Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 26th, 2007

Biofuel: Is it a greenhouse gas, gas, gas?

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In think I have said this before, but I will repeat it anyway. It all depends where the biofuel comes from.  You can make biodiesel from spent frying oil – or even rendered animal tallow. Since these are waste products, utilising them should not increase greenhouse gas emissions, except to the extent that processing and transporting these fuels uses energy too. The net effect ought to be beneficial. If you grow crops without resorting to artificial fertilizers (nitrogen) or if you use crop waste, then you may also reduce ghg. But it has been known for a long time that the US ethanol boondoggle was just a way for presidential candidates to get votes from constituencies that happen to be important in the early rounds of the primaries (see “The West Wing” passim). And it is no surprise either that rape seed (we call it canola) biodiesel is another Euro sop to the farm lobby. The wine lake should make some good ethanol though.

I have been around the alt.fuels business for long enough to recognize that nearly every one that has been brought to market to date has had some or many drawbacks. There is a reason that petrol retains its market share and it is not just the cabal of big oil.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Valley Joins Transport Study

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The Progress

September 25, 2007

Earlier this year, B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon drew fire from Fraser Valley mayors after he proposed an expansion of TransLink “from Pemberton to Hope.”

But they are going to co-operate on a study at a technical level.

If I lived in either of these two towns, I would also be very wary of people like Falcon. I cannot think of anything worse than a continuous belt of development that linked these two places. It seems to me that would be entirely the worst outcome – but one that building the Sea to Sky and Highway #1 expansions are intended to achieve.

I visited both Pemberton and Hope recently and I was charmed by both places. They are quite separate and very distinctive, and not at all part of Vancouver. Nor should they be. Neither should they become residential dormitory towns for Whistler and Surrey respectively. Which is what is going to happen if people like Falcon (a developer) get their way.

We can do much better than this. I only hope that in among the technical people on this study there are those who have a background in disciplines other than civil engineering and computer science. People who understand there is a lot more to place making than zoning regulations and ITE guidelines.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2007 at 11:25 am