Biodiesel coming to Spokane?

A prominent state lawmaker is calling for construction of a biodiesel fuel refinery in Eastern Washington, fed by local crops and paid for partly with millions of dollars in state money.

“There’s benefit for everybody if we get this thing going,” said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who chairs the House construction- budget committee. So far, he said, groups in Lincoln County, Columbia County and Spokane Valley are interested. The Spokane-area proposal comes from several local farm cooperatives and the county conservation district.

Spokesman Review

This sounds like an excellent idea. To be able to produce our own fuel, locally, and with out extensive harm to the enviroment is a great thing. Spokane currently uses about 10,000 gallons of B20 blend a month. It is shipped into town from plants back east.

If we could localize the production of this resource, and start to offer it at more and more retail outlets, the Diesel community would embrace it. Especially since it should be cheaper then Dino-Diesel once we have the production up and running here.

I think the solutions will lay in the details. If we can get a refinery and mash plant constructed and operational here, that will cut the prices of Biofuel. If the State would cut taxes on it (as it is better on the enviroment and will help with the Federal Clean Air act responsiblities), it would be a win/win scenerio.

With the call for a Light Rail system in Spokane, and with many of the trains running on Diesel – B100 would be a perfect fuel. Personally, I would not support any light rail system that was not B100 powered, or at least as clean in totality. Electric might not be the awnser either – where is that power generated, and using what methods?

Much of the energy producted in the Spokane area is hydropower. Hydropower is a good solution, however there is a significant portion that is produced by Gas powerplants. With the current spike in natural gas prices, we can see why we might want to look towards local, clean, power production.

Honestly (and I know that I am not going to win any awards for thinking this), I would support a new Nuclear power plant in Eastern Washington. Nuke Plants are not what they used to be.

One of the major requirements for sustaining human progress is an adequate source of energy. The current largest sources of energy are the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas … They will last quite a while but will probably run out or become harmful in tens to hundreds of years. Solar energy will also work but is not much developed yet except for special applications because of its high cost. This high cost as a main source, e.g. for central station electricity, is likely to continue, and nuclear energy is likely to remain cheaper. A major advantage of nuclear energy (and also of solar energy) is that it doesn’t put carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. How much of an advantage depends on how bad the CO2 problem turns out to be.

John McCarthy

If we as a species are to survive for the long term, we need to start thinking in the long term. We must find ways to sustain ourselves, and not impact the environment too greatly. Our current use of dirty fossil fuels has got to stop.

6 thoughts on “Biodiesel coming to Spokane?”

  1. So you are saying the goverment is just a fat pig?

    I think that it will happen – I would just rather see it sooner then later. If some goverment incentives can make it happen that much sooner, then by all means.

    I would rather see a tax cut for bio-fuels and bio-fuel plants. I think that makes more sense then some pork products being slopped into the Spokane Valley. However, being a realist, I think that the likelyhood of a tax cut from this administration is about as likely as finding a penny on the moon.

  2. I agree with that. The point I make is that pork doesn’t often move from one place to another. Usually, it stays where it is, and new pork is added to the existing pork.

    Spokane’s bio-diesel won’t come at the expense to the ‘bridge to nowhere’ it will be in addition to the ‘bridge to nowhere’ and everything else.

    While there will doubtless me more pork whether we have bio-diesel in Spokane, I certainly will not be a part of encouraging it.

    Also, anything that needs pork like this seems to me to be likely to be a bad idea. If it was a good idea fundamentally, it wouldn’t need the pork.

  3. I agree that it’s pork. However, if we are going to have pork, why not make it tasty?

    I am all for cutting the waste out of goverment – and cutting taxes to increase the GDP. However, I am a realist. The Republican party does not want small goverment. It wants power. It gets power through a larger goverment that is more intrusive. Same with the Democrats. The Democrats are at least open about it.

  4. The billions of dollars on energy isn’t a result of needs or economics, it is a result of pork barrel spending. I don’t see any reason to believe that the money will move from a poorly designed project to this one, even if this is a good project.

    The very fact that it seems to require government money to be viable seems to argue against it. If is would be as profitable as you say, why arn’t there tons of investors lining up?

  5. "<i>For a biodiesel facility with a crusher to break even financially, he says, it must sell the meal left after crushing for about $400 to $500 a ton. That byproduct revenue pushes the cost of producing biodiesel oil below $1 a gallon and makes it competitive with petroleum prices, after distribution costs. Although canola meal is valued at only between $150 and $175 a ton, edible mustard meal sells from $800 to $1,000 a ton</i>"

    –<a href="http://www.spokanejournal.com/spokane_id=article&amp;sub=2499&quot; rel="nofollow">Spokane Journal of Business</a>

    We as a country spend billions of tax dollars on energy right now (23 billion in ’05 according to the GPO). Why not take some of that money and use it to make us more energy independent?

    If the mash spoken about above sells for $800 a ton (that’s $.40 a pound, and it can be used as a really good organic fertilizer – which sells for more then $2 a pound – there’s profit there as well) then the price to produce a gallon of biodiesel will be under a dollar to produce.

    Add 50% mark up, and you have diesel for half the price that it’s selling right now.

    The plant will be able to make about 5 million gallons of fuel a year – so that’s 2.5 million in profits a year.

    All of the profit numbers are WAGs, but you get the idea. It is do-able. We already sink tens of billions a year into energy. Let’s put some of that to good use and get a renewable, clean fuel source.

  6. It is hard for me to rationalize a need for government money in this project. If it is economically viable, the private sector should be willing and able to do it, if it isn’t then I certainly don’t want the state wasting its money on it.

    Now, state policies can properly make this a more attractive venture. Pollution should be taxed, and to the extent that bio-diesel is cleaner it should be taxed less (which would provide economic incentive to use it.) The state can also help by making sure that environmental regulations governing the construction and operation of a refining plant are sensible.

    I remain skeptical that bio-Diesel is actually able to compete economically with fossil fuels, although the $60 a barrel number for oil is probably in the neighborhood. Of course with the amount of petro chemicals that go into farming, higher oil prices may make bio fuel less competitive rather than more competitive.

    I also worry that bio-diesel might appear competitive because of ag-subsidies when it is actually not, creating a pretty nasty economic situation.

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