Monday, January 19th, 2009
Monday, January 12th, 2009
Bipartisan cooperation for a major statewide energy policy can be hard to come by, but Northwestern states have made it happen.
On Nov. 30, Washington implemented a B2 requirement that was enacted in March 2006 when Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 6508. Specifically, the legislation mandates fuel retailers to sell a B2 blend within state borders. The requirement will increase to 5 percent once in-state biodiesel production reaches 3 percent of total in-state diesel demand.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture is developing rules to implement the standard, which was endorsed by the state’s Apollo Alliance, Labor Council, Farm Bureau and environmental community. In addition, all state agencies will be required to use a minimum of B20 in all diesel-powered vehicles, vessels and construction equipment by June 1.
The standard contains a contentious caveat, however, according to some existing and future biodiesel producers. “It’s not an enforced mandate,” said Doug Bartlett, chief executive officer of Spokane County Biodiesel, a 1 MMgy plant under construction in Spokane Valley, Wash. “It’s not like you have to do this or else.” The company, which temporarily suspended construction in late December due to limited funding, plans to use yellow grease as its primary feedstock.
Meanwhile, Oregon is ramping up for a similar mandate that the state legislature passed in July 2007. It requires the use of B2 once in-state biodiesel production reached 5 MMgy, which recently occurred. It also allows for an increase to B5 once production reaches 15 MMgy.
SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel LLC, Oregon’s lone operating biodiesel plant in Salem, completed a major expansion from 1 MMgy to 5 MMgy at its three-year old biodiesel facility in early November. It uses waste vegetable oil as a feedstock, as well as locally grown canola oil processed at Willamette Biomass Processors Inc., an 80 million-pound-per-year oilseed crushing plant in Rickreall, Ore., 12 miles west of Salem.
Washington now houses six operating biodiesel plants with a combined production capacity of 141 MMgy, including Inland Empire Oilseeds LLC, which began production at its 8 MMgy canola-based facility in Odessa, Wash, in mid-November. By late December, it had sold 33,000 gallons of B100 and met all ASTM D 6751 specifications. The company, formed three years ago, plans to distribute its renewable fuel throughout the Pacific Northwest and export to Pacific Rim countries. King County, Wash., the largest biodiesel-consuming county in the U.S., will be the company’s core trade area, according to General Manager Steve Starr.
Inland Empire Oilseeds also plans to build an adjacent oilseed crushing facility that can process approximately 35,000 tons of locally produced canola, Starr said. Expected to be operational by June 2009, it will supply up to 50 percent of the canola oil needed for biodiesel production.
To help distribute biodiesel in this emerging market, Exxon Mobil Corp. built a $3 million blending terminal on its 15-acre fuel storage site in Spokane Valley, Wash. The facility, which opened Dec. 1, one day after the statewide B2 mandate went into effect, is Exxon Mobil’s first in the U.S. The oil major said it will use a ratio blending process at the terminal’s loading rack to ensure that an appropriate percentage of biodiesel is transported by truck to local service stations. Chevron Corp. has also announced plans to distribute B5 in Washington. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP is evaluating the transportation of biodiesel in its 110-mile pipeline between Portland and Eugene, Ore.
Sunday, January 4th, 2009
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Friday, January 2nd, 2009
6:25 AM PST on Sunday, January 4, 2009
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Conservation groups that spent the past eight years battling the Bush administration over logging, wildlife and global warming are hoping for major changes from the Obama administration and a more strongly Democratic Congress.
Their green wish list includes more wilderness designations, legislation to stop old growth forest logging, ramping up protection of species on the brink of extinction, cutting back on government predator control, and adopting a comprehensive plan to address climate change.
“The challenge for the conservation community is to rise to the occasion,” said Steve Pedery, spokesman for Oregon Wild, a frequent plaintiff in lawsuits challenging Bush administration policies. “This is a fairly historic moment on conservation policy. It is not only the end of the Bush administration, but the greenest Congress and president in 40 years.
“Folks could spend the next four or eight years unraveling the things the Bush administration did in the order they did them, or they could try to move the country ahead on environmental policy and find areas of consensus.”
Andy Kerr, a conservation consultant, said it should be relatively easy for Obama to undo much of what Bush did on the environment, because it was done administratively, by changing rules and regulations, not legislatively.
Prime targets for administrative action are Bush administration polices that made it easier to log, mine and drill for oil in undeveloped sections of national forests known as roadless areas, easing Endangered Species Act requirements for federal agencies, and running up a backlog of candidates for threatened or endangered species designation.
“It would be prudent to assume there will be a Palin administration someday,” Kerr added, referring to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a conservative who was the Republican vice presidential nominee. “That’s why we need to act with Congress to permanently protect the forests.”
Recognizing widespread public support for thinning of crowded young stands susceptible to fire while protecting centuries-old forests that are the foundation of spotted owl and salmon habitat, Oregon Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio are both working on old growth forest protection legislation.
“The devil will be in the details,” Pedery said. “The nature of any legislative effort is it’s a delicate balance.”
Oregon Wild also has its eye on new wilderness designations that would prohibit logging in some prime salmon habitat. Besides the Mount Hood wilderness bill languishing in Congress, it would like to see creation of a Kelsey-Whisky wilderness along the wild section of the Rogue River, and a Devils Staircase wilderness in the Coast Range north of the Umpqua River.
Big Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity are hoping that some of the 251 candidates for Endangered Species Act protection — including the Oregon spotted frog — will get the protections they have been waiting for, and for cutbacks in the numbers of wolves, coyotes, cougars and other predators killed in the name of livestock protection.
Dominick DellaSala, director of the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy, said he is hoping for a clear signal from the Obama administration that key appointments and policy decisions will be based on science.
“That has been lacking the last eight years,” DellaSala said. “Obama has made some great choices,” particularly Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director Steven Chu to be Energy secretary.
On global warming, DellaSala and others are calling for a national summit on climate change, which would address reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting old growth forests as a way of drawing carbon out of the atmosphere.
Though not part of a conservation group, Bob Dopelt, director of the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon, said making progress on climate change will be difficult, because even the national environmental groups most interested in the issue have yet to come together on what steps to take.
One major question remains: whether to adopt a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gases, or impose a carbon tax, he noted. While cap-and-trade puts a lid on emissions, it demands a complex regulatory structure. A carbon tax would be easier to implement, and is enjoying growing support.
Dopelt said he thought states like Oregon would be quicker to act than Congress. Oregon is one of seven states to embrace the Western Climate Initiative, which sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by about 15 percent by 2020, but leaves to each state how to do it.
by Clint Bowie, Special to The Oregonian
Thursday December 25, 2008, 2:00 AM
Powell’s put solar panels on the roof of its warehouse, which houses the online division of the company, in Northwest Portland.
The next time you buy a book online at Powells.com, your order will be powered — at least in part — by Portland sunshine.
The warehouse in Northwest Portland that houses the online division of the bookstore recently became home to one of the largest solar power installations in Oregon. According to owner Michael Powell, it’s all part of the company’s efforts to minimize its carbon footprint.
“We’ve been looking at ways to become more environmentally friendly,” he says, “and the solar system seemed to be a good fit for ourselves and for the environment.” For the past two years, Powell’s has had a “green committee” that seeks to incorporate sustainable practices into the business. “We are very aware of what we do,” Powell says, “and we try to do what we feel is right — recycling, controlling greenhouse gases, heat control, using biofuel.”
They had looked at installing solar panels on the roof of their downtown City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside, but the taller buildings surrounding it would have shielded some of the sunlight.
The unshadowed roof space at the warehouse at 2720 N.W. 29th Ave. provided the ideal spot to soak up the local sun. Don’t laugh — the city’s solar power potential is only 30 percent less than that of Tucson, Ariz., according to Vince McClellan, president of Energy Design, which was responsible for the installation.
The 540 photovoltaic panels that now cover the 60,000-square-foot roof supply about a quarter of the building’s electricity need, Powell says.
Thanks in no small part to federal and state tax credits as well as an Oregon Energy Trust incentive, the system should pay for itself within about five years.