Native Americans Enter $3 Billion Biofuels Deal

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), a group of 57 Native American tribes, signed a long-term development agreement for up to $3 billion in biofuels and bioenergy projects across tribal lands in California.

The "Thunderbird" project will unfold over the next 10-15 years, and will include a variety of technologies using multi-feedstocks spearheaded by CERT, biofuels company BioJet and developer Tartoosh Environmental.

The objective is to develop the projects using tenets of sustainability – that preserving Native American heritage and emphasize social equity and environmental risk management, while creating jobs and profits for all stakeholders.

CERT was founded in 1975 to advise and support tribes in developing and sustaining long-term energy projects, addressing economic, cultural priorities and environmental priorities. Member tribes control all aspects of development – from negotiating agreements to verifying revenue payments and creating government and business alliances that achieve their goals.

BioJet is a supply chain integrator that’s developing a worldwide renewable jet fuel business along with byproducts such as specialty chemicals. Tartoosh is a Native American-owned firm specializing in sustainable development on tribal lands.

The Thunderbird agreement includes:

  • Use more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land for biofuel feedstocks, with by-products used as animal feed.
  • Recover existing bioenergy feedstocks, such as 5 million board feet of damaged existing timber. 
  • Develop natural gas resources.
  • Use algae feedstocks as refining technologies become more economically feasible.
  • Build 10 refineries that can process up to 250 million gallons of renewable jet fuel and diesel, and 300 million gallons synthetic jet or diesel a year.
  • Build 5 waste-to-energy plants that convert waste biomass to high value energy products such as C5 molasses (used in food production), clean energy, ethanol, biochemicals, and lignin (a supplemental fuel).  
  • Create Integrated Renewable Energy Parks where possible that house multiple renewable energy sources.

Among the resources over which CERT holds "absolute control" are 30% of the coal west of the Mississippi River; 40% of known national uranium reserves, 9% of known national oil and gas reserves and "renewables from a land base of 56 million acres sufficient to power the US for many years, says David Lester, executive director of CERT.

All three parties to the agreement plan to donate 10% of their individual net profits from the projects to the CERT TRIBES Education Program for education in science, environmental, energy and business and sustainability studies and degrees. 

For more information about CERT:

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