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Governor wants to reduce Illinois’ dependence on oil
Illinois Correspondent

CHICAGO, Ill. — With things heating up in Iraq and Iran, America is focusing efforts to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is working to reduce imported oil reliance in Illinois, too.

Blagojevich sent a letter on March 15 to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. In the letter, Blagojevich asked that Illinois is included in upcoming meetings on oil dependence and solutions.

“Expanding the availability of E-85 is consistent with the growing consensus that our nation must expand our use of renewable fuels and decrease our reliance on imported oil,” Blagojevich said. “As the President indicated in his recent State of the Union address, we need to take aggressive action to curb our addiction to imported oil. Here in Illinois, my administration has worked quickly to increase the number of E-85 stations. Since 2004, the number of E-85 retail sales locations has increased from 14 to about 100, which is about 20 percent of the entire nation’s E-85 stations.”

While the Blagojevich administration has been working to enlarge the expansion of E-85, the Governor’s office reports that many stations have yet to include ethanol as part of their selections. He also pointed out that Chicago - which is Illinois’ largest market for gasoline - has been slow to offer E-85. Blagojevich addressed this issue in his letter to Secretary Bodman.

“Although we’ve made great progress, E-85 is still largely unavailable and is offered at only 2 percent of gas stations in Illinois,” he said. “I am particularly concerned about two aspects of E-85’s lack of availability. With the exception of only three stations, gas stations branded by the major oil companies have not made E-85 available in Illinois. And, due to the concentration of the major oil company brands in the Chicago area, the growth in the number of outlets offering E-85 in this region has been much slower than in the rest of Illinois.

“Expanding E-85 availability in Chicago - the Midwest’s largest gasoline market - is essential to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and to cutting pollution in an area where the smog-reduction benefits of E-85 would be most clearly felt.”

In his letter, the Blagojevich added, “Recently, I wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting an inquiry into the barriers to the expansion of biofuels such as E-85.” This inquiry was addressed to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.

“I believe that one key issue is the nature of the relationship between the major oil companies and their franchises, and whether the oil companies are inappropriately prohibiting or discouraging the sale of biofuels,” Blagojevich said. “At a time when consumers are paying more at the gas pump, any delays in making alternative transportation fuels available throughout Illinois and across the country are unacceptable. I encourage you to address these issues in your meeting with the major oil companies.”

For questions about this issue, contact Rebecca Rausch at the Governor’s Office at 217-782.7355.

This farm news was published in the March 29, 2006 issue of Farm World.