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February 8, 2008, Press Release US Senator Gordon Smith, Oregon


Northwest’s First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Bound for Oregon

New bio-fuel will come from excess wood chips and wheat stocks found on Oregon farms and forests

          Washington, D.C. – Soon Oregon drivers will utilize a new fuel that is entirely produced in Oregon. Last week, it was announced that Boardman will be the home of the Northwest’s first cellulosic ethanol plant.  The plant will convert local surplus wheat straw and wood chips that were once wasted into a new clean and renewable fuel called cellulosic ethanol.  Oregon Senator Gordon Smith secured a $24.3 million grant to help construct the plant located 25 miles west of Pendleton near the Columbia River.   

          “What Nebraska is to corn ethanol, Oregon can be to cellulosic ethanol,” said Smith. “Excess materials from mills, farms and forests can now be used to fuel our cars and heat our homes. To have an energy independent country tomorrow, we must invest in projects like this today. This plant will offer our state terrific economic and environmental benefits – stimulating our agriculture and forestry industries, while providing a clean and 100 percent home-grown fuel.” 

          “We greatly appreciate the support of Senator Smith and the rest of the Oregon Congressional delegation in securing the DOE grant,” said Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol.  “Pacific Ethanol is committed to being a leader in developing new methods to convert a variety of biomass resources into ethanol.  Success in this industry-wide effort to commercialize cellulose to ethanol technology will allow our country to replace a significant proportion of imported oil with U.S produced renewable resources and reduce CO2 emissions by millions of tons annually, delivering long term value to the economy, the environment and our shareholders.”

           Cellulosic ethanol is made from cellulose, which is a material found in nearly all natural, free-growing vegetation. Unlike corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol does not negatively impact the price of food or require a massive amount of land to grow the raw materials.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ethanol from cellulose releases 70 percent less emissions than gasoline. Corn-based ethanol only decreases emissions by 10 to 20 percent. 

            The federal grant comes from the U.S. Department of Energy.   The $24.3 million grant will be matched with private investment money from Pacific Ethanol, Inc resulting in nearly $50 million of investment.  Oregon companies Greenwood Resources and Oregon Hay Products are projected to supply raw materials to the plant. It is estimated the plant will open in late 2009.

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