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Lawsuit puts new Lake Tahoe boating facilities on hold

Also: Santa Barbara firm to sell aviation fuel

September 28, 2009|Bettina Boxall; Tiffany Hsu

A federal judge is blocking construction of boating facilities on Lake Tahoe while he resolves an environmental lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Club, challenges new regulations that would allow more than 100 new private piers, 10 new public piers, new boat ramps, mooring buoys and hundreds of slips.

The regulations were adopted last year by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency after years of controversy. Environmentalists argue that new piers and ramps would increase motorized boating and the pollution that goes with it.

In a recent ruling, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton issued a preliminary injunction. It bars construction of the piers and ramps but allows the planning agency to move ahead with processing permits for the facilities.

Still, boaters might want to hold off.

"The court notes that its independent review indicates that plaintiffs have shown some likelihood of success," Karlton wrote.

-- Bettina Boxall

Santa Barbara firm to sell jet biofuel

Santa Barbara-based BioJet Corp. agreed last week to sell 4 million barrels of aviation biojet fuel to Las Vegas oil and fuel broker E85.

Once jet biofuel is approved for use -- projected by the end of 2010 -- the contract is likely to go into effect over two years beginning in 2011, said BioJet Chief Executive Mitch Hawkins. The fuel standard is being developed by ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials.

BioJet Corp., formerly known as JatrophaBioJet, did not disclose other details of the contract. But the company is aiming to provide 30 million barrels of biofuel annually by 2017, when the International Air Transport Assn. hopes to reach its goal of 10% biofuel use.

By then, Hawkins said, he expects demand for aviation biofuel to exceed 280 million barrels annually, with 42 gallons per barrel.

The bulk of the biofuel is likely to be produced using seeds from the jatropha plant, Hawkins said, though BioJet is also exploring camelina, algae and "designer," or chemically engineered, sources as potential feedstocks.

Though BioJet is capable of growing its own jatropha, it also contracts with suppliers including Abundant Biofuels Corp., which operates in the Philippines, Peru, the Dominican Republic and other countries.

-- Tiffany Hsu

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