In a move that it hopes will help create a stronger and more effective national infrastructure for the distribution of E85, General Motors and the National Governors Association (NGA) have joined forces in a program that has both tactical and strategic ramifications. Created under the NGA's Securing A Clean Energy Future Initiative, this partnership will see GM more aggressively apply the expertise it's gained in the past several years -- a period when it facilitated bringing 300 new E85 pumps online in 15 states -- towards putting ethanol into a broader national distribution network. The new push will integrate several key elements, starting with helping match retail fuel outlets with available federal and state grants that cover E85 pump installations and conversions. The General also has been tasked with providing advice on selecting optimum pump location points based on areas with the highest levels of flex-fuel vehicle registrations.

While this co-operation is likely to have only a modest impact in the short run -- E85 presently accounts for about one percent of the 170,000 pumps currently dispensing fuel in the U.S -- the implications should be much further reaching several years out when the next generation of cellulosic and other forms of bio-mass E85 move from developmental into a full production mode. GM has publicly stated that it plans to make 50 percent of its total fleet E85 capable by 2012 provided that the infrastructure is sufficiently advanced. It currently has strategic alliances and equity positions in a pair of next-generation ethanol startups -- Coskata, Inc and Mascoma Corp -- both of which specialize in the creation of ethanol from non-grain-based sources.
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