Letter: Biomass maybe the answer to gas costs

High gas prices? Anyone involved in oil, from drilling to pump, is blaming the others. The government has ordered the Energy Department, The Justice Department and the FTC to investigate. Didn't this bunch "investigate" last November with the results being zilch, nada, bupkis? Anyone with access to the internet, please, look up Alternative Fuels, the information will amaze you. I found Biomass or Biodiesel interesting. I'm no scientist but this what I gathered from The National Biofuels Program of The Department of Energy. "Biomass is any sort of vegetation, plants, leaves, ocean plants. From it we can extract a wealth of stored energy." "It can produce electricity, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels and useful chemicals that are currently derived from petroleum."

THE BIOMASS PROJECT - "Many vegetable oils, animal fats and recycled cooking grease can be transformed into Biodiesel. The resulting biodiesel can be used neat or as a diesel additive to REDUCE emission." "The more biodiesel in the blend, the higher the emission reduction."

"It can help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, help reduce greenhouse gases. It is non-toxic, biodegradable. A diesel engine can, with NO modification or expensive retrofit, operate on biodiesel." "Engine performance is virtually the same as with petroleum diesel."

For the past 10 years the Department of Energy has issued millions of dollars in grants for research into biomass. Either no one has come up with a viable solution or if one does surface, it is made to disappear. However, in Hawaii, a Maui corporation that produces biodiesel from vegetable oil has been selling the process OVERSEAS. So, the idea is feasible and usable, but from what I gather it is too expensive.

In 1972 Congress passed The Energy Policy Act, to promote the use of alternative fuels. The results, nothing.

I refuse to believe that the Country, the people and the resources that in two years took atomic energy from idea to operation, can't come up with a price friendly biomass fuel. I would prefer to believe that big oil money is poured into Congress and corporations to stifle any useful ideas. If biomass is used only for diesel, the benefits would be enormous. Trucks, home heating, electricity production, a drastic reduction in imports, less pollution.

Of course there is a negative side. Presently biofuels are too expensive, and maybe Saudi princes would have to drive last years limos. What will happen? Nothing. As usual the great "silent majority" will tsk, tsk, Congress will huff and puff for a while. National Security will remain at the mercy of OPEC and its cohorts.

Maybe Congress doesn't believe but I believe in American "know how" and "can do" principles, that if a couple of billion dollars, from all that surplus, would be applied to a biomass "Manhattan Project", we would soon have viable, clean, homegrown alternative fuels.


Carson City


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