Governor Tom Vilsack has issued an executive order on this Earth Day that’ll force state agencies to use more ethanol and biodiesel. It’ll also force administrators to buy so-called flexible fuel cars and trucks that can burn E-85 fuel — that’s 85 percent ethanol. Vilsack has also ordered state agencies to ensure that at least 10 percent of the electricity they use to come from an “alternative source” like a wind turbine. “This is an opportunity for us to make a statement about Iowa’s position as an energy leader, a renewable energy leader, whether it’s fuel or energy. We also think it’s good economic development for our state.” Vilsack says he’s convinced it’s crucial for America to come up with alternative energy sources that lead to energy independence from foreign sources of oil. Vilsack also announced that General Motors is giving the state of Iowa a Chevy Tahoe that burns E-85. G-M will also provide 70 Chevy Suburbans that burn E-85 for the National Governor’s Association meeting in Des Moines in July. Vilsack concedes the Suburbans aren’t the most fuel efficient vehicles, but they picked the large S-U-Vs for a reason. Vilsack says each governor brings a security detail, staff and some family members to the meetings. “We could either use smaller vehicles…at least two or three per governor or we could use one Suburban,” Vilsack says. “Two or three engines versus one engine…We’re probably being more fuel efficient doing it this way.” Ed Wallace, a G-M executive, says his company will produce about five million E-85 capable vehicles this year. Wallace says G-M is currently the largest producer of E-85/flexible fuel vehicles in the U.S. Over one-point-one million flexible-fuel G-M cars and trucks are on the road today. The state currently owns almost 14-hundred vehicles that burn E-85 fuel. There are only 20 pumps in Iowa dispensing the fuel — only one in the capitol city.
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