Project will promote renewable energy development, create jobs, and help build a clean energy economy
U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will establish a Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area in Arkansas. The project, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, sets aside more than 5,000 acres to grow crops that will be processed into renewable energy.
The BCAP Project Area will target enrollment of 5,558 acres of land in Craighead, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Randolph counties. MFA Oil Biomass LLC will sponsor the project, promoting the cultivation of giant miscanthus, a sterile hybrid warm-season grass that can be converted into energy to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products. According to the USDA, the project area and conversion facility in Paragould will earn approximately $50 million each year. The project is also expected to create a large number of biorefinery, agriculture, and support jobs. By 2014, the USDA predicts that the project will create 750 jobs in Paragould alone.
"This project helps cultivate the enormous potential our farmers have for producing domestic energy," Pryor said. "It's a win-win to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce pollution, and spur economic development and job creation."
"To address our future energy needs we must use all of our natural resources, including biomass," Boozman said. "The Biomass Crop Assistance Program helps strengthen and diversify our American energy supply, and we're glad that Arkansas was chosen to participate in this program."
"The Biomass Crop Assistance Program will help Arkansas lead the way in next-generation biofuels. This program will create jobs, help our country produce renewable energy, and accelerate economic growth in the First District," Crawford said.