There are those who think turkey droppings and French fry grease offer a path to energy independence.
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BioWillie was pitched to independent truckers thought to be fed up with paying huge sums to Middle Eastern sheiks when they just as easily could be filling the pockets of American farmers. The idea, as Willie put it, was to “put five million farmers back on the land growing fuel and keep us from having to start wars for oil.”
Willie Nelson is certainly a great musician and songwriter, but he has never shown much aptitude for handling women (married four times) or money (his assets were seized in 1990 when the IRS said he owed about $17 million in back taxes). So perhaps it’s no surprise that BioWillie went belly up. In 2006, Earth Biofuels Inc., the company behind BioWillie, found itself paying more to produce a gallon of biodiesel than it was earning by selling it, hardly a sustainable business practice. Most of the outlets that carried it stopped doing so. Earth Biofuels reportedly lost $63 million in 2006, and Nelson himself quit the board of directors and gave up six million shares of worthless Earth Biofuels stock. The company retains the rights to the BioWillie brand and is continuing feeble efforts to make a go with it.
Not that Willie is dissuaded. He is still a true believer, in 2007 publishing the page-turner On the Clean Road Again: Biodiesel and the Future of the Family Farm. It’s worth buying if only for the chapter entitled “To All the Oils I’ve Loved Before.”
For all his goofiness and wrongheadedness on everything from biofuels boosterism to 9/11 conspiracies, Willie Nelson is still the man who penned “Crazy” and “Hello, Walls.” He’s a national treasure. He puts on a helluva concert, even for a septuagenarian in a perpetual cannabis fog. In my book, Willie Nelson will always get a pass.
SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T get a pass, however, is loathsome former Long Island congressman Vito Fossella. Before his career was ruined by a DUI and revelations that he fathered a child with his mistress, Fossella stumped for legislation to double the federal tax credit for using restaurant grease as fuel: “From cooking fried calamari to powering trucks,” he announced, “restaurant grease represents a viable energy source for our nation.”
Except it doesn’t, not by a long shot. As Terrestrial Energy points out, if all the kitchen grease in all the world’s McDonald’s restaurants were converted to biodiesel, it would amount to 75,000 barrels per day, or approximately .004 percent of America’s daily oil consumption. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all U.S. restaurants produce 300 million gallons of waste oil per year. That’s about one gallon for every American.
That’s not enough to make any sort of dent in our oil consumption, but it does give us incentive to eat more unhealthy fast food. And if that conundrum gives the left fits, it’s good enough for me.
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