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Western Governors Agree to Develop Alternative Transport Fuels

WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2008 (ENS) – Western governors have agreed to take action within their states and also as a region to speed the development and use of alternative fuels, improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

A resolution adopted by the Western Governors’ Association Saturday incorporates many recommendations contained in its new report, “Transportation Fuels for the Future.”

The report was developed at the request of the governors and with the assistance of more than 100 energy experts representing government, industry, the environmental community, academia and the general public.

The fuels and technologies covered are biodiesel and renewable diesel, biofuels, coal-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, propane, electricity and hydrogen.

While the association represents the governors of 19 states, the lead governors for this initiative are Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Brian Schweitzer of Montana, Brad Henry of Oklahoma, Michael Rounds of South Dakota, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. of Utah, and Christine Gregoire of Washington.

James Boyd, vice-chair and commissioner at the California Energy Commission, and David Fleischaker, Oklahoma secretary of energy, led development of the report over the past 10 months.

In a letter to the governors, Boyd and Fleischaker warn that longstanding U.S. dependence on petroleum for nearly all transportation fuel “is among the most critical issues now facing the nation.”

“This dependence and global competition for the resource present enormous risks to the security of our future energy supply, the environment and to our nation’s economy,” their letter states. “Reducing these risks cannot be achieved solely with a dramatic increase in our domestic production for many reasons; yet, the outstanding potential for developing and increasing the use of alternative transportation fuels has been relatively unfulfilled.”


This driver fuels up with E85
at a pump in Ohio. (Photo
courtesy Clean Fuels Ohio)

The report addresses the West’s unique transportation challenges and ways the states can position themselves to become key producers and beneficiaries in the emerging “alternative fuels economy.”

The authors say vast distances between metropolitan and rural areas make it imperative that an ample and affordable supply of fuels is available to maintain the region’s economy.

“Similarly, our sustainability issues differ from those of the other parts of the U.S.,” the letter states. “Water, air quality, land use and feedstock supplies are of great concern to all of our states and careful consideration of these issues is critical as we transition to clean, alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“By working together and leading this transition, the Western states can achieve ambitious goals more rapidly than through individual, uncoordinated efforts,” the letter states.

One major hurdle to leap is supplying alternative transport fuels to the driving public. Currently most 85 percent ethanol, E85, fueling stations are located in the Midwest. The heavily populated coasts – both East and West – have only a few E85 outlets, and most are reserved for private fleets.

“Alternatives to gasoline can succeed,” the California Energy Commission says in an analysis of ethanol and other non-petroleum fuels. “Unfortunately, a chicken-and-egg situation exists. Public acceptance and a healthy level of consumer demand are needed to make alternative fuel vehicles viable, but a network of refueling facilities must also be in place.”

The report addresses:

* Potential resources, technologies and capabilities of the Western states to develop alternatives fuels and the policy measures that will be required
* Issues surrounding sustainable feedstock development, environmental impacts and availability of conversion technologies
* Infrastructure that will be necessary for the full range of alternative fuels to succeed
* Challenges common to all of the fuel types, including changing a century-old practice of fueling the transportation sector with oil
* The development of measurable goals and analytical tools to determine and mitigate the environmental impacts of the new fuels

Boyd and Fleischaker said they have not offered a “silver-bullet approach to solve the challenges associated with energy security, the environment and the economy.”

“However,” they told the governors, “you will find a wealth of opportunities that can be achieved with bold action and strong leadership.”

To read the Transportation Fuels for the Future report click here [www.westgov.org].

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