Aberdeen, Washington makes headlines across the region today. No, I’m not talking about Tom Cruise‘s appearance yesterday.
Or Kurt Cobain.
The timber town on the Olympic Peninsula soon will become a major center of renewable energy with the construction of the largest biodiesel refinery in the country. Could a clean energy boom transform other struggling communities in the region? I’m hoping for a new trend.
Also, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s bid to become Interior Secretary moved forward this morning when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously in favor of his confirmation. No surprises here.
Beyond the region, an interesting commentary from the Washington Post compares the current financial cost of the war in Iraq to the bill for enacting the Kyoto Protocol.
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Hm. On the biodiesel plan: as the article says,”the new refinery would be fed largely by palm oil from Malaysia and soybean oil from elsewhere in the U.S.”That’s, uh, not so good. Especially the palm part, since palm plantations typically replace tropical rainforest.Granted, palm plantations have great oil yields (see, e.g., here for a listing of per-acre yields). But you just have to wonder about the wisdom of preventing global warming by wiping out biodiversity hotspots—sort of a “we had to burn the village in order to save it” kinda thing.More here on Malaysian palm oil. The company says it will seek out oil form “sustainable palm plantations” (whatever that may turn out to be). But palm oil is a fungible commodity, so buying palm oil (whatever the source) will bid up its price—which ultimately will lead to more economic pressure to turn rainforest into palm plantations. (Of course, that may happen regardless of what happens in Aberdeen.)
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.
What powers the vessel that is sending palm oil halfway around the world? Is it biodiesel? In what way is this sustainable, esp. in light of Clark’s excellent argument about commodity pricing?