Sheppard government vehicle fleet to begin using alternative fuels

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sheppard will become the 10th location to offer biodiesel and the sixth ethanol pump in Texas in early May as alternative fuel sources for government vehicles. 

The move is part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and Executive Order 13149, "Greening the Government Through Federal Fleet and Transportation Efficiency." The pieces of legislation should help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fuel and also increase energy security and reduce pollution. 

"It's official," said Mark McBurnett, chief of the 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight. "Sheppard is living green and going yellow." 

Sheppard will offer an E85 fuel pump and a B20 biodiesel (B20) pump. Both will be available for the fueling of government fleet vehicles only. These pumps are located at the newly remodeled military fuels station east of the transportation and Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office buildings. 

Sheppard currently has 11 vehicles that can be fueled by E85 and 156 vehicles that can use biodiesel. 

According to legislation, every government agency with a fleet of 20 or more vehicles is to reduce the total annual fuel consumption, based on fiscal year 1999 consumption levels, by at least 20 percent by fiscal year 2005 and at least 30 percent by fiscal year 2010. 

One strategy used to meet the goal is to purchase alternative fuel vehicles. Another easier and cheaper strategy is to increase alternative fuel consumption and therefore decrease fossil fuel use. 

Neat, or 100 percent, biodiesel and E85 have both been designated as alternative fuels by the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation. 

"The current cost for E-85 and biodiesel fuels are $2.06 and 2.09 per gallon, respectively," said Lt. Col. Maria Garcia, commander of the 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron. "The important thing to remember is not the cost of fuel, but the health of our planet. The long term benefits to the environment are immeasurable." 

Biodiesel is an ester-based fuel derived from vegetable oils or animal fats. It can be made domestically from renewable oilseed crops such as soybeans, canola, cotton seed and mustard seed. When burned, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum with the more pleasant smell of popcorn or French fries. 

Although it costs more than petroleum diesel, the key fact to remember about biodiesel is that it can be used in unmodified diesel engines resulting in an overall lower cost than purchasing alternative fuels vehicles. The findings from the testing concluded that biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable 

Congress approved using B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, in November 1998 as an EPAct compliance strategy. One alternative fuel credit is given for every 450 gallons of B100, or 2,250 gallons of B20 used in a vehicle weighing over 8,500 pounds. 

E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is a 200-proof grain alcohol. The majority of ethanol is made from corn, but it can also be made from wheat, barley, milo/sorghum or potatoes. 

E85 is produced domestically, is completely renewable, and emissions tests have shown that it is much more environmentally friendly than its gasoline counterpart.