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    Illinois Bill Would Boost Ethanol Producers

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois biofuel companies who have faced a market glut since the end of a federal tax credit led energy companies to rush pre-expiration production may have hope in the form of a newly proposed bill that would create new tax credits. House Bill 4700, currently awaiting debate in the House Rules Committee, would encourage Illinois gas stations to install more flex-fuel pumps, according to an Illinois Statehouse News report.

    Referred to as the Consumer Fuel Choice Act, the bill "sends a message to consumers," said co-sponsor Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Galesburg). "If you buy a flex-fuel car, there’ll be fuel available. And it supports our rural industry," stated Moffitt. "Profits from ethanol stay in our country."

    If passed, the bill would create a new 10-percent sales tax credit for E20 gasoline, which contains 20 percent ethanol. It would also provide $20 million in annual grants, with ethanol companies receiving $15 million for research and gas stations receiving $5 million to install more flex-fuel pumps. It would also provide some profit to the state by ending a 20-year-old 20-percent tax credit for E10 fuel. This would result in $150 million per year added to Illinois' general fund, said Senate co-sponsor Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville).

    A new tax credit would benefit companies like Hennepin, Ill.-based Marquis Energy, which has seen tight profit margins since January and sought to make up the difference by selling E20 to Brazil, which has a government requirement for the flex-fuel.

    "We need to get beyond this E10, and the pumps help get us there," said Jason Marquis, plant manager for Marquis Energy and son of founder Mark Marquis. "It's a very wise vision, both short and long term, for more secure, cleaner and cheaper energy."

    Approximately 250 gas stations that offer flex-fuel pumps are located in Illinois, according to the report. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that more than 8 million flex-fuel cars are on the road throughout the nation.

    The expansion of flex-fuel pumps could also pave the way for the Environmental Protection Agency's impending approval of the use of E15 flex-fuel in standard cars manufactured after 2001, according to the report. Such fuel would still have to be sold at E15-specific or separate flex-fuel pumps.

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