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Lugar touts biofuels plan at an E85 pump opening
By LINDA McGURK
Indiana Correspondent

LEBANON, Ind. — U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) visited Lebanon on Oct. 23 to celebrate the opening of Boone County’s first E85 pump, and to tout his plan for homegrown fuels.

“We’re not talking about total independence (from foreign oil), but I believe that we can produce half of the fuel we need for automobiles and trucks on our own grounds,” said Lugar, who put his money where his mouth is by arriving to the event in a flex-fuel Chevrolet Impala.

The E85 pump at the Energy PLUS 24 gas station in Lebanon was the 43rd to open in Indiana since May 2005, and two more were slated to open in the state before the end of the week. The E85 pump – containing fuel made up of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline – is owned and operated by Co-Alliance, LLP, a farmer-owned co-op headquartered in Danville, Ind.

During the unveiling, which drew a crowd of decision makers and representatives from the renewable fuels industry, as well as some curious members of the public, the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance, Inc. announced that it will soon be possible to drive from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico with nothing but renewable fuels in the tank, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The $1.3 million grant will create a biofuels corridor along I-65 by funding 31 E85 pumps and five B20 (a mix of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent regular diesel) pumps in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, and support the construction of a biodiesel blending facility in northern Indiana.

“I’m excited,” said Kellie Walsh, CICCA executive director. “Americans are tired of seeing what’s happening in the Middle East and this way we can keep the economics at home.”

Even though biofuels pumps are spreading rapidly in the Midwest, there are still less than 100,000 flex-fuel vehicles in Indiana, and many consumers are not aware of the alternative fuels. Lugar said the car industry has an important role to play in increasing consumer acceptance.

“I believe all cars produced should be flex-fuel. I think we need more (biofuel) pumps, more production and more incentives,” he said. “The car companies are generally cooperative. They understand that this might be a way to make Americans interested in their cars.”

11/1/2006