As many of you know, we buy BioHeat for our oil furnace. It's currently at a mix of 30% biodiesel and 70%ish conventional heating oil (aka B30). When I initially signed up for the BioHeat program years ago, I did so because I figured it was better for the environment even though it cost more than the regular heating oil option. Cleaner burning and all that.
I've ruminated on the issues with buying BioHeat in the past, but basically to recap, the underlying problem is that it takes more petroleum-based fuel to generate the same amount of biofuel. So, wouldn't it be better to just buy the straight-up petroleum-based heating oil?
The arguments against doing so are primarily that it burns cleaner and supports energy independence, sort of, but at some point, farm equipment was burning diesel (and probably not cleanly) and oil-based fertilizers were used on the crops to grow the oil that is used in the end product. This was covered quite well in The Omnivore's Dilemma and there were a lot of well thought out answers in my last post on the subject.
But, here's the latest dilemma. Our fuel and heating company is now offering new blends at B50 and B99. Assuming the cost differential isn't exorbitant and our oil furnace can handle the higher blends, what makes the most sense from an environmental standpoint? I'm hoping to talk to the company about the source of their biofuel, but based on their website (which hasn't been updated with the new blend info) I'm certain it's not waste oil and it's most likely soybeans, possibly from WA state.
Again, do we stick with BioHeat and bump it up or scrap it altogether for sweet crude? Any thoughts on the subject? What's an environmentalist to do? Does anyone know the lifecycle stats of biofuel versus petroleum based fuel?