February 7, 2007
Legislature Looks at Promoting Biofuels
According to Tuesday's O, there is a bill in the legislature that would take various approaches to promoting biofuels:
House Bill 2210 is big and complex, delving into state land-use laws, petroleum markets, tax law and agriculture policy. The end result, however, could be a shift away from food production at some farms to take advantage of growing government and consumer interest in alternative fuels.
February 7, 2007 11:41 AM
Terry Parker Says:
In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, a well publicized study found that; corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced. In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, a well publicized study found that: soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, Given these facts, producing liquid energy from plant biomass does not equate to energy independence.
When biodiesel is produced from used cooking oils, it appears to have an energy benefit. I doubt there is enough used cooking oils and other such resources to meet the projected demand, produce more energy that it takes to produce, and become financially self-sustainable without taxpayer subsidies? This bill expects the majority of liquid energy to be produced from crops, and from everything I have read, ethanol production is not financially self-sustainable and therefore can not be produced without constant and enormous government and taxpayer subsidies.
Furthermore, ethanol is corrosive and degrades when transported through a pipeline requiring ethanol to be transported by truck or trains. This creates increased safety hazards for both people and the environment by considerably adding to the amount of highly flammable and hazardous materials being transported on roadways and by rail, including through close in neighborhoods in our cities and towns. An October 20, 2006 train derailment on a 2,500 foot trestle near New Brighton, Pennsylvania demonstrates the danger. Nine tank cars full of corn based fuel crashed and caught fire. It only takes one broken or bad rail, or an overturned truck to create a disaster.
Using ethanol or an ethanol-gasoline mix instead of gasoline in most motor vehicles increases the fuel consumption and reduces fuel efficiency by up to 15 percent for the miles traveled. Therefore using ethanol is opposite of fuel efficiency. If in doubt, motorists can ask the question where they get their car serviced.
There is also a finite amount of good farm land to produce profitable crops. Shifting this land to energy production instead growing of food stocks Using corn and other food stocks will also likely increase the cost of food, feed for animals like hogs and possibly create a foreseeable future food shortage as the population of the world grows.
It is obvious, this legislation is more about social engineering and part of the rampage to spend the 20% increase of funds now in the government kitty than it is about using the public’s money wisely and energy independence. .
February 8, 2007 9:37 AM
So far from what I have heard on using Biofuels to power buses, there has not been any problems. Washington State Ferries is a different story. Supposedly Biodiesel and old engines do not mix. Well, that is where WSF has the problem. except for the Tacoma, Puyallup, and Wenatchee, all of the ferries were built at least 20 years ago, and some were built in the 1950s(that have not been re-engined). Thankfully they put new engines in the Steel Electrics when they got their 60th Birthday Overhauls in the 1980s. From what I heard in the WSF newsletter, the biodiesel was clogging fuel lines and filters.
Now this does not mean WSF is giving up. They want it to work, because the Biodiesel would be grown in Eastern Washington. Perhaps for them, the best chance is to try it when they replace the Steel-Electrics with new boats, they money has been budgeted, the state just does not want to get in a bidding war over it. They got burned with a new boat class trying some new technology(for them) in Variable-Pitch Propellers. The crews were not used to the Pitch Control Systems, and there were numerous dock collisions. Top it all off, the Shipyard went broke, so WSF is looking into each shipyard that applies, and disqualifying them if they do not have the financial solvency they want. At first, they set the bar so high, that only one shipyard that they work with all the time on repair work that cannot be done at Eagle Harbor was able to bid. They got sued, and had to let a few others in.
Also, it is true that Ethanol and Biodiesel have to be shipped by truck, rail and barge. Now I have recently saw an article on a derailment where that occured a few months ago. It looked like the tanker cars had some structural failure. Now if only Ethanol was biodegradable.