Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a $105 million loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels, LLC to finance development of a ground-breaking facility to convert municipal solid waste into advanced biofuels. The project will help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, relieve pressure on existing and future landfills, and stimulate economic growth in Northern Nevada through job creation.
"The time is now to embrace alternative American-produced feedstocks that support our nation's energy independence, provide jobs in rural areas, and support the Obama Administration's 'all of the above' energy strategy," Vilsack said. "At USDA we are focused on the production of renewable energy from a wide variety of non-food sources, including waste, algae, wood, and switchgrass as a long-term solution to America's energy needs. The facility we are announcing today will help create nearly 500 jobs in Nevada and is a perfect example of how producing home-grown energy is good for the economy and good for our energy future."
The Nevada plant is expected to create an estimated 430 jobs during construction and 53 permanent jobs in Storey County, 20 miles east of Reno. Once operational, the plant is expected to convert 147,000 tons of processed municipal solid waste into over 10 million gallons of advanced biofuels annually using a two-part thermo-chemical process.
Based in Pleasanton, California, the operator, Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels is a privately held company that focuses on developing facilities that convert municipal solid waste and other waste products to a low-cost, reliable and environmentally clean renewable transportation fuel.
USDA, through its Rural Development Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill), approved an 80 percent loan guarantee to finance the project, with a conditional commitment that Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels, LLC must meet before loan closing.
Today's announcement is part of a larger USDA effort to produce advanced biofuels in every region of the country. USDA has funded 7 additional biorefineries that are using feedstocks like agriculture residue, woody biomass, municipal solid waste, and algae in states from Florida and Michigan to New Mexico. USDA is also investing in research by coordinating with five regional research centers to work on the science necessary to ensure profitable biofuels can be produced from a diverse range of feedstocks. To encourage the production of advanced biofuels from non-food, non-feed sources, USDA has incentivized farmers to grow advanced feedstocks on nearly 60,000 acres, helping companies across the country spur production of new biofuels from non-food, non-feed sources.
The Biorefinery Assistance Program, administered by Rural Development's Business and Cooperative Service, is designed to financially assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.
The Obama administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.
Creating new markets for the nation's agricultural products through biobased manufacturing is one of the many steps the Administration has taken over the past three years to strengthen the rural economy. Since August 2011, the White House Rural Council has supported a broad spectrum of rural initiatives including a Presidential Memorandum to create jobs in rural America through biobased and sustainable product procurement, a $350 million commitment in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to connect investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural and making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council - chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.