U.S. Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-Maryland), state officials and business leaders cut the ribbon on a biodiesel pump at the Amoco gas station in Easton, Maryland. The pump is the first in the state to offer pure soy-based biodiesel to consumers.

Biodiesel and biodiesel blends have been proven successful in more than 60 million road miles, and more than 200 major fleets nationwide currently use the fuel commercially. Although centrally fueled fleets such as the U.S. Postal Service are currently the biggest users of biodiesel, a handful of pumps open to the public -- like the Easton station -- have recently opened nationwide.

Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but can be blended with diesel at any level or used in its pure form. The Easton Amoco is offering pure biodiesel, sometimes known as "B100".

"Consumers who want to use biodiesel to clean up diesel emissions, support American family farmers, and American energy independence can choose the blend level they'd like to use," said Nash McMahan of Tri-Gas & Oil, the biodiesel distributor for the Easton Amoco. "Since biodiesel blends easily with petroleum diesel, consumers can fill up or simply top off their tank with biodiesel."

The new retail pump is located at the westbound Route 50 Easton Amoco, providing convenient access for local consumers, farmers, and boaters as well as Baltimore and Washington residents returning from the coastal beaches.

Soybean farmers hailed the event with enthusiasm. The Maryland Soybean Board, which administers the soybean checkoff in the state, helped support the event and has been promoting biodiesel use for many years. "Biodiesel holds amazing potential to help farmers," said Glenn Holland of Pocomoke, chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board. "As biodiesel use increases by federal, state, public utility fleets and the general public, so does the demand for soybeans. That will help stabilize prices for the family farmer."

Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Missouri, said: "Biodiesel has completed 10 years of testing and a few years ago made the transition from the research and development phase to the commercialization phase. This event marks a milestone for the industry by enhancing the ability to bring biodiesel directly to the public."

Biodiesel performs comparably to diesel fuel, with similar cetane and BTU content. It offers excellent lubricity and lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel fuel. It is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a fuel and fuel additive and is the only alternative fuel to have passed the rigorous Health Effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. Results show biodiesel reduces carcinogenic air toxics by 75-90% compared to diesel. The results, submitted to the EPA in 2000, also show biodiesel is non-toxic, biodegradable and free of sulfur. Emissions it reduces include particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and sulfates. B100 (pure biodiesel) also reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide by 78% compared to petroleum diesel according to DOE research.

Readers can learn more about biodiesel by visiting http://www.biodiesel.orgThe National Biodiesel Board is funded in part by the United Soybean Board and state soybean board checkoff programs.