Olympia, Washington [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Governor Christine Gregoire will join state lawmakers at a public hearing on alternative fuels and biodiesel Thursday, Oct. 20, in Seattle. With gas prices near record highs, the governor has asked legislators to explore options to decrease Washington state’s dependence on imported oil and petroleum fuels.“Our state can and should be a national leader in the production of alternative fuels,” said Sen. Erik Poulsen, D-Seattle, who chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Water Committee. “It just makes sense for Washington to explore ways to diversify our energy portfolio. We have the research and agricultural capacity, and we know that biofuels are good for our environment and good for our state’s economy.” Members of four legislative committees that formulate the state’s agriculture and energy policies will convene to hear from experts involved in producing alternative fuels. The three-hour joint hearing, slated to begin at 1:30 p.m., will take place in rooms 2A and 2B of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. “Our state has been a leader in adopting progressive energy policies that promote alternative fuel and energy,” said Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes, chair of the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee. “We should continue to think out of the box by considering proposals that will jumpstart a biofuels industry in our state. Funding a biodiesel crusher or creating a strategic biodiesel reserve will help us achieve independence from foreign oil.” The governor will open the joint hearing with introductory remarks, followed by legislators and briefings from Sound Biodiesel, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Spokane County Conservation District, the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and Iogen Corporation. The joint hearing will be preceded by House and Senate committee member tours of Prometheus Energy and Seattle Biodiesel, local leaders in the drive to make biodiesel and other alternative fuels economically viable.