- Museum no boon to Civic Center Park
- Six years after 9/11
- Helping flawed fathers measure up
- A solution to illegal immigration
- This biofuel plant too close for comfort
- Dumping the junk/New law will mean better nutrition for kids
- Low on the evolutionary scale
- Larry Craig and the Democratic Golden Boys
- Voters betrayed by Ref C shell game
- The reality of single payer
This biofuel plant too close for comfort
By Thomas R. Anthony
The new American obsession with biofuels finds consumers subsidizing the new acreage of corn, soybeans and God-knows-what to be used in powering our riverboat SUVs back and forth from the suburban farmlands recently converted to subdivisions. (Let’s not mention the road subsidies themselves.) Then, consumers are dealing with the booming cost of corn which, it turns out, can be found in nearly every other food product. Then, because corn and soybean farming has suddenly become more profitable, consumers are dealing with tens of thousands of fewer acres planted in other food crops, a condition which, by the law of supply and demand, drives up the cost of all other food products that automobiles would voraciously consume side by side with people.
Nowhere are the economics of biofuel so egregious as in Denver’s Elyria neighborhood. Last year, Biofuels of Colorado (also doing business as Bioenergy of Colorado) and principal Thomas Foley, undertook, with federal grant money, to build a biofuel refinery in Denver County in a sheetrock storage warehouse on a lot bordering a National Western Stock Show parking area and the Platte River Greenway between Elyria and Globeville.
The first contact between Biofuels and Denver building permit and inspection officials came about as a result of an April 2006 explosion that blew through the roof and two walls of the building. A third party called 911 and the Denver Fire Department arrived to find a) the zoned use had been changed to a biofuel refinery, b) hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer-subsidized refining equipment had been installed without a single building permit, and c) no air quality or stormwater permitting had been issued, or even sought.
At that point Foley happily commenced the permitting process, conveniently omitting the fact that Biofuels had been in business for about a year in Adams County, also without permits, and was at the time under a cease-and-desist order from the Colorado Department of Health and Public Environmentfor for more than 27 code, environmental and discharge violations, including the polluting of Clear Creek.
Despite protests from four neighborhood groups and the National Western Stock Show, the zoning administrator approved an operating permit for Biofuels. The Elyria Neighborhood Association subsequently spent $15,000 filing and arguing an appeal to the Board of Adjustment, which ruled that the administrator had erred in issuing the permit.
In June 2007, Bioenergy of Colorado, without listing Foley as a principal, re-applied for a permit, this time calling its operation “recycling of waste oil,” a permitted use in the I-2 zoned lot. In its application, Bioenergy announced its intention to process waste oil using “esterification” with sulfuric acid and methanol in quantities approaching 10 million gallons a year about 100 feet from the Platte River Greenway. Unbelievably, although “esterification” is not an activity allowed in the zoning code, the administrator approved the application, which could result in a permanent refinery in this location as a new use!
Now, the Elyria Neighborhood Association will once more be back to the zoning board on Oct. 2, with the taxpayers of Denver County paying the city attorney’s office to argue against the neighborhood!
Biofuels are seen as a large component of the United States’ energy future, and perhaps they will be, although some experts suggest that converting all farmland to production of biofuel crops will only accommodate 10 percent of Americans’ current demand for petroleum.
Elyria, Globeville and Swansea, Denver’s three central northeast neighborhoods north of Interstate 70, are working to establish an identity beyond “the region’s most polluted communities.” The Hickenlooper administration’s Greenprint Denver initiative might contemplate use of food products in our motor vehicles as fulfilling some “sustainability” goals, but parking new refineries next to the Platte River Greenway in between historic neighborhoods and regional entertainment facilities isn’t necessarily going to encourage quality mixed-use infill development.
Thomas R. Anthony is the president of the Elyria Neighborhood Association.
Meanwhile, 85% of the energy-rich outer-continental shelf is out of bounds, ANWR is out of bounds, nuke power plants have been out of bounds for 30 years, new refineries have been out of bounds for 30 years, more coal use is out of bounds and the Roan and Vermillion are out of bounds. Windmills? don't you dare build any near me. America is awash in energy, but its all out of bounds.
But whinning, pissing, moaning, complaining and anger all seem to be OK. $5 at the pump isn't out of bounds, the man-made global warming hoax is quite fashionable and I still haven't yet recovered from the "coming ice age" as promised by the very same crowd of environuts only a few decades ago. Happy carbon credits.
Politics and oil don't mix.Posted by Hank on September 10, 2007 07:36 AM