Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is calling on the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate what he calls “the continued refusal by oil companies to blend low-priced, domestically-produced ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supplies.” Harkin says a study from the Consumer Federation finds skyrocketing gas prices are hurting the country’s economy and families’ budgets. Harkin says consumers could be paying as much as eight-cents a gallon less for gas if oil companies were using corn-based ethanol instead of petroleum-based products. He says oil companies are deliberately keeping oil supplies tight and prices high, even though ethanol supplies are plentiful and have dropped as much as 50-cents a gallon since the beginning of the year. Harkin says the price spread between unleaded gasoline and ethanol has never been higher. If market forces were working freely, a jump in ethanol use would be expected but that’s not happening. Harkin says the people deserve to know why oil companies are making record profits while insisting families pay top dollar at the pump when the prices could be cut by using more renewable fuels. He says the average American family could save up to 100-dollars a year or more if refineries blended more ethanol. Harkin says drawing energy from the corn and soybean fields of Iowa instead of the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the results are fourfold: we increase our nation’s energy security, boost the rural economy, bring about a cleaner environment and cut prices at the pump.