An article in the Charlotte Observer reported recently that North Carolina is fining one driver who, in an effort to decrease dependence on foreign oil, fills up his car with soybean oil.

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

And he's been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government.

One more thing: To legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.

States tax gasoline to help pay for highways, so drivers who use alternative fuels have to pay for a license, post a bond and pay monthly taxes if they aren’t paying the tariff at the pump.

The driver, Bob Teixeira, told the Observer reporter that filling his Mercedes with diesel broke his heart. But he’s resolved to iron out the problems so that he, like Willie Nelson, can get back on the road again using his Costco-bought soybean oil.

Story by Susan Cosier. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in June 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007