Sunday, December 13, 2009

Green Energy Tax Breaks Threaten To Destroy Green Soaps and Paints


The tax breaks created to combat greenhouse gases and reduce oil imports are killing age old industries. Encouraging industry to burn wood-by-products threaten to destroy age-old industries based on pine tree pitch. C and E News' Michael McCoy notes that God told Noah to "make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out," [Gen 6:14] so using tree pitch is an old industry.  

Today, tree pitch is purified used to make turpentine, tall oil and a number of chemicals including pinene. The photo is solid tall oil rosin. The pitch is made from the stumps of trees that were cut down to make paper. It is an example of using the whole tree and not wasting anything. Tree processor Arizona Chemical is trying to make the case to congress.

Similarly burning beef tallow or converting it to biodiesel prevents the soap and detergent industry from using a raw material that people have used to keep clean since antiquity.

During the 2005 oil crisis the price of agricultural by-products that were previously used in paints and coatings suddenly became expensive as people began using them for fuel. Most notable were the coal tar extracts which suddenly became unavailable.

Today, there are significant tax breaks for burning animal byproducts (because they are not fossil fuels and do not increase greenhouse gases) but animal fat has been made into soap forever.

I address some of these topics in my presentation "Coatings in a High Petroleum Cost World." This is the first substantive posting on my depthofprocessingchemistry blog.

In the case of soap, Wal*Mart may move to importing soap in another example of how subsidies create distortions.

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See my previous posts on green chemistry.