Haley Barbour’s Red State Pays $100 Million to Israeli Biofuel Co for CleanTech

tornado wood americaClimate change hits America’s Red States hard – but there’s plenty of wood waste there for clean biofuel energy production – that could head off even worse climate change

Politicians in America’s Southern Red States are notorious for decrying clean Renewable Energy Standards on the grounds that they have no solar or wind resources, and so they would be completely unable to meet mandates such as have been passed in all the Blue States.

In some cases, their response is as peeved as if they believe that the RES is a deliberate mechanism designed to disadvantage them, the way they think that Al Gore or the UN is out to get them in some way too.

Leaving aside the question of their supposed lack of wind and solar potential (cloudy northern New Jersey is number two in the nation in solar installations, despite much less sun than the Southern states) what the South has is trees. Lots of trees. And clean energy can be made from trees. Wood waste. And Israeli companies are in the forefront of turning wood chips into cellulosic sugars.

But now Israel’s HCL Cleantech Inc has been offered $100 million to build four plants in Mississippi to turn wood waste into sugars. According to local media, these cellulosic sugars from waste wood will be used to bulk up pet foods, lubricants and cosmetics.

But here’s what’s interesting…. The HCL Cleantech Inc website clearly positions itself as a clean energy producer.

The state has an abundant supply of pine trees, and the smaller branches were being thrown away. Now they will be turned into… something. The first processing plant is due to open in 2012, and three larger plants in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

What’s more, the impoverished Red State will actually pay for this clean tech from faraway Israel. Mississippi is offering HCL Cleantech a $95 million loan for equipment and buildings, and $5 million for training and infrastructure and other equipment.

In return, HCL Cleantech says the plant will bring approximately 800 jobs with an average salary of $67,000, plus benefits. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the US, and this is no small potatoes.

Now Haley Barbor, the Governor of Mississippi, is of course a climate skeptic, like all Republicans who hold office in the US now. It is unlikely that he would openly spend $100 million to bring clean tech energy manufacturing to his state. But even former President Bush, hardly a clean energy genius when it comes to science, talked up the use of cellulose in the production of energy, which is exactly what HCL Cleantech specializes in.

So if Fido tires of eating wood in his pet food, hey, there’s always clean energy production. Cellulosic sugars are the first step in biofuels from non-food sources. And, Haley? I know you are a former lobbyist for the dirtiest coal energy utilities in the USA. No doubt you had to sign the (anti) climate pledge that Republicans have to sign to get the fossil energy funding they must have to run for public office these days.

But if you let HCL Cleantech show you how to make bioethanol from pine tree wastes – can Renewable Energy Standards be really so hard to achieve?

Related stories on clean tech:
Utility-Scale Solar Projects a Casualty of Republican Hostage-Taking in US
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Luz Rises Again, as BrightSource, in California

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