Amtrak is the latest company to try to put waste products of factory farming to use as fuel. Smart Planet reports that for the next year Amtrak will test biodiesel made from beef tallow on it's Heartland Flyer route from Fort Worth, Texas to Oklahoma City. The 206 mile tallow-powered trip will be run using an 80/20 blend of diesel and biodiesel. Funding assistance for the test project, to the tune of $274,000, is coming from the Federal Railroad Administration. The tallow itself is coming from an unnamed Texas supplier.
Read the Amtrak press release is you want all the usual congratulatory backslapping statements...
Amtrak Just Latest To Enter The Animal Biodiesel Ring
Amtrak isn't the first company in the animal fat fuel and oil game. Projects in North Carolina, Louisiana, California, and Calgary have all tried to utilize waste products from factory farming to power motor vehicles. G-Oil is perhaps the most successful venture in this arena, though it has concentrated on lubricants.
Factory Farmed Fuel Not Solution to Fossil Fuel Addiction
The big essential problem here (apart from financials, we'll leave that aside) is this: Even though this fuel is utilizing waste products, something normally considered a good thing, that waste is generated by factory farming, something at least as bad--both statistically in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution and ethically in terms of animal welfare--as the fossil fuels being replaced.
You can try to argue that since factory farms exist we should be using the waste product for something, rather than just disposing of it. And there is some logic to that. But when it comes down to it you are just actively perpetuating something that is horrendously environmentally damaging and tortuous to animals.
It's not an either-or situation. Both our fossil fuel addiction and our growing meat addiction as manifested in factory farms need to be addressed collectively. I can't see how turning beef fat into fuel helps solve either problem.
More on the Biofuels:
Beef Fat Turned Into Fuel at New Calgary Biodiesel Plant
It May Be Renewable But Is It Vegetarian? Dynamic Fuels to Make Jet Fuel From Animal Fat
The Schmaltz-Mobile Is Coming, One Chicken-Mile At A Time