A price to pay for alternative fuels

Energy & Sustainability
A price to pay for alternative fuels

 Smedia 2007 06 09 17 622-Veggieoilinside.Embedded.Prod Affiliate.57
Another story about the man coming down on DIY biodiesel’ers, why do these gas saving criminals hate America so much? –

Bob Teixeira decided it was time to take a stand against U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

So last fall the Charlotte musician and guitar instructor spent $1,200 to convert his 1981 diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil. He bought soybean oil in 5-gallon jugs at Costco, spending about 30 percent more than diesel would cost.

His reward, from a state that heavily promotes alternative fuels: a $1,000 fine last month for not paying motor fuel taxes.

He’s been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government.

And to legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.

A price to pay for alternative fuels – Link.

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79 year old veggie oil maker – David Wetzel, 79, makes his own fuel from recycled vegetable oil for his 1986 Volkswagen Golf, gets 46 miles per gallon – pretty neat huh? Well, the Illinois Department of Revenue visited and want him to pay a “motor fuel tax” (retroactively) and he might be hit with a $2,500 bond, a class 3 felony and a lot of other awful stuff – or it might just end up being $244 in taxes for the fuel he made – Link.

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MAKE AUDIO SHOW: Biodiesel! – Link.

 Appleseedprocessor Images Methoxide-Feeding-Into-Reactor-Newmexico
Homebrew Biodiesel reactor plans… – Link.

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Make your own biodiesel – Link.

 Blog 677Bc53A-C938-A74C-B78F1F2Da383265C
Talented teen transforms cooking oil into fuel – Link.

 Blog Submedia02
Veg my ride… – Link.

From the pages of MAKE:
 Blog Make 399
Making biodiesel – The best way to learn how to make your own backyard biodiesel is to start with a one-liter batch. It’s easy to make a small batch that will work in any diesel engine. You won’t need any special equipment–an old juice bottle will serve as the “reactor” vessel–and on such a small scale, you can quickly refine your technique and perform further experiments. MAKE 03- Page 72. Subscribers–read this article now in your digital edition or get MAKE 03 @ the Maker store.

34 thoughts on “A price to pay for alternative fuels

  1. texastiger07 says:

    Death and taxes. We all would like to avoid both but in the end you can’t.

    I have the utmost respect for the principles of someone who wants to use an alternative fuel but the basic fact is that we all pay taxes when we buy motorfuels. These taxes are supposed to fund our roads and highways. Not paying taxes for the motorfuel consumed is essentially getting this guy a free ride on our streets.

    My question is how did the state government become aware of his alternative fuel venture? I am guessing it is because of the publicity that folks using home brew fuels draw to themselves. My suggestion is to go “underground” with your fuel activities if you want to avoid being slapped with fines and back taxes.

  2. =mathew says:

    Presumably by the same logic, I should get an extra tax bill for all the gas tax I’m not paying when my Prius runs on electric?

    Come to think of it, what about my bicycle? That’s a shameless attempt to use energy from foodstuffs instead of purchasing gasoline.

  3. abrannan says:

    Depending on how the laws are worded, he already paid the necessary taxes. He bought items being sold as foodstuffs (Veg Oil), and paid any appropriate sales tax for those items. He’s not producing biofuel (He’s using the oil as-is), so he can’t be hit with production tax.

    Do the folks who use solar and wind power get hit with energy taxes, too?

  4. Frodus says:

    Most states, if not all, have a ROAD tax instituted on fuels to help pay for public use of the road. This includes repair, DOT stuff, clearing the roads from snow, roadkill, emergency services and the state patrol.

    Its tax evasion. He’s not being nailed for a production tax, but the ROAD tax. Some states are considering billing you by the mile for road use. He can make is own, as long as he pays the resultant tax on the roads. Its not a GAS tax at all. Its not very much, but pays for the services we need. 2500 is a lot, but he must have been driving a while before he got caught.

    Its just like going over the boarder of a state so you don’t pay sales tax. If you live in one state with sales tax, and go to another without, its tax evasion. I don’t like high taxes, but he’s not exempt from this one.

  5. SpeedDevilKings says:

    “Teixeira’s story began near Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 14. As recreational vehicles streamed in for race week, revenue investigators were checking fuel tanks of diesel RVs for illegal fuel.”

    Umm, what? Is this normal?

    Mathew, all of the energy in your Prius comes from gasoline. It’s just converted to electricity and stored for later use. If you had a plug-in hybrid, then the G-men would be all over you…

  6. texastiger07 says:

    No he didnt pay his taxes. Gas and diesel is taxed at the state and federal levels to provide the funding for our roads. The total for these taxes can make up about 20% or more of the fuel price. He did pay his sales tax when purchasing the oil as a foodstuff (if groceries are taxed in NC) but of course this food stuff was then used as a motor fuel.

    Solar and wind power are not going to get hit for a motor fuels tax. They already get subsidized at the Fed and state levels so they can compete in the power generation market.

  7. Sally599 says:

    I doubt that I’ve paid $2,500 for gas since I started driving 15 years ago—its a little more than unfair to put a set rate for people rather than per use as it is set up for normal gas. Have to agree with texastiger07 though, the best thing is to go underground, for example, who really pays state sales tax on all of their Amazon purchases despite the law, same thing.

  8. tms10000 says:

    In my home country it is very common to have random checking to see if your diesel is legit. You see, heating oil is just regular diesel + nasty dye, so they check for coloring in your tank. Why? Diesel: $6/gal. Heating oil: $1.2/gal. Getting caught: exhorbitant fine.

    In this case, it all depends how the laws are worded. If it’s just a tax on fuel, when buying vegetable oil, you’re not buying fuel, yo’re buying oil. However, if the law states that in order to use public roads you must use fuel that has properly been taxed, then you SOL.

    I’ll bet it’s the latter.

    I’m appaled nonetheless that efforts to use alternate fuels are so actively discouraged. In a general sense, we already pay taxes on a lot of things, income, sales, property, registration, etc…

  9. SpeedDevilKings says:

    The problem is that the laws weren’t written with homebrew fuel in mind, which is understandable. With people making their own fuel, or being more vocal about making their own fuel, the government has to apply the existing laws in a way they weren’t intended. This situation has a strong parallel in making beer or wine for yourself. In Georgia, and I assume other states have similar rules, you can make a set number of gallons without paying taxes or being licensed. Hopefully, lawmakers will do the same for homebrew fuels. You may have to be permitted and pay the road tax on the number of gallons you make, but you would not have to pay production taxes and bonds.

  10. LittleGreen says:

    If Bob Teixira was really concerned about lessing our dependence on foreign oil he would be using used veggie oil from fryers or waste oil from processors. Buying cooking oil from Costco is cheaper (about $2.30 a gallon) but that cooking oil has to be trucked in from across the country and the very process of converting beans or corn to oil is a huge petroleum suck in-of-itself. So he’s not doing any benefit to the environment and he’s actually creating demand for more diesel and foreign oil dependence anyhow.

    Buying biodiesel from a distributor or maker either at the pump or from an independent operator, he will be paying all the legal and required road taxes.
    We buy our B99 from a distributor and have it delivered to our house for the low low cost of $3.25 a gal. We also process used veggie oil and mix it in with the biod. straight in the tank, no conversion necessary. Our Mechanic had never heard of running on veg oil until we started 5 years ago. He says we have one of the smoothest running engines he’s ever seen.

  11. markayak says:

    Sure, the guy’s avoiding taxes. So what? As long as it’s a negligible revenue loss, the states should leave them along, even make it legal, to encourage innovation.

    And what if you build a solar powered car? Do they tax the sun as “motor vehicle fuel”? Would you need to be licensed as a “special fuel supplier” and a “special fuel receiver”? I guess if I build one I better not post it on Make, or I might find out.

  12. hammerthumb says:

    Out of curiosity I called the agency in Minnesota responsible for collecting fuel taxes. The gentleman informed me that the tax is 20 cents a gallon as put into your tank. There are two straightforward tax forms you fill out every month and the tax is electronically deducted from whatever payment method you choose.

    I haven’t researched the federal tax yet.

  13. sentrion says:

    Tax evasion is rampant and must be stamped out. Consider the following activities that deprive governments of revenue:

    1. Improvements to your home’s interior: The county appraiser sometimes can’t see inside your home to observe just how much your home is increasing in value. How will they know to increase your property taxes?

    2. Vegetable gardening: clearly growing your own food in your own back yard is tax evasion. No local sales tax, plus you aren’t paying taxes related to the cost of transportation or the social security taxes for farm labor. Did you remember to calculate the fair market value of the income you generated from your home-grown produce?

    3. Barter: This is also tax evasion. If you contributed 20 hours toward development of an open source operating system and then downloaded the complete operating system after the project was finished, this can constitute barter. You must pay taxes on the fair market value of similar taxed operating systems (which is obviously Windows).

    4. Moving to Panama: If you leave America, denounce your American citizenship, and become a citizen of another country just because they have low or fair taxes, then that is also tax evasion (and yes, the IRS has even gone after expatriates).

    5. Etc: Do you mow your own lawn? Care for your own children? Fix your own car? Generate your own energy? Cook your own food?

    OK, maybe I’m going overboard. But at least it’s comforting to know that we have brave IRS agents putting their lives on the line to make sure that RV’s aren’t using illegal fuels.

    Using “tax logic” you can find a way to make anyone a criminal. Then again, it’s not limited to taxes. Here’s a story about a guy using free WiFi at a local coffee shop, and the shop owner made no complaints, but the guy was still arrested for “stealing” free Wifi:


    Just remember, before you do anything UNCONVENTIONAL, someone in government will find you and make you conform to the same standard as the rest of the sheep.

    So, for your own sake and the general good of society, please check with your lawyer before persuing any creative project.

  14. Village_Idiot says:

    If there were more bike lanes (virtually none where I am) then I’d be riding or walking everywhere, but I’m forced to go along with car culture all the way or get turned into a grease spot on the highway like two of my cyclist friends were. I don’t like being taxed on something I’m forced into doing (driving).

    In Germany, I noticed that people could travel just about all over the country on “back” roads, where there were no cars (nor pavement) but plenty of pedestrians and bicycles. Many of the roads had been there since Roman times, and it was illegal to block access if they cut through your property. Essentially, you could move about the counry freely, for free, if you wanted to.

    If that were an option here in the US, I’d be neutral about the tax thing. As it is, since this country is more enamored with fences than unencumbered access to non-motorized corridors of movement, I have no problem with anyone who dodges that tax any chance they get. If I had a *realistic* alternative to driving I’d say “Pay the road tax if you use the road.”

    Obviously the current enforcement efforts mean you need to be keeping your mouth shut, and installing a hidden tank (like a short, flat one in the bed of your pickup, or under your RV on the opposite side of the regular tank) with its own fuel line to a switchable valve that houses your “farm diesel” or heating oil (and now your biodiesel or homebrew E85; don’t brag about your still, either!). Only put taxed fuel in the regular tank so the dipstick test shows you are compliant, of course, and you ARE compliant… mostly! (I bet you pay your registration and insurance and sales tax on your car even if you are a biodiesel rebel)

    If you get pulled over, the officer can test your fuel if he/she feels like it, and it’s increasingly common in places like California for regular citizens in their cars or pickups to get tested during a routine traffic stop if they’re driving a diesel. They don’t just test 18-wheelers anymore, so watch it!

  15. TheSUBWAY.com says:

    We found an interesting article about the problems with Ethanol on ConsumerReports.org:


    “But there are some problems with increasing ethanol blends. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, so increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline will likely result in lower fuel economy. Increasing standard fuel blends from zero to 10 percent ethanol, as is happening today, has little or no impact on fuel economy. In tests, the differences occur within the margin of error, about 0.5 percent. Further increasing ethanol levels to 20 percent reduces fuel economy between 1 and 3 percent, according to testing by the DOE and General Motors. Evaluations are underway to determine if E20 will burn effectively in today’s engines without impacting reliability and longevity, and also assessing potential impact on fuel economy.”

    TheSUBWAY.com would like to invite readers to post their own views and ideas in TheSUBWAY.com’s Investor Forum:


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  17. Anonymous says:

    It is good to know that there are people trying to find ways as we face problems because of high fuel prices. There will come a time when our resources will be very low and we need to be prepared for that. In our own little ways, we can try to be more practical so as not to spend as much. We can recycle from paper, plastic, metal, old electronic gadgets and even used oil.

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