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Supporters Rally at Capitol to Call for 'E85 Everywhere'


Minnesota could lose its spot as America's undisputed leader in per capita use of cleaner, renewable-based biofuels, says the American Lung Association of Minnesota, which leads a partnership called the Minnesota E85 Team. The group has organized an 11 a.m. rally at the State Capitol Rotunda on Friday, April 27, to raise awareness of the need to increase joint private-public investment in more Minnesota E85 service stations or the state will be surpassed by others that have begun investing millions in ramping up their E85 fueling networks to meet the increasing production of flexible fuel vehicles. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are scheduled to address the rally attendees, which will include health advocates, farmers, environmentalists and other supporters of E85.

The private-public partnership, called "E85 Everywhere," aims to increase the number of E85 outlets in Minnesota from the current 310 stations to 1,800 in the next several years. "It is an incredibly ambitious, yet simple proposal," said Tim Gerlach, spokesman for the Minnesota E85 Team. "We just want to offer the owners of the estimated 150,000 vehicles in Minnesota-and the thousands more entering our market over the next decade-an opportunity to choose between gasoline and E85. Our experience has shown when E85 is conveniently available, many Minnesota drivers make the move to the clean air choice."

Millions of dollars from the private sector have been invested in developing Minnesota E85 fueling stations, national leadership and today's consumer acceptance. While this past investment has created the most extensive fueling network in North America and sparked record sales of the fuel (18.2 million in 2006, 8.1 million in 2005 and 2.6 million gallons in 2004), future development is less clear. Private and government grants used to help offset service station equipment costs have been exhausted, and current proposals to replenish these funds fall short of the estimated $12 million needed to make "E85 Everywhere" a reality.

Already, more than 50 service stations are on a grant waiting list in hopes of receiving a partial offset on their costs of adding E85. Many more have expressed strong interest in E85-as consumer awareness of E85 is growing quickly. More than 80% of Minnesota motorists professed to be 'somewhat' or 'very familiar' with E85 in a February 2007 survey conducted for the American Lung Association of Minnesota by Phoenix Automotive.

"We need to make this home-grown, affordable, low carbon, renewable alternative to gasoline much more available and convenient for Minnesotans to find and use in their flex fuel vehicles," said Mike Bull, assistant commissioner of Commerce and a strong advocate for renewable energy in Minnesota. "E85 Everywhere is a critical part of Governor Pawlenty's Next Generation Energy Initiative."

"The American Lung Association of Minnesota did not lend its support to E85 before doing our own extensive research," said Gerlach, who is also Vice President of Clean Fuels & Vehicle Technologies for the regional American Lung Association. "Let's make one point perfectly clear: E85 provides us a tool today for reducing several harmful air pollutants. It can also significantly reduce lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions that have been associated with global climate change."

Groups participating in Friday's rally include the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, services stations, car dealerships, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, ethanol producers, General Motors Corporation and several state and federal vehicle fleets-all strong supporters of E85 and the work of the Minnesota E85 Team.

The Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and the private and public partners of the Minnesota E85 Team plan more educational displays at upcoming events this year including the Living Green Expo and the hugely popular "Eco Experience" exhibition during the Minnesota State Fair. The March 9 issue of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal featured a media campaign the nonprofit has launched on television, radio and billboards. For more on alternative fuel vehicles, E85 and biodiesel, see http://www.CleanAirChoice.org.





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