Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ethanol Goes Hollywood...

Ethanol, long the darling of Midwest farmers and inside the Beltway politicians, is coming to L.A.-- Los Angeles county, anyway. Yesterday, Los Angeles County approved the construction of L.A.'s first cellulosic ethanol plant, a $30 million, 3.2 million gallon per year facility that will make ethanol out of biowaste like wood chips and other green waste.

By situating the facility near the Lancaster landfill, the idea is to alleviate some of the waste going into the landfill and create more of the cleaner burning fuel additive.

Company officials at Bluefire Ethanol said they want to build two more of these plants in California, and as many as 20 nationwide over the next 7 years.

Not everyone is happy, though. As with any project of this magnitude, the NIMBY's are restless, and possibly for good reason.

A Stanford University study released last year concluded that ethanol actually makes air quality worse-- up to 50% worse when using the biofeedstock that the new Bluefire plant will rely upon. Industry has panned the study in a big way, but with the Stanford imprimatur, it is gettting its fair share of looks.

If local resistance to the project succeeds in sending it to the County Supervisors for a vote, the plant could be delayed or killed outright. Barring that outcome, Bluefire expects to begin construction this fall.