Thursday, December 30, 2004

Open Letter To:

Dr. Lester R. Brown,
Earth Policy Institute

Dear Dr. Brown,

I must commend the article below. I've come to much the same conclusions myself through large amounts of environmental reading. I do find something missing in the article however, and I believe that you might be best equipped to study and fully address it.

What would the feasibility and impact be if U.S. vehicles were converted to biodiesel or biodiesel-electric hybrids, and U.S. heating technologies were converted from gas and fuel oil to sustainable wood foresting and biodiesel?

My understanding is that biodiesel can be run in either diesel engines or oil furnaces with no modifications, the only caveat being that if petroleum products were previously used in the engine or furnace, there must be a period of frequent fuel filter changes and slow ramp-up of petro-fuel to bidiesel blend, and modern seals and gaskets are required. I understand biodiesel acts as a solvent to sludge in engines left from burning petro-diesel. I also understand that biodiesel has extensive reduction of many pollutant emissions, is almost sulfur-free, is a carbon-neutral fuel, and has a net positive energy balance in the production cycle. is an excellent place to start with information gathering on the subject.

This fuel already appears to be gathering serious momentum with over 200 stations now selling it nation-wide, and a growing number of fleet vehicle owners experimenting with it's use, and quite a few environmental activists running diesel-powered cars and light trucks on the fuel.

My questions are these:

1. How true are the claimed benefits of this fuel?

2. Would U.S. agriculture be able to produce enough non-food plant matter to supply the domestic transportation markets and heating markets without surrendering food production, especially if high-thermal mass/ highly insulated or underground housing and biodiesel-electric hybrid technologies were used. If not, what percentage of these markets could reasonably be serviced?

3. If factored into the picture you present in the article below, what impact would biodiesel be potentially capable of producing on the U.S. net fossil fuel use, especially as related to oil and it's byproducts?


Daniel A. Stafford


by Lester R. Brown

With the price of oil above $50 a barrel, with political instability in
the Middle East on the rise, and with little slack in the world oil
economy, we need a new energy strategy. Fortunately, the outline of a new
strategy is emerging with two new technologies.

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