As I blunder my way into dotage, I’ve come to accept that not only are there an increasing number of things I don’t understand, but I’m probably better served by my ignorance.
Topping the list are about 100 items having to do with Homeland Security, ranging from its very existence to the methods and manner in which it operates. By the time I head for the airport for my annual sojourn to PowerGen at Orlando, FL, later this month, I’m sure I will have tacked on a few more items relating to Big Brother’s latest insult to the traveling public. No, not the indignity of posing for uniformed personnel who can truly say they’ve “seen it all,” but rather the expenditure of big bucks—I’m told $150,000 per scanner—for a service performed at least as well, unobtrusively, for a fraction the cost by specially bred and trained versions of man’s best friend.
But while I can grumble and grump at the HS situation, there are other areas of governmental and administrative tomfoolery that cause me to shake my head in pure admiration, one of which came to light this past month with the announcement by the strategic partnership of Folsom, CA–based Waste Connections and Fulcrum BioEnergy of Pleasanton, CA, for the development of the Sierra BioFuels Plant near Reno, NV.
For those of us in California, such a business model—two California companies taking California waste across the Sierra range to convert it to fuel and energy in a neighboring state—will not be a cause for concern, but for those of you not sufficiently versed in the Golden State’s approach to environmental common sense, allow me to elucidate you.
It starts with the assumption that California is on the forefront of everything. Once you’ve grasped that simple concept, you’re ready to proceed to the next plateau…that the good old-fashioned vision of recycling precludes the adoption of competing diversion processes. This is set in bureaucratic stone by the proscription that while recycling—which for the most part means bundling stuff up and shipping it to offshore destinations with no oversight as to its actual fate—receives 100% credit for meeting the state-mandated waste diversion goal. Waste diversion accomplished by means of in-state conversion processes is eligible for only a 10% diversion credit.
Before you allow the foregoing to elevate your blood pressure, you can take solace in the fact that should you wish to convert a little bit of your organic material bound for a landfill, you’d first have to get a permit for your facility…a laughable proposition at best.
So what do you do if you are Waste Connections and Fulcrum?
First you build a full-scale waste conversion facility near Reno, NV, capable of producing 10.5 million gallons of ethanol and generating 15 MW of power. Then you take non-recyclable organic waste currently bound for a landfill and ship it out of state, which allows you to take California’s energy credit as well as the state’s full diversion credit for which it would not have been eligible were the biofuel plant been located in California.
Now you may wonder at the logic that has brought California’s diversion policies to their present pass, but not I. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the natural attribute of any jurisdiction that prides itself on being on the forefront of anything, much less everything. Congratulations to Waste Connections and Fulcrum for figuring the system out and acting on their knowledge.