Poop power runs city vehicles in one Colorado town

Click to enlargePhoto/City of Grand Junction

No matter how you spin it, the business of raw sewage isn’t sexy. But in Colorado, the city of Grand Junction is making huge strides to reinvent their wastewater industry – and the result is like finding a diamond in the sludge.

The Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant is processing 8m gallons of Grand Junction’s human waste into renewable natural gas also known as biomethane. The RNG is then used to fuel about 40 fleet vehicles, including garbage trucks, street sweepers, dump trucks and transit buses.

It’s possible through a process called anaerobic digestion, which breaks down organic matter into something called raw biogas. The biogas is then collected and upgraded to RNG – at pipeline quality – and can be used as electricity, heat or transportation fuel.

Turning wastewater into biogas is not new in the US. For decades, biogas has been used for heating or to power generators and micro-turbines to produce electricity.

“But as far as we know, we are the only municipal wastewater facility in the nation producing biogas used as vehicle fuel,” said Dan Tonello, wastewater services manager for Grand Junction…

The environmental benefits are abundant for Grand Junction. According to Bret Guillory, utility engineer for the city, “we may be reducing greenhouse gases by as much as 60% to 80% … This is compared to the old process of flaring off the raw gas at the plant, and burning diesel and gasoline in some of our larger fleet equipment.”

Developed over 10 years, the project is worth $2.8m. The cost to produce and compress the RNG is around 80 cents per GGE, while it’s sold to the fleet department for $1.50 per GGE.

The project will pay for itself in around seven years,” Guillory said. “Not a bad return on the investment…”

Regardless of the source and use, greenhouse gas emissions decrease when fossil fuels (like natural gas) are replaced by RNG, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As well, methane from rotting waste that otherwise would have been absorbed into the atmosphere is now used as a renewable energy source.

RNG is practical because it can fuel anything that runs on natural gas. And according to the EPA, it’s also produced, transported and used in accordance with all the same rules as fossil natural gas.

I keep forwarding articles like this to the nearby city’s Wastewater Plant management. They have a steady supply-side stream from 60-70,000 citizens. They’ve installed a solar field which provides significant power. I’m confident they know about progressive systems like this. What I don’t know is whether the administrative structure is run by petty bureaucrats happy with a job and not interested in rocking the boat – or if operations are run by folks interested in change and progress.

I keep on trying.

BTW, if you ever wander through Grand Junction during late summer harvest season, check out every roadside stand you see for the best peaches in the Rockies.

Planned Parenthood sues anti-abortion creeps who produced fraudulent videos

Planned Parenthood has filed a civil lawsuit against the anti-abortion activists who have released a series of videos since July attacking the reproductive health organization.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday, which “outlines a very complex conspiracy that ran for nearly three years” is against the Center for Medical Progress, its leader David Daleiden and his alleged co-conspirators.

Planned Parenthood, which provides cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, sexual health education and abortions, claim that the Center for Medical Progress violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, as well as “engaging in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording, and trespassing”.

According to Amy Bomse, a partner at the Arnold & Porter law firm, members of the CMP pretended to work for Biomax, a fictitious tissue procurement company, to gain access to Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation meetings. Then they “secretly and illegally recorded” conversations, in violation of California, Maryland and Florida state laws. They also violated federal laws against “secret taping with an unlawful purpose”.

The videos, which depicted conversations with Planned Parenthood staff members, alleged that the reproductive health organization was selling aborted fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood denied the claims and said it received reimbursements for collecting and preparing the tissue. The law that governs such transactions dates back to the 1990s.

“Fetal tissue donation is entirely legal and plays a vital role in medical research,” the lawsuit said. “Virtually every person in the United States has benefited from research that relies on fetal tissue. Vaccines for polio, hepatitis, rubella, chicken pox, shingles, rabies, and an experimental vaccine for Ebola have been developed through research involving fetal tissue.”

Beth Parker, chief legal counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said that their forensic experts had discredited the videos, saying they were heavily edited and “significantly distort and misrepresent the conversations depicted”…

Since the release of the videos, Planned Parenthood has been the subject of investigations and hearings to find out if they broke the law. It has fought against numerous attempts to defund the organization and has “seen a nine-fold increase in threats and criminal activities against their health centers”, according to a press release. In November 2015, a gunman killed three people and injured nine in a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs.

The lawsuit said that the Center for Medical Progress activists were part of “a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists”.

“They lied about who they were,” Laguens said. “They lied about what they wanted to discuss with Planned Parenthood. They lied about the federal law governing fetal tissue, and they lied about what Planned Parenthood did. But the truth has come out.”

Every state legislature, every anti-abortion Congressional hack, every conservative creep you would expect to oppose women’s reproductive rights has attempted to prove the claims in the phony videos. Every attempt failed. Every chance to validate the claims of anti-abortions activists has failed.

I hope the slimeballs who produced this crap pay for their fraud.

Cartoon of the day

Much of the crowd that attends sideshows like this are no different from the disturbed individuals who go to carnivals hoping to see someone bite the head off a chicken – and spit blood on the audience.

You can still turn out a crowd like this for a snake-handling preacher who believes the Earth is flat. You can still turn out a mob who feel safe enough in their robes and masks to burn crosses while they prepare to lynch someone. Or at least shout that they will. A few of the most demented will go on to commit some kind of cowardly murder.

This may be the 21st Century in the world that seeks knowledge and progress. There remain many, self-deluded, easily-led, ignorant of much that has changed since the 14th Century. They still vote.