Kathy Liebler

Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations

C  O  M  M  I  S  S  I  O  N       N  E  W  S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E


Kathy Liebler, 717-939-9551, ext. 2840
Kevin Gentzel, ext. 2841

August 1, 2002

Maintenance vehicles running on Bio-Diesel

HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is on the road to becoming one of the most environmentally friendly commonwealth agencies.  In 1993, the Commission adopted a comprehensive alternative fuels program.  In 1996, the Turnpike was the first Pennsylvania state agency to experiment with bio-diesel.  Now in 2002, it is taking another major step in that direction expanding its use of alternative fuels.               

The Turnpike has started to use Bio-Diesel or B-20; an alternative type of fuel that burns much cleaner compared to regular diesel and contributes to a longer engine life.

Currently, the Commission is using the fuel at three of its southeastern maintenance facilities in 104 Diesel powered vehicles according to Director of Maintenance, Robert Wallett.  The Turnpike decided to use Bio-diesel fuel in this area since the Philadelphia metropolitan region is a non-attainment area for compliance under the Clean Air Act Amendments, Wallett said.

“The Commission realizes that the use of this new alternative fuel, which is essentially a blend of 80% Standard Diesel fuel and 20% Soybean oil, will make the Turnpike more environmentally friendly and will economically benefit US farmers.  The fuel is healthier than diesel, has low implementation costs and contributes to the longer engine life of our vehicles,” said Wallett. 

Fleet Equipment Operations Manager, Michael McClurkin explained that the Turnpike Commission is the first agency in the commonwealth to use Bio-Diesel, which has several benefits, B-10 Diesel exhaust reduced hydrocarbons, particulate matter, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. “Bio-Diesel is overall a safer alternative to regular diesel fuel, both to humans and the environment as a whole,” he said.

McClurkin said that the Turnpike is also utilizing Propane as an alternative fuel.  The Turnpike currently has 64 propane-powered vehicles in its maintenance facilities that are supported by 14 propane filling stations.  He added that the Commission plans to use Ethanol E-85 in its 83 Flex-Fuel Ford Taurus vehicles but the fuel is not yet available in Pennsylvania.

Since the onset of the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act, the federal government made it mandatory that fleets of vehicles associated with government agencies start utilizing alternative fuel sources.  “Since the induction of these policies, the Turnpike Commission has grasped them wholeheartedly,” McClurkin, said.  “We are exceeding the federal government’s expectations, under the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act at the Turnpike.” 

Wallett said, “With the use of Bio-diesel, the Turnpike has a great start in the exploration and implementation of alternative energies. We are buying more and more vehicles that use these alternative fuels,” said Wallett.  “Our newest purchases are propane-powered vans.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike definitely has a jump on other commonwealth agencies and commissions in the field of alternative energies.”


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649