Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For years, restaurants have had to pay companies to haul away the used cooking grease they throw out every night. But now, thanks to an increasing demand for biofuel -- the commodities price of fryer oil is four times what it was 10 years ago -- the back-alley oil has become an attractive target for thieves, The New York Times reports. California and Virginia have both passed statutes to regulate the way grease is disposed, and North Carolina lawmakers may vote on a similar measure in May. The rendering industry wants to protect the growing grease market from freeloaders, according to the Times. But making it a legislative priority isn’t easy. Indeed, as many accused grease-snatchers have successfully argued in court, if a restaurant is throwing the oil out, hasn’t it become garbage? Can hauling someone’s trash away really be considered a crime?