Most of the press reports on the negative environmental impacts of renewable fuel have centered on the production of ethanol. Seems that ethanol production, because of changes in land use patterns, run off, fertilizers and sprays, often causes more pollution than the production of gasoline.
New reports, in particular this one from the NY Times, show that the production of biodiesel has problems as well, and not just from cutting down forests in pristine areas (although thousands of rainforest acres are felled every year to plant oil-palms for biodiesel production) but good old fashioned industrial dumping. Again these problems caused by the rush to build and operate facilities because of ill-thought through government mandates and overly generous subsidies. When the government gives you taxpayer dollars representing over half of you production cost–is it any wonder folks are cutting corners?
With the price of gasoline and crude oil at all time highs, and concerns about the environment sharing center stage, how long will it take for the public to insist that politicians quit trying to pick technology winners and lose those renewable mandates and fat subsidies? Remember folks, renewable fuels receive ten times the subsidy levels as any thing else, measured as dollars per useful output.