Bay Area bio-fuel business may end oil dependency


If you want to find an angry person these days, look no futher than any gas station. Darryl McMath paid $4 a gallon unleaded and Micah Jones filled up with a higher grade in the same station, but paid 70 cents per gallon less because he pumped corn grown ethanol.

That made the perfect backdrop for a Redwood City company, called Propel, which just opened these pumps and expects to have 75 of them in California before the end of next year. On Tuesday, they brought in Judith Canales from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bolster home grown ethanol and bio-diesel sales.

"The goal is to have 10,000 flexible fuel pumps as far as the delivery of infrastructure in the next five years," she said.

"Well, it's Iowa. Presidential candidates, in order to win the Iowa caucuses go to Iowa and promise they will support corn ethanol," UC Berkeley physicist Dr. Richard Muller said.

Muller points out that corn is high in starch, but low in sugars, rendering it less efficient than foreign sugar cane. But the U.S. government has put high tariffs on that, making corn a viable alternative.

"Part of this, corn is a solution, but not the only solution," Canales said.

"What we are trying to do is focus on fuels that are domestically made, and fuels that could contribute to American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Jim Iacoponi from Propel said.

For this local company, the fuel and its distribution matter more than any source.

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