Dirty Secrets about Clean Fuels


Nelson Brooke, a Black Warrior River Keeper, from New York Times

It seems like only yesterday that we learned how making polysilicon for photovoltaics was causing serious pollution in China; it seems that the same kind of thing is happening in the USA, where the search for energy independence doesn't stop for a little pollution. The Alabama Biodiesel Corporation plant near Tuscaloosa is pumping oil and grease into the river at 450 times the allowable level. The New York Times writes that "The discharges, which can be hazardous to birds and fish, have many people scratching their heads over the seeming incongruity of pollution from an industry that sells products with the promise of blue skies and clear streams."

Biodiesel is non-toxic, as is the major byproduct of its production, glycerin.

"You can eat the stuff, after all," Mr. [Environment Canada Researcher Bruce] Holleboe told the Times. "But as with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill."

There is now a huge glut of glycerin, so people are dumping it- a Missouri businessman was recently charged with killing 25,000 fish and mussels.

People in the industry call these "growing pains." Brian P. Bilbray, Republican of California, calls says "They're environmental Jimmy Swaggarts, in my opinion,What is being sold as green fuel just doesn't pencil out."::New York Times

Tags: Energy | Pollution