Boost For NM Biofuels Research

New Mexico – Biofuels research in southeastern New Mexico will benefit from a settlement reached by the New Mexico Environment Department and Western Refining Co. over air quality violations at two of the company's refineries.

The settlement calls for Western Refining to pay $1.95 million to the Center for Excellence in Hazardous Material Management in Carlsbad for work that aims to turn algae into biodiesel.

The center has successfully cultivated and harvested a wild-strain algae to produce a feedstock that can be converted to biofuel. It has conducted the work at its facilities and at New Mexico State University's agricultural experiment station near Artesia.

The first payment of $650,000 will be made on Monday. The next payment will be March 1.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.