USDA receives flack for $105 million loan guarantee to Fulcrum in the fading wake of Solyndra

September 9, 2014 |

In Washington, in the wake of the $105 million loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels announced last week, the USDA has received flack from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. President David Williams criticized the guarantee, alluding to the 2011 Solyndra collapse: “Washington is used to flushing taxpayer money down the toilet, but now they’re having taxpayers pay for what’s in the toilet they’re flushing the money down.” The Hill reports that Williams pointed out that animal feces and baby diapers are often found in the garbage that Fulcrum will be using to make renewable energy.

Fulcrum spokesman Rick Barraza defended the waste-to-biodiesel and jet fuel project, responding directly to Williams, stating that the company will do its best to take out the baby diapers before it begins the process of turning waste into fuel. The company has already contracted with Cathay Pacific Airways to supply 375 million gallons of fuel over 10 years, accounting for about 2 percent of the airline’s fuel usage. The USDA expects the Nevada facility to produce 11 million gallons of renewable fuel each year. Plant construction is estimated to cost $266 million; the USDA’s loan will cover 40% of that.

Fulcrum has received government assistance at every stage of its development. As the Digest previously reported, last spring, Fulcrum demonstrated in Durham, North Carolina a process for conversion of municipal solid waste – household garbage – into jet and diesel fuels, using a process licensed in part from TRI. At the time, Fulcrum also announced that it has been awarded a $4.7 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) to begin engineering and development on a plant to produce jet fuel. Fulcrum matched this DoD grant with $4.7 million of its own capital to provide funding to complete the engineering and development of Fulcrum’s first MSW to jet fuel plant.

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Category: Policy

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