The end seems to be close at hand for a one promising efforts to make North Carolina a hub for biofuels production and at the same time lessen the state’s reliance on oil-based fuels.

With little hope that the N.C. General Assembly will restore its funding, the North Carolina Biofuels Center in Oxford has begun a process to shut down the center “responsibly, carefully, and efficiently,” Chief Executive Officer Steven Burke tells WRALTechWire.

Both the House and the Senate have zeroed-out Biofuels funding in the new fiscal year budget. While the General Assembly is haggling over a final budget, Burke says the Center’s one hope is that Gov. Pat McCrory might step in. His budget had proposed a 20 percent cut in the Center’s $2 million in funding. 

On Thursday, the Center began winding down.

“The executive committee initiated a process that it, the staff, and others will find enormously unsettling: shutting down the Center responsibly, carefully, and efficiently over 90 days,” Burke explained.

While the Center is not out of money, every cent will be needed to wrap up business.

“Enough [funding remains] we hope to maintain the Center for that 90 day project, contracts, communications, and complicated fiscal shut down,” Burke said.

“No funding provision for careful wrap up and closing is included in budget provisions seen to date.”

While Burke said he has heard nothing new about the budget, he holds out hope for intervention by the governor. 

“I would assume the Governor and his staff are working for a budget accommodating their strategic needs,” he said.

However, Burke has so far avoided having to make any reductions in staff or work. 

“No cuts,” he said when asked if any changes had been made in staffing. “A busy staff will be needed to maintain projects, work with and elicit companies, and undertake the wrap up.”

Last month, when WRALTechWire first talked with Burke about the proposed budget cuts, he described them as “unprecedented.”

Never before, he says, has the state pulled the fiscal rug out from under a non-profit organization geared to “carry out the will of the state.”

The state budget allocation is the Biofuels Center’s “only source of funding,” Burke says. Some $2.4 million from a settlement the Center received last year was a one-time infusion.

Burke can’t believe that politicians want to scuttle “five years of work to build North Carolina as a biofuels center. North Carolina has tremendous potential. This not only can benefit our agricultural areas but also technology.”