More about biofuel and ethanol research at
the Agricultural Research Service:
Expand Use of Biodiesel, Ethanol Fuels
By Don Comis
August 7, 2001
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7--The
U.S. Department of Agriculture announced
today that USDA agencies will use biodiesel and ethanol fuels in their fleet
vehicles where practicable and reasonable in cost. This new policy shows USDA's
support for the National Energy Plan as well as for improving our environmental
air quality, the prosperity of the rural economy, and our Nation's energy
""The energy challenges our nation faces today offer tremendous
opportunities for agriculture," said Secretary Ann M. Veneman.
"Agriculture can help us solve our energy problems through the production
of domestic liquid fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel. Renewable energy is
good for independence, good for farmers, and good for the environment."
The Department will request coordination in the following areas:
- All USDA diesel fuel storage tanks nationwide will be filled with blends of
20 percent (B20) or higher biodiesel fuel where practicable and reasonable in
- All USDA-maintained gasoline fueling facilities will buy and use
ethanol-blended fuels containing at least 10 percent domestically produced
ethanol to the extent practicable, where the fuel is readily available and
reasonably priced, compared with unleaded gasoline.
- USDA's over 700 E-85 flex-fuel vehicles will use ethanol fuel where those
vehicles operate in geographical areas that offer E-85 fueling stations.
- USDA agencies will purchase or lease alternative fuel vehicles, including
E-85 flex-fuel vehicles, for geographic areas that offer alternative fueling.
USDA's Henry A. Wallace Agricultural Research Center (Beltsville Center) in
Beltsville, Md., has demonstrated the feasibility of soy-oil based biodiesel as
a transportation and heating fuel and has used it in all 150 of its diesel
vehicles--everything from tractors to snowplows--over the past two years
In addition, the Beltsville Center, operated by USDA's
Agricultural Research Service, will heat
all of its buildings with biodiesel fuel next winter, including the 14-story
ARS National Agricultural Library in
Beltsville. The decision was made as a result of last winter's successful
experiment with heating a dozen buildings.
Biodiesel is a cleaner burning alternative fuel that can be made by refining
any natural oils, including vegetable oil, animal fat and spent cooking oil.
USDA has about 140 diesel fuel tanks on its properties nationwide. The tanks
serve about 800 vehicles, including some boats. They also provide fuel for
numerous chain saws, generators and other diesel-powered equipment. Over the
past two years the U.S. Forest Service has used biodiesel in 15 assorted
bulldozers, road graders and trucks located at the Black Hills National Forest
in South Dakota.
Other recent conversions to biodiesel fuels have been announced by the
Maryland cities of Greenbelt, Takoma Park and Ocean City.