Harder Slams Incompetence at Federal Agency for Denying Central Valley Nearly 2,000 Jobs
WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) slammed the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for its incompetence in handling a local request for investment which would bring an estimated 2,000 jobs to the Central Valley. Aemetis Technologies is planning to open a new manufacturing facility in Riverbank but is reliant on foreign investments to afford initial construction. USCIS is required to approve such applications, but the agency appears to have lost paperwork and ultimately denied approval of the application without explanation. Rep. Harder has met with White House staff regarding the request and sought several updates from the agency.
“I don’t know what the heck is going on over at USCIS, but they need to get their act together – we’re talking about nearly 2,000 jobs in a place where we have an unemployment rate higher than the national average,” said Rep. Harder. “It’s unbelievable the runaround this company has gotten when they just want to create jobs that could only exist in the Central Valley. We should make it easier – not harder – for companies to create jobs here. This whole process is an example of the worst kind of red tape in government. ”
“The Aemetis project at the Riverbank Industrial Park converts a former Army ammunition production facility into a renewable energy plant to process waste orchard and forest wood into low carbon biofuels,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO, Aemetis, Inc. “The Aemetis project will bring more than 2,000 jobs to the Central Valley and $200 million of new capital investment. By avoiding burning of waste wood, the Aemetis plant will reduce air pollution in one of the worst air quality regions in the US, while providing high octane, high oxygen renewable fuels for the California market.”
Aemetis Technologies is planning to build a new facility in Riverbank which would turn wood from almond trees which can no longer bear nuts into biofuels. Currently, these trees are burned in fields and do not serve a practical purpose. The project is estimated to create approximately 2,000 local jobs either directly or indirectly. It would also allow local farmers to use an alternative and renewable energy for disposing of trees, turning non-productive trees into sustainable agricultural practices.
Aemetis requested a formal National Interest Expedite (NIE) for its project in December of 2018. In January, the company received a rejection notice which indicated that the project would undergo a standard extended review. In April, the company received a request for the original application, implying the paperwork had been lost by USCIS and no review had been conducted for five months. Aemetis filed another NIE request but were denied a second time in June without explanation. In addition to apparently losing paperwork, USCIS has failed to notify the company of updates in a timely manner.