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Turkey guts to eliminate foreign oil - Diane Wagner

I'd never make it in a Miss America contest, even if they dropped the looks, poise and congeniality categories.

In the end, when all the other contestants are gushing over world peace, I'd be praising turkey guts. Offal is much better than world peace, according to the May issue of Discover magazine.

Apparently, a microbiologist named Paul Baskis figured out a way around a decades-old problem that was making it too expensive to turn organic solids into liquid fuel. And a company called Changing World Technologies just built a plant, across from a Butterball turkey plant in Carthage, Miss.

The article, by Brad Lemly, said private investors have chipped in $40 million to develop the process, the federal government is adding $12 million and the city of Philadelphia wants a thermal depolymerization plant for its sewage.

Imagine. You shovel in poultry parts they won't even use in cat food, add some old tires, a few baby diapers and medical waste and, voila, high-quality fuel. It works on just about any carbon-based garbage, breaking it down into usable oil, gas and minerals. If there's water in the garbage, it produces sterilized water too.

I'm going to skim over the technical stuff here, so if you want to know how it really works, get the magazine or visit Changing World's Web site at www.changingworldtech.com. But it's based on the same techniques Mother Earth uses to change dinosaurs and things into oil. Only it takes two hours instead of a million years.

Lots of scientists have been trying to duplicate the process, and some have. What Lemly did was to come up with a way that doesn't use more energy than it produces.

World peace, bah. If this is real, it will make world peace irrelevant.

For one thing, we won't have to pick a fight in the Middle East when our economy starts to turn sour. Wait. I'm feeling so happy about this, just forget I made that divisive comment. I apologize. I take it back.

What we'll have is a useful way to get rid of garbage, eliminate landfills and recycle like it's never been done before. It won't be a chore or a moral duty to preserve natural resources. It will be a self-serving action that just happens to benefit the entire planet.

We'll also have jobs, our photographer Rob Felt said. All the oil-related jobs that go overseas will now stay home, not to mention the construction jobs that will come with the push to build thousands of these plants.

Companies that now pay to have their waste products disposed will be able to sell them instead, or use them to power their own factories. That will save money that can be funneled into CEOs' campaign contribution funds ? no, sorry, sorry. I'm sure they'll pass the savings on to consumers and employees too.

The point is that this, as Changing World CEO Brian Appel says in the Discover article, this is the solution to some of the biggest problems in the world.

Reporter Clay Wilson, on the other hand, had to come up with a down side. The wondrous availability of fuel won't do much for our air quality, he said.

OK, he may have a point. But I'm going to focus on Rob's response of "one thing at a time, Clay." For now, I'm going to pray for turkey guts.

Diane Wagner covers county government for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or dwagner@henryherald.com.