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Contributed By:

Katharine Maclean

Environmental Update

OPB | Jan. 30, 2012 9:45 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 11:08 p.m.

ZeaChem has announced plans to build a $300 million biofuel plant in Boardman, just a few months after opening a smaller demonstration plant in the same area. The Colorado-based company has made this decision following a $235 million loan guarantee by the Department of Agriculture. This comes after President Obama’s pledge in Tuesday’s State of the Union to further develop domestic energy sources, as well as the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act which called for the use of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022.

The process involved in the production of this biofuel differs from that of the more conventional corn ethanol in two ways. It uses a natural bacterium to breakdown the biomass and produce ethanol, completely side-stepping the generation of carbon dioxide. And the biomass used will be a mix of agricultural waste and quick growing poplar trees, rather than corn which could be used as food and requires a lot of land and polluting fertilizers.

Congress has recently heightened its scrutiny of alternative energy projects following companies such as Solyndra and Beacon Energy filing bankruptcy after receiving federal loans. But ZeaChem hopes to be producing 25 million gallons of fuel a year by 2014, as well as providing over 100 jobs to the area. 

Does this announcement affect you? Are you interested in using biofuel? What do you think of this news out of Boardman?



  • Cassandra Profita: OPB’s Ecotrope blogger


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