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'Going green' worth it, despite problems
"Going green" is a great idea in theory, but the road to non-fossil fuel energy is fraught with bumps and potholes.
One once-promising plan -- to create ethanol using methane gas produced from cow manure -- ran off the road with the explosion of a boiler in 2007 that helped drive the project into bankruptcy.
Now, however, a private Missouri investment firm wants to reopen the old E3 BioFuels plant near Mead, Nebraska, which used cow manure from a nearby feedlot, as well as corn cellulose, to make biogas to power its ethanol production.
Spectrum Business Ventures Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., plans to reopen the plant next year under the name AltEn Opportunity I.
Proponents say burning methane instead of natural gas or coal cuts the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment, lowering the plant emissions. In the Mead plant's case, the "output" of 28,000 cattle would be used to produce 25 million gallons per year of ethanol.
The new owners expect to resume production sometime in 2011 after the required permits are obtained.
Of course, the future of ethanol depends on a number of factors, such as the continuation of subsidies and market conditions.
Still, there is merit in any effort to diminish our dependence on foreign oil.