SACRAMENTO, CA – A senate committee confirmed the appointment of the director of the Department of General Services after an hour-long questioning over stalled efforts to “green” the state vehicle fleet.

Will Bush, appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year to run the department, admitted that the state’s flex-fuel vehicles still largely run on standard gasoline and that the state continues to buy them even though the alternative fuel they are designed to use is still scarce, according to

Senators expressed frustration that one year after the problem was exposed in a Mercury News investigation — which in turn triggered a series of senate hearings — there still was no definitive plan in place to get the vehicles on the high-grade ethanol fuel they were designed to use.

Bush said there are various state committees working on the problem and that some progress has been made.

When the department bought $17 million in flex-fuel vehicles in 2006 and 2007, there was just one ethanol station, in San Diego, which had never been used by state employees. Since then, the department has directed state workers to that station, and five additional stations have opened up.

Bush could not give members of the Senate Rules Committee a specific timeline for when more stations will open, nor could he say what share of fuel used in the vehicles is now high-grade ethanol, called E-85. State funds have been set aside to open additional E-85 stations, but Bush said that much of the effort will need to come from the private sector since the goal is to make the fuel available in the 9,000 private gasoline stations across the state, according to

Senators asked Bush to return with a progress report and asked him to pursue efforts that might allow hybrid cars to be purchased instead of the flex-fuel vehicles, at least until more E-85 stations are in place.