« Trimming to the Core of the Matter | Main | Measuring Progress in China: Going Beyond GDP Growth »

Friday, December 30, 2005

Mammas Should Let Their Babies Grow Up To Use BioWillie?

Willie Nelson is pushing biodiesel as an alternative fuel, but many environmentalists are skeptical about biodiesel's net energy benefits and its ability to replace a substantial fraction of traditional oil-based fuel:

His Car Smelling Like French Fries, Willie Nelson Sells Biodiesel, by Danny Hakim, NY Times: Willie Nelson drives a Mercedes. But do not lose faith, true believers. The exhaust from Mr. Nelson's diesel-powered Mercedes smells like peanuts, or French fries, or whatever alternative fuel happens to be in his tank. ... Willie Nelson has birthed his own brand of alternative fuel. It is called, fittingly enough, BioWillie. And in BioWillie, Mr. Nelson, 72, has blended two of his biggest concerns: his love of family farmers and disdain for the Iraq war. BioWillie is a type of biodiesel, a fuel that can be made from any number of crops and run in a normal diesel engine. ... The rationale is that it is a domestic fuel that can provide profit to farmers and that it will help the environment, though environmentalists are not universally enthusiastic about it...

Every alternative to oil ... has its drawbacks. Biodiesel would reduce most emissions of smog-forming pollutants and global warming gases, and it could be used instead of foreign oil. But some studies show that it increases emissions of one harmful pollutant, nitrogen oxide, and it could not be produced in vast enough quantities to supplant oil-based fuel, or come close to it, unless the nation starts turning the suburbs over to farmland. And as with ethanol, producing great quantities of biodiesel from corn or soybeans could drive up food prices.

Bill Reinert, Toyota's national manager for advanced technologies, said ... "I frankly don't see biodiesel being an early alt-fuel player across a wide swath of geography. It's a boutique fuel. There's not enough payoff and not enough people into it." Peter J. Bell, the chief executive of ... a distributor of biodiesel that is working with Mr. Nelson, said of the nation's nearly 200,000 gas stations, "650 carry biodiesel, so we have a job in front of us."...

Daniel Becker, the Sierra Club's top global warming expert, said ... "In order to grow soybeans, you need multiple passes over the field with diesel tractors, you need a lot of fertilizer that's energy intensive to produce and, at the end of the day, you have a product that is no boon for the environment." He went on: "If you're going to go to the trouble of using an alternative fuel, use a good alternative fuel. If you really want to listen to Willie Nelson, go buy one of his records and play it in a hybrid."...

    Posted by on Friday, December 30, 2005 at 01:04 AM in Economics, Environment, Oil | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (4)


    TrackBack URL for this entry:

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Mammas Should Let Their Babies Grow Up To Use BioWillie?:


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.