Sure, itâs a publicity stunt, but as stunts go, itâs pretty good, and the issue is a vital one. Tampa congressional candidate Scott Farrell left today on a Tampa-to-Washington, D.C. political tour in a campaign RV that has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil, the kind left over after your French fries are done.
Diesel engines, it turns out, can run just fine on cooking oil, with only a slight modification.
âItâs not just an energy issue,â he said. âItâs a national security issue.â By paying Midwestern farmers to grow crops for bio-diesel, he reasoned, weâre keeping our cash out of the hands of Middle East oil sheiks, whose records of supporting terrorism are pretty well known.
In Congress, he would work to accelerate this nationâs movement away from fossil fuels.
As an alt-fuel, vegetable oil is not perfect. It emits more nitrous oxide than traditional fuels and gets lower fuel economy, and the output has a particularly noticeable smell that approximates that of a busy fried seafood joint.
And some question whether alt-fuels save any money or energy at all. A Cornell University study, for instance, maintains that producing ethanol to run in cars takes 29 percent more fossil energy than simply using the fossil fuels in cars in the first place.
Farrell trails three other candidates (Kathy Castor, Les Miller and Al Fox) in fundraising for the seat being vacated by Jim Davis, so heâs got to throw some long passes early. But his stunt is working and has garnered some daily news coverage. He plans to meet with blueswoman Bonnie Raitt at her D.C. concert during this trip. Raitt runs her tour bus on alternative fuels.