Biofuel companies awarded bulk of state aid

Critics have questioned the amount of public money pumped into the industry

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) New figures show biofuels companies owned by some of the nation's largest corporations made up more than half of the top 50 recipients awarded state aid since 2003, when Iowa began tallying all public assistance meted out.

The figures were compiled under Iowa's open records law.

Biofuels plants in Albert City, Charles City, Fort Dodge and Hartley that are now owned by Texas oil giant Valero Energy topped the list of companies awarded the most in tax breaks and other assistance with some $59 million since 2003.

Valero bought the plants out of bankruptcy from VeraSun Energy in 2009, and the company took over VeraSun's public-assistance contracts with the state.

Valero is the nation's largest oil refiner with $324 million in profits last year and is No. 24 on the list of top Fortune 500 companies in America.

Biofuels plants in Menlo, Shell Rock, Fairbank and Iowa Falls owned by Flint Hills Resources were awarded $40.8 million in subsidies. Flint Hills is a subsidiary of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries run by two of the world's richest men, brothers Charles and David Koch.

Flint Hills bought the Iowa plants from Hawkeye Renewables, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, and was awarded $5.6 million in credits and loans. The rest of Flint Hills' incentives were awarded under state contracts with Hawkeye Renewables and transferred.

Harvest Biofuels, a subsidiary of Kensington Industries and Investments of Dallas, is the third-largest award winner at $36.1 million. The oil refinery operator has three plants in Galbraith, Gilmore City and Garner.

Critics have questioned the amount of public money that has been pumped into the biofuels industry, saying it likely would have located in Iowa anyway because of the state's corn supply.

Last year, state leaders capped several tax credits administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, said authority director Debi Durham, who called it "a wise thing to do.""There should be a cap," she said.

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