Posted on March 12, 2004
WASHINGTON - Sen. Lamar Alexander today praised Blount County officials for a pilot project aimed to clean the air in East Tennessee by using biodiesel fuel in local government trucks and equipment. "Blount County, Maryville, and Alcoa officials are setting a great example," Alexander said. "They're taking the clean air problem seriously and doing something about it. "A majority of Tennesseans live in counties that will soon be in violation of the federal clean air standards," Alexander said. "We have a short period of time during the next several years to meet these standards. The use of biodiesel fuel will reduce sulfur and nitrogen emissions, two of the major pollutants poisoning our air." Blount County Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap announced the joint effort with the Public Works Departments in Alcoa and Maryville to help the community achieve and maintain compliance with provisions of the federal Clean Air Act. "The Blount County Highway Department and each of the city public works departments will assign a test vehicle or other piece of equipment to the program," Dunlap said. "Each machine will be monitored for fuel consumption, pollutants in exhaust emissions, equipment durability, maintenance costs and comparisons with other alternative fuels." Developed as an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based diesel fuels, biodiesel fuels are produced from renewable resources such as soybean oil and cottonseed oil through a refining process called transesterification. Biodiesel fuel is easy to use, biodegradable and nontoxic. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modification. It cannot be used in gasoline engines. The program is scheduled to begin immediately.