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$30M ethanol plant to go up in Lancaster

July 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The high desert community of Lancaster will soon break ground on the first ethanol plant of its kind in the nation. It will sit on a 10-acre piece of land next to the Lancaster Landfill.Los Angeles County officials gave the go-ahead for the project on Wednesday. The estimated cost is $30 million.

BlueFire Ethanol is constructing the plant. It will be the first ethanol plant in the United States to process biowaste, items such as organic trash, wood chips, grass, and leaves. The ethanol produced would be used mainly as an alternative fuel for gasoline.

"This will be the first-of-a-kind that can process this type of mixed wastery," said BlueFire Ethanol President Arnold Klann.

Klann says the plant won't compete with the country's food supply because, unlike traditional ethanol typically produced from corn, the plant will produce it with only organic waste products.

"It's everything we, as a society, throw away that is organic. We throw away a lot of cardboard. We throw away a lot of trash bags," said Klann.

L.A. County is backing the project and they say the plant will be safe for the environment. However, some residents fear it will spew out unhealthy toxins into the community.

"I've been through this with the sewage sludge in the Antelope Valley, with the post-high toxic waste in High Vista, and several other things like that," said Ryle Talbot, who opposes to the project.

BlueFire officials say they decided to build the plant in Lancaster because it was the right price, and because there is plenty of organic waste dumped at the landfill.

"When we look at this plant, if we can make it commercial and economically viable at this site, then this gives us the ability to put in maybe 1,000 of these facilities across the United States," said Klann.

BlueFire Ethanol officials say they will begin construction next month. The plant could be completed in over a year.

 

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