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Why doesn't someone open an organic and sustainable soap factory in town to use the glycerin?

Bruce wrote: "Todd Bray seems to be steering us to be afraid of "waste glycerin," yet when I Google the words "waste glycerin," I see several articles describing how to convert the glycerin to methane (a fuel) by adding it to the anaerobic digesters at waste treatment plants. Looks like it could be a symbiotic winner to co-locate a glycerin source at the WWTP. Or should we be afraid? I am confused."

WEF has not provided a solution beyond a promise not to send the waste glycerin to landfill. One of the people involved with this project from the beginning posted a comment here not long ago that it could always be warehoused on WEF's storage site in the city of Richmond, California.

Those are not answers. By asking for a paper trail from the CCC, we as a community will at the very least know where the byproduct ends up. If WEF can find a buyer, more power to it. If it ends up warehoused in Richmond, I think Richmond would like to know about that.

There are always possibilities for glycerin, but as with recycled paper, the current and potential market is saturated. Because glycerin never dries, it's possible it could become an additive for latex paint, which needs a wetting agent to keep it from being a gloppy mass.

Bruce, is there a problem in asking for answers now?

Are those articles about experimental treatment plants that were built by companies no longer in existence? If not, perhaps our local plant could first work on eliminating the emission of noxious fumes into the local community, selling undertreated poo dirt to unsuspecting farmers, and ejecting undertreated sewage into the nearby creeks and ocean before they take on this new task.

Todd Bray seems to be steering us to be afraid of "waste glycerin," yet when I Google the words "waste glycerin," I see several articles describing how to convert the glycerin to methane (a fuel) by adding it to the anaerobic digesters at waste treatment plants. Looks like it could be a symbiotic winner to co-locate a glycerin source at the WWTP. Or should we be afraid? I am confused.

"Recycled cooking oil is a net environmental 'good' -- because we are reusing oil that would be thrown away."

Summer, If this were true, then it would count toward AB 939 compliance. It does not because used cooking oil is already reused as an animal food additive, among other things. By refining used cooking oil, WEF is generating a potential AB 939 nightmare for Pacifica by adding hundreds of thousands of gallons of waste glycerin to our waste stream.

This is why I asked that a paper trail be created by WEF that is verifiable annually by reporting to the CCC staff where it is sending its waste glycerin. The CDP reflects this in Special Condition 17.

Just to be very clear about this important issue: 1) Recycled cooking oil is a net environmental 'good' -- because we are reusing oil that would be thrown away.

2) Using virgin oil or other materials from plants grown specifically for fueling cars to create biodiesel -- is a net environmental 'negative'. It is wrong to do this in terms of the environment because the system is then taking resources either from food supply, or from the fast diminishing wildlife habitat. In addition, in some cases, it's a source of human slavery (see Counterpunch story:

UPDATE: Please do not confuse biodiesel with OTHER biofuels. Corn for example. Switchgrass for another example. These crops are being grown to run cars-- not feed people-- or in the case of switchgrass, native forests/pampas is being converted to grow switchgrass-- for automobiles. In the process land, biodiversity is being extinguished-- and in Brazil,

Biodiesel is diesel with USED cooking oil. Not the same as PLANTS BEING GROWN TO FUEL CARS -- instead of feeding people or permitting wildlife to inhabit its habitat.

Why the Promise of Biofuels is a Lie:

Summer, the issue of biodiesel from plantation grown crops is why the EU has re-evaluated its biodiesel position. It's well documented that the clearing of equatorial rain forest for plantations specifically dedicated to supplying Europe with biodiesel has led to the EU reversing its biodiesel position.

The semantics you are using do not represent the reality of biodiesel. The article posted here a few weeks ago about an East Bay company contracting with farmers in Southeast Asia to grow an oil-rich crop to produce biodiesel for sale in the Bay Area is an improvement over some crops such as palm oil, but there is a flaw in the math whether you are using virgin oil or used oil.

There isn't enough used oil to make more than a 1 percent or 2 percent difference in diesel use, and virgin oil is carbon-positive, meaning it ultimately creates more carbon than it's relieving.

Biofuels need more time, funding, and research. The math will eventually be worked out.

What are you talking about, Summer? Of course biodiesel is a biofuel, in the same way that a mammal is an animal. There's no mix-up or confusion.

Biodiesel, where already used cooking oil is being recycled, is a great idea.

Please do not confuse it with biofuels, including ethanol from corn and other plants. This results in loss of biodiversity (whole ecosystems are destroyed), less food for people.

Why the Promise of Biofuels is a Lie:

Your continued insistence on following rules and regulations and permit requirements and stuff like that is REALLY not appreciated when we can alllll just sit down together and sing about it.

My support of the project has always been conditional, and one of the conditions was that the bulk of the biodiesel produced at the plant come from recycled oil. I've always been on the lookout for anything in writing about this, but I've never seen anything that said the biodiesel plant would confine itself to used cooking oil. In fact, I remember seeing a document that promised Whole Energy virgin oil if needed.

When he was asked at the CCC meeting, I remember Atul from Whole Energy saying that it was their intention to use recycled cooking oil, but I got the feeling that he was wording it carefully, so that it wasn't an outright promise. And when this issue was discussed previously on Riptide, nobody was able to point out a written guarantee that the primary source of feedstock would be recycled cooking oil.

After reading about the operations of other biodiesel plants that recycle used oil, it seems like it's not unusual for them to use virgin oil when used oil is hard to find. I would expect the same thing to happen at the local biodiesel plant, and have no problem with it as long as the amount of virgin oil that's used is small. But a former co-worker who used to fill his VW Beetle with biodiesel from the old HMB co-op would complain to me that the co-op ended up producing most of its biodiesel from virgin oil because it couldn't get enough used oil. Of course, that's what nobody wants to see happen. I've always thought that there should be some kind of minimum percentage of biodiesel produced from recycled cooking oil imposed on the plant. If it goes over this minimum percentage over the course of a year, it should be shut down or heavily fined.

"I had forgotten that the present agreement limits Whole Energy to used oil only"

If someone can verify that that's the case, I will fall in line behind the proponents of this plant. I don't really agree with this being the appropriate location for this type of plant/refinery/whatever (or with this being a great place for the existing non-functional poo refinery), but as long as it's dedicated to converting waste to something useful, I'm all for it. However, I'm not in favor of turning fields of soy/corn/whatever into biodiesel. From what I've read, that's just trading one environmentally crappy policy for another.

Since apparently no one else, including our current council members, can get any kind of development going in our last remaining economic redevelopment area, I've gotten to the point where I'd invite just about anyone to do something over there. Could someone open a hot dog stand if nothing else?

No one is suggesting deregulation, Scotty. Any and all recycled, used, cooking oil should certainly be made into biodiesel. I had forgotten that the present agreement limits Whole Energy to used oil only, but that is presently the right stuff to use anyway. If biodiesel turns out to be more popular than using only what recycled, used, cooking oil can supply, then the experiments with algae and switch grass might well pay off and provide an excellent source to make up the difference. For the sake of our health, I hope that we will all be eating less deep-fried food. For the sake of our carbon footprint, I hope that we will all be driving vehicles powered by something other than gasoline. It may someday become necessary that Whole Energy supplement the recycled, used, cooking oil with virgin algae and/or switch grass oils. It is appropriate that Whole Energy should have to make a case for it if and when that becomes necessary. I expect the regulations to evolve with the industry.

Sorry, I don't remember the details and can't find a list of the CCC requirements, but I had heard that one of the CCC requirements was that the city grade the quarry before the plant can be built. Is this not the case?

Yes, let's not strangle this industry with regulations. As we all know, that philosophy turned out so well for the financial industry.

The agreement is that this is a used cooking oil recycling/biodiesel production facility. That is the expectation as it has always been. It is in all the written material as such. That was my vision from the beginning as we set out to look for a company that wanted to do just that.

Lance would like to know who wrote this little ditty.


The CCC application states the purpose of the plant is to recycle used cooking oil.

If it can be proven that WEF is not fulfilling the stated purpose of the CCC CDP to recycle used cooking oil and is instead using feed stock from some other source, the CDP could be challenged and taken back.

At the hearing in July the CCC said as much.

A ban on virgin oil would be a very bad idea because this industry is in its infancy and it is unclear what its needs will be. I agree that food-crop-virgin oil is not how we want to go in the long run, and a biodiesel industry based on existing food-crop-virgin oil would not even be worthy of consideration. In my opinion, a general ban on virgin oil would eliminate the best sources presently on the horizon, which are algae and switch grass. If one were to limit the ban to food-crop-virgin oil, it could still eliminate algae and switch grass if anyone decided to use any part of those plants in food products. Let us not start out by strangling this industry in its infancy with regulations. Let us be ever vigilant once it is a going concern, when we will have a better idea of what regulations are appropriate. We should also be comparing the shortcomings of whatever the biodiesel industry turns out to be like to the shortcomings of competing industries, and to what we know to be possible before we regulate. We should leave it to the biodiesel industry's own research and development to compare what it is to any kind of perfection.

(Sent to CCC staff)

Hi Mark,

Below is a link to a WEF newsletter where the claim is made that the building housing the refining equipment will be erected as soon as it arrives. It's my understanding from the CDP that all 18 COA must be met "before construction can begin."

Has WEF submitted everything required in conditions 1 through 16? And if so, I'd like it to be known that pursuant to COA 18, I haven't been sent or been shown any of the information required by the CDP as of yet.

Is there a monitoring system for the CDP in case WEF prematurely begins construction?

Todd Bray
650 355 6788

Were there ever any agreements made that virgin vegetable oil will not be refined in this plant?

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