Biodiesel: The Fuel That Doesn't Kill Us

Biodiesel: The Fuel That Doesn't Kill Us
Posted by CN Staff on February 06, 2007 at 14:31:36 PT
By Joshua Scheer, Truthdig
Source: AlterNet
USA -- Editor's Note: Annie Nelson, wife of Willie Nelson and co-chairperson of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, spoke to Joshua Scheer about the myth that alternative fuels are years away.Scheer: Did you see the State of the Union?Nelson: Yeah, I stomached as much as I could.
Scheer: Did you see what the president said about ethanol? ... He did say one sentence or one line about biodiesel. Did any of that resonate with you?Nelson: Yeah, about as much as it did the last time he said it. I mean, it's all a bit of -- it's just talk. You know, they give 13 gazillion dollars to the oil and gas industry as some welfare for these people who are making phenomenal historic record-breaking profits, and less than -- I think it's 7.7 [billion] for research into alternative fuels which are already here. It's lip service. It's all lip service.Scheer: And what's your involvement in biodiesel?Nelson: Pretty much we're proponents. I don't know how else to say it. We're in production. We have partnerships with Pacific Biodiesel Texas and Pacific Biodiesel, and we are doing community production of biodiesel. And our intent is to keep them community [based] and then promote that idea where each community ... can and should create their own fuel, and let that be the market for the community.Scheer: What is biodiesel?Nelson: It is the fuel that obviously powers -- I'm going to go real elementary, right?Scheer: Yeah.Nelson: The fuel that powers a diesel engine. Biodiesel needs to run in a diesel engine, and what it does -- where it comes from are several sources. It can come from recycled cooking oil, which then keeps that junk out of landfills; several plant seed stocks from seeds and those types of things; the rendering of animals, just you name it. There are tons of ways to get it. There's a process where they remove the glycerin -- that's biodiesel. You can put pure cooking oil into your car, but you have to have a converter inside of it. But just any regular diesel [vehicle] can run on biodiesel because it's been refined, which means the glycerin has been taken out.Scheer: So ... you can actually drive on recycled cooking oil?Nelson: Yes, the diesel engine was designed to run on peanut and hemp oil, not petroleum. But then again Rudolf Diesel disappeared over the Atlantic. It never was intended to run on petroleum, and in fact I think an interesting connection is if you go -- if you check out the Prohibition era, when the government was going after stills that were on farms and such, a lot of those stills were producing ethanol and biodiesel for -- mainly ethanol -- for farm production, for their machinery. That's what happened. There were so many people involved in it, in that whole deal, that Prohibition was probably a whole lot less about alcohol and a whole lot more about killing the renewable energy possibilities. Obviously the petroleum companies were behind it.Scheer: What's the difference between biodiesel and ethanol?Nelson: Well, ethanol is almost like -- and I'm not an expert on ethanol at all, so let me just put that disclaimer in there immediately -- it's more like a grain alcohol, almost. It's from sugar. It's a plant that needs to have a particular cellulose to create a gasoline-type fuel. But it's mainly turning the sugar into fuel.Scheer: With ethanol we know how much money has been given to Iowa and other states where ethanol is being produced. On, they say there's no government program to support them. Do you have an opinion on that?Nelson: is an actual biodiesel board and there are many others. They're just one entity, and they're fine. They tend to have a lot more large producers and a lot of soybean people. Our whole deal, and we just actually formed -- Daryl Hannah and I are co-chairs and Kelly King and Laura Louie, who is Woody Harrelson's wife, and a group of us just formed the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, where our intent is to focus specifically on sustainable community biodiesel production.And if it ends up being ethanol as well at some future date, that's fine, but the whole point is to keep it community -- to eliminate the ADMs and the Cargills and those people ... large oil companies from just transferring their monopoly on Middle Eastern oil to home-produced, naturally produced fuel. Right now they can ... it's really a matter of connecting the farm bill with our national security bills and those types of things without allowing one group or one industry to control our energy, whether it be from the Middle East or from our own country. If it's domestically produced, that should be domestically distributed as well. We're here to protect the family farmers and the community co-ops that want to produce their own fuel and sell it.Scheer: Are there stations where people can fill up? One of the problems with ethanol has been transporting it and getting it to the public.Nelson: People actually produce it all over the country. We do our tours through this whole country, and we do it on biodiesel. At least a blend. At minimum, it's a blend of biodiesel. We try to do 100 percent whenever we can ... So, it's out there. It's already available. The funny thing about why $7.7 billion was given to renewable fuels -- and that 7.7 is spread out between wind and geothermal and biomass and ethanol and biodiesel and others -- that's spread out amongst all of them. When 13 point something billion is given to the oil and gas industry and coal, and then another 12 to nuclear.So it's kind of serious, but instead of doing that, let each community -- that's our deal -- to connect communities and make sure that they can produce their own fuels so they're not dependent on one of these corporations that have already proven that they could care less about these people's interests, and do their own. Make their own fuel. Make their own security, which gives everybody in this country security because not one person or organization is controlling the market. What's the difference between OPEC and a group of American oil companies who control our prices?Scheer: There's a list of gas stations on and a few other of these sites ...Nelson: There are gas stations. What they have a list of is people who are members. There are other people besides them -- many, many other people that are producing biodiesel. When we put the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance online, it will be to help people connect to where they can get fuel around the country and, at the same time, promote community-based fueling stations where people can pull off the highway and fill up with whatever blend they need or 100 percent.So that is something that just hasn't been put together. That's what we're going for. It exists out there -- a lot of people making fuel. We're some of them. In fact, if there was even more help, this would go big guns, but it also takes the profit away from some people that are in control right now.Scheer: During the State of the Union, the president said he would try and reduce foreign fuel by [20] percent by 2017. You're saying ...Nelson: We're already doing it. There are so many people already doing it. In fact, taking people and putting them back on land. Even if we just put them back on their land and let them buy their farms back. Put them back on land that's sitting fallow right now. Let them grow food for ourselves and fuel. Then each community would start thriving again.You've got people out of the city, so there would be less congestion in the city. People on land, where they're not [driven] insane by the inner city, where that's not where they belong anyway. Put them back on the land, let them grow our fuel, let them grow our food, have it be sustainably grown, and then we eliminate -- well, first we would eliminate, by getting them out of the city, the congestion of carbon fibers in the air, plus if they're going to be using renewable fuels -- and specifically I can speak for biodiesel, if up to 100 percent, you can eliminate 99 percent of particulates in the air.So why wouldn't we do that? People don't want to be in the city, people want to be on their land; they never wanted to leave it to begin with. They got thrown off their land because the market is manipulated. So we put them back on it and allow them to earn ownership -- we did that in the '30s -- but allow them to earn their ownership back, and let them produce food and fuel for us -- fuel that doesn't kill us, and grow it sustainably so it doesn't kill the water and everything around us either. It doesn't make sense not to.Then you have thriving communities ... when you put people back on the land then you need a grocery store, you need businesses that sustain those people. They have to buy their farm products somewhere, they have to buy their feed somewhere, when you get them back out there, you get those communities thriving again, and the heartbeat of America gets a little defibrillation -- and certainly the economy. How is that bad? It's not. It's good for everybody; it's just not great for those few who want it to be just good for them. Source: AlterNet (US)Author:  Joshua Scheer, TruthdigPublished: February 6, 2007Copyright: 2007 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Diesel Hemp Archives
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Comment #14 posted by Toker00 on February 07, 2007 at 09:49:02 PT
Boy, do I vouch for that. Give me a Thinking Toker to a Drinking Smoker any day, in any office, government or not! Hail yeah!FoM, I quit drinking coffee because I got tired of making it, sweetening it, creaming it, stirring it, drinking it, and making it... and doing that continually all day and all night long. Whew! Yeah, had the headaches, but I didn't get cranky. I like my brain decaffeinated. Thought I would have more trouble quitting than that...Wage Peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 09:44:39 PT
I know most drug reform people are more in a third party mode but I have always felt that a third party can swing an election to the party that a person fears most. Lieberman is an example to me. Lieberman has more power now then he had as a Democrat. He can play one party against the other now. 
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Comment #12 posted by Toker00 on February 07, 2007 at 09:38:51 PT
Makes plenty sense, FoM. But, the only real deal they will listen to, come election time, is a strong THIRD party. That is the only thing that would make a difference to these Poli-twins. Us, getting stronger, louder and more UNIFIED, plus a third party candidate that will walk through the White House doors and do what WE tell and support him to do, will be our only hope for much of a "Free" future. And when I say support him, I mean with actions, not just words. Kucinich is a D, but if he is still alive in '08 and there are no third party possibilities, I will vote for him. He talks TO you and not AT you. I like that.Toke. 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 09:16:06 PT
I'm sorry about the page going buggy on you. The way I see it is we need new blood to run our country. It's the Democrats turn now. After 10 or more years of the Dems in power they will be as corrupt as the Republicans are now. Then it will be time to humble the Democrats. I just want to see a big difference and no middle of the road politics this coming election season. If we're left then lets be left. If we're right then let's be right if that makes sense.
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Comment #10 posted by Truth on February 07, 2007 at 09:15:03 PT
As my wife says....
Martha just hit the nail on the head, she told me:"We need thinkers, not drinkers, in office.
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Comment #9 posted by Toker00 on February 07, 2007 at 09:10:07 PT
I read the first part of the article and went to scroll down, and the page went buggy! I read enough to know they are indeed running scared. Unless they start doing the right things, the people are not going to support them. And the likelihood of that happening? Hey, we're talking about REPUBLICANS here. If they don't profit, they don't bother.Thanks, FoM.Toke.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 07, 2007 at 08:47:20 PT
I thought you might appreciate this article.GOP Losing Another PR War?
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Comment #7 posted by Toker00 on February 07, 2007 at 03:25:01 PT
OT: Republican traitors!
Sic 'em!
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Comment #6 posted by Toker00 on February 07, 2007 at 03:17:18 PT
February ASA Activists Newsletter.
Too long to post.
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on February 07, 2007 at 01:25:35 PT
Here's a related article...N.D. Issues Nation's First Hemp Permits: this old,trusty link...SHADOW OF THE SWASTIKA: The Real Reason the Government Won't Debate Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Re-legalization:
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on February 07, 2007 at 00:31:46 PT
That's great news about North Dakota! I just heard the news as I was listening to Coast to Coast AM. May the rest of the states follow their lead! Hemp!Hemp!Hooray!!!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 06, 2007 at 18:35:13 PT
A Letter from Willie Nelson about the Environment
Are you concerned about Global Warming? Our dependence on oil? Developing alternative fuels and protecting the environment we all live in? I am. I hope you'll tune in to an entire evening about THE END OF OIL on LINK TV and dates:Friday, February 9thSaturday, February 17thSunday, February 25th Thursday, March 1st Show times (the same for each show date):Part I: 8 pm ET, 5 pm PT Part II: 11 pm ET, 8 pm PT You can watch some of the programs online too at'll see a brand new show, OUTSIDE THE BOX: BEYOND BIG OIL, in which Peter Coyote hops on my biodiesel bus and learns how easy it is to run on this clean, recycled fuel source. Now he's a convert. LINK TV is also showing a sneak preview of a great new film called CRUDE IMPACT about how deeply we depend on fossil fuels and how we can look to the future to deal with the possibility of a world without oil. And, LINK TV traces the Bush Administration's efforts to suppress scientist's warnings in GLOBAL WARMING: BUSH'S CLIMATE OF FEAR. You can join in on the discussion with the filmmakers and other oil experts in a real-time online chat hosted on, on:Friday, February 9th & Sunday, February 25th at:9 pm - 11 pm ET 6 pm - 8 pm PTSaturday, February 17th & Thursday, March 1st at:Midnight pm - 2 am ET 9 pm - 11 pm PT These are life-changing programs. I hope you'll tune in. Yours truly, 
Willie Nelson 
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Comment #2 posted by Stick on February 06, 2007 at 15:16:30 PT
Willie and Annie 
True Patriots. Long may you run. Carry on.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 06, 2007 at 14:36:02 PT
North Dakota Issues First Hemp Production Licenses
By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, February 06, 2007
 Bismarck, ND -- North Dakota officials have issued the nation's first licenses to grow industrial hemp, though they do not guarantee that farmers will actually be able to grow the crop.Farmers Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge, who got the state licenses Tuesday, still must meet federal requirements before they can plant their fields. The Drug Enforcement Administration requires a $2,293 annual registration fee, which is nonrefundable even if the agency does not grant a farmer permission to grow hemp."It's taken us a lot longer than (expected) to get here, and I'm thinking we still have a ways to go," said Monson, of Osnabrock, who first became interested in growing industrial hemp 10 years ago.The North Dakota Agriculture Department approved rules late last year for the production of hemp, a cousin of marijuana that can be used to make everything from paper to lotion.Several states have authorized industrial hemp farming, but North Dakota is the first to grant commercial hemp farming licenses, according to the hemp advocacy group Vote Hemp. A bill in the Legislature also would give the state regulatory authority over hemp processors.North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson in late December asked the DEA to waive its registration fee and also allow the state to regulate hemp farming within its borders, but federal officials rejected that request.Joseph Rannazzisi, a deputy assistant administrator with the DEA, said federal law does not allow the agency to delegate its ability to regulate hemp to state officials. Although the DEA may waive registration requirements, it has done so only for law enforcement officers and other officials, he said.Johnson said he is frustrated that the DEA makes no distinction between marijuana and hemp."There's something rather ludicrous to have to register as someone who wants to grow marijuana," he said.The North Dakota House is considering a resolution that urges Congress to direct the DEA to differentiate between industrial hemp and marijuana. Another resolution urges Congress to facilitate the legal growing of hemp.Monson, who is the state House's assistant Republican majority leader, and Hauge, a farmer from Ray, said they will pay the federal fee.Johnson said he will deliver the registration applications when he meets with DEA officials in Washington, D.C., early next week to try again to persuade them to relax what he called an unreasonable federal fee requirement.The state licenses issued Tuesday are "about trying to demonstrate that it can be done ... to prove a point, that this is a viable industry and we should be able to participate in it," Johnson said.To get a state license, farmers must pay a fee of $5 per acre, with a minimum of $150, along with $52 to cover the costs of fingerprinting and a criminal background check. They also must provide coordinates for their fields, and make them available at any time to state inspections.Johnson said that task can be handled by existing inspectors who monitor everything from pesticides to weeds, and would be a minor expense for the Agriculture Department unless the number of hemp farmers grows significantly.The department currently is processing 16 other hemp-growing applications from farmers, he said.Johnson said asking Congress to take action if the DEA will not change its position is a possibility, but he does not favor that option."DEA has the authority to do what we're asking them to do," he said. "Asking Congress to tell DEA to exercise the authority they already have - that's not a good argument to make."___The resolutions are HCR3042 and HCR3028.The bill is SB2099.___On the Net:N.D. Agriculture Department: Enforcement Administration: http://www.dea.govVote Hemp: http://www.votehemp.orgCopyright: 
2007 Forum Communications Co. Fargo, ND
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