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Biorefinery Lays Off E. Oregon Workers

April 1, 2013 | Northwest Public Radio
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Courtney Flatt

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  • ZeaChem, an eastern Oregon biofuel plant, has announced it’s laying off workers. The news comes three weeks after it began producing ethanol. credit: Flickr Creative Commons: Sam Beebe, Ecotrust
ZeaChem, an eastern Oregon biofuel plant, has announced it’s laying off workers. The news comes three weeks after it began producing ethanol. | credit: Flickr Creative Commons: Sam Beebe, Ecotrust | rollover image for more

RICHLAND, Wash. – An eastern Oregon biofuel plant has announced it’s laying off workers. The news comes three weeks after it began producing ethanol.

ZeaChem started making biofuel earlier this month at its demonstration plant in Boardman, Ore. The plant turns sawdust into cellulosic ethanol. The Obama administration favors this type of biofuel because it’s plant-based but doesn’t use food products.

ZeaChem had already secured more than grants from the federal government, including:

But ZeaChem needed short-term financing to operate before that federal money kicked in.

The Colorado-based company wasn’t able to line up a short-term loan. In a statement, ZeaChem said that forced it to scale back its operations. But the company says it is hopeful it can raise enough money to restart production.

The company also raised $19 million dollars from private investors last October.

ZeaChem has plans to expand to a commercial biofuel plant that could produce 25 million gallons of ethanol.

© 2013 Northwest Public Radio
biofuel environment cellulosic ethanol ZeaChem energy
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