Well, they are at it again. OPEC and the big multinational oil companies are gouging Americans one more time.

As a consumer and farmer, I don't need to be told about high oil prices. I see it every day when I stop at my local gas station and feel the pain firsthand.

The last time OPEC and their "big oil" cronies caused this type of gas price spike resulted in the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world from oil consuming nations to oil producing nations. The same thing is happening again. When will Americans wake up to the fact we are over 55% dependent on foreign oil? And, perhaps, the most important thing is that not only are consumers being ripped off by Middle East oil barons; they also are being shortchanged at the gas pump.

Missouri consumers should be paying less for ethanol-blended fuels. Despite the fact that an ethanol blend costs fuel retailers considerably less than an all gasoline products, most fuel retailers are charging the same or more for ethanol fuels at the pump. Does ethanol currently cost more than gasoline? No way! Because of low corn prices and a partial exemption from federal excise taxes, ethanol blends generally are considerably cheaper than 100% gasoline at the wholesale level. Unfortunately, those savings are not being passed on to consumers.

The federal excise tax exemption for ethanol blends is in place to insure that ethanol blended fuels are priced competitively with gasoline. Given current low corn prices and extremely high gasoline prices, that spread is even higher than normal. Again, those incentives were intended to be passed on to consumers, but, unfortunately, the petroleum retailers are keeping that money. At a time when every penny counts, that is especially discouraging for consumers.

We applaud the efforts of those fuel retailers who are pricing ethanol blends less than regular gasoline. I think they realize that every gallon of ethanol they sell reduces our dependence on foreign oil and helps clean up our environment.

For those fuel retailers passing on ethanol savings to consumers, I say, "Thank you." To those fuel retailers that are pocketing the difference and shortchanging Americans, I say, "Enough is enough, pass the pennies on!"--Randy E. Jennings, Bernie, MO, Missouri Corn Growers Association president.

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