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May 09, 2006

Biodiesel in Grays Harbor

Look. Clean energy is economic opportunity for economically depressed areas of our state.  Whoda thunkit?

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 9, 2006 at 08:53 PM in Policy | Permalink


This is a good thing for the Grays Harbor area and for Biodiesel but the location causes me to think about why there. The obvious reasons are workforce (as result of recent and pending lawoffs) and facility space like dock space. But Grays Harbor is not near the canola or mustard fields. So two things come to mind. One, the cranberry juice transported from the south WA coast to eastern Wa in trucks may create tanker room for veg oil comming west. Also veg oil might be barged down the Columbia from the heart of the NW production area and may draw from WA, ID and OR. What I do not like is the thought that palm oil might be barged from Central America directly to Grays Harbor causing a huge wave of deforestation aimed at feeding the demand.

Posted by: Particle Man | May 10, 2006 11:24:51 AM

Grays Harbor will also be convenient for palm and cocunut oil shipped in from exploitive farming in the South and West Pacific. This plant will do little to help Washington farmers.
Also, it'll be fairly convenient to load the leftovers back on the boats and dump in the ocean on the way back.
Biodiesel is cleaner than oil field diesal, but it's not pure as the driven snow. A veggy oil spill will still kill a lot of critters before it degrades. It'll just degrade some faster because it's "organic".

Posted by: Dave Gibney | May 10, 2006 6:29:24 PM

My understanding is Seattle Biofuels (aka Imperium Renewables) is the first American affiliate member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (www.sustainable-palmoil.org). If they follow the sustainability principles developed by this group then most concerns about subtropical rainforest impacts should be resolved.

Not sure what "leftovers" Dave is referring to, or why he thinks they'd be dumped at sea. Is this just conspiracy theory, or is there a basis for this concern?

Posted by: Peter Moulton | May 11, 2006 1:20:05 PM

This sound better than I'd expected. But it still doesn't add up to new markets for our farmers.
There are always "leftovers" after extracting or I guess in this case cracking. To me it stands to reason that if there's no use for them and they are considered garbage, well there's a convienent tanker in port and dumping in unregulated international waters is just impossible not to think about.

Posted by: Dave Gibney | May 11, 2006 7:04:58 PM


Currently, Seattle Biodiesel uses only domestic feedstocks. While that may change, it's important not to assume it's a done deal. Domestic feedstock production is ramping up rapidly.

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2006 12:07:17 PM

Dave and Dave, just six months ago the debate was over how to create a market so we could get farmers to shift and plant oil producing crops. Now the race is on to get in state oil production to where we can feed this and other plants.
Each year the Gov and state Leg will be looking at where we are in terms of progress and ways to effect the progress. Might the state only buy biodiesel with 100% in state or NW State oil? Getting the results you want while minimizing unintended consequences is always a challenge.

Posted by: Particle Man | May 15, 2006 1:58:32 PM

Even the fact that Seattle Biodiesel has signed up as an affiliate for the RSPO undermines any basic pursuit of "sustainability" - importing from abroad does not equal "home-grown alternative to petrol diesel".
1) Almost all of their media speaks to the promotion of local jobs and the local farming economy - which importing oil from abroad will not support.
2)Palm Oil biodiesel has a cold flow point second only to biodiesel made from tallow - which can have gelling (coagulation) problems at temperatures as high as 50+F - not a Seattle, WA or even CA friendly temperature.

Also, unfortunately a state cannot legilsate or mandate that all of the oil used to produce fuel used in the state must be made from crops grown in-state. My understanding is that it violates inter-state commerce laws.

Posted by: SaraHope Smith | May 16, 2006 5:32:53 PM

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