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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich asks U.S. Secretary of Energy to include State of Illinois in upcoming meetings with major oil companies about the lack of availability of E-85
The Governor wants to continue his innovative efforts to lessen our addiction to foreign oil

CHICAGO – In his ongoing effort to lessen our country’s addiction to foreign oil, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sent a letter today to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman asking him to include the State of Illinois in upcoming meetings he says he is arranging with the major oil companies to increase the availability of E-85 in Illinois and across the country.  Secretary Bodman pledged to hold these meetings at the recently held Governors’ Ethanol Coalition meeting in Washington, DC.
 
“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.  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,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
 
Despite Gov. Blagojevich’s commitment to expanding E-85, it is still largely unavailable and is offered at only 2 percent of gas stations in Illinois. 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.  Since Chicago is the Midwest’s largest gasoline market, it 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 January, Gov. Blagojevich asked Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras to investigate potentially illegal policies by major petroleum companies that could be discouraging the sale of biofuels made from ethanol or biodiesel.  These companies own, operate or attach their retail
brand to gas stations in Illinois. 
                                                                       
“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. 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,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
 
The text of the letter is below:
 
Dear Secretary Bodman:
 
I was pleased to learn that at the recent meeting of the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition you pledged to meet with representatives of the major oil companies to seek their support for the expanded availability of biofuels such as E-85. I am writing today to offer my support of this and your other efforts to increase the availability of E-85 across our nation.
 
Since Illinois is the nation’s leading ethanol user and the nation’s second largest ethanol producer, I have a particularly strong interest in boosting access to E-85 and request that representatives of my office be invited to attend these meetings. I am also pleased to offer any help to make this effort as bipartisan as possible.
 
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. 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.
 
Although we’ve made great progress, E-85 is still largely unavailable and is offered at only 2 percent of gas stations in Illinois. 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.
 
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. 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. 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.
 
I thank you for your leadership in helping to promote expanded use of homegrown, clearer burning renewable fuels like E-85 and look forward to working with you on this issue of great national importance.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor


###

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