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Minnesota Lawmaker's Bill Would Boost Access to Ethanol

May 29, 2007

St. Paul, MN - New bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate would promote the latest technology in getting fuel from farm products. Senate sponsor Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) says it's designed to boost rural economies and reduce our dependence on imported oil.

Legislation introduced in Congress would promote E-85, a fuel mix that relies less on imported oil and more on U-S farm products. Senate sponsor Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota says there's a market for it, and her plan would make it more available. A good deal, with gas over three dollars a gallon.

"The idea is to create a program for farmer-owned ethanol producers. So, they can install E-85 pumps. Either independently, or in cooperation with a local gas station."

She notes Minnesota already has about a third of the E-85 pumps nationally. Plus, the proposal would also boost the Midwest economy and help the environment.

Klobuchar says the goal is to promote ethanol. And, Minnesota is a leader. The problem is, most motorists can't find it. Her plan would provide more outlets.

"We have a third of the E-85 pumps from across the country. About 300 of them. But, there's 169-thousand gas stations that do not have E-85 pumps across the country. So, the idea, is, how are we ever going to expand on this and take on the oil companies with our own, home-grown energy, if we don't have the pumps."

She says the proposal isn't just about rural America. It's about lowering gas prices and reducing dependence on imported oil, which has hurt family budgets and our national security.

Klobuchar says it's essential Americans have access to affordable, clean, home-grown energy.

"One, it's hurt our economy, 'cause it's so expensive, the foreign oil. Two, it's not good for our national security, 'cause we're dependent on these countries that we don't want to be dependent on. And three, we can even have this be better for our environment, as we move towards switchgrass, those kinds of things, for our fuel."

Undated. The bill is S.F. 1491. Co-sponsors include Senators Kit Bond (R-MO), Dick Durbin (D-IL) Barack Obama (D-IL) Ben Nelson (D-NE) and George Voinovich (R-OH). The bill provides U.S. Ag Department grants to farmer-owned ethanol producers to install E-85 pumps at rural gas stations, along with the equipment needed to sell the fuel directly to gas stations.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN