What if the black smoke belching from the fleet trucks and heavy equipment of the South Central Solid Waste Authority smelled like fried chicken? What if it was healthy smoke for the planet and cheaper to buy for the taxpayers?

If SCSWA Director Patrick Peck gets his way, we’ll all find out the answers to those questions soon enough. Peck has convinced the Doña Ana County and City of Las Cruces officials who comprise his board of directors that biodiesel should be explored as the fuel of choice for his fleet.

“Biodiesel is currently listed on the fuel pricing spec that is out for bid,” Peck said. “Once the bid has been awarded, then we’ll look very strongly at purchasing biodiesel for all our transfer trucks and diesel pick ups. Depending on the award and required storage requirements, I can even see the Authority purchasing another storage container for the fuel. As a quasi-governmental agency that works as an enterprise fund, I think we have a responsibility to help get the product into the community.”

An Internet search for biodiesel facts turns up several reasons to support Peck’s plan. Among them:

·Biodiesel fuel burns up to 75 percent cleaner than conventional diesel fuel made from fossil fuels.

·Biodiesel substantially reduces unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter in exhaust fumes.

·Sulphur dioxide emissions are eliminated (biodiesel contains no sulphur).

·Biodiesel is plant-based and adds no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

·The ozone-forming potential of biodiesel emissions is nearly 50 percent less than conventional diesel fuel

·Nitrogen oxide emissions can be reduced below conventional diesel fuel levels by adjusting engine timing and other means.

·Biodiesel exhaust is not offensive and doesn't cause eye irritation (it smells like French fries).

·Biodiesel is environmentally friendly: it is renewable, more biodegradable than sugar and less toxic than table salt.

* Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine.

·Fuel economy is the same as conventional diesel fuel.

·Biodiesel is a much better lubricant than conventional diesel fuel and extends engine life (a German truck won an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by traveling more than 1.25 million km (780,000 miles) on biodiesel using its original engine).

·Biodiesel improves engine performance like a premium fuel.

·Biodiesel can be mixed with ordinary petroleum diesel fuel in any proportion, with no need for a mixing additive.

·Even a small amount of biodiesel means cleaner emissions and better engine lubrication: One percent biodiesel will increase lubricity by 65 percent.

·Biodiesel can be produced from any fat or vegetable oil, including waste cooking oil.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 525-5801.