ELWOOD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today toured Stepan Company’s existing biodiesel production facility in Elwood. The Governor recently announced that Stepan Company is receiving a $3 million Opportunity Returns grant to help pay for a $24 million future expansion of the facility that will significantly increase production and lessen Illinois’ dependence on foreign oil.
“If we invest now in biodiesel and ethanol, within ten years, we’ll be able to produce enough energy from our own natural resources to cut our dependence on foreign energy in half. That means billions of our hard-earned dollars will stay here at home, in our economy, creating more jobs, rather than leaving Illinois forever. We have the resources. We have the technology. We have the expertise. And if we start today, we can solve this problem in the next ten years. No other state can say that. And the federal government hasn’t even conceived of that yet. But we can do it here in Illinois, and Stepan is going to help us do just that,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
Current production at the facility is about 19 million gallons per year, and this expansion will bring production to 49 million gallons per year. This project will create six to eight new jobs. In addition to the biodiesel fuel produced, the plant will use about 35 million bushels of soybeans as oil annually.
“The proposed plant will provide capacity to supply a part of the new demand in Illinois and help our country and state reduce its dependence on foreign energy. We appreciate the vision and support of Gov. Blagojevich. He is getting the job done on renewable fuels,” said F. Quinn Stepan, Jr., President and CEO of Stepan Company.
This tour follows the Governor’s recent announcement of his energy independence plan to replace 50 percent of the state’s current supply of imported oil with renewable homegrown biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The Governor proposes investing $100 million over the next 5 years to build up to 20 new ethanol plants across Illinois. The additional ethanol production would generate an estimated $1.7 billion in business investment. The Governor also proposes investing an additional $100 million over the next ten years to build four plants in downstate Illinois using new technology to create ethanol made from plant waste materials like corn husks and wood pulp – or “cellulosic ethanol.” This means boosting the state’s annual ethanol production by more than 200 percent and meeting 50 percent of gasoline needs by 2017. And, the Governor’s plan would invest $25 million to help build five new biodiesel plants, boosting the state’s production by 200 percent to 400 million gallons per year or the equivalent to 25 percent of the state’s annual diesel fuel needs by 2017. This additional biodiesel production will generate another $225 million in business investment in Illinois. This plan would create almost 20,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to become less dependent on foreign oil by promoting more efficient renewable fuels made in Illinois. The investment Gov. Blagojevich is making in Stepan will help us reach that goal while creating more good jobs, supporting our farmers and protecting our environment,” state Senator Arthur ‘AJ’ Wilhelmi (D-Crest Hill) said.
“I strongly believe that the key to lessening our dependence on foreign oil is to start producing renewable fuels right here in Will County. I am very proud to support the Stepan Company as it continues to help make Illinois the national leader in the biodiesel market. This is a wise investment in our economy that will protect our environment and position us for a more secure future,” state Representative Careen Gordon (D-Coal City) said.
“By investing in innovative, environmentally-friendly companies that are investing in Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich is creating a business climate that is putting more people to work. We must reduce our addiction to foreign oil, and this is an important step in the right direction,” state Representative Jack McGuire (D-Joliet) said.
“Gov. Blagojevich is committed to leading the way for biodiesel by creating the largest biodiesel market in the nation here in Illinois. Through the complete state sales tax exemption for B-11, and through his support of production facilities like this one, he is certainly succeeding,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh said.
“There is nothing more important than increasing our energy independence right here at home. We are proud to partner with Stepan and Gov. Blagojevich to help make this expansion a reality,” Tom White, President, Will-Grundy Buildings and Trades, Business Manager, Teamsters Local 179 said.
“This is a great day for Will County. Stepan and Gov. Blagojevich are helping us become less reliant on foreign energy and more dependent on our homegrown resources, which is creating good new union jobs,” Tom Dardis, Executive Director, Three Rivers Construction Alliance said.
“We must always be looking at ways to create more jobs in ways that protect also our environment. That is what producing biodiesel is all about. We are very pleased to be working with Stepan and the Governor on this important project,” Jim Buchanan, Business Manager, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 597 said.
“Stepan is proving that we have the ability here in Illinois to import less foreign oil, while putting more people to work. Gov. Blagojevich and our members strongly believe that is what smart economic development is all about,” Dave Udsteun, Business Manager, IBEW, Local 176 said.
In June of 2003, Gov. Blagojevich signed into law a complete state sales tax exemption for biodiesel blends of 11 percent or higher, as well as for the high-ethanol blend known as E-85. When diesel fuel costs $3 per gallon, the value of the exemption, at 6.25 percent, is 18.75 cents per gallon. Consumers have saved more than $200 million as a result of these exemptions on B-11 and E-85 since 2003. This valuable tax exemption has multiplied the size of the biodiesel market by 30 times since 2003 - making the biodiesel market 30 times larger than it was before. This demand is now creating the demand for new ethanol and biodiesel plants.
“Gov. Blagojevich understands that the answers to solving our energy crisis will never be imported but must be created here at home. The Stepan Company is making another significant private investment in expanding this biodiesel plant, which is going to create new jobs and to continue demonstrating why expanding the markets for renewable fuels is so important,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.