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Duckworth Pushing Fuel Independence

Location: Lombard, IL

Duckworth Pushing Fuel Independence

Framing the nation's dependence on foreign oil as a national security issue, 6th Congressional District candidate Tammy Duckworth announced her support Monday for plans to increase the number of service stations that sell ethanol.

Duckworth, a Democrat who served with the Illinois National Guard in Iraq, and a half-dozen other veterans appeared at a Lombard gas station that sells E85--a blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Only a few in the Chicago area do, she said.

"All of us would prefer that we not have another generation of Americans serving in other wars in the [Persian] Gulf or elsewhere," said Duckworth, who is vying to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde. "We stand a much better chance of that if we can make this Independence Day the start of a new battle for independence--our independence from foreign oil to meet our nation's energy needs."

The United States imports about two-thirds of the oil it consumes and almost 62 percent of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East.

Duckworth of Hoffman Estates proposed legislation requiring that big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell sell E85 fuel at a tenth of their gas stations nationwide. Only about 1 percent currently offer it, she said.

"There's a simple reason for that, the big oil companies don't want to sell it," she said. "They make more money by selling gas."

She also said she supports legislation to offer federal grants of up to $30,000 to help smaller, independent service stations install E85 pumps.

Her opponent, Republican State Sen. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton attorney, said in a statement that Duckworth's plan "falls short and is too little too late." He pointed out that he voted this year in favor of a bipartisan bill requiring that 15 percent of motor fuel sold in Illinois by 2012 be ethanol.

Roskam also touted legislation he sponsored this spring to sharply reduce state gas taxes to help motorists cope with rising prices at the pump.

Roskam's bill was introduced the day before the session ended in May--which Duckworth spokesman Billy Weinberg says "raises the question of whether he's fighting for taxpayers or fighting to be elected to Congress."

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