Natso Truckers News (6/06)


Natso Truckers News
June 2006
On the Road Again with Bio Willie
   by Carolyn Magner
   Photography: Sean Kelley

More than a century ago, Rudolf Disel’s new engines made their debut at the 1900 World’s Fair  — powered by peanut oil, the original biodiesel.  Back then, diesel engines — fueled solely on vegetable oils — got better fuel mileage than the traditional combustion engines and soon became the norm.

When oil companies took over the market in the 1920s with their cheap, low-grade petroleum diesel, engine manufacturers modified the engines to run on the newfangled fuel.  A century later, as enviornmental concerns , dwindling sources of fossil fuels and conflicts in the Middle East contribute to spiraling costs at the fuel pump, it’s back to the future, where an old idea becomes a hot new trend.

Interest in biodiesel has exploded as its advantages become known, its distribution expands and celebrities jump on the bandwagon.  Even President Bush declared biodiesel “one of our nation’s most promising alternative fuel sources” and admonished Americans who are “addicted to oil” to consider alternative fue sources.

“I didn’t know I was addicted to oil, until the president told me so,” said Willie Nelson, a sheepish grin lighting the creased, time-worn face of the legendary country western singer and songwriter.  “Heck, I guess it’s just something else I gotta get off of,” he told the audience at the April 9 grand opening of the Earth Biofuels biodiesel production plnat in Durant, Okla.

Nelson and actor Morgan Freeman toured the facility that will eventually employ 100 people and produce 10 million gallons per year of biodiesel from soybean and canola oil.  “The product will then be blended with petroleum to provide a renewable source of energy that will help with emissions,” says Tommy Johnson, CEO of Earth Biofuels.

Biodiesel sales are booming across America to the point they will double this year.

Nelson, known for helping American farms with his 20 years of Farm Aid, emphasised that biodiesel production helps farmers, reduces dependenc on foreign oil and improves air qulity.

Morgan Freeman put it bluntly, “This is a life and death situation for our planet.”

After the ribbon cutting, Nelson performed his hits at the Choctaw Coliseum in Durant.  He wore a red bandana, black T-shirt and his tradmark long braids, no longer those of a red-headed stranger but now aged a mellow gray.

But Nelson’s enthusiasm for the emerging biodiesel industry is anything but mellow, and he’s on the road again promoting the biodiesel message and his own brand of the product, a 820 blend (20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent petroleum) named BioWillie.

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