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September 8, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich calls on President Bush to Address Nation’s Oil Addiction and Boost Energy Independence
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 taskforces to help implement his plan

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today 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. “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 interest 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 25X25 Coalition’s goal of using wind, solar, and biofuel power for 25% 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. Gov. Blagojevich believes that these steps will compliment 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 Gov. Blagojevich launched last month to replace Illinois’ dependence on foreign oil with homegrown alternatives. The Governor’s plan sets a goal of replacing 50% 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.
“Our 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,” wrote Blagojevich.
The Governor today took further steps toward making his plan a reality by announcing three new taskforces that will assist in implementation of the plan. Each taskforce has its own focus: coal gasification and carbon sequestration, biofuel development, and clean cars and energy efficiency. Members of the taskforces include expert representatives from agriculture, biofuel producers, research centers, consumer and environmental groups, organized labor, among other key interest groups.
Coal Gasification & Carbon Sequestration Working Group
Bill Hoback, Deputy Director, Office of Coal Development, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Chair
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 Taskforce
Charlie Kubert, Environmental Law and Policy Center
Jack Darin, Director, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter
Biofuels Investment & Infrastructure Working Group
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, Chair
Rod Weinzierl, Executive Director, Illinois Corn Growers Association
Darryl Brinkmann, District 16 Director, 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, VP 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 Policy Development & State Affairs, John Deere
Tom Walters, Manager of Illinois Governmental Affairs, Caterpillar
Mary Culler, Director Governor 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 Chair, 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, Chair
Becky Stanfield, State Director, Environment Illinois
Joel Africk, President of the Board of Directors of the ALAMC, American Lung Association
Kevin Brubaker, Director of Operations, Environmental Law and Policy Center
Kathy Tholin, Executive Director, Center for Neighborhood Technology
Carol Brown, Chairman, Chicago Transit Authority
Jeff Nelson, General Manager, Metrolink
Elwood Flowers, VP 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
Dave Kolata, Executive Director, Citizens Utility Board
Mary Culler, Director Governor 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
The broad cross section of stakeholders represented on the taskforces 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 ten 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% 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% ethanol fuel (E-85) by 2017 and help the auto industry to produce more and better flexible fuels vehicles that can run on either E-85 or regular gasoline;
  • Invest $775 million to help build up to ten 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, a greenhouse gas, captured from coal gasification plants to oilfields in Southeastern Illinois to extract more oil and natural gas and permanently store the carbon dioxide underground;
  • Meet 10% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2015, greatly boost investment in energy efficiency, while finding ways to cut emissions and reduce motor fuel consumption by 10% in 2017.
Attached is the text of the letter to President Bush.
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% of our current supply of imported oil with renewable homegrown biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel by 2017.  My plan would also meet 25% of our diesel fuel needs, 25% of our natural gas needs, and 10% 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% of the world’s population.  But we consume 25% of its annual energy use.  Staying the course is not an option.
                                                            Rod Blagojevich


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