Saving money, environment with biodiesel

My roommate calls me a hippie.

Somehow, because I’m reasonably environmentally friendly, don’t eat meat and like acoustic folk music, I’m one of those flower children. I think his logic might be flawed, but the conclusion could be accurate. What makes me a hippie is how excited I am about biodiesel.

What? You haven’t heard of biodiesel? It’s the coolest thing in the world.

Biodiesel is diesel fuel, but instead of being created from crude oil, it is made out of vegetable oil. Not drilled out of the ground, but scraped off of a grill or pressed out of soybeans. And it works in regular diesel engines. Seriously guys, this is awesome.

OK, here’s where it gets really cool. Because carbon is sucked back into plants during the creation of vegetable oil, biodiesel emits only 10 percent of the carbon dioxide of regular petroleum diesel. It is drastically better for the ozone and global warming, while making a significant decrease on smog and cancer causing particulates.

I know, I know, only hippies care about the environment. But biodiesel is better for America too.

Right now the vast majority of our gas is coming from the OPEC oil cartel and many people are worried about our reliance on other country’s natural resources. But biodiesel can come from any significant sources of vegetable oil, so we won’t need to rely on often unfriendly and unstable foreigners for the stuff that powers our transportation infrastructure.

Purchasing biodiesel means supporting American farmers and manufacturers and the overall economy. In an economic recovery period like we are in now, national support for biodiesel could push our economy in the right direction.

I am really excited about this stuff, but whenever I get into it, everybody tells me that it’s crazy talk, that biodiesel can never become a major part of American life.

Here’s the thing. This whole scheme is actually practical.

Right now a lot of Europe are working with what is called B20. Basically, its 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent regular petroleum diesel. Besides extensive use in Germany, B20 has gotten some support in the United States, even locally. Currently the City of Seattle motor fleet vehicles are exclusively using B20, so are all the Tacoma garbage trucks and Olympia’s Intercity Transit uses B20 in all of its buses.

This environmentally friendly, almost unlimited fuel source is so rad.

Admittedly, right now biodiesel is about 50 percent more expensive than petroleum diesel and there isn’t really an infrastructure in place to distribute it. Regardless, I think it is an avenue that America should explore much more thoroughly.

Pushing forward with biodiesel may be a good way for our country to reduce dependence on foreign oil, while stimulating part of our economy and taking care of our environment. Unlike other potential solutions to these problems, this can reduce our foreign dependence and improve our environment without making sacrifices to our economy or consumer choice and without having to make large infrastructural changes that many fret will be required to move forward with our nation’s energy and security needs.

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Title: Saving money, environment with biodiesel | Author: Matt Weltner | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2004-04-28 | Internal ID: 3945