Regarding the article in your May 5th issue titled “So Frustrating” followed by the question, “so why are some of its [best] customers seeing expensive engine repair bills?” there are several statements and inaccuracies that need to be addressed.
In checking with Rob Parsons, the County’s environmental coordinator who attended the meetings with the county employees, he recalled that the group was given the information regarding the appropriate use of biodiesel, contrary to what was stated in the article. Perhaps the most erroneous statement in the article, that biodiesel is “a mixture of regular petroleum-based fuel and some sort of Fatty Acid Methyl Ester,” makes it clear that writer did not do his homework. Biodiesel is actually an ester of vegetable oil which can be blended with petroleum fuel, usually done so to reduce cost in areas where petro diesel is still cheaper than biodiesel.
The article referred to BQ9000 (which Pacific Biodiesel has not bought into) as an “industry standard.” BQ9000 was created by a private entity, not a government agency, and it is not up to par with the quality control protocol currently employed by Pacific Biodiesel. We test our fuel far more often than is required under BQ9000, and our fuel does meet the only official standard, U.S. ASTM D6751. Our current ASTM test can be found on our website, www.biodiesel.com.
Regarding the references to certain dealerships blaming their problems on biodiesel, we have biodiesel customers on record who were told their fuel pumps needed replacing due to their biodiesel use, when it was later proven that there was nothing wrong with their pumps.
With over 400 customers on Maui alone, one might expect a few complaints. However, when for every complaint there are up to 100 customers with no problems (same vehicle type and same batch of fuel), one might deduct that the problem was with the vehicle and not the fuel. Problems occasionally occur with all vehicles, regardless of their fuel type. With the large influx [of] new customers that happened during the spike in petroleum prices last fall, we were bound to also see more vehicle problems. If they were gas vehicles, it is doubtful any of the problems would have been blamed on the fuel.
If one is only looking for trouble, one can paint a picture of a beautiful sunrise as a cloudy day. There’s a lot more sunshine in this story than the cloudy article chose to show. Biodiesel is an environmentally friendly fuel that has been well researched internationally. Pacific Biodiesel has taken a problem (dumping tons of used cooking oil in the landfill) and turned it into a solution (a renewable fuel which burns cleaner and does not contribute to global warming).
This should not become an “Us vs. Them” situation. Biodiesel is a legitimate alternative fuel that has gained acceptance throughout the country as a benefit to our environment, our economy and our national security. And, as with most things unfamiliar, we need to learn how to employ this product appropriately and move forward with its use for the betterment of our community and our planet.
-Kelly T. King, Director of Marketing/Communications and Harlan Hughes, Fuel Sales Manager, Pacific Biodiesel
Anthony Pignataro responds: Your information concerning warnings ignored by county employees regarding the use of biodiesel fascinates me. Had you mentioned it to me during the course of our hour-long interview I would have gladly mentioned it in my story. In any case, the county official I spoke with denied hearing any warnings of the problems they encountered. Concerning my definition of biodiesel, you are of course completely correct that pure biodiesel does not contain petroleum. I have no idea why I wrote otherwise, and regret the error. But as far as the BQ9000 protocol is concerned, if you’d read my story carefully you would have seen that I described it as “not quite an industry standard.”
Just wanted to say mahalo for your recent article on the upcountry man who got rid of three broken down cars by putting an ad in the Maui Bulletin (Free—You Tow). I followed his advice and just within a few hours of the new Bulletin hitting the street I watched as a new owner drove away in my beat up, leaky old Ford, saving me $300 in county disposal costs. Thanks again.
-Bill Geoghegan, Wailuku
The Editor responds: No problem, Bill. Glad to be of service. It’s why we’re here. Well, that and Eh, Brah! By the way, the writer and subject of the story that saved you so much money—Kelly Chambers—is a woman. Most, but not all Kelly’s are chicks, I know, but this one is.