The Pacific Northwest is poised to lead the world in the development of environmentally friendly renewable fuels, and local leaders don't want to miss out on the economic boom these biofuels may create.

'Oregon and Washington are rich in the raw materials of biofuels production,' says Hiroshi Morihara, president of the Oregon Science and Technology Partnership.

The biofuels industry is expected to grow considerably over the next 20 years, and Morihara wants East County to reap the monetary benefits.

In fact, the Gresham resident has big plans for this area. Last year, Morihara divulged plans to build an ethanol plant in Fairview and an ethanol research site near Mt. Hood Community College, and next week the Oregon Science and Technology Partnership will host an all-day conference on the economic benefits of biofuels.

'The industry … is showing exciting potential for economic development in our region,' Morihara says.

'The Business of Biofuels in the Pacific Northwest' conference brings together dozens of the best industry, scientific and governmental leaders in the Pacific Northwest to discuss the growing impacts of renewable fuels.

Speakers include Josh Tickell, producer of the film 'Fields of Fuel,' and a well-known advocate of vegetable oil fuel. Tickell made national headlines a few years ago for his 'Veggie Van Voyage,' in which he turned an old diesel van into a veggie oil powered machine called 'the Veggie van.' Tickell took a two-year, 25,000-mile tour of the nation in this van, running the vehicle on used grease he collected from restaurants along the way. Tickell's book, 'From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel,' has become a must-have for any biodiesel enthusiast.

Preceding Tickell, Mark Kendall, from the Oregon Department of Energy, will talk about this state's grants and tax incentives for producing and using alternative fuels; and Jeff Deiss, with the United States Department of Agriculture, will discuss rural energy programs and rural development.

Other speakers include representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Oregon Environmental Council, Star Oil Company, SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel, Cascade Grain Productions, Climate Solutions, Greenwood Resourced and many others.

Presenters expect to have 500 attendees and two-dozen exhibitors at Friday's conference, which will explore all aspects of biofuels production, research and long-term expectations.

'We urge all who are interested in the biofuels industry and economic development to join us at this exciting event,' Morihara says.

The Business of Biofuels in the Pacific Northwest conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at the Mt. Hood Community College Theater. The cost is $125, which includes lunch and a reception. If you register the day of the event, the cost is $150. To register online, visit and click on the biofuels event page.

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