Florida Senator Mel Martinez was in Tampa today, meeting with local leaders in the alternative fuel community, especially those involved in manufacturing and distributing ethanol a fuel additive that can be mixed with gasoline, or substituted for gasoline in cars that are built to run on the fuel. The first term Senator also shared his thoughts about the immigration debate. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer has more.

Martinez is the co-sponsor of the most popular immigration bill moving through the senate, one which would create a several tiered system in which immigrants in the US illegally five years or more could eventually apply for citizenship after meeting certain requirements; those here two to five years would have to temporarily leave the country and apply for entry; and those here less than two years would have to leave or be subject to deportation. Martinez said the most important issue in the debate once the senate and house bills come together in committee will be about a guest worker program.

ACT “Once the conference committee begins to meet I hope we can get our two views together. I’m pleased the president spoke again today..we must have strong border security..�

But ultimately, Martinez said the responsibility rests with his own Republican party.

ACT ’the rep party must find answer ..about the people that are here…�

ACT “We as republicans have both houses and pres..its our turn at bat and we have to respond and lead when difficult issues arise, we need to answer that call to leadership..between now and elections we have to get something done..�

Martinez was at the port of Tampa for a meeting on alternative energy sources. He came out of the meeting telling reporters that he believes ethanol is a big part of weaning the US off of oil.

ACT “The state of Florida can play a unique role, combine agricultural heritage of our state..crops..citrus waste, or bio diesel..Ethanol..Brazil…we can be at forefront of that..�

The meeting took place at the offices off Kinder Morgan, a Houston based energy transportation, storage and distribution company which has increasingly been investing in ethanol. In April, Kinder Morgan bought 2 rail terminals and storage facilities in California, in part to help transport ethanol. Martinez said that he believes ethanol will ultimately be profitable, once it’s manufactured in high enough quantities that it will be comparable in price with regular gasoline.

ACT “…There are concerns about viability..OPEC is meeting..Venezula..if we escalate the price of oil then all the alternatives become feesable get it done in a way that is commercially viable..’

ACT “We need to find out how the feds can be a partner..also transportation and distribution you need it in your vehicle..�

Construction of a 155 million dollar ethanol plant is expected to begin this summer near Tampa. The project is expected to have a combined capacity to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. And the University of Florida also is seeking $20 million from the state Legislature to build an on-campus ethanol research plant. Senator Martinez doesn’t believe the US government has to intervene in the business of the oil industry.

ACT “American is a free market..Government can playa role, and the marketplace can make sure big oil is overcome by reason..Competitive marketplace….if we open up business wise, it will be done�

WMNF questioned Martinez notion that the oil industry is inn fact a free market—many have suggested that the oil companies have a monopoly and so are immune to the forces of competition.

ACT “Well at the moment in time they do control cradle to grave..and government can …I asked them if they are committed to alternative fuel sources..they said yes, i'm not sure if they meant it…�

Martinez said he also doesn’t support increasing federal fuel efficiency standards.

ACT “When people are upset, they look to government, the answer is in their grasp..if we carpool more, but fuel-efficient vehicles, have opportunity to use mass transit demands it, all of the conservation will have a greater impact. this summer it can make a big difference..�

WMNF also asked Senator Martinez about the upcoming Senate debate schedules for next week on the idea of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.

ACT “Yes I am a co-sponsor on the ban on same sex marriage..its compatible and a special sanctioning by states should stay that way..�

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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