Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mark B. McCracken attends historic groundbreaking of Pennsylvania's FIRST ethanol plant.

5th District Congressional Candidate McCracken Takes Part in Historic Groundbreaking.

Clearfield County Commissioner and 5th District Congressional Candidate Mark B. McCracken was invited by officials of BioEnergy LLC to take part in the official groundbreaking ceremony held on Thursday March 13th for the Bionol Clearfield Biorefinery.

Clearfield County Commissioner and 5th District Congressional Candidate Mark McCracken thanks Governor Rendell for his efforts to bring the Bionol Clearfield Bio-refinery to Clearfield County. The project is investing $275 million into the north central region.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell was on hand to proclaim Clearfield County as the "Alternative Energy Capitol" of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During his comments, Governor Rendell gave praise to State Representative Camille George (D-74) for his leadership and determination to bring the project to Clearfield County. Governor Rendell also recognized Clearfield County Commissioners McCracken, McMillen and Sobel along with former commissioner Rex Read for their "vision and leadership to help bring this multi-million dollar facility to their county". Governor Rendell concluded his remarks stating "We’re not only going to make this facility one of the energy capitals of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but I hope of America as well."

Taking part in the official groundbreaking for the Bionol Clearfield Bio-refinery front L-R: Kim Bierly – Field Representative for Senator Bob Casey, Joan Robinson McMillen and Mark B. McCracken – Clearfield County Commissioners, Steve Gatto – Chairman / CEO of BioEnergy International, Bob Dinneen – President, Renewable Fuels Association and State Representative Camille George. In the rear, just over Commissioner McCracken’s right shoulder, is former Clearfield County Commissioner Rex Read who also played a key role in bringing the project to Clearfield County.

Representative George then took to the podium and said the ethanol plant groundbreaking represented a day of promise and belief. He stated "I’m not just impressed with the dollars spent, the jobs it will provide and the gallons of fuel to be produced," he said. "So many years ago, no one would have believed in this project. I would like to introduce the naysayers to Clearfield County – the can-do county. We’re worth believing in and will do you proud."

Stephen J. Gatto, chairman and chief executive officer of BioEnergy International LLC, spoke of the cooperation and collaboration that went into the project stating "We’ve collaborated on the ushering in of a new industrial revolution." Mr. Gatto, at one point in his comments stated "I thank the Clearfield County Commissioners for their cooperation and determination to make this project happen in their county".

Pictured above is a flex-fuel vehicle driven to the Bionol Clearfield groundbreaking by Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association. The vehicle is powered by E-85 ethanol that Mr. Dinneen purchased Thursday morning at a cost $2.85 per gallon, over .50 cents less than the current cost of $3.39 for regular gas in central Pennsylvania. This is proof that we can break the grip of OPEC and do it a cost effective way.

Following the ceremony, Commissioner McCracken commented to the press, "This project will give Clearfield County and the entire region a chance to claim a new industrial identity. During most of the 20th century we were known for coal and brickyards but now we begin a bright future as the home of domestically produced alternative fuels".

Facility Background Information – Provided by Corinne Young, Director of Government Affairs for BioEnergy.

The ethanol plant, which has received approximately $22 million in state funding and private funding of $248 million, is currently in the first phase of construction. "Phase 1 includes the site work leveling and re-grading," Young said. She said construction workers are on location six days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

According to Young, the facility’s construction will get underway in April and consists of two plants. The first facility will be a corn-based ethanol plant, while the second will serve as a pilot, cellulose based plant. "It’s going to be a $275 million dollar investment for the corn-based plant alone. The pilot, cellulose plant will require additional funding," Young said.

"It will have the capabilities to produce more than 100 million gallons each year," she said of the corn-based ethanol plant.

Young said both plants are expected to be completed and in operation in 2010. She said the plants will combine to hire about 70 full-time employees, while talks of a third, potential plant would result in 30 to 40 additional jobs.

Ms. Young concluded "We’re proud to be in partnership with the community. We’re hoping to make Clearfield County the destination for renewable energy."

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