DECATUR – Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn visited Decatur, the world’s soy capital, to kick-off the school year by encouraging Illinois school districts to use soy-based biodiesel in their school buses and participate in the Illinois Clean School Bus Program.
“As the school year begins, I encourage Illinois school districts to use renewable ‘All-American’ energy sources so that we depend more on the Midwest – not the Middle East – for our energy needs,” said Quinn, whose newly released Energy Task Force report and recommendations called for harnessing homegrown renewable energy.
Quinn was joined by Clinton Community Unit School District 15, which owns 27 buses and already has 13 school buses using the B-20 blend of soy-based biodiesel fuel. The school buses, on average, carry 1200 students per day.
Soy-based biodiesel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 percent and creates no sulfur dioxide. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and has no costly or time-consuming conversion process. It also allows for longer equipment life and lower maintenance costs, reduces air toxins by 90 percent and reduces emissions that can cause asthma and cancer.
Decatur is home to Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), the largest soybean processing facility in North America. The Decatur-based plant has two crushing facilites and 16 other facilities that produce and package derivative products, which include harvest burgers, soy concentrate, soy flour, soy flakes, soy isolate and soy functional isolate.
ADM uses approximately 56 rail cars worth of soybeans per day, making Decatur the soybean capitol of the world.
The Illinois Clean School Bus Program is designed to provide a healthier environment for children by reducing the emissions coming from diesel-powered school buses, improve air quality in and around the school buildings and throughout local communities and assist school districts in using cleaner fuels, replace existing buses with cleaner models or retrofit buses with advanced emission control technologies.
Joining Quinn were Rep. Bob Flider (D-Decatur); Decatur Mayor Paul Osborne, Dr. Jeff Holmes, Superintendent of Clinton Community Unit School District 15; Roben Huffman, Clinton Community Unit School District 15 bus supervisor; Mike Lockart, Energy Division, Growmark; Darwin Burkhart, Illinois EPA; Marty Andreas, Marketing Director, ADM, Patrick Mohan, public service administrator, Tate & Lyle; Judd Hulting, Illinois Soy Bean Association; and Randy Prince, executive vice president, Macon County Farm Bureau.
Quinn noted the recent first anniversary of the August, 2003 blackout that raged across the Northeast and Canada. As Chairman of the Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure, Quinn is leading the charge to implement the Task Force’s 32 recommendations, many of which encourage the use of homegrown renewable energy, such as wind, solar and biodiesel.
Quinn also invited consumers to visit www.BlackoutSolutions.org
, an electronic suggestion box his office set up to accept ideas on cutting Illinois’ energy costs which has garnered 53,235 hits.