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Breaking news: BNSF celebrates biodiesel testing


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A large group gathered early Saturday to celebrate a unique partnership in north-central Montana.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway kicked off its year-long test of locally produced biodiesel in its locomotives.

"I think it's something we're all excited about," said Beau Price, superintendent of BNSF's diesel shop in Havre, during the 7:30 a.m. kick-off. "My people who are working for me are excited about it and I think the community is excited to see this kind of relationship where we can do this kind of stuff."

The project developed as a partnership between BNSF, Montana State University-Northern, Earl Fisher Biofuels in Chester, Bear Paw Development Corp., and Opportunity Link Inc.

Earl Fisher is producing biodiesel, tested and certified at Northern's Bio-Energy Innovation and Testing Center, which is being used in a locomotive based out of the Havre rail yard.

Price said the kind of biodiesel testing — for an entire year with extensive emissions, performance and wear and tear monitored — has never been done to this degree by the railroad industry.

Kegel, dean of the College of Technical Sciences at Northern, thanked BNSF for its partnership with the university and giving hte opportunity to grow, produce and burn fuel entirely in Montana. That could lead to an enormous economic impact, he said.

"This project, it's a huge thing for us," Kegel said.

"It will give us some really good data to prove the fact that Montana-grown, Montana-produced biofuels really do work," he added.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said the project will benefit everyone by helping provide jobs, energy independence for the country and opportunities.

"Any time we can get good research that will help create jobs, number one, and provide opportunity, that's not all bad," Tester said. "In fact, that's very, very good.


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