WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide $91 million, through a guaranteed loan program, to Cool Planet, a Colorado-based energy technology company, to construct Louisiana’s first bio-refinery at the Port of Alexandria. The facility will convert wood waste and forest byproducts into gasoline.
Sen. Landrieu supported Cool Planet’s application for the bio-refinery assistance program over several meetings with Cool Planet’s leadership. The guaranteed loan is administered by USDA-Rural Development to provide funds for the development and construction of commercial-scale bio-refineries.
“Thanks to a USDA I helped to secure, Cool Planet is able to receive a guaranteed $91 million loan to build its innovative bio-refinery at the Port of Alexandria,” said Sen. Landrieu. “This plant will not only reinforce Louisiana’s position at the epicenter of the American energy revolution, but also allow Cool Planet to use its innovative technology to develop additional energy resources for tomorrow.”
“Senator Landrieu has been tremendously supportive in helping Cool Planet to site our first commercial facility in the State of Louisiana and in obtaining the USDA loan guarantee,” said Cool Planet’s Director, Strategic Partnerships Wesley Bolsen. “Sen. Landrieu understands and champions the benefits that this major project would bring to Louisiana’s forestry industry, by converting residues into a RFS qualifying gasoline blendstock that will play an important role in meeting our growing energy needs.”
“The forestry community in Louisiana is so appreciative of the support that Senator Landrieu gives to forestry in Louisiana,” said C.A. Buck Vanderstein, Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association. “We are so pleased that she recognizes the economic value and environmental benefits of this renewable resource. Her assistance in securing this facility is a win for Louisiana and the Nation.”
"Over half of the agricultural feedstock that will be used in renewable energy production will come from the Southeastern United States. Louisiana agriculture is in an excellent position to take advantage of these new opportunities,” said Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. “Our long growing season, biodiversity and manufacturing capabilities make Louisiana an attractive place for businesses like Cool Planet to locate."
Site work on the new bio-refinery has begun, and operations are expected to begin in early 2016. The Port of Alexandria facility will be the first of multiple Cool Planet bio-refineries built in Louisiana. The Alexandria-based refinery will create 24 permanent jobs with an average annual salary of $59,600. The facility will also supply 350 construction jobs and 150 indirect jobs.
Previously Sen. Landrieu has supported the following initiatives regarding the forestry industry in Louisiana:
- In 2009 and 2010, Sen. Landrieu secured $16.6 million for various research projects at universities in Louisiana. The projects included research on bioenergy crops, wood utilization, silviculture, bio-nanotechnology, and Formosan termites. In May 2014 Senator Landrieu secured $33.9 million in funding for LSU Forestry Research Program.
- Louisiana has the fifth highest feral swine population in the country. In April 2014, Sen. Landrieu helped secure $300,000 from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—another USDA agency—for eradication efforts. In the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill, Senator Landrieu also helped secure $19 million in the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill for the program that funds this effort.
- This summer Sen. Landrieu secured additional funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more habitat improvement projects and increased opportunities for sportsmen to occur on several of the wildlife refuges in Louisiana. This is on top of the Land and Water Conservation Fund monies she secured over the last several years to develop the Lower Cane River unit of the Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
- Sen. Landrieu secured $80,000 last month from the Forest Service for the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Longleaf, La. The funding is being used to establish an educational exhibit to honor Louisiana’s Civilian Conservation Corps’ contributions to the development of forestry in the South.
- Also in September, Sen. Landrieu talked with the White House about EPA’s pending biomass framework on behalf of the forest products industry. She secured a commitment from the White House for EPA’s pending framework to be easy to understand and implement, and helpful to folks that make use of this renewable resource.