The American Soybean Association (ASA) today praised a group of 18 U.S. Senators who are asking the Bush Administration to include a growing role for biodiesel and ethanol in the Energy Task Force Report. The request came in the form of a letter spearheaded by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) to Vice President Richard Cheney, who leads the Administration’s Energy Task Force.The Senators stated that biodiesel and ethanol could meet 3 percent of the U.S. motor fuel market within 10 years-providing energy, environmental and economic benefits for the nation. A 3 percent market share for biodiesel and ethanol would displace about 9 billion gallons of motor fuels annually or between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels of crude oil each day.Additional Senators signing the letter include: Mike Allard (R-CO), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Conrad Burns (R-MT) Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN).“ASA appreciates the efforts of these Senators to promote domestic energy production from biodiesel,” said ASA President Tony Anderson of Mount Sterling, Ohio. “Increased biodiesel use would give a much-needed boost to soybean prices, farm income and the rural economy while reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil.”“Our rising dependence on imported petroleum has become a storm cloud over the economy,” Hagel said. “To meet our future energy needs, all sources of fuel and energy must be thoroughly explored and utilized. Since biodiesel is compatible with existing diesel engine technology and infrastructure, it can be used in a number of beneficial ways.”“We in the Senate are sensitive to escalating energy prices,” said Senator Johnson. “Biodiesel’s performance and environmental benefits make it cost-effective in the short-term as well as a good long-term tool for our national energy strategy.”Biodiesel is commonly produced from soybean oil, which is currently in heavy surplus and depresses the price of soybeans and other oilseeds. It contains no petroleum, but it can be blended easily with diesel. Biodiesel use in Europe has grown to 250 million gallons annually in the last 20 years. It is gaining popularity in the United States with more than 40 million successful road miles of use.Any diesel engine can run on biodiesel, usually with no modifications to the engine. It performs comparably to diesel, with similar cetane and BTU content. Biodiesel is the safest of all fuels to use, handle and store. It will become increasingly important as ultra-low sulfur diesel regulations are implemented because it adds lubricity that is often reduced as sulfur content drops.Biodiesel 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.