October 17, 2005

Bio-Diesel - On-going Saga


Thank you for demonstrating the common excuses for regulating biodiesel, typically expressed in terms of concern that consumers accept the fuel. There is no question that consumers will accept biodiesel. They are eager for it, and investors are eager to supply it. If the industry is not well underway in the next five years you are likely to hear charges of intentional suppression and see people take to the streets demanding this alternative fuel.

The question is not whether consumers will accept biodiesel, but rather, who's going to control the industry. Is it going to be modeled on petroleum fuel, where it is dominated by a small number of giant corporations who are completely in bed with government, and regulated to the teeth as if it were high polluting and dangerous? Or is it going to be available from producers of all sizes, direct from farm or at city pumps? Will there be any disincentives for an independent producer to offer the product for retail sale (having to deal with multiple bureaucracies qualifies as a major disincentive).

ASTM and NCWM standards are already set for biodiesel. Producers who want any longevity in the industry will voluntarily comply with these. Larger producers and some small ones will get certified under the National Biodiesel Board's BQ2000 program. Consumers are perfectly capable of buying biodiesel that meets ASTM standards or is certified under BQ2000 if they have warranty or other concerns. For decades consumers have been savvy enough to know to put diesel fuel in their diesel vehicles and gasoline fuel in their gasoline vehicles. They can even handle their own car maintenance without the government's help. They can figure out to fuel up on certified biodiesel or make their own educated decisions on independent or small-scale providers. These smaller providers also have good incentive to help consumers understand performance issues like cold gel and clogged filters.

If the biodiesel industry is not artificially controlled, it will police itself very effectively. Biodiesel enthusiasts care deeply about the product's potential and will not sit quietly while some charlatan sells sub-par product that reflects poorly on the industry. Because price is the biggest obstacle for consumers, your biggest concern should be ensuring truly free competition in the industry. The ODA and the EPA aren't doing consumers or the environment any favors by regulating biodiesel. They do nothing but hold the industry back.

Angela Eckhardt Freedom Fuel: How and Why Biodiesel Policy Should Reflect Freedom

Dr. Lenny weighs in completely with Ms. Eckhardt, and graciously welcomes all interested to a newly developing bio-oil cooperative in Douglas County.

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