Can small and community-scale biodiesel plants be economically viable and contribute to rural development in the Western United States? A new report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), “Homegrown Prosperity from the Bottom Up,” answers that question with case studies of biodiesel plants in those western rural communities… and the answer is YES!
This article from Biodiesel Magazine says the report, entitled “Homegrown Prosperity from the Bottom Up” and co-written by Wilbur Wood, found that these small, local biodiesel plants can “disengage family farmers and ranchers from domination by the global fossil fuel market, enhance both fuel and food security, create jobs, and keep money in local communities”:
Brett Earl, co-owner of Earl Fisher Biofuels LLP in Chester, Mont., is featured in case study number one. Earl views biodiesel as a community-based industry. “We can grow the oil seeds locally, we can manufacture the fuel locally, and we can consume the products locally,” he said. The facility currently operates at 275,000 gallons annually and employs three full-time employees, with plans to expand to 1 MMgy and employ six to ten workers. Earl said that would make Earl Fisher Biofuels the third largest employer in the small town of Chester. When operating at a larger scale, Earl wants to share it with other rural communities in Montana, proving it can work.
Not only does the report use the successes of the community-scaled biodiesel plants as examples of how they could spark economic growth in rural areas, the WORC makes the case that there should be federal and state government policies to help these small production facilities.