This article, dated March 1st, is written by Huey Freeman, for the Illinois-based Decatur Herald & Review. This article has made it’s rounds throughout much of the American “alternative media” since then.

An elderly Decatur couple, the Wetzels, converted their 1986 Volkswagen Golf car to run on a special alternative fuel -- recycled vegetable oil. They’ve run it for five years and have no trouble with anyone over it. Now the state’s taxmen are demanding this couple pay back retroactive fuel taxes for driving this alternative fuel car. State regulations on use and storage of any fuel other than crude oil are complex and contradictory at times. And with this couple on fixed income, they don’t have the money to pay these taxes.

They’ve even been threatened with felony arrest if they don’t comply.

In response, an Illinois state congressman has filed a bill stopping state persecution of people using alternative fuels. Frank Watson, the state senator filing the bill, notes that the couple’s car gets 46 miles to the gallon on used vegetable oil.

President Bush has said that America was addicted to foreign oil and that it had to stop. We at the Review agree with him. But we also know that both Federal and state governments have been micro-managing and squashing independent projects designed to reduce foreign oil consumption. Such idiocy as the persecution of this elderly couple and their car is inexcusable.

Decentralizing energy production is something Distributism believes in and supports. Energy conservation is something else we hold to. The Wetzels are doing both by not using crude oil, freeing up local supplies for those in need. They also are promoting innovation in using used vegetable oil in other ways. It is the “romance of thrift”, as G. K. Chesterton put in another context.

We encourage our Illinois readers to support Senator Watson bill as well as the Wetzels. Also, we challenge our readers in the other American states to get similar bills filed in your own legislatures. Such “energy patriots” as the Wetzels should be rewarded for their actions, not tried as criminals.


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