Biodiesel love-in 

Republican Sen. Conrad Burns and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Brian Schweitzer engaged in a bitter Senate campaign in 2000, but the two politicians came together to sing the praises of vegetable-oil based biodiesel fuel in Missoula on Sat., April 24, during the grand opening of biodiesel pumps at two local Cenex stations—one on Brooks St., the other on North Reserve.

After Burns congratulated Cenex, Schweitzer showed up to say that a biodiesel bill would be the first piece of legislation he’d sign as governor.

Jeremy Richter was first in the pump-line, filling up his girlfriend’s silver Jetta with the new B20 biodiesel/regular hybrid fuel. While much of the concern over biodiesel has centered on price (biodiesel in Missoula will cost $2.15/gallon as compared to approximately $1.95/gallon for regular diesel), Richter says he thinks the new fuel may actually be more cost-effective due to biodiesel’s increased gas mileage.

Richter recounts filling up on biodiesel one day in Seattle, driving around that day and returning to Missoula the next, all on one tank of biodiesel.

David Max, vice president of Sustainable Systems, LLC, the company behind the new pumps, says that the cost of biodiesel is also balanced out by studies which have shown that the fuel is easier on an engine’s injector components, meaning less maintenance may be required.

The bulldozer that plows snow off Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road is run on biodiesel, according to Glacier Facility Manager Lou Summerfield, who told those in attendance that his crew currently uses 63 biodiesel-run vehicles.

“We’ve had no problems whatsoever with biodiesel, and tests have shown we’ve reduced emissions significantly,” Summerfield said. “I didn’t have to make any vehicle modifications at all, so all I can tell you is ‘go for it.’”

The day’s only conflict stemmed from the choice of free hot dogs versus soy dogs.

When one gentleman noted that the soy variety was going faster, another replied, “Those are the kind of people who are going to be into this.”

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