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The Greening of Wal-Mart August 9, 2006

Posted by nukemhill in General Interest.

This is freaking awesome:

NEW YORK (Fortune) — More than 5 million vehicles on U.S. roads today can run on ethanol – a renewable fuel that comes from corn – as well as gasoline. General Motors (Charts), Ford (Charts) and DaimlerChrysler (Charts) recently announced plans to double their annual production of so-called flex fuel vehicles to two million cars and trucks by 2010.It’s the single largest commitment to renewable fuels in the history of the auto industry – a good move for the automakers, and for the planet, too.

That’s because running cars and trucks on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, could turn out to be a cost-effective way to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming and curb our dependence on imported oil.

There’s just one big problem.

Only about 800 service stations in the United States, out of a total of 168,000, pump E85. There’s not a single E85 pump, for example, in all of New England.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the big oil companies are not, as a rule, interested in selling E85.

But Wal-Mart (Charts) is. The giant retailer is considering selling ethanol at the eight stations that it operates at Wal-Mart Stores and at about 380 more that it runs as part of its Sam’s Clubs division.

It could also decide to sell ethanol in a partnership with Murphy Oil Corp. (Charts), which operates about 946 gas stations in Wal-Mart parking lots, and there’s no reason why Wal-Mart couldn’t sell E85 – which it calls “America’s Fuel” – at the rest of its 3,000 U.S. stores.

“Our goal would be to make E-85 available across the U.S.,” Rich Ezell, senior strategy manager of fuel at Wal-Mart, said recently.

What a competitive opportunity, too. What if other large-chain stores decided to jump on this band-wagon? Safeway? Giant on the East Coast? Rite-Aid, for pity’s sake? The possibilities are ridiculous. And it would drive the adoption of Ethanol-based vehicles, maybe even force the dropping of the subsidies/tariffs so that we could import even cheaper Ethanol from South America. And force the Petroleum monopolies to get off of their asses.

Wal-Mart gets a lot of grief for reasons that are beyond my ken. They should be getting huge kudos from the Left for this. And the Right. This is free-enterprise at its finest.



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