WASHINGTON -- A financial commitment of $232.5 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist the development of the ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery in Boardman, OR, comes with strings attached.

The plant, which would convert a mix of 70% woody biomass and 30% agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol, is to be built in Boardman along the Columbia River. The ZBB plant would reportedly produce 25 million gallons of biolfuel per year with fuel production slated to begin in 2014. The total cost of the project is estimated at more than $390 million.

ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery currently operates a 250,000-gallon per year cellulosic integrated demonstration plant at the site. It is generating operational data to help steer developmnent of the proposed commercial scale project.USDA said FSC-certified poplar biomass from neareby GreenWood Tree Farm Fund and agricultural feedstock such as wheat straw and corn stover would be utilized.

An estimated 51 percent or more of the biorefinery's output would be advanced biofuel, and the remainder would be "high-valued" bio based chemicals, such as acetic acid and ethyl acetate, the USDA said.

Federal funding would be made available through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZBB must meet specified conditions, however, before the 60 percent loan guarantee could be completed. This includes securing adequate financial support to fund the project.

ZBB's first commercial facility will create 188 direct construction jobs and 65 full-time operations jobs, plus an additional 242 indirect jobs for construction and full-time operations

"This project and others like it will help to establish a domestic advanced biofuels industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets in the Pacific Northwest and across America,"USDA Secretary Tom Villaseck said.

The biorefinery would create 65 jobs while supporting another 38 jobs with the parent company, the USDA said.

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