Cantwell Tours Site of Nation’s Largest Biodiesel Plant as Full-Scale Construction Begins

delegation championed effort to build facility in Grays Harbor, helped secure final permits allowing full-scale construction to begin

ABERDEEN, WA – Friday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Norm Dicks visited the Port of Grays Harbor for a tour of the future Grays Harbor biodiesel plant. Cantwell and Dicks have backed the facility and recently helped secure the final permits needed for full-scale construction to begin. Once completed, the 540,000 square foot Imperium Renewables facility will be one of the largest of its kind in the country, producing up to 100 million gallons of biodiesel annually while providing 50 permanent local jobs and 350 temporary construction jobs.

“By using Washington know-how, Washington resources, and Washington workers, we’re breaking free from our over-dependence on fossil fuels,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy Committee. “Construction is already well underway, and in less than a year we’ll be producing millions of gallons of biodiesel right here in Grays Harbor County—fueling our local economy and possibly even exporting renewable fuels to countries across the Pacific.”

“The quality new jobs this plant will bring represent powerful economic growth and a solid investment in our future,” continued Cantwell. “An America almost sixty percent dependent on foreign oil is a reality we cannot afford. We’re investing in our future today, because it’s smarter to leverage American ingenuity and create new jobs than to continue relying on unstable sources of foreign oil.”

Last May, Cantwell joined officials from the Port of Grays Harbor and Imperium Renewables to announce plans to build the $40 million biodiesel facility on land owned by the Port of Grays Harbor between Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Construction began earlier this year, but full-scale construction was held back pending approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA’s out-of-date Flood Insurance Rate Map placed the site within the flood plain, even though the ground-level at the site has since been raised. Earlier this month, Cantwell, Dicks, and Senator Patty Murray sent a letter to FEMA asking them to expedite the map-revision process and reach a final decision as soon as possible. FEMA announced its approval of the plant’s construction and its decision to revise the Flood Insurance Rate Map earlier this week, giving the final green light needed for full-scale construction to begin.

Cantwell has long worked to increase our nation’s energy independence, promote greater use of domestically produced biofuels, increase the availability of flex-fuel vehicles and biofuel pumps, and improve national fuel economy standards. In October 2005, Cantwell convened the BioFuels Business Collaborative—a group of Washington businesses, farmers, investors, and consumers—to help create a local biofuels industry. Cantwell authored legislation included in last year’s Energy Policy Act to help find ways to create additional high-value products during biodiesel production and further reduce the overall cost of biodiesel. She has also sponsored comprehensive energy legislation (S.2829) to reducing domestic oil consumption equivalent to 40 percent of America’s projected imports in the next 20 years.