Hall Monitor 

Doling Out the Green

Enviro-entrepreneurs rejoice! This is your lucky day. Remember all those times city council said they wanted to help wean the city from fossil fuels, and kick start a biofuel economy here? Turns out, they weren't kidding.

On Tuesday, March 20, the Office of Sustainable Development handed out $450,000 in grants to five biodiesel-related businesses, from farmers to producers to distributors. Oregon State University is getting a chunk of the change to "develop cropping system practices"—I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like they're going to study the most efficient ways to grow biofuel crops. Madison Farms is using the money for a couple of 10-ton canola crushers (and, yes, "10-ton canola crusher" would make a great punch line to a probably sexist joke about ex-wives or mothers-in-law), Portland Biodiesel is building a production plant in North Portland, Carson Oil is adding a "high speed injection blending rack" (also a great punch line), and Eugene's SeQuential Fuels is building an entire gas station dedicated to biofuels. Thanks to OSD, it won't be long until we're all choking on sweet, sweet, slightly fried biodiesel fumes.

The $450,000 came from a fund created in last year's budget to go toward "sustainable development," like kick starting a biodiesel industry. It was expected to be a one-year-only pot of money, but City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Randy Leonard's offices are hoping to land it again for 2007-08—meaning a whole new batch of green businesses will see, um, green.

Slightly less generous? The Portland Business Alliance (PBA) is probably not going to be bankrolling Mayor Tom Potter's "strong mayor" effort. Back before his campaign started, the PBA and the Oregonian's editorial board were its only big supporters. But the business alliance hasn't done any fundraising, and its political committee has a whopping $1,300 in the bank.

Considering how much money the PBA has spent on wholly unsuccessful campaigns (repealing Voter-Owned Elections, unseating Erik Sten, etc.), folks with money probably aren't lining up to let the PBA spend the dough. Instead, individual donors will probably donate on their own. Or maybe not. We won't know until the end of the month, when the mayor's campaign has to file their finances.

Since Portland voters aren't exactly fond of ideas supported by the PBA, their endorsement was somewhat of a political liability. Now, the Citizens to Reform City Hall will get the worst of both worlds. They're linked in the public's mind to the PBA, but without the benefit of actually getting the PBA's money. Burn.

smoore@portlandmercury.com

Speaking of Randy Leonard

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