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guestview: Gerald Nicely

BioTenn! If that doesn’t sound familiar to you today it will in the future. The use of biofuels in Tennessee is on the move and the state’s new programs to develop biofuels as viable fuel sources are full throttle.

On Thursday, Governor Phil Bredesen unveiled BioTenn, a new initiative to increase the visibility of biofuels in Tennessee as he pumped biodiesel into one of TDOT’s HELP trucks. The BioTenn logo will be used at retail refueling stations across the state to help drivers identify biofuel pumps. The Governor announced the new initiative during Tennessee’s first ever Biofuels Day and placed the first BioTenn logo sticker on two new E85 and two new B20 pumps at a Daily’s refueling station in Lebanon.

I am proud to say that the Tennessee Department of Transportation has been leading the charge when it comes to using biofuels in state government. In December 2005, TDOT began using B20 biodiesel in more than 130 fleet vehicles in East Tennessee. The pilot program was a great success and now dump trucks and dozers from Mountain City to Memphis are running on the cleaner burning biodiesel. In addition to this program, 67 percent of TDOT’s passenger vehicle fleet is made up of flex fuel vehicles and eleven are hybrid vehicles.

Ethanol and biodiesel are the two biofuels getting the most attention and use in Tennessee. B20 is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. B20 is a regulated diesel fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as plant oils or animal fats and can be used in most diesel engines with little or no modifications.

E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline that can be used in flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are designed to run on both conventional gasoline and ethanol blends up to E85. About 60,000 to 80,000 vehicles in Tennessee are FFVs according to reports from General Motors and the Tennessee Department of Revenue and that number continues to grow.

In today’s environment it’s important to make biofuels a real option for motorists. Gov. Bredesen is helping make this possible by promoting TDOT’s Green Island Corridor Network grants. Ten of these grants have already been awarded and more are on the way. This competitive funding opportunity helps independent refueling station owners install new tanks or convert existing tanks for the sale of biofuels. By providing these grants, we hope to place retail biofuel stations along Tennessee’s interstates and major highways no more than one-hundred miles apart. That is good news for Tennessee motorists and motorists passing through our state, but it is also great news for the many Tennessee’s farmers who grow the crops used to create these fuels.

The bottom line is biofuels are a win-win for Tennessee. Biofuels can be grown, refined, and sold right here in Tennessee. They’re good for our economy, give consumers new choices at the fuel pump, reduce our dependence on petroleum, boost the economies of farmers and local communities, are better for our environment and benefit public health. So as you commemorate this July Fourth, think about your freedom of choice and celebrate your independence with biofuels.


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