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January 25, 2006

K.C. Golden Editorial on Biofuels silences critics

Published: January 22nd, 2006 02:30 AM
Columnist Richard Davis is right about one thing: Good intentions wont make biodiesel a success (TNT, 1-4).
But good policy and private enterprise will.
Gov. Chris Gregoires proposed renewable fuel standard with strong support on both sides of the political aisle and both sides of the mountains will build a stable, growing market for biofuels in Washington. It will turn our desire for energy security into a solid business proposition something that farmers and biofuel entrepreneurs can take to the bank.Energy independence is a big deal an enormous business opportunity that can boost farm income and reduce the drag on our economy from importing fossil fuels.Right now, Washingtons economy loses over $25 million every day in the form of oil and gas imports more than the state spends on public education. Weve got better things to do with that money, and building our own biofuel industry will help us get some of it back.Developing these industries means creating new enterprises, taking new risks, growing new crops. Competition for profits and jobs in the clean energy industries of the future will be intense. To succeed in these markets, we need a policy that says to the private sector that Washington is open for clean energy business. We need what amounts to a contract with the budding renewable fuel industry a policy that rewards private investment.The bipartisan energy independence bill will offer that kind of solid contract. It will create a stable, growing market for biofuel. It will unleash the private sector to do what it does best: invest and innovate and compete for market share. Its the kind of strong, decisive, market-building policy that will get us moving toward a more secure energy future.Opposition to this policy comes from a predictable source. Davis, whose think tank receives oil industry funding, cites the lone researcher who claims that biofuel production uses more energy than it produces.But he ignores the 11 other studies that have analyzed the issue in the last 15 years and reached the opposite conclusion: Biodiesel actually delivers more than three units of renewable energy for every unit of fossil fuel used in production.The net energy balance for ethanol made from wheat straw a major agricultural waste product in Eastern Washington is even better: 5 to 1.You can find straight answers to these and other questions about biofuels at www.independentfuels.org.Davis also objects to the energy independence bill by calling it a mandate. This is one of those words people use when they want you to react with your spleen instead of your brain. It provokes a you cant make me reaction, an impulse thats as American as the Boston Tea Party.But the really troubling mandate is this: We are being forced by bad public policy to pay the exorbitant costs of oil addiction at the pump, in the battlefields of the Middle East and in the growing toll from global warming.To reduce those costs, we can adopt a smarter policy that allows us to develop our enormous potential for domestic clean energy production.Nobodys going to make us do this. But if were tired of being whacked by the costs of fossil fuel dependence, we can change course. We can choose a brighter energy future.And seriously, when Davis cries mandate, what does he think those legislators are doing in Olympia anyway? Theyre writing laws. These laws are the essence of a stable democracy: We elect leaders who make decisions that represent commitments real, legally binding promises that we can count on.Stop signs, speed limits, protections against fraud and drunken drivers and child labor ... Davis could call any of these things mandates if he wants to gripe about them. But they are the will of the people, and we give them the force of law because were serious about them.So are we serious about energy independence or not? Breaking free of our oil addiction does take more than good intentions. It takes leadership. It takes commitment. It takes a strong policy framework for a successful, prosperous, domestic fuel market with real businesses and farmers making real money on the deal.Its no surprise that some oil companies wont support our states efforts to reduce petroleum dependence. But with a growing bipartisan consensus for a more secure energy future, we have reason to hope that our leaders will stand up for energy independence this year by passing the renewable fuel standard.

K.C. Golden is policy director for Climate Solutions, a Seattle-based partnership for practical, profitable solutions to global warming.

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January 23, 2006

New Web site for Energy Independence for Washington!

Check out this new site. It is part of Climate Solution's efforts to get a Renewable Fuel Standard passed in Washington.

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January 16, 2006

Seattle area biodiesel workshops

Local guru, BioLyle has some workshops coming up for those interested in home-brewing...

The Magic of Biodiesel UW Experimental College Class: #W203.
NOTE: This workshop is almost full as of 1/11/06
Sunday January 29, 2006 from 10 am 3 pm

Want to drive or heat your home petroleum-free? Sort out fact from fiction in this class, which will cover what biodiesel is (and is not), qualities of the fuel, compatibility issues, chemistry, history of the movement and how the fuel can be made by anyone using simple and available chemicals. Students will experience making small batches of biodiesel from a variety of sources. Simple biodiesel reactor designs will be presented and discussed. After the class, students will be invited to visit a small-scale biodiesel processor near campus.Location:UW Campus.Max Enrollment: 25 General Public: $44 ; UW Students: $29. Register online at:
http://exco.org or by phone at: 206-685-3276. Easiest way to get to reg. page is to Google: "experimental college biodiesel"Exp.Coll info: http://exco.org or 206-543-4375

Biodiesel Homebrew Workshop.
Saturday February 4, 2006 from 10 AM - 3:30 PM
Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle 98103

This class will be serve as both an introduction to biodiesel and a hands-on experience for those interested in learning how to make biodiesel from used restaurant oil. You will learn the chemistry and tricks of making quality biodiesel by making small batches and experimenting with different veg oils, catalysts, and pH indicators. We will also cover washing, quality control, sources of supplies and equipment, and reactor design, with an emphasis on the "Appleseed" reactor made from an electric water heater. Other topics to be covered will include: myths and facts about biodiesel, cold weather issues, local availabilitiy, and what's going on locally and nationally with the movement. Whether you just want to learn more so you can decide whether or not to use biodiesel, or you want to make your own brew, this class will help you get underway. After the class, students will be invited to visit a small-scale home biodiesel processor. Max Enrollment: 30. Fee: $50 or if financial need, $30-$50 sliding scale. 10% of proceeds will be donated to NW Biodiesel Network.Register by sending $15 by PayPal to:
lylecroc@yahoo.com or, if no PayPal, send check to: BioLyle's Biodiesel Workshop, PO Box 18924, Seattle 98118. Questions? email: biolyle@gmail.com

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January 14, 2006

Sabb 9.5 turbo biopowered!

check out this cool rig at the auto show... Photos: Fueling around at the LA Auto Show | CNET News.com

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January 9, 2006

KUOW program The Conversation addresses Biodiesel

Today KUOW program The Conversation had a bunch of guests talking about Biodiesel. The program featured a policy analyst from Climate Solutions, Dr. Dan, the local biodiesel retailer, Dr. Pimentel the appologist for Exxon and Martin Tobias, the CEO of Seattle Biodiesel as well as listener calls. Ross the host does a generally good job covering the issue, but unfortunately lobs only softballs at Pimentel.

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Seattle Times editorial pro biofuels

By James VeselySeattle

Times staff columnist

Biofuels are the hot topic this Sunday morning before the Legislature convenes in solemnity and wisdom Monday in Olympia.Bills to push for B-2 2 percent of each gallon of diesel fuel mixed with bioproducts are, as we say, en fuego. The enthusiasm for biofuels in cars and trucks embraces Republicans and Democrats and neatly enfolds both the urban environmental ethic and rural counties' search for another cash crop. Rep. Janéa Holmquist, Republican from Moses Lake, is ebullient to the point of jumping out of her shoes over the idea. At The Seattle Times Thursday, Holmquist described herself and colleagues as "ready and raring to go" for biofuel legislation this year. In the session of 2005, a similar bill did not get out of a House committee for a vote.Opponents naturally include Big Oil, whose executives may see 10 percent of ethanol or 2 percent canola oil as simply that much less gasoline that could be sold at the same pump. But Holmquist is counting on high gas prices and the $25 million a day Washingtonians spend on fuel to prompt the question: Why not spread the current oil supply out a little longer?Other opposition comes from Republicans who simply do not like government mandates. The plan to make B-2 compulsory for every tank of diesel sold gives rise to further questions about the fuel's true efficiencies and the state's ability to fill the supply stream. There's also the dodgy question of waiting to mandate B-2 until state farmers and crushing machines are prepared to enter the marketplace.Holmquist freely admits staging mandatory requirements for gasoline and diesel fuel is a deliberate hesitation to get Washington agriculture into the right planting cycle. "2006 is gone for farmers who have already decided on their crops," she said. "But rotating seed crops for biofuels can happen as early as 2007."Holmquist's statement on mandatory biofuels inserts the state as a trigger on behalf of Washington crop growers. Her legislation would "phase in the renewable fuel standards as state production and demand increases ... [A] 2 percent biodiesel requirement would kick in when the director of the state Department of Agriculture determines there is sufficient quantity of competitively priced Washington-produced fuel available to meet 2 percent of the state's aggregate diesel fuel demand. A similar trigger is included for the ethanol requirement of 10 percent."Why wait, was my question. If the stuff is good for use now, there's plenty of seed oil available in Minnesota, and Iowa is up to the brim in ethanol. But outsourcing the product breaks the symmetry between invigorating a cash crop for rural Washington and filling Puget Sound gas tanks with seed oil. Proponents, including Seattle greens, see the need to let Washington farmers in on the mandatory B-2, or else the political dynamic doesn't work.Dodging the issue of restraint of trade, the link between seed producers and gasoline consumers is seen by proponents as the latest Golden Calf of do-good technology, like wind power, only waves of grain.Biofuel is one of the five top legislative priorities of Healthy Washington, a consortium of environmental organizations including the Washington Environmental Council and a dozen more battalions of greens. Making biofuels one of the priorities of such powerful advocacy groups plus early legislative initiative and vigor from Gov. Christine Gregoire, together with Eastern state agriculture and water interests combine into something politically combustible.We're going to hear a lot about biofuels in the next weeks. A short, 60-day legislative session will be chock-full of ideas; some will make it, some not. Expect the next round of debate to be whether biofuels really make a difference, how they affect your car's engine, plus examples of successes and failures of the seed market in other places.But when mandatory fuel components come out of farm country and are greeted with kisses from Seattle greens, the political calculation is hard to dismiss. Politically and economically, there's a lot at stake.James F. Vesely's column appears Sunday on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: jvesely@seattletimes.com

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January 8, 2006

What if you just did it?

Essential Bakery in Seattle just did it: Biodiesel Truck Fleet Becomes the Essential Baking Company's Latest 'Baker's Dozen'

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January 4, 2006

EPA releases RFS guidelines

The EPA is tasked with enforcing the national Renewable Fuel Standard. They finally released guidelines on how that is to be done. Renewable Fuel - OTAQ - EPA

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