Biorefinery Lays Off Eastern Oregon Workers

Apr 1, 2013

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 corn.

ZeaChem had already secured more than $250 million in grants from the federal government. But it 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. ZeaChem says that forced it to scale back its operations. But the company says it is hopeful it can raise enough money to restart production.

ZeaChem has other funding that’s not from the federal government. It raised $19 million from private investors last October.

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

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio