By Ucilia Wang, GigaOM

Here’s the bad news from next-gen biofuel producer Range Fuels: The company has let some workers go. But the good news the company wants you to know, is that Range Fuels is still planning to produce enough cellulosic ethanol to meet a government estimate for 2011.

News about the layoffs emerged Monday, and company spokesman Patrick Wright confirmed it with us. Wright said the company laid off “a handful of people in Colorado and Georgia,” but declined to disclose the number or reasons. In the same email reply, Wright said that the company could possibly start producing ethanol this week at its plant near Soperton, Ga.

“The Soperton plant is running and is producing methanol and we expect to produce ethanol this week,” Wright wrote Tuesday. In a phone conversation, Wright said the company plans to meet a 2011 production goal set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He declined to answer more questions about the company’s ethanol production plan. We’ll update the story if we hear more.

Range Fuels is one of the five companies  the EPA projected will be able to produce 6.6 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2011. A 2007 law required the EPA to set mandates for different types of fuels that can be blended into gasoline and diesel. Those mandates are supposed to lead the country to produce 36 billion gallons in 2022.

Lawmakers nurtured ambitious goals to wean the country off the use of fossil fuels. But meeting those goals has proven extremely difficult, mainly because many biofuel companies with promising technologies ran into technical problems or were unable to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build a commercial plant. Or both.