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Posted on  

May 5, 2003

McGreevey OKs ethanol plant

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Express-Times

TRENTON -- Gov. James E. McGreevey has signed a bill approving construction of an ethanol plant on the site of a former chemical factory in Gloucester County, bringing the $60 million project one step closer to reality.

It would be the first facility of its kind in the Northeast.

Proponents contend the plant, which would produce 400 million gallons annually of the corn-based gasoline additive designed to reduce harmful fuel emissions, would ramp up corn production in New Jersey and send prices soaring by up to 30 cents per bushel.

Garden State Ethanol LLC would build and operate the site.

McGreevey's signature with little fanfare late Thursday approves efforts to attain the former industrial site scheduled to house the facility.

In South Jersey, it is expected to mean a $110 million economic boost.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty, a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, opposed the legislation when it was before that committee.

Doherty said the plant would amount to government subsidies for ethanol production, lowering the cost of fuel with the additive. He said that would likely harm independent fuel suppliers.

Doherty, R-Warren/Hunterdon, also said he opposed the South Jersey location of the plant.

"The government shouldn't be subsidizing a certain type of fuel to the detriment of others," Doherty said. "Had it been located in my district I would have been willing to re-evaluate it."

Under the plan advanced by plant boosters, the embattled Delaware River and Bay Authority, rocked last year by a sex and corruption scandal, will pay for the former Huntsman chemical site in West Deptford without any money coming from New Jersey's general fund.

The DRBA's leadership has not approved the purchase.

"Getting a site secured is really a big first step," said Ed Stahl, project coordinator for Garden State Ethanol. "But once that occurs we'll certainly start feeling the benefits of this project."

Calls to the Delaware headquarters of the DRBA went unanswered Friday.

"This is great news," said state Sen. Stephen Sweeney, who sponsored the effort. "For the farming community. For a lot of industries down here it's great."

Lawmakers in rural areas applauded McGreevey's decision.

Sweeney and other backers have said the facility would dovetail with farmland preservation efforts by making agriculture a viable industry in New Jersey.

Ethanol, essentially distilled alcohol, is blended with gasoline to reduce pollution from automobiles.

Supporters contend an extensive market for the product will grow as currently used counterpart MBTE is phased out for health reasons.


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