Could Mississippi be biomass headquarters?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last week Mississippi lawmakers agreed to authorize up $51 million in new incentives to help a company intent on bringing at least three biofuel plants to Mississippi.

The incentives, along with an existing $30 million loan already available from the state, add up to a more than $81 million incentive package to KiOR, a Pasadena, Texas-based company.

Southwest Mississippi is fortunate; one of the three plants is to be constructed near Bude.

But lost in that “big news” headline is a smaller piece of information that may ultimately be more important for our state and region — long-term.

The incentive package passed on Friday also included up to $2 million for research on biomass usage in producing renewable crude oil. That funding is be used at both Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University.

Though the total funding on research is only a fraction of the total amount of investment planned on the KiOR project, it could be the most impacting, particularly if it helps set up our state as a hub of research for alternative fuel development.

Between this project and the potential Rentech project still on the menu for Adams County, Southwest Mississippi could be poised for some amazing things ahead.

Like Texas is to the U.S. petroleum industry, Mississippi could wind up being that for the alternative fuels — particularly coming from biomass — industry.