasoline. This fuel has a little more ethanol than regular unleaded, and is usually priced lower. You can see list of the Minnesota stations selling E15 on this site (www.MNFuels.com).
Another way to “buy local” when you fill up is to look for stations that are run by local co-ops or one of the independently owned Minnoco stations in the Twin Cities area. Many of these stations offer cleaner-burning biofuels for their customers. And bear in mind that many fuel stations, even if they have a national brand, are franchises with local owners who often only own one or two locations.
Buying local helps to keep the dollars you spend in your community, where it helps your friends and neighbors. It’s a great idea – and not just in July.