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COUNTYWIDE : Ex-Assemblyman to Head U.S. Fuel Panel

Former Assemblyman Charles R. Imbrecht of Ventura has been appointed co-chairman of the U.S. Alternative Fuels Council, a federal panel charged with devising a national policy on alternative automobile fuels that can reduce pollution and American dependence on foreign oil.

“If we are going to clean up the air, it is essential for us to explore alternative fuels at the national level,” Imbrecht said. For the past decade, the California Energy Commission has had the most ambitious alternative fuels program in the country, he said.

The federal council will study a number of alternative fuels, including methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas and electricity. Some of those fuels already are in use in California, and the goal of the council will be to expand the use here and to cause other states to adopt similar programs.

Imbrecht said it is important to develop new fuels for cars and trucks to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Currently, he said, the nation imports 56% of its oil from abroad, 6% more than in 1973, when the country was hit by the OPEC oil embargo.

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The council was established by the Alternative Motor Fuels Act of 1988 to advise Congress and the President on long-term energy policy. It must make its policy suggestions to Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy by September, 1992.

Imbrecht, who represented Ventura County in the state Assembly from 1976 to 1982, will share the chairmanship of the federal panel with Robert Hahn, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Other council members include Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) and Bill Alexander (D-Ark.) and a variety of energy experts.

Imbrecht has been chairman of the state Energy Commission since 1982 when he lost a close race for the state Senate to Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara).

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