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    Alternative Fuels Making Push Throughout the Country

    Giant Eagle, ExxonMobil and Hill Oil are the latest to open alternative fueling stations.

    CRAFTON, Pa., HOUSTON and LEXINGTON, N.C. -- In an effort to trim foreign dependence on oil, alternative fuel facilities are opening throughout the country. The latest include Giant Eagle Inc.'s opening of two compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in Crafton, Pa., just west of Pittsburgh. Giant Eagle also opened the region's first CNG fueling station for public customers at its nearby distribution center, according to Patch.com.

    CNG, obtained from a domestic well or during crude oil production, is used by 12 million vehicles throughout the world, according to CNGNow! data. However, only 110,000 of those vehicles are located in the United States.

    CNG is often less expensive than gasoline and diesel. Annually, CNG use is growing 3.7 percent in the United States and 30.6 percent globally, said CNGNow!

    Another alternative fuel making an even bigger push in the United States is biodiesel. Exxon Mobil Corp. announced it will offer biodiesel fuel at four Texas terminals by the end of the summer. The fuel, which will contain up to 5 percent biodiesel, will be offered at terminals in Pasadena, Irving, Tyler and North Houston.

    The biodiesel blend is lower than has been seen at other fueling stations. However, Kaleb Little, spokesman for the National Biodiesel Board, told Fuelfix.com it's a good start. "It helps demonstrate a growing acceptance for biodiesel in the marketplace," he said. "The past couple of years have been a little rocky. But this year, with a lot of economic and federal support in place, it's looking at 800 million gallons of production, which would be a record for the industry."

    Also entering the ethanol and biodiesel arena is Hill Oil Co., which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the opening of its Sparky's Marketplace store in Lexington, N.C. The store offers three blends of ethanol: E15, E30 and E85, as well as B20 biodiesel.

    Sparky's is the first fueling station in North Carolina to utilize a newly approved E85 blending dispenser. "The benefits of these fuels on the economy come because it can be produced in the United States," Anne Tazewell, clean transportation manager for N.C. Solar Center, told the News-Record. "There won't be any petroleum refineries in North Carolina, but there will be ethanol refineries."

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