In the United States (US), renewable fuel project developer NEXT Renewable Fuels, Inc. has announced that the Columbia County Board of Commissioners in Oregon (OR) "voted unanimously" to approve local land use permits for the US$2 billion NEXT Renewable Fuels Oregon LLC renewable diesel project in Port Westward.
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In 2018, NEXT Renewable Fuels revealed plans to invest more than US$1 billion to build an advanced biofuels facility that will convert biomass feedstock such as used cooking oils (UCO), animal fats, grease, and vegetable oils into renewable diesel, a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based diesel.
We are ecstatic that the Board of Commissioners approved our permits. With these key local permits, we move another step closer to construction. We are grateful for the outpouring of supportive comments from local community leaders and environmental experts, said Chris Efird, Chairman and CEO of NEXT.
Among those comments was a statement from Susan Barnes, Regional Wildlife Conservation Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that said “The department believes this proposed renewable energy project is sited appropriately, and it is consistent with the department’s climate goals.”
Cornerstone investment for Oregon
The NEXT renewable diesel facility would be a cornerstone investment in making Oregon’s clean fuel goals a reality.
Renewable diesel is 60-80 percent cleaner than traditional petroleum diesel and because it is chemically identical to petroleum diesel, it can be used in current diesel fleets without any vehicle modifications.
Renewable diesel is made by converting recycled organic material, like cooking oil, into fuel and it costs the same at the pump.
The NEXT project will meet a rapidly growing demand for clean, renewable fuels in the United States, and the City of Clatskanie will benefit greatly from locating near our community. Our residents will find new work. Our taxing districts will get a new source of sustainable funding. Our local environment will thrive said Greg Hinkelman, Clatskanie City Manager.
According to the company, estimates show the NEXT facility would generate more than US$16 million in annual tax revenue for Columbia County.
The facility will create more than 3 500 green jobs during construction and more than 240 permanent green jobs during operation.
An independent study anticipates that the majority of work will be filled by Oregonians, and Efird emphasized a corporate focus on hiring locally first.
Cathy Hurowitz, a long-time Columbia County resident and Superintendent of the Clatskanie School District asserted that “NEXT has committed to restoring more than 450 acres of wetlands. Not only will Columbia County get a clean fuels facility and green jobs, but we will also get a thriving wetland that enhances our local ecosystem.”
The Clatskanie School District is coordinating with NEXT to create an environmental science curriculum for local students. The program would be tied to wetland restoration and provide students with both in-classroom and hands-on learning opportunities.
Following the Columbia County Board of Commissioners’ approval, NEXT continues advancing through state and federal public permitting processes.