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California Biofuel Stations Grow Slowly for Consumer Access

Biofuels require infrastructure, demand and policy changes to grow. California is struggling to adapt.

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green chemistry In 2007, California had 835 alternative fuel stations, more than any other state.

Electricity (379)
Liquefied petroleum gas (215)
Compressed natural gas (174)

These figures were compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sites offering liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel or E85 were far down the list. Although California leads the nation in adopting alternative fuels, there are only seven places to get E85 in the state, and only three are open to the public.

The disparity is largely a reflection of the state's longtime emphasis on converting large fleets used by governments, school districts and private industry to alternative fuels, rather than changing the vehicle choices and habits of the masses. It's also a manifestation of California's small role in growing corn and soy beans, the primary crops used to produce E85 and biodiesel.

Biodiesel backers have helped build a statewide roster of more than 50 sites that offer the fuel, with many selling to the public and offering blends ranging from B10 (10% biodiesel and 90% petroleum diesel) to B99, a nearly pure biodiesel fuel.

Now, however, California has adopted ambitious new goals for alternative fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions -- and it can no longer afford to leave the public out of the mix. For starters, the state is going to increase the use of ethanol as a fuel additive to all gasoline sold here.

For years, California's gasoline has contained 5.7% ethanol to boost octane and comply with federal emissions rules; starting in 2010, that will rise to 10% ethanol.

Learn more about California alternative energy resources.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| biofuels | biodiesel | alternative transportation |


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