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Pacific Ethanol, Inc.


Do you want to know if Ethanol is good for your car? Ask a racer. Ron Kirtley of Idaho Heat, runs this 9 sec car on 100% ethanol



News Briefs

Ethanol Report PodcastAddressing the tragedy hitting the Gulf of Mexico and coastal areas requires both an aggressive short term response and an equally aggressive long term energy and environmental strategy. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen is asking the Obama administration to take action to help increase the use of ethanol, starting with immediately allowing up to 12 percent ethanol in gasoline. This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features Dinneen’s comments on actions to promote increased ethanol production and use that could be taken in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association Vice President for Research Geoff Cooper talks about the current price differential between gasoline and ethanol and how much could be saved if the blend level were higher than the current ten percent.

You can subscribe to this twice monthly podcast by following this link.

Listen to or download the podcast here:

LAURIE WELCH/Times-News Pacific Ethanol Inc. officials hope to get approval from lenders and a bankruptcy court to fire up the 60 million gallon-per-year Burley plant in January 2010.

BURLEY — Pacific Ethanol officials hope to restart their Burley ethanol plant in January.

Company officials at Pacific Ethanol Inc. say they are seeking permission from their lenders to restart the Burley ethanol plant — a plan that still has to be approved by a bankruptcy court.

“We’re expecting some good news,” said Pacific Ethanol Inc. Vice President Paul Koehler on Friday.

Last January, the company laid off 24 employees and in February suspended production at the plant. The company’s subsidiaries — which own four ethanol plants, three of which suspended production — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May.

Koehler said an upturn in the ethanol market prompted the decision to reopen the Burley plant, which will be the company’s only plant to reopen at this point.

The bankruptcy court will review plans to restart the plant at a Dec. 14 hearing and the company expects the lenders, who provide debtor-in-possession financing for the Burley plant, to support the plan.

Koehler said the plant will hire 35 to 40 employees, which would put it at full staff.

“We pretty much need that many people for the plant to be in operation,” Koehler said.

The plant’s management was kept intact but the company will hire plant operators, a maintenance crew, commodity managers and lab technicians, along with other positions.

“It is good news for the city of Burley,” said Burley Economic Development Director Doug Manning. “It means more people back to work and will bring a good, positive feeling for the new year and some positive attention to the area.”

Manning said Pacific has been calling former employees to try to rehire them, which would save on the cost to train new employees.

“Everybody at the city is looking forward to working with Pacific Ethanol again,” Manning said.

Koehler said when plants resume operation after shutting down there is always a bit of a ramp-up period. But he expects the plant to come up to capacity quickly.

“The people who took care of it during the shutdown did a really good job,” Koehler said. “The plant is ship-shape and ready to start.”

Koehler said the plant can produce 60 million gallons of ethanol per year when running at full capacity.

Court gives green light to Pacific Ethanol in Idaho

BURLEY, Idaho - A Delaware bankruptcy court has given Pacific Ethanol the green light to reopen its Burley ethanol plant.

Paul Koehler, Pacific Ethanol Inc. vice president, told the Twin Falls Times-News the court approved a plan to restart the 60-million-gallon-per-year plant early next year.

The company obtained its lenders' approval in November to proceed with the plan. Approval from the bankruptcy court was the final step.

Koehler said Pacific Ethanol has rehired many of the two dozen workers who were laid off after the first of the year. The company plans to hire 35-40 workers altogether.

Plant managers were retained when the plant closed last February.

The plant will produce enough ethanol to match consumer demand, Koehler said, adding that he expected the plant to reach full production within six weeks.

The company's subsidiaries, which own four ethanol plants, suspended production in three plants and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. Koehler said the Burley plant is the only one to reopen at this time. The Boardman plant continued operating while the others closed.

- Dean Brickey


Researchers from Michigan State and Michigan Technological universities are seeking to ensure a steady and sustainable supply of material for the state’s first wood-based ethanol plant.

Funding comes from a $2 million grant the Michigan Economic Development Corp. made in 2008 to Lebanon, N.H.-based Mascoma Corp.

Frontier Renewable Resources, a company formed through Mascoma Corporation in New Hampshire, and J.M. Longyear, a 120-year-old Marquette-based natural resources company, is working to build a cellulosic ethanol plant on a 355-acre site in Kinross Township.
The facility, which will produce 20 million gallons of ethanol annually in its first phase, will use wood instead of food (as in corn ethanol) to make its fuel.

Tonight, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bayliss Public Library, the Three Lakes Group Sierra Club will be hosting an informational forum on a project with huge implications for the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
This meeting is open to the public. It will consist of project participants explaining the size, scope and timing of the project.

The plant is scheduled to break ground later in 2010 and to be operational in late 2012 or early 2013.

US House committee OKs $20 billion in energy incentives, credits: pump conversion, investment tax credit increases, extensions  ....more

Renewables pushed as partial solution to global warming ....more

Ethanol Tax Credit – An Unequivocal Economic Success, Says New Analysis .....below

November 17, 2008 – Wayne, PA – The federal investment in ethanol over the past three decades has yielded billions of dollars of economic gain, according to a report released from economic consulting firm LECG, LLC. The report concluded that each dollar invested in America’s ethanol industry in the form of the federal excise tax credit returned nearly $5 to federal, state and local government and the economy as a whole. According to the analysis, the tax provision has not only increased federal tax revenues, but also reduced imported oil expenditures and put more money into consumer pockets.

The analysis, conducted by LECG Director John Urbanchuk on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), found that America’s ethanol industry has:

”...generated an estimated $33.4 billion (2008$) in tax revenue for the Federal government and nearly $17 billion (2008$) of additional tax revenue for State and Local governments since 1978, reduced America’s tab for imported oil by $97.5 billion, helped reduce farm program payments by more than $3 billion annually since 2006, and put some $66 billion more into the pockets of Americans in the form of increased household income since its inception in 1978.”

“The federal investment in America’s ethanol industry has been and will continue paying dividends for the American economy,” said Urbanchuk. “The federal tax incentive has spurred the kind of investment in rural America that has not been seen perhaps since the New Deal. The resulting benefits of this investment have yielded billions of dollars in new tax revenue, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduced America’s oil dependence by billions of barrels, and helped keep nearly $100 billion here at home rather than being spent for oil overseas. Economically, this incentive has been an unequivocal success.”

Key findings of the analysis include the following benefits of the federal tax incentive for ethanol blending and the resulting growth of the American ethanol industry since 1978:

  • More than 53 billion gallons of ethanol have been produced, or about 1.2 percent of all the motor gasoline sold over this period. (In 2008, ethanol represents 7% of the nation’s gasoline supply.)
  • A displacement of nearly 1.9 billion barrels of imported crude oil (the amount of crude required to produce the ethanol equivalent of 34.9 billion gallons of gasoline) valued at $97.5 billion (2008$).
  • An addition of $228 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2008.
  • The creation of more than 210,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy. (Note: After 2006, this calculation includes only those gallons produced above the mandated levels as established first in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and revised in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. By comparison, the ethanol industry helped create 238,000 new jobs in 2007 as a result of the 6.5 billion gallons produced.)
  • Increased household incomes by $66.2 billion (2008$).
  • The ethanol industry has paid for itself since the inception of the excise tax credit. An estimated $33.4 billion (2008$) in tax revenue for the Federal government and nearly $17 billion (2008$) of additional tax revenue for State and Local governments has been generated since 1978. The estimated cost of the ethanol tax credit over this same period was $30.4 billion (2008$). Consequently, the ethanol industry generated a surplus of about $3 billion for the Federal treasury alone over the past three decades.

*The excise tax credit also has saved taxpayers money by reducing farm program outlays through higher prices for corn. Recent research published at Iowa State University estimated that the Federal government saved $3.45 billion in 2007 alone because it was not making loan deficiency payments, as it was in 2005 and 2006.

E85 Stations Exceed 1,800

Jefferson City, MO - The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC), the nation’s primary advocate of the use of E85 and high level blends of ethanol in flexible fuel vehicles, is pleased to announce that the number of E85 stations has now exceeded 1,800. There are currently 1,802 private and public refueling stations across the U.S. The number of facilities have grown 28 percent since October 2007.

“It’s exciting to see E85 stations grow so rapidly within the past year,” noted Executive Director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, Phil Lampert. “From providing technical support on-site, through our internet materials, or over the phone, the NEVC has in one way or another been involved with the establishment of every one of these facilities! From the humble total of 50 E85 stations in 2001, we believe that E85 represents the ‘only’ significant growth opportunity in the field of liquid fuels.”

Currently, the states with the highest number of E85 sites are: Minnesota with 357, Illinois with 188 and Missouri with 112. Unfortunately, seven states do not offer E85 including: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Alaska and Hawaii.

Lampert added, “Fuel retailers have many incentives to add this clean, renewable product to their facilities. The spike in E85 fueling facilities is a direct reflection of the Federal income tax credit that the NEVC and our partners worked hard to implement in 2005. Additionally, the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 that allowed franchise operators to install E85 fueling sites are two of the most significant Federal actions that have been implemented to address the growth of E85 fueling nationally. We are hopeful that future federal actions will appropriate at least a part of the $200 million that was authorized in EISA to assist with continuing to expand the E85 fueling infrastructure.”

The public can fuel at 1,693 of the 1,802 stations nationwide. The nation’s most comprehensive and complete listing of E85 sites can be found at http://www.E85Refueling.com. A growth chart of E85 refueling locations from 2001 to the present (Click to enlarge)


Don't Blame Ethanol For Soaring Food Prices


The popular misconception that increased usage of corn for ethanol production is the only factor driving higher food prices is just that — a misconception.

Ethanol production has added and will continue to add to corn demand, but other factors also are playing major roles in higher food prices.

Global demand for U.S. agricultural products has increased significantly over the past several years. China and India are but two examples where growing affluence is leading to changes in diet and overall food demand. Helping add to export demand is the devaluation of the dollar. This makes corn, soybeans, wheat and other commodities produced in the U.S. particularly attractive to overseas buyers.

Even though corn prices for the current marketing year are up $1 per bushel from last, corn exports are projected to increase by 200 million bushels. Rising exports in the face of rising prices is an indicator of very strong demand.

This is not limited to corn. It can be seen in dairy and other commodities. Domestic demand, beyond ethanol, is also strong, with corn used for livestock feed running at the same pace as last year.

Above the farmer in the food chain are processors, distribution systems and grocery stores. We are all familiar with how energy prices are affecting the retail costs of goods.

Food products are no different. And because of the refrigerated nature of much of the food system, those delivery costs can be even higher. Labor costs are also a factor, as is the fact that as consumers, we are constantly demanding more convenience in our food products. Finally, food suppliers are raising food prices simply because they can. And yes, there is ethanol.

Agriculture has been asked to help provide some of the nation's energy supply, but to supply it in a way that conforms to existing infrastructure. From the pumps to the engines, from the tanks in the ground to the carburetors in old vehicles, the energy supply that agriculture has been asked to provide comes with a lot of constraints.

Ethanol helps provide that answer. It will not replace gasoline, nor will it, by itself, make the U.S. energy-independent. It will take a great deal of effort and research to make large-scale cellulosic ethanol production feasible in a way that allows us to substantially reduce our oil import needs.

But corn-based ethanol already is providing half a million gallons of motor fuel a day and will approach a million barrels a day when the renewable fuels standard for corn-based ethanol is fully implemented. Francisco Blanch of Merrill Lynch has been reported in The Wall Street Journal as saying biofuels are lowering the price of oil and gasoline by 15 percent.

Contrary to some press reports, numerous studies clearly demonstrate that corn-derived ethanol has a positive energy balance — that we get more energy out of the product than we put into the entire process, going all the way back to the energy used to build the tractors and combines.

So, while U.S. agriculture is going through an adjustment phase, as would any sector of the economy trying to handle the number of hurdles that have been tossed our way, I encourage you to look at all of the contributors playing a role in rising food costs.

Making ethanol the scapegoat oversimplifies the issue and it derails a product that is good for our economy, our environment and helps to lessen our demand for foreign oil.

Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Columbus, Texas, and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. This was distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Company claims its ethanol could sell for $1.50 a gallon

4-14-2008  - Source - Motor Trend
With gas headed for $3.60 a gallon and politicians worried about America's dependence on foreign oil, many are looking to ethanol as the fuel of the future. The only thing is, currently even with federal subsidies the cost of making fuel from corn isn't very competitive, especially since E85 fuel gets you fewer miles per gallon than traditional gasoline. Many companies are working on the cost issue, and GM has even invested in Coskata Inc., a Chicago firm researching cellulosic ethanol. However now a new energy startup called ZeaChem claims to have solved the problem, and that they can now make ethanol at a competitive price.
At its laboratory in Menlo Park, CA, ZeaChem says they have created a new means of developing ethanol from wood chips, switch grass, and several other sources that is more efficient than competing methods. Developed by experts from the Coors brewery, crude oil refining, and other chemical industries, the process involves joining biomass in a fermenter with a naturally occurring microorganism (found in sources such as termites or horse manure) that unlike other methods uses all fractions of the plant, meaning the energy of all fractions of the biomass end up in the product.

According to the company, their process will theoretically produce a maximum 160 gallons of ethanol for every ton of biomass, and a biomass farm with an eight-mile radius could support a refinery producing approximately 300 million gallons of the fuel per year. In addition, ZeaChem says their method is more efficient than others, citing a "net energy ratio" of between 10 and 12, meaning that for every unit of fossil energy used, 10 - 12 units of renewable energy are produced. In contrast, the company claims corn-based ethanol has an approximate net energy ratio of only 1.6.

So what exactly does all this mean for drivers? Well, according to ZeaChem CEO James Imber, the company will be able to produce ethanol at 80 cents per gallon at the plant, which he estimates would equal a price of about $1.50 at the pump. Of course if you were buying E85, the 15 percent gasoline would add additional cost, plus the lower fuel economy would still be a factor. But that price could certainly go a long way toward turning ethanol into a truly viable alternative fuel.

Source: ZDNet and ZeaChem

3-5-2008: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty issued a press statement outlining the results of testing which has been conducted on vehicles operating on a blend of 20% ethanol.  A copy of the press statement may be found at: More ...

October 16th Idaho Ethanol, LLC & Fuel Flex International,  was a guest in conjunction with the Treasure Valley Clean Cities of Idaho Ethanol Producers, LLC at their plant in Caldwell Idaho.

Gary Ackaret, CFO for Fuel Flex International, LLC, one of the largest distributors of flex fuel conversion systems, holds a cup of the syrup made from potato scraps at the Idaho Ethanol Processing LLC plant, and discusses the process with onlookers. The plant is currently producing about 4,000 gallons of Ethanol a day from the potatoes.
The company has spent the past year renovating the plant, now called Idaho Ethanol Processing, LLC, and redesigning it to use other products, such as corn, to make ethanol.

Ethanol, a 200-proof alcohol frequently made from corn or potatoes, burns more cleanly than gasoline for better air quality and reduces dependency on petroleum. All gasoline cars can take a blend of fuel and up to 10 percent ethanol, and some newer automobiles, called flexible fuel vehicles, are able to run on E85, a blend made up of 85 percent ethanol.









Take a tour of the Caldwell Ethanol Plant from KTVB News

In September, the plant became fully operational again, though for now, production is low. The plant is currently producing between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of ethanol a day. In November, when it begins using Midwest and local corn along with potato waste and byproducts from Simplot, production will likely increase to 10,000 gallons a day. The plant will produce about


five million gallons of ethanol a year initially, but plant manager Stan Siewert said the company is applying for a permit to produce up to 15 million gallons a year.    Greg Kreller / Idaho PressTribune

September 1st Alex Conger of Idaho Ethanol, LLC of Meridian Idaho, was interviewed by Radio Station KATY FM in Los Angeles about Ethanol and Conversion Systems

Bob Madden of KATY FM contacted us recently to assist him with a project he was doing at his radio station. He called  it "Alternate Energy Week". They would be talking about a different type of Alternate energy Fuels each day.

He stated he would like to talk to us about ethanol, and we thought, "what a great idea, but California only has only one E85 pump to service the whole state!". We decided this was great opportunity to get information out about the use of ethanol and put a little pressure on the local politicians through basic education.

Bob MaddenOver the next 4 days we had several discussions with Bob about the advantages of using clean burning American made ethanol and gave him a good understanding of just why people should use it.

We have included the audio clip for your listening enjoyment. As always if you have any questions please call us at 866-568-3617. FFI Marketing Team.

Listen to the Audio Clip Here

Congress Proceeding With Energy Bills 'Walk Through'

Congress is continuing its energy "walk through" this week for staffers to familiarize themselves with all elements of the House and Senate energy bills. The meetings plan to wrap up by Friday, however there's still no official word on when an actual energy conference would take place.

"Democratic and Republican committee staffs are continuing a bipartisan and bicameral exploration of the House (H.R. 3221) and Senate (H.R. 6) energy bills," according to an e-mail from Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Democratic Committee spokesman Bill Wicker. "The discussions are not to decide the destiny of any provisions, but rather to allow staffs to be educated as to the contents and back-stories of the various titles and sections in the two bills," he added.

"The meetings are alternating between House and Senate....[T]he provisions being examined this week are renewable fuels; carbon neutral government; green buildings; House provisions from the committees on Natural Resources, Education & Labor, Foreign Affairs, Small Business, Agriculture and Transportation & Infrastructure; CAFE [corporate average fuel economy]; price- gouging; climate R&D; loan guarantees; and miscellaneous," Wicker noted. Last week, topics included title IV of H.R. 3221, which includes biofuel studies and other fuel research and title IX, which contains energy efficiency language, but also renewable fuel infrastructure studies.

It appears the initial reticence Republican leadership had in having staffers attend the "walk through" is over. Last week, a spokesman for Senate ENR Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said GOP staffers were not comfortable participating in any talks on the energy bills until there are assurances regarding how an energy conference will proceed.

While Wicker said no decisions on the energy conference have been made, GOP staffers are now attending the informal talks. "It just means that staff has started talking with each other about the two bills. (That's always the first step.)," he added.

Still, there continues to be silence from Democratic leadership on when an energy conference between the two bills would occur. However, one energy source said he has received indications that House leadership would like to complete an energy conference by Nov. 18, the end of the first continuing resolution to keep the government operating in the next fiscal year.

In a recent Business Week article, much light is shed on the growing tension between Big Oil and its critics.

You may recall in an NEVC member memo last month, the Consumer Federation of America published a report called "Big Oil's War on Ethanol," wherein author Mark Cooper suggested big oil "perceives the growth of biofuels as an independent, competitive threat to its market power." This perception is unlikely to fade anytime soon and, at the same time, the Big Oil industry continues to be rewarded for its minimal involvement with ethanol.

Through subsidies created by Congress to encourage a larger ethanol market, Big Oil collects $.51 for every gallon of ethanol it mixes with gasoline and sells as E10.

This injustice infuriates the pro-ethanol groups who worked so hard to secure the subsidies, including the NEVC and the auto industry, which has proudly put more than 5 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road and pledged that half of its new-vehicle sales will be flex fuel by 2012. However, GM, Ford and Chrysler must await bigger commitments of E85 pumps before doing so.

Without surprise, Big Oil has even gone so far as to utilize their abundant ethanol subsidies for implementing campaigns against ethanol. A study released in June by the American Petroleum Institute falsely concluded that "consumers will be 'losers' in the run up to Congress' target of 35 billion gallons of biofuel by 2017 because they will have to pay so much more for food as corn prices rise to meet ethanol demand." The study contains flaws, much like the often referenced 2005 paper by Cornell University falsely concluding ethanol takes 29 percent more energy to produce than it supplies, which uses old data and overestimates corn farm energy use by 34 percent.

Clearly, most oil companies see ethanol as being too inconvenient for them to integrate in their operations, since it does require separate pumps, trucks and storage tanks. Their opposition to installing E85 pumps goes so far in some cases to barring even their branded independents from buying fuel from anyone except them. Some aren't forbidden from buying fuel through outside sources and carrying E85, but the costs they must incur to meet the gas suppliers' restrictions are so high they might have to spend as much as $200,000 to install a separate E85 pump. This helps explain why, of the 179,000 pumps at U.S. fuel stations, less than 1 percent (about 1,300 stations) are able to affordably carry E85.
To view this article in its entirety, Click Here: 

Gas Prices Headed Back Up Again, And It's Not The Top!

Every spring & winter, Americans enjoy soaring gasoline prices.  

The average price of all grades of gasoline will again leapt above $3 a gallon, the Energy Department said, already near the record highs of the past two summers.

With driving season fast approaching, energy experts are warning that gas prices have yet to find their peak. When they do, they will stubbornly hold that painful level throughout the summer. Supply will remain tight just as millions hit the road.

That assumes no big hurricanes or other major supply disruptions.

Running On Empty

U.S. gasoline stockpiles, at 193.1 million barrels, have never been this low at this time of year. Stocks have plunged from an excess of the five-year average to 13 million barrels below it. They've fallen 34.1 million barrels in the past 12 weeks, according to DOE data.

Not once in this story was mention made of the fact that Ethanol & Bio Diesel  production is at is all time high and the majority of the middle states in the US that are producing large amounts of ethanol an are actually assisting the fans of Bio fuels.

At the corporate offices of Idaho Ethanol and Fuel Flex International in Boise Idaho we have been getting many calls from people all over the west and asking how come is E85 the same price as Unleaded regular gas or higher when in some of our neighboring states it is 20, 30, 40 cents and in some cases as much as a dollar cheaper than gas.

We have tried to find an answer for you in Idaho, but keep getting "Its nice to not loose money for a change", Hum, well I say that this is not acceptable and we  Americans do deserver a little break. The guy selling or blending E85 does get a handsome break (Tax credit) and we believe it is time to share this with the consumer. In Idaho call: 208-342-2512 and ask why!





Ethanol can be blended with gasoline to create E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15%Photo of a hand holding an ear of corn next to an E85 pump. gasoline. E85 and blends with even higher concentrations of ethanol, E95, for example, qualify as alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct). Vehicles that run on E85 are called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) and are offered by several vehicle manufacturers. See the ethanol vehicles page for more information on FFVs.

In some areas of the United States, lower concentrations of ethanol are blended with gasoline. The most common low concentration blend is E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline). While it reduces emissions, E10 is not considered an alternative fuel under EPAct regulations. For more information on E10, see the ethanol blends page.

News Flash: 
E85-capable vehicles new stars of show

Automakers want to cut oil imports
January 11, 2007
Detroit Free

As always, alcohol was a popular beverage during media previews for the North American International Auto Show this year -- but it wasn't just journalists lining up for a thirst quencher.

For the first time, several automakers unveiled concept and production models capable of burning E85, the blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline backed by Detroit automakers as the most viable option for reducing U.S. oil imports. Even Toyota Motor Corp. jumped on the bandwagon, announcing its new Tundra pickup would offer an E85 version in the 2009 model year.

The new interest in ethanol came the same week as U.S. ethanol backers launched a lobbying push in Washington for more government support. While Detroit automakers already have committed to building 2 million flex-fuel vehicles a year by 2010, a group of 37 state governors, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, proposed Wednesday that the government require 70% of new vehicles to be E85-capable in 10 years.

The growing ethanol juggernaut has been fueled by a variety of sources, from conservatives concerned about energy security and farm-state lawmakers seeking additional revenues to environmentalists pushing to cut carbon emissions and fight global warming. President George W. Bush has been an ardent supporter of ethanol, and likely will address the issue again in his State of the Union speech this month.

"If people are serious about reducing imported oil, this is the best thing you can do fast," General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner told journalists at the auto show preview. "There's no question it's a good thing to do. Can't see why anyone would be against it."

GM's electric-car concept, the Chevrolet Volt, was designed with a backup engine that can run either gasoline or E85. Most of the concepts at the Ford corporate stand were ethanol-capable, from the Ford Interceptor sedan to the curvaceous Mazda Ryuga. And Chrysler showed two production models, the Dodge Avenger and its new minivans, that had E85 options.

Foreign automakers have not been nearly as enthusiastic about E85. Don Esmond, Toyota's senior vice president for automotive operations, said the limited availability of E85 filling stations had held down Toyota's interest in the fuel. California, Toyota's largest market, has one E85 pump.

"I think, directionally, if there's a way that we can start getting off fossil fuels and move to something else, we're willing to do it," Esmond said. "I don't know that demand is there right now."

The U.S. ethanol industry produced 5 billion gallons of the fuel last year, most of which were mixed into regular gasoline, but many members of Congress are seeking ways to boost output dramatically. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Wednesday that renewable fuel production would be a key concern of any new farm aid bill; Harkin was one of the sponsors of a bill to boost ethanol output to 60 billion gallons by 2030.

Contact JUSTIN HYDE at 202-906-8204 or jhyde@freepress.com. Free Press business writer Joe Guy Collier contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition is the nation’s primary advocate dedicated to the use of 85 percent ethanol as a form of alternative transportation fuel.  

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