A Little Sacrifice Goes a Long Way

By | March 17, 2008
A couple months ago, I received a press release about a proposed U.S. oil refinery in Arizona that moved its site because of "legal uncertainties" surrounding a lawsuit filed by a local Native American tribe in April 2007.

How about that. I guess the biodiesel and oil industries have one more thing in common: public opposition.

This is a project I first heard about in April 2005. Our staff thought it would be of interest to our readers because just as we support American-made renewable fuels, we also realize that biodiesel and ethanol, among others, can't replace all of the country's fuel demand. Perhaps American-made gasoline and diesel are better than foreign oil-based products.

However, a U.S. oil refinery hasn't been built since the 1970s, and this Arizona project has clearly become an example of how difficult it is to complete such an endeavor.

The biodiesel industry faces similar challenges with its own detractors. Some people don't want biodiesel plants in their backyards, they don't want any unordinary odors in the air, they don't want increased truck traffic in their towns, and they don't want to wait an extra five minutes for the trains to pass by. There's an acronym for this, and it's not NIMBY (Not In My Backyard). These days, there's the acronym BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). I can see that being applicable to the biodiesel industry in certain cases.

It amazes me how many people agree that we need to diversify our country's fuel supplies, yet not many are willing to make even a small sacrifice. I'm not saying we should turn our backs to the environmental aspects of these industrial facilities. All biodiesel plants should be held to the highest emissions and discharge standards out there, and many do.

However, I am asking the general public to consider giving up some of their conveniences in exchange for a healthier fuels supply.

The biodiesel industry has more than just public opposition to worry about these days. Feedstock prices are high, quality is a concern, and governmental support is necessary.

However, all of these factors will positively align one day, making biodiesel production advantageous once again. When that happens, what a shame it would be if an individual or group was to stand up and say they don't want a biodiesel plant in their neighborhood for trivial reasons. In my ideal world, everyone would be more than willing to support such a project. I hope they would be proud to have such a project in their town. While those people wait for the train to ship the product from the plant, they can take pride in the fact that their town is helping reduce our dependence on oil.

Please share your NIMBY or BANANA stories with us! Send them to jsobolik@bbibiofuels.com.

Jessica Sobolik
Managing Editor

Correction from our February 2008 issue:
The author of the article on page 128, "Environmental Auditing and Management Approaches for Compliance," was incorrectly identified. His full name is Timothy A. Wilkins.

Note: The article on page 142, "Reliable Analysis of Glycerin in Biodiesel," originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Laboratory Equipment, a publication of Advantage Business Media.

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