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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

March 7, 2003

Northeast Texas leaders seek funding for ethanol plant

Associated Press

TYLER, Texas - Leaders of a five-county economic development group in Northeast Texas are looking for an outside group to pursue funding on whether to build an ethanol plant in the area.

The economic leaders say they need to secure a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take their idea to the next step. An ethanol plant, they said, would help stimulate the regional economy.

The group, Crossroads, represents Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Van Zandt and Wood counties.

"We have taken this as far as we can go," Gary McKinley, Crossroads president and Wood County Industrial Commission director, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph in Friday's editions. "We have a lot of East Texas interest. Certainly it represents a prospective market, but it really requires their cooperative effort to move forward with the funding necessary to bring before the USDA."

Ethanol is an alternative to methyl tertiary butyl ether, an unleaded gasoline additive that's produced through the distillation process using corn or sorghum. The additive MTBE has been widely used in gasoline, but was blamed for fouling drinking water supplies in numerous states.

The use of ethanol was debated during the last congressional session. California began using it after it banned MTBE in 1999 because the fossil-fuel-based additive was linked to contaminated groundwater.

Ron Lewis, Crossroads member, said the organization wants to market and promote the ethanol in hopes that a company will take the challenge of building the plant.

McKinley said the agriculture landscape of East Texas is compatible for the plant. He said adding the distillation process to produce ethanol produces byproducts, such as sweeteners, food starch, industrial starch and produce for farm animals.

Wes Sims, president of the Texas Farmer's Union, said other states are building ethanol plants, but said he isn't of aware of any in Texas. He said there's an effort to bring a plant to Central Texas area.

Information from the Renewable Fuels Association shows that ethanol production in the United States can boost a local economy by creating jobs and increasing the local price of corn by the bushel.


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