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Fulcrum BioEnergy tells ‘why we loved Gary’

Fulcrum BioEnergy

A select group of northwest Indiana residents accepted the invitation to attend Fulcrum BioEnergy’s information session and tour the 75-acre site in Gary tapped to become a facility that will turn household trash into jet fuel.

In May, Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels, its first wastes-to-fuels plant near Reno, Nevada went into operation.

Before the bus ride out to the Buffington Harbor site, guests of Fulcrum BioEnergy learned why Gary was picked for its new Centerpoint facility, with 3 times the capacity of the Reno plant.

DSC 5321 Fulcrum cement plant
Fulcrum cement plant

Allen Castro, Fulcrum vice president for development in the U.S. and overseas said Fulcrum plants have to be near a big population center with 1.5 million tons of waste annually.

“Institutionally, we loved Gary because it is logistically well connected to residential sources. It has great transportation routes. The Gary site has a lot of good infrastructure that was left behind,” Castro said. The site in Buffington Harbor is where the old Lehigh Cement Plant was located.

Lastly, Castro said, “We liked Gary because we know we can be a positive force in a city that wants to lift itself.”

The company says its facilities will help resolve two environmental challenges facing the U.S. – greenhouse gases and landfill wastes.

A 2022 USEPA report on the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 said the transportation sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter, producing 27% of the total U.S. emissions. Commercial aviation – passenger and freight traffic – made up 10% of U.S. transportation emissions.

That same report said municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 14.5 percent of these emissions in 2020.

Fulcrum has developed a synthetic crude oil from garbage, with 80% less greenhouse gases emissions, to replace the jet fuel from oil wells.

When the Centerpoint plant is fully operational, 700,000 tons of waste will be diverted annually from regional landfills to produce 31 million tons of low carbon jet fuel.

“The administration supports the project 100 percent,” Mayor Jerome Prince said. “Successful completion sets a pro-development tone in the city, dispelling perceptions about doing business in Gary. We will attract more interests from local, state and national companies who want to make intelligent investments. It means jobs for our residents and it will increase our assessed value.”


Waiting outside at the ArtHouse where the information session was held were representatives of GARD, opponents of the project.

Gary Advocates for Responsible Development claim Centerpoint’s refining process will add more pollution to a community that has a history of exposure to emissions that cause health problems.

Fulcrum expects to complete financing on the $600 million facility in the 2nd quarter of 2023. Construction will take 2 years.

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