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Gov. Blagojevich calls on President Bush to address nation's oil addiction and boost energy independence       Send a link to a friend

Governor urges president to pursue national policy modeled on Illinois' plan to meet 50 percent of state's motor fuel needs with homegrown resources by 2017

Governor launches task forces to help implement his plan

[SEPT. 9, 2006]  CHICAGO -- On Friday, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich called on President Bush to take bolder steps to address the nation's addiction to foreign oil. In a letter to the president, the governor referred to Bush's repeated references to America's "addiction" to foreign oil and called on him to step beyond rhetoric and follow Illinois' lead in achieving energy independence. The governor stressed the importance to national security of energy independence from countries like Iran and Venezuela and the great economic benefits of investing in homegrown energy resources.

On Labor Day, President Bush again talked about America's dependence on foreign oil, saying: "Problem is, we get oil from some parts of the world and they simply don't like us. The more dependent we are on that type of energy, the less likely it will be that we are able to compete and so people can have good-paying jobs."

But after six years in the nation's highest office, the president has yet to introduce a comprehensive plan to wean the United States from its dependence on foreign oil.

"We face a choice," Blagojevich wrote to Bush. "We can either replace foreign sources of gas and oil with homegrown alternatives, or we can remain beholden to oil barons that do not have America's best interests at heart."

In his letter, the governor suggested steps the federal government could take to create more energy independence. These steps include increasing fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon; adopting the 25x'25 coalition's goal of using wind, solar and biofuel power for 25 percent of U.S. energy by 2025; extending tax credits for wind power; creating tax credits for coal gasification projects; expanding national fuel standards to require greater use of biofuels; and adequately funding the FutureGen coal gasification demonstration project. Blagojevich believes that these steps will complement energy-independence efforts in Illinois and other states and will set America on a more sustainable path toward greater self-reliance.

These recommendations build on the comprehensive energy independence plan Blagojevich launched last month to replace Illinois' dependence on foreign oil with homegrown alternatives. The governor's plan sets a goal of replacing 50 percent of the state's energy supply with homegrown fuels by 2017. Illinois would be the first state to reach this level of energy independence. His plan will help free Illinois consumers from the grip of foreign oil and gas interests by giving drivers and homeowners alternatives to the high cost of gasoline, stabilize energy prices, give Illinois farmers new markets for their crops, and create 30,000 new jobs.

The plan "will give consumers more options, create new markets for our crops and coal, and create thousands of new jobs while keeping billions of dollars here at home, in our economy, rather than going overseas," Blagojevich wrote

On Friday the governor took further steps toward making his plan a reality by announcing three new task forces that will assist in implementation of the plan. Each task force has its own focus: coal gasification and carbon sequestration, biofuel development, and clean cars and energy efficiency. Members of the task forces include expert representatives from agriculture, biofuel producers, research centers, consumer and environmental groups, and organized labor, among other key interest groups.

Coal gasification and carbon sequestration working group

  • Bill Hoback, deputy director, Office of Coal Development, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, chairman

  • Jill Rendleman, interim executive director, Illinois Finance Authority

  • Dan LeFevers, director, Gas Technology Institute

  • Cliff Keeler, director of gasification projects, ConocoPhillips

  • David Denton, director of business development, Eastman Gasification Services, Eastman Chemical

  • Gary Butler, international representative, District 12, United Mine Workers of America

  • Mike Carrigan, secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO Illinois

  • John Meade, director of coal research, SIU Coal Research Center

  • James Childress, executive director, Gasification Technologies Council

  • Henry Henderson, co-founder, Policy Solutions

  • John Thompson, Clean Air Task Force

  • Charlie Kubert, Environmental Law and Policy Center

  • Jack Darin, director, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter

Biofuels investment and infrastructure working group

  • Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, chairman

  • Rod Weinzierl, executive director, Illinois Corn Growers Association

  • Darryl Brinkmann, director, District 16, Illinois Farm Bureau

  • Rebecca Richardson, Illinois Soybean Association and Checkoff Board

  • Bill Fleischli, executive vice president, Illinois Petroleum Marketers

  • Dave Sykuta, executive director, Illinois Petroleum Council

  • Dr. Tom Binder, vice president for research, ADM

  • Todd Block, general manager, Adkins Energy

  • Jeff Nelson, business development manager, Stepan Corp.

  • Will Duensing, director of quality assurance and technical services, Bunge Milling Co.

  • Joseph Ciaccio, president, Illinois Railroad Association

  • Dr. Pam Keck, acting director, National Corn to Ethanol Research Center

  • Taylor Davis, manager of policy development and state affairs, John Deere

  • Tom Walters, manager of Illinois Governmental Affairs, Caterpillar

  • Mary Culler, director of governmental affairs, North Central Region, Ford Motor Company

  • Linda Podeschi, executive director, Illinois Public Transportation Association

  • Mike Carrigan, secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO Illinois

  • Roger Brown, program manager, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

  • Hans Blaschek, assistant dean of agriculture, consumer and environmental sciences, University of Illinois

  • William Orrill, Laborers International Union of North America Midwest Region Office

  • Verena Owen, Clean Air Campaign chairwoman, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter

  • Becky Stanfield, state director, Environment Illinois

Clean car and energy efficiency working group

  • Howard Learner, executive director, Environmental Law and Policy Center, chairman

  • Becky Stanfield, state director, Environment Illinois

  • Joel Africk, chief executive officer, American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago

  • Kevin Brubaker, director of operations, Environmental Law and Policy Center

  • Kathy Tholin, executive director, Center for Neighborhood Technology

  • Carol Brown, chairwoman, Chicago Transit Authority

  • Jeff Nelson, general manager, Metrolink

  • Elwood Flowers, vice president, AFL-CIO of Illinois, Lobbyist Local 308 and Local 241 Amalgamated Transit Union

  • Dennis Williams, director, United Auto Workers

  • MarySue Barrett, president, Metropolitan Planning Council

  • William McNary, co-director, Citizen Action/Illinois

  • Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director, Citizen Action/Illinois

  • Dave Kolata, executive director, Citizens Utility Board

  • Mary Culler, director of governmental affairs, North Central Region, Ford Motor Company

  • Chuck Frank, owner and president, Z Frank Chevrolet

  • Mark Pruitt, senior program manager, Energy Resources Center, UIC

  • Craig Sieben, president, Sieben Energy Associates

  • Jack Darin, director, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter

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The broad cross section of stakeholders represented on the task forces will provide valuable input as the state implements the comprehensive plan that will provide new incentives to help triple Illinois' production of ethanol and other biofuels and build up to 10 new coal gasification plants to convert Illinois coal into natural gas, diesel fuel and electricity. The plan also includes construction of a pipeline from central to southeastern Illinois to transport carbon dioxide produced by new energy plants to where it can be pumped underground to extract more oil and gas that sits underground in Illinois. Trapping carbon dioxide underground will permanently prevent this greenhouse gas from being emitted into the atmosphere. The plan calls for a dramatic expansion of renewable energy production as well as significant reductions in energy use through investments in energy efficiency and conservation.

Specifically, the governor's plan will:

  • Invest in renewable biofuels by providing financial incentives to build up to 20 new ethanol plants and five new biodiesel plants. These increases in ethanol and biofuels production would allow Illinois to replace 50 percent of its current supply of imported oil with renewable homegrown biofuels.

  • Increase the number of gas stations that sell biofuels, so that all gas stations offer 85 percent ethanol fuel, E-85, by 2017. Help the auto industry to produce more and better flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on either E-85 or regular gasoline.

  • Invest $775 million to help build up to 10 new coal gasification plants that use Illinois coal to meet 25 percent of Illinois' diesel fuel needs, 25 percent of natural gas needs and 10 percent of electricity needs by 2017.

  • Build a pipeline to move carbon dioxide captured from coal gasification plants to oil fields in southeastern Illinois to extract more oil and natural gas and permanently store the carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, underground.

  • Meet 10 percent of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2015 and greatly boost investment in energy efficiency, while finding ways to cut emissions and reduce motor fuel consumption by 10 percent in 2017.

A copy of Blagojevich's letter to the president follows:

Office of the Governor
Rod R. Blagojevich
JRTC, 100 West Randolph, Suite 16-100
Chicago, Illinois 60601

September 8, 2006

Dear President Bush:

In the State of the Union speech this year you rightly focused attention on our nation's addiction to foreign oil. That addiction, as well as our increasing reliance on imported sources of natural gas, has worsened in recent years and is among the most pressing challenges facing our nation.

I am writing to update you on my recent initiatives that will move Illinois -- and our nation -- towards greater energy independence. Here in Illinois, we are blessed with a unique combination of natural resources. We're the nation's leading producer of soybeans, we're the number two producer of corn and we have the nation's third largest reserves of coal. We also have significant wind energy resources and geological features that allow for the permanent sequestration of carbon dioxide. These resources position Illinois to lead the nation toward greater energy independence and sustainability.

That is why I recently announced an Energy Independence plan to reduce Illinois' dependence on foreign fuels by half -- replacing 50 percent of our current supply of imported oil with renewable homegrown biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel by 2017. My plan would also meet 25 percent of our diesel fuel needs, 25 percent of our natural gas needs and 10 percent of our electricity needs using coal gasification technology, an environmentally sound way to use Illinois coal. My plan also calls for aggressive investment in the electric sector in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

My plan will give consumers more options, create new markets for our crops and coal, and create thousands of new jobs while keeping billions of dollars here at home, in our economy, rather than going overseas.

You have repeatedly stated that our nation's addiction to imported oil is detrimental to our economy and to our national security. Yet the Administration is not taking the aggressive steps needed to boost our self-reliance so we can end this addiction once and for all. While the federal energy bill enacted last year was a step in the right direction in some regards, it provided too little support for new homegrown energy alternatives and provided billions in unnecessary subsidies for oil companies.

There are several steps you could take to help put our nation on a path to greater energy independence, including: increasing fuel economy standards that require vehicles to achieve 40 miles per gallon, adopting the 25x'25 Coalition's goal of deriving 25 percent of America's energy from renewable resources like wind, solar and biofuels by 2025, extend the sunset of the federal tax credit now available for wind power and apply it to coal gasification projects where carbon dioxide emissions are sequestered, expanding the national renewable fuels standard to require greater use of biofuels, and securing adequate funding for the federal FutureGen coal gasification demonstration project.

We face a choice. We can either replace foreign sources of gas and oil with homegrown alternatives or we can remain beholden to oil barons that do not have America's best interests at heart.

Right now, we're held hostage to the whims of OPEC and to unstable leadership in places like Iran and Venezuela. It's time that we stand up for the American people and create a plan to solve this problem. I urge you to use more than rhetoric to solve our energy crisis and to instead make meaningful investments in homegrown resources and energy conservation -- like those I've proposed in Illinois.

As countries like China and India continue to develop, the global demand for oil and gas will continue to grow. As a nation, we represent only 4 percent of the world's population. But we consume 25 percent of its annual energy use. Staying the course is not an option.


Rod Blagojevich

[News release from the governor's office]

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