South supports north

Published 2:52 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

JACKSON — The planned ethanol plant for Northampton County is receiving support from neighbors to the north.

At a recent Northampton County Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager Wayne Jenkins presented a letter and a resolution of support to the board in reference to the construction of the East Coast Ethanol Plant near Seaboard.

The letter dated January 9 comes from Michael W. Johnson, the County Administrator for Southampton County, Va. Attach to the letter is a resolution of support adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Southampton County.

The resolution states the Board of Supervisors “supports the construction and operation of an ethanol plant in Northampton County.

In October, officials with East Coast Ethanol announced a corn-based fuel plant would be coming to Seaboard. The site in Northampton County is just one of four sites planned for the southeast.

The $212 million ethanol plant, once opened, would provide 42 jobs to the county and have a $100 million economic impact on the area annually.

Area farms would also get a boost as officials said they plan to buy as much local corn as possible as well as bring in corn from the Midwest.

The 414-acre property earmarked for the plant is located west of the town on NC 186.

During public comment at the recent meeting, Jack Saunders of Henrico asked the commissioners to rethink allowing the construction of an ethanol plant in the county.

Saunders voiced concerns about the strain on the environment and natural resources. He also spoke about recent closing of ethanol plants.

“Eighty percent of the (ethanol) plants in the Midwest are already closed,” he said to the commissioners.

Recent news articles have noted some ethanol plants in the Midwest currently are idle.

A plant owned by Renew Energy, LLC. in Wisconsin filed for Chapter 11 under the United States Bankruptcy Code. Those involved cite lower revenues and unwillingness by their bank to renew the plant’s operating loan.

But the strengthening of America’s “green” sector could be in the future.

President Barack Obama’s $825 billion stimulus plan was passed by the House on Wednesday. That version of the bill would put aside $68 billion for “greening” the nation’s infrastructure, reducing energy use and the dependence on fossil fuels.

The bill is yet to be passed by the Senate.