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World Biofuels Symposium
November 13-15, 2005
Beijing, China

2nd Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit
December 13-15, 2005
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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February 5-8, 200
San Diego, California
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February 20-22, 200
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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June 20-23, 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

January 5, 2004

'Biodiesel' good for Georgia, official says

By S. Heather Duncan
Telegraph Staff Writer

A study by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development explored the possibility of producing cleaner-burning diesel fuels from cooking oils and animal fats, a product called "biodiesel."

It's a good choice for Georgia, said center director John McKissick, because the state is a leader in poultry and vegetable oil production. When other animal fats are added in, the state generates 1 billion pounds of these products annually.

The study found that biodiesel could not yet compete with the cost of producing diesel fuel, but the cost difference is so small that it could be managed by state subsidies or the elimination of state taxes on this "home-grown" fuel.

Biodiesel can be used without modifications to car or truck engines, and it acts as a natural engine lubricant.

The environmental benefits could be significant, McKissick said. Unlike oil, biodiesel is a renewable resource. Biodiesel produces at least 10 percent less air-polluting emissions - with the exception of nitrogen - than regular diesel, McKissick said.

Air pollution is a problem for Atlanta and Middle Georgia. The Environmental Protection Agency has said it plans to put Bibb, Houston and Monroe counties in a "non-attainment zone" for failing to meet federal standards for ozone, the main ingredient of smog. As part of its strategy for cleaning up the air, the Middle Georgia area could be required to increase the use of cleaner fuels like biodiesel.

According to the UGA study, the economic impact of a Georgia biodiesel plant producing 15 million gallons a year would be a $34 million annual boost to the state economy. Each plant would add 132 more jobs and about $4.5 million in state tax revenues.

These findings spurred the Legislature to create a committee on biodiesel and ethanol, McKissick said.

Although the federal government provides tax incentives for the use of ethanol, a gasoline additive made from starch crops such as corn, it offers no tax breaks for the use of biodiesel. The state of Georgia offers no tax incentives for either.

Diesel engines were originally designed to run on vegetable oil, but ethanol has received more political support in recent years. It got a boost from Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, which required cleaner fuel to be used in areas with the most air pollution. Controversy over increasing ethanol incentives for Midwestern corn farmers helped defeat President Bush's sweeping federal energy bill of 2003.

Not all researchers are convinced that crop-based fuels are better for the environment. A 2003 University of California study concluded that ethanol does more harm than good when taking into account the energy needed to produce the fuel, the chemicals sprayed on the corn crop and the environmental drain on soil and water.

But Tom Adams, outreach coordinator with UGA's Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, said recent improvements in technology have reduced the amount of energy needed to make ethanol and biodiesel.

"Biodiesel (is) economically competitive with petroleum fuels, and that's where our state should go," Adams said.



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