Marginal Lands Offer 'Fruitful' Potential

Jatropha farming on an Indian reservation? Mission NewEnergy says yes
By Luke Geiver | June 14, 2011

There are more than 300 Indian reservations in the continental U.S. and for a company that has just filed an IPO based on its ability to produce biofuels from jatropha, that number is pretty significant. Mission NewEnergy has been one of the leaders pushing for the use of jatropha as a biodiesel feedstock, and if its perceptions regarding the potential of marginal land use in the U.S. are true, then the company should expect a nice payout. James Garton, president of Mission NewEnergy, believes there are outstanding biodiesel opportunities in the U.S. right now based on “the rapidly increasing RIN value representing the dramatic short supply of U.S. feedstock and operating refining capacity.”

For Garton, those factors aren’t the only reasons biodiesel looks good right now. “Growing on Indian reservations,” he says of the jatropha used for its biofuels process, “has the potential of utilizing otherwise unusable resources and providing a great number of jobs.” Here’s a new twist: “Mission has been invited to meet with a number of significant Indian tribes,” Garton says. Now, he hopes for “fruitful” discussions and the ongoing evaluation of this opportunity.

It’s hard to say which situations and geographic locations would be best suited for jatropha farming, or more importantly, which tribal political locations would cater well to such a project. But if jobs, biofuels and marginal land use are all involved, then the project should be welcomed with open arms.

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