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In the "lightning strikes twice" department, another California company in the green transportation field has said it paid off its federal government loans ahead of schedule. In this case, San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, which specializes in converting plant algae to crude oil, says it has paid off its $54.5-million loan, originally granted by the US Department of Agriculture, ahead of schedule.

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The cross-country tour featuring the FUEL movie bus and the Algaeus (the Prius running on algae biofuel) and other green vehicles has made it to Washington, D.C. After leaving San Francisco last week, the caravan made stops in Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other places. Third Planet Energy's Michael Wittman was on the tour and wrote this about the experience:

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