November 3, 2005
My new car
By Jason Haas
The opportunity for me to buck this nation's gas guzzling tradition--which seems to be something close to a national religion--recently present itself, and I purchased a Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
The Jetta's 40-plus miles per gallon is delightful after driving a thirsty V6. But what's even more promising is that in lieu of traditional diesel fuel, all diesel vehicles can use a petroleum-free fuel called biodiesel. Biodiesel can be easily produced right here in Wisconsin using soy beans or waste vegetable oils, better known as French fry grease.
Unlike petroleum, biodiesel is of benefit to both the environment and the economy. The state's first biodiesel production plant is scheduled to open in De Forest next year. Meanwhile, small businesses are using waste oils to make biodiesel. One man brews his own using the grease from a Culver's restaurant; the burger and custard chain also uses biodiesel in its company vehicles, likely from a different source. And while biodiesel puts out more ozone-forming nitrogen oxide than "dino diesel" it almost totally eliminates the sulfur, benzene, and greenhouse gasses that come from traditional diesel.
Wisconsin communities can adopt this viable alternative fuel by integrating it into their transportation and utility systems. Everyone in the state benefits from cleaner air and a more robust economy, all of which are possible with biodiesel.
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