In a move that seems to fall somewhere between greenwashing and legitimate green progress, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority recently announced that its Tri-Rail regional transit lines would be running 8 out of its 10 trains on a nearly pure blend of biofuels. Let’s consider the pro’s and con’s.
First of all, any press is good press, as they say. Especially when we’re talking about a public institution such as a transit authority, whose endorsement of biodiesel seems more significant and far-reaching than, say, Willie Nelson’s. Plus, the fuel is cleaner than standard diesel. It emits less carbon monoxide, fewer particulates and pollutes less overall. If biodiesel spills and soaks into the ground, it is far more benign than old fashioned diesel. And, surprisingly, biodiesel is currently 30 cents/gallon cheaper than the competition.
My main complaint here is that the biodiesel comes from palm and soy sources. This might make some sense if the palm oil is produced locally (though I’m not even sure it does), but food crops-turned fuel crops such as these have been largely condemned by the green community as unsustainable solutions which aggravate food prices across the globe.
As an aside, the SFRTA’s report mentions that Florida is one of the only places where such biofuels could be implemented, because of its temperate climate. I’m assuming they mean that this biodiesel would not function at lower temperatures, perhaps due to congealing or freezing. Perhaps one of you readers can shed light on the issue…
Via Gas 2.0, SFRTA
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