Michigan Chapter

Biofuels and Biomass in Michigan

This image of Michigan shows the proposed location of the Frontier Renewable Resources ethanol plant. The project would consume timber taken from within a 150 mile radius, represented by the circle.
This image of Michigan shows the proposed location of the Frontier Renewable Resources ethanol plant in Kinross. The project would consume timber taken from within a 150 mile radius, represented by the circle.  About 1/3 of the area of the circle is water from lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron.

Sierra Club calls on state and federal agencies to stop funding the Frontier Renewable Resources project.

Michigan is fortunate to have abundant forests and farmland.  As such, our state is of keen interest to developers of biomass and biofuel projects.  While our country needs to move forward with research and development of appropriate biofuel-based energy sources, it must be done with care and a guarantee of sustainability.  Currently, however, Michigan is rushing forward to use our tax dollars to subsidize projects that are both economically and environmentally unsustainable.

Proposals that are far from sustainable are already on the move in Michigan.  One such proposal is Mascoma Corporation’s proposed Frontier Renewable Resources project in Kinross (read about our comments on the Department of Energy's draft Environmental Assessment.)  The proposed ethanol plant would compete with existing forest products industries, such as lumber yards and furniture mills, putting current employers at risk, and potentially cause a net job loss for the area.  There are also questions about energy inputs versus energy produced.  Unfortunately, Michigan has already committed $23.5 million in subsidies to this project and the federal Department of Energy is considering a $58.5 million grant.

Michigan’s scarce financial resources should not be used to subsidize unsustainable biomass or biofuel projects.  We call on decision makers to pull the subsidies for this project, and to carefully weigh future proposals to avoid wasting our tax dollars on economically and ecologically unsustainable projects.

Watch for more information from the Sierra Club about the the Frontier Renewable Resources proposal in the coming days.  For questions, contact Carol Ward, Volunteer Leader, Sierra Club Three Lakes Group, or Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Forest Ecologist.

In February 2011, the Department of Energy released a DRAFT Environmental Assessment and Notice of Wetland Involvement for the Construction and Operation of a Proposed Cellulosic Biorefinery , Mascoma Corporation, Kinross Charter Township, Michigan.   You can read the Sierra Club's comments here. 

A fact sheet about the Frontier Renewable Energy wood to biofuel project can be found by clicking here.

 

Send a Message to Congress: STOP Funding for the Frontier Biofuel Boondoggle!

Michigan's 1st District Congressman Dan Benishek calls for "reducing spending and forcing the federal government to live within restraints" and says "we cannot hope to see real job growth in Northern Michigan so long as federal deficits drown out private enterprise." 

You can encourage Congressman Benishek and Michigan's Senators to start at home by killing the $58.5 million Department of Energy proposed grant for the Frontier Renewable Energy wood to biofuel plant in his district.

Stopping federal subsidies for this boondoggle will save taxpayers in Michigan and nationwide more than $100 million in direct taxpayer subsidies to Frontier, including state and local taxes.  Frontier wants to use our tax dollars to cut 1 million tons of Michigan trees (standing, green wood -- not waste wood) each year to feed the biofuel plant, even though it would create fewer jobs than any other forest industry investment. And in the end, the Frontier plant would use 8% of Michigan's annual forest growth to produce a miniscule 0.02% of Michigan's annual gasoline usage.


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Fact Sheet about the Mascoma Frontier Renewable Energy Project is available here

In February 2011, the Department of Energy released a DRAFT EA & Notice of Wetland Involvement for the Construction and Operation of a Proposed Cellulosic Biorefinery, Mascoma Corporation, Kinross Charter Township, Michigan.

Read the Sierra Club's comments here


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