INDIANAPOLIS – Despite a drive to become a leading ethanol producer, Indiana’s state government lags neighboring states in purchasing vehicles that can run on E-85 and has no reliable method to track how much of the alternative fuel state employees are buying.

Eighteen percent of the more than 6,500 passenger vehicles in Indiana’s state fleet are capable of running on the ethanol-based E-85, ranking it last among seven Midwestern states, according to

Most of those states have active programs to monitor and boost the use of E-85, which is the blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, among employees who drive state vehicles.

Indiana, however, has no central system that effectively checks on E-85 use in its so-called flex-fuel vehicles.

Ethanol production in the past several years has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of Indiana’s economy, developing into a $2.5 billion industry supplying more than 750 refinery jobs.

Indiana is the No. 6 ethanol producer in the country, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. In 2005, Indiana had no E-85 pumps. Now the state has 101.

Shortly after taking office in 2005, Gov. Mitch Daniels issued an executive order aimed at encouraging greater “green” initiatives by state government. His mandates included one calling on state employees, whenever possible, to fill up on E-85.