The biodiesel industry is looking at a somewhat bifurcated future. Ambiguity reigns as a new presidential administration comes into power but at the same time, the California market for the fuel derived from a diversity of products including soybeans, canola oil and animal fats appears to be in a solid growth mode. "We have learned to thrive on uncertainty," said Jennifer Case, president of New Leaf Biofuel, based in Barrio Logan. "We are a scrappy industry." Case is one of about 800 attendees at the industry's biggest annual get-together, the National Biodeisel Conference and Expo, running through Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center.
Ergon was originally a partner in the plant, which opened in May 2008. Production, with yearly capacity of 57 million gallons, was suspended in December 2012. Ergon bought out its partner in 2013 and restarted output in 2015, hiring about 30 people. Ergon says it will try to find new jobs for employees at its Vicksburg oil refinery and towboat company or at its Jackson-area businesses.
Indeed, it's fairly obvious that Perry's yarn is simply intended to shift attention away from the real culprit behind destruction of prairie in the Great Plains – oil and natural gas. A 2015 study by researchers from the University of Montana, Oklahoma State University and other universities found that the land area occupied by oil and gas activities in the Great Plains expanded from less than 1 million acres in 2000 to 7.5 million acres by 2012. The study found that pristine rangeland, forest and wetlands were cleared to make room for oil and gas drilling pads, roads, rail lines and storage facilities. The researchers concluded that "oil and gas may further expand into native rangelands" and that "hydraulic fracturing technology … [also] has profound implications for hydrological, water-quality, and water-use regimes."