Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on April 7, 2008
>Another setback in America’s love affair with the internal combustion industry came this week in a lawsuit filed by Alabama environmental group Black Warrior Riverkeeper. The suit claims that Alabama Biodiesel Corporation has, on at least 24 occasions, discharged waste into the Black Warrior river, causing an oil-like sheen and killing fish. The suit also mentions that Alabama Biodiesel operated for over a year without a pollution discharge permit.
Alabama Biodiesel is one of a host of “clean fuel” plants that have sprung up in the past year – there were only 90 in the U.S. in 2006, but 160 by the end of 2007. In this case, like with many of America’s good ideas, the race for the mighty buck has trumped long-sighted concerns about unintended consequences like pollution and other environmental impacts.
The problem with biodiesel – aside from the unhealthy mono-cropping of corn and soybeans – is that there are byproducts. Glycerin is the most noteworthy because this otherwise benign “gel” gets contaminated with methanol — a not-so-nice liquid — during production. It’s possible to “clean” the glycerin, but not economically feasible, in part because the biodiesel fad has caused a glut on the market.
So, what do companies do with the excess? Well, some companies dump it wherever they can – in rivers, streams, drainage ditches, you name it. The glycerin eventually breaks down, but not before reducing oxygen levels in the water, killing fish and anything else that depends on the oxygen for survival.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but maybe it’s time to rethink the whole idea of internal combustion.
(via New York Times)