WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of a $99 million loan guarantee to Chemtex International, Inc. for the construction of a cellulosic ethanol refinery in Sampson County, North Carolina. The facility will be the first commercial-scale biorefinery in the United States and will produce an estimated 20 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.
“Today’s announcement is great news for eastern North Carolina and the nation as a whole,” Butterfield said. “A new refinery will not only help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will also create more than 300 jobs right here in the state’s eastern region. This is also particularly exciting news for farmers in Wayne County due to the economic certainty it will yield.”
In June, the USDA awarded an additional $3.9 million to Chemtex under its Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) for the purpose of assisting farmers in establishing more than 4,000 acres of miscanthus and switchgrass. As a result, farmers in 11 North Carolina counties will have the opportunity to receive reimbursements of up to three-quarters of the establishment costs and five years of maintenance payments while participating in the program. These crops will add to the supply of biomass that will be needed for the new biorefinery in Sampson County.
Chemtex has been working with the Biofuels Center of North Carolina to identify nearby farmland to supply cost effective biomass for the biorefinery, including land currently being used by swine producers in Wayne County. The Chemtex facility will give swine producers and small farmers economic opportunities that were not available before today’s announcement.
Butterfield has long supported the expansion of the biofuel industry and opportunities for farmers. Last year, Butterfield co-authored a letter with his congressional colleagues to Secretary Vilsack in support of Chemtex’s application for a loan guarantee. Earlier this year, Butterfield hosted Secretary Vilsack on a visit to the Biofuels Center of North Carolina in Oxford where he again offered his support of the loan guarantee. Funding for Chemtex’s loan guarantee and BCAP award were authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.