Clean and green

By Robert Lake
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As fuel prices continue their steady upward climb, truckers’ interest in alternative fuel sources has increased as well. Once considered a fad of the granola-crunching tree huggers, alternative fuels like biodiesel are suddenly becoming a real trend. When a legend like country singer and songwriter Willie Nelson markets his own brand of biodiesel – BioWillie – interest in organic, clean, renewable fuel enters the mainstream consciousness.

Even truckstops like Love’s Travel Stops, Carl’s Corner and more than 700 other fueling stations around the country are jumping on the biodiesel bandwagon, and truckers are eagerly trying the blended fuel. Most truckers interviewed for this story cite three reasons for their interest in the homegrown fuel. They say they want to help the environment, stick it to foreign oil producers and help American farmers. And Willie Nelson’s involvement takes it up a notch.

That’s why we sent Truckers News editors on the road to interview Nelson and the folks responsible for bringing biodiesel from the farm to the pump. Their story begins at Carl’s Corner, in Hillsboro, Texas, where the colorful owner Carl Cornelius spun stories about the origin of his truckstop and how he and Nelson got involved in their latest venture.

Then our editors went north to meet Nelson and actor Morgan Freeman, both passionate supporters of biodiesel. The occasion – the grand opening of Earth Biofuels’ new biodiesel production facility in Durant, Okla. Nelson performed in concert and then traveled to Dallas for the opening of the Distribution Drive (a wholly owned subsidiary of Earth Biofuels) and the Motiva Enterprises terminal where the first pre-blended biodiesel will now be available to load on tankers.

The result is a story not only about the origins of biodiesel – the pros and cons, including cost and availability – but also the excitement behind a grassroots movement that truckers feel proud to be part of. As headlines about global warming, turmoil in the Middle East and rising fuel prices continue to dominate the news, an overwhelming number of truckers say they want to do their part to help.

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Nelson’s songs have long been associated with outlaws and the lonely highway, and he’s shown his loyalty to farmers with more than 20 years of Farm Aid concerts. Promoting biodiesel completes the circle by blending his deep affinity for the working man with his environmental concerns. “Everyone wins,” says Nelson, his eyes twinkling with enthusiasm.