CHICAGO - As local governments across the country struggle with rising fuel costs, Indiana is launching a gasoline and diesel fuel-hedging program designed to help its municipalities offset the growing expense.

The program comes as oil prices - though currently falling amid an economic downturn and market turmoil - have reached record highs over the last year, straining the budgets of local governments and transit agencies nationwide. By limiting exposure to open market prices, the program's advocates say it will reduce risk for governments and bring more certainty to annual budgets.

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