On July 18, 2018, I was privileged to deliver a short speech and be an ‘official groundbreaker’ at the Red Rock Biorefinery Groundbreaking in Lakeview, Oregon. For over six years, the tri-agency team from the Departments of Navy, Energy, and Agriculture, with Red Rock Biofuels, has been working through the detailed steps of the Defense Production Act process to get to this stage. It has been a long road for my counterparts and myself, but it was well worth the effort. I could not have been prouder to have a shovel in my hand and turn some dirt!
More than 200 guests, including political dignitaries, corporate representatives, off-takers from Federal Express and Southwest Airlines and a large community contingent witnessed the groundbreaking event of this first-in-the-U.S. commercial scale biorefinery utilizing woody biomass waste as a feedstock. When the plant begins commercial operations in the last quarter of 2019, this $320 million renewable fuel facility will produce 15 million gallons of jet fuel each year.
Over 100 jobs are estimated to be created for the construction, and once fully operational Red Rock will provide around 35 full-time jobs for operations. Additionally, approximately 75 jobs will be created for trucking and materials gathering, utilizing private and public forest lands as well as waste products from regional sawmills and wood products manufacturing sites.
Lakeview Mayor Ray Turner was enthusiastic that this project would bring jobs and, as he jokingly stated, possibly a second grocery store to the small town of barely 2,000 residents.
“This bio-refinery marks a turning point,” said Red Rock Chief Financial Officer Jeff Manternach. “It will help this mill town continue to be a place where things are made, and it will combat global climate change. This is the first of its kind in the world, and you all made it happen. May this be the precedent for a great highway fueled by courage and innovation.”
For more information on the Red Rock groundbreaking event, see Red Rock’s website, this youtube video, and this news article.
- Chris Tindal, Assistant Director of CAAFI