CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) - A big company's move to New Mexico may hit a major roadblock. The company claims a proposed law could cost jobs, and hurt a growing industry.
Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group, or REG said it's invested $20 million in a new biodiesel plant in Clovis. The company acquired the partially built facility in 2010, and it's now 80 percent complete.
"Its a great location, a good place for us in the south, it gives us access to Texas, gives us access to the California market," said Scott Hedderich, REG's Director of Corporate Affairs.
However, Hedderich said a senate bill could force REG to take a step back. The bill would repeal the mandate that diesel fuel be made up of at least five percent biodiesel.
Hedderich said the mandate is part of why his company is moving forward with plans to produce 15 million gallons of biodiesel annually in New Mexico, which will create 20 jobs.
REG will use animal fat, and plant oil from nearby cattle country to make the fuel. Hedderich said the state's economy would benefit.
"The neat thing about our industry is we're a job multiplier, when we talk about a plant like Clovis we could impact an additional 200-300 jobs in the marketplace," said Hedderich.
Democratic Senator Phil Griego from San Jose, who proposed the bill said he was approached by the gas industry to carry the bill, and doesn't see the harm.
"The Clovis plant has existed for the last five or ten years in the same shape that its in now, and I don't understand why all of a sudden they're saying we're going to shut down a biodiesel industry when none exists," said Griego.
Senator Bill Soules, (D) from Las Cruces, supports the mandate. "Five percent biodiesel is a very low amount but it makes a big difference in the overall clean energy that we use," said Soules. "And though its only five percent we're talking millions of gallons within the state of New Mexico."
If the mandate stays in place, Hedderich said his business will produce 60 percent of the biodiesel that would be used in diesel fuel in New Mexico, instead of importing it from other states.
"We're going to build where we're wanted, where the states see us as a growth opportunity," said Hedderich. "The question is whether New Mexico is going to participate in that growth or get passed by."
The biodiesel bill is scheduled for a committee vote Tuesday. Senator Griego also told KRQE News 13 if he had a do-over, he likely wouldn't have carried the bill, stating he doesn't understand all the science behind it.
If REG does move forward with its plan to open in Clovis, the company said it could still be a year or more before its plant is fully up and running.
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