Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort Fueled with Biodiesel

Donations of biodiesel are being delivered to the smaller coastal towns south of New Orleans most severely affected by Hurricane Katrina thanks to the coordinated efforts of several groups.

The Veggie Van Organization, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Venice, California, has partnered with West Central, a farmer-owned biodiesel company based in Iowa and the Naples City Council in Florida to transport 13,000 gallons of biodiesel to the Gulf Coast. The donated fuel will also power a former military ship owned by Sub Sea Research as well as makeshift medical facilities and emergency generators aboard the vessel. The ship will take several tons of food, water, ice and relief supplies to the victims in devastated areas near the mouth of the Mississippi River. In a separate arrangement, American Biofuels is moving ahead on plans to send 1,000 gallons of biodiesel. The fuel will be blended with 4,000 gallons of regular diesel fuel, upon arrival. The total B20 mixture is a clean and efficient fuel, reducing emissions in an area already hard hit by rancid water and unclean air. The blended 5,000 gallons B20 mixture will be used in fuel generators, pumps and emergency vehicles in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. It is anticipated that the biodiesel fuel will reach the Southeast area by the end of this month. “People are suffering and this is a time when their fellow Americans should come together to do whatever they can to help,” said Joe Jobe, chief executive officer of the National Biodiesel Board, which is helping to coordinate the biodiesel donations from West Central and other biodiesel producers. “Food companies are sending food, clothing companies are sending clothes, and individuals are sending money. As a fuel industry organization, we are trying to help relieve fuel supply shortages in the region.” Dr. Bailus Walker, a vice president of the American Public Health Association, noted that biodiesel significantly reduces emissions compared to regular diesel, including those that pose a health threat. “Biodiesel’s health benefits extend beyond keeping hospitals and emergency vehicles running at this critical time,” Dr. Walker said. “Because biodiesel reduces air toxics, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions, it can be particularly helpful to people who have pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases as well as contribute to overall better air quality for everyone.” Biodiesel, a non-toxic, biodegradable fuel made from renewable resources such as soybean oil and other fats and vegetable oils, works in any diesel engine, including generators. It has the highest energy balance of any fuel and can be used in its pure form (B100), or blended with petroleum diesel at any level. Nationwide, more than 500 major fleets now use biodiesel commercially, and more than 500 retail filling stations also make it available to the public.
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