Oil, at nearly $100 per barrel, is reflected in record level prices for home heating oil, gasoline and diesel for vehicles, and other petroleum based products such as conventional fertilizers. Oil prices are helping fuel a desire to find replacements for such products, particularly those that can also offer environmental benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the most popular replacement product ideas is biofuels. The biofuel receiving most attention just now is ethanol, which is being commercially produced from corn in various locations across the country.

Much attention has been paid to the high inputs of petroleum based fertilizers and energy needed to grow the corn, and questions have been raised as to how much net fuel/energy value is delivered with corn-based ethanol.

Indeed, many researchers and entrepreneurs across the country are working to perfect a process for producing cellulosic ethanol at a commercial level. Various grown cellulosic feedstocks, including switchgrass, are being explored for cellulosic ethanol.

Some of the recognized hurdles to commercially produced cellulosic ethanol, beyond perfecting the process at a commercial scale, are the variability in quantity of the grown feedstocks, due to seasonality and any potential crop deficiencies, and finding farmers who are willing to switch crops or to utilize marginal land for this purpose.

However, there is another feedstock for biofuels that is already produced in fairly constant amounts year round, and does not require persuasion or land availability in order to produce. This is food waste, such as cucumber peels from preparation of meals and food items, plate waste and other leftover waste. From the home composting level on up to facilities accepting many tons of food waste each year, recycling options to create products thatsubstitute for petroleum based products are growing across the state or close by.

Premier Management, a New Jersey hauler, already takes supermarket and other food waste to Pennsylvania for conversion into compost — a soil amendment that reduces needs for petroleum based fertilizers.

Converted Organics will open in Middlesex County in mid 2008, manufacturing organic fertilizer — not just a soil amendment — from our food waste. Other facilities are in various stages of development, several of which will produce biofuels or bioenergy, which can make an even bigger dent in our foreign oil consumption.

The holidays are a time when food waste generation increases due to many dinners and parties and much food preparation and much food waste. While the opportunities to recycle beyond home composting are still limited, they will be here before we know it, and the time to determine how much waste your business, school, hospital, or other non-residential entity generates is now.

Now is also the time to create a food waste recycling route that will offer you and others the greatest savings. Now is also the time to look at changes to how food is served, and how waste is contained. Now is the time to calculate your future greenhouse gas savings, to prepare for stricter and stricter restrictions on all of us.

What can you do? Learn how to audit your waste and organize yourself for this up-and-coming recycling innovation at a free Food Waste Recycling Forum on Tuesday, December 11, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Conference Center at Mercer College. Find out how to save money and brand yourself as an eco-business or eco-entity at the same time, as we all work together to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. Register at www.swrrg.rutgers.edu or call 732-932-9155, ext. 233.

Hayes is director of the Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (E-mail: hayes@aesop.rutgers.edu).

To the Editor:

Energy Master Plan

Power generation is a big contributor to global warming. Because New Jersey is a net importer of energy — meaning we use more than we make within our borders — we face serious challenges in meeting both our current needs and an anticipated 1.5-percent annual growth in additional energy uses.

Governor Corzine is now drafting New Jersey’s next Energy Master Plan (EMP) to meet that challenge. The plan is required by New Jersey state law, and must be updated periodically. It will have a major impact on our environment, and citizens can help make New Jersey a visionary leader in energy policy by voicing support for clean, renewable energy.

The Energy Master Plan will implement New Jersey’s goal of reducing emission levels 20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. These targets were adopted this past summer as part of a law to combat global warming. New Jersey was the third state in the U.S. to require these caps and the first to set an emissions cap target as far into the future as 2050.

In the run-up to the anticipated release of the draft energy plan in mid-December, there has been speculation that the governor’s plan will seek to increase energy capacity by building a new nuclear power plant. This would be a step backward, as would burning more fossil fuel simply to satisfy our insatiable thirst for more and more power. If they build it, we will plug it in.

Instead, New Jersey should set an example for the rest of the country by stressing energy conservation and clean, renewable energy sources. Environment New Jersey (ENJ), for instance, is petitioning Governor Corzine to:

Reduce the state’s energy consumption by 10 percent, through high-performance homes, businesses, and appliances;

Increase the amount of energy we get from renewable sources to 25 percent by 2025; Phase out inefficient, outdated and polluting power plants;

Reject power company bids to build new nuclear power plants;

Require any power consumed in New Jersey to meet strict global warming emissions standards.

If every household in America replaced one 60-watt bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power 1.5 million homes and the pollution saving would be equal to taking 1.3 million cars off the road! Given the enormous potential savings from such a small change, we would be foolish not to invest in conservation.

Although there will be opportunities for public comment after the draft plan is released, Governor Corzine will move quickly to implement this plan in the spring of 2008. So now is the time to voice your thoughts to the governor.

Ironically, “E.M.P.” is also the acronym for “Electromagnetic Pulse” — a byproduct of nuclear explosions that fries electrical systems. A wise choice for green energy in the state’s plan will ensure that our environment isn’t fried as we attempt to meet future energy demands.

You can learn more about the state EMP at nj.gov/emp. The ENJ website (www.environmentnewjersey.org/energy/new-energy-future-for-new-jersey) has additional information, as well as opportunities to petition Gov. Corzine to focus on energy conservation and renewable energy sources.

I hope you will contact me at info@njconservation.org, or visit NJCF’s website at www.njconservation.org, for more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources. Sandy Stuart Perry

Communications Manager

NJ Conservation Foundation

A December 12 “energy summit” will discuss the governor’s plan. Please see page 10. the 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ, 07931

908-234-1225 ext. 104

Sandy@njconservation.org

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