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Red, White, and Green:
Transforming U.S. Biofuels
ja n e e a r l e y a n d a l i c e mc k e ow n
W O R L D WAT C H R E P O R T
Red, White, and Green: Transforming U.S. Biofuels
jane earley and alice mckeow n
l i s a m a s t n y, e d i t o r
w o r l d wat c h i n s t i t u t e , wa s h i n g t o n , d c
© Worldwatch Institute, 2009 ISBN 978-1-878071-90-3
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Worldwatch Institute; of its directors, ofﬁcers, or staff; or of its funding organizations.
On the cover: Advances in technology can help improve current biofuels and develop new alternatives. This near-infrared spectrometer, promoted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, enables researchers to chemically analyze plants and trees in the ﬁeld, increasing the speed of the analysis and cutting down costs.
Photograph by Bonnie Hames, courtesy NREL
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Table of Contents
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Promise of Biofuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Biofuels in the United States Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Climate and Environmental Impacts of Current Biofuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Making Biofuels Sustainable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Federal and State Biofuel Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U.S. Biofuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Figures, Tables, and Sidebars
Figure 1. U.S. Biofuel Production, 1990–2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Figure 2. U.S. Corn Used in Ethanol Production, 1980–2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Figure 3. U.S. Corn and Soybean Prices, 2000–09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Figure 4. U.S. Ethanol and Gasoline Prices, 2005–09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Figure 5. GHG Emissions Reduction Potentials for Ethanol, by Feedstock Type . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 6. Biofuel Requirements Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, 2009–22 . . . . 26 Table 1. Biofuel Production by Country/Region, 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Table 2. Selected Biofuel Sustainability Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sidebar 1. Biofuel Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Sidebar 2. Algae for Biodiesel: Third-Generation Biofuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Sidebar 3. Technologies for Advanced Biofuels: Biochemical and Thermochemical Platforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Sidebar 4. Biomass and Biofuels: Transitioning Transportation Fuels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Sidebar 5. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard: A Model for National Policy? . . . . . . . 29
This report has been through many reinventions, benefiting from a range of experts and researchers who have made this timely update possible. We are thankful for the continued guidance and expertise of Christopher Flavin, President of Worldwatch, and Janet Sawin, Director of the Institute’s Energy and Climate Change Program. We also appreciate the contributions of Raya Widenoja, who laid much of the early groundwork for the report, and the numerous outside experts, who provided thoughtful input on the report and its recommendations. Special thanks also to Stanford MAP Fellow Amanda Chiu, who researched the figures and tables and contributed an informative sidebar. Antone Neugass showed great flexibility in his research skills and in finding new data that pulled the paper together. Senior Editor Lisa Mastny played an essential role in commenting on early drafts and moving the draft through production, and Art Director Lyle Rosbotham provided the clean design and layout. The authors also appreciate the support of Juliane Diamond, who helped with the important tasks of fact checking and filling in last-minute research holes. Support for this project and the Worldwatch Institute over the past year was provided by the American Clean Skies Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund, the Casten Family Foundation, the Compton Foundation, Inc., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Goldman Environmental Prize, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Good Energies Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation, the Marianists of the USA Sharing Fund, the Netherlands Environment Ministry, the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, The Shared Earth Foundation, The Shenandoah Foundation, the Sierra Club, Stonyfield Farm, the TAUPO Fund, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Inc., the Wallace Global Fund, the Johanette Wallerstein Institute, the Winslow Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund–Europe. Support was also provided by the generous contributions of more than 3,000 Friends of Worldwatch.
About the Authors
Jane Earley is an attorney and the managing partner of Earley & White Consulting Group, LLC, where she specializes in the international trade and environmental aspects of standards in international law. She is currently working on emerging standards for biofuels and agricultural carbon credits and on efforts to address sustainable agriculture in U.S. and international standards. Jane has broad experience in the public and private sectors and with both voluntary and regulatory standards. She has served as a trade negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as director of the Sustainable Agriculture Unit of the World Wildlife Fund, and as CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council. Alice McKeown is a research associate at the Worldwatch Institute and the director of Vital Signs Online. She has followed and written about environmental issues for many years and currently writes about climate change, energy, and agriculture issues. Her recent publications include a “Climate Change Reference Guide” for Worldwatch’s State of the World 2009 report and articles on genetically modified crops, aquaculture, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and coral reefs. Alice has a background in environmental advocacy and grassroots organizing, including more than five years of lobbying and policy experience. She has worked extensively on issues surrounding the use of coal, including climate change, air pollution, and community destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. Alice supports the local foods movement and is proud to know her farmer.
Red, White, and Green
w w w. w orldwatch.org
leading the United States and other governments across the world to encourage greater production and use. policy would make biofuels production more environmenRed. These price fluctuations have fueled a global debate over “food versus fuel. Current best estimates suggest that corn ethanol provides only a 12 to 18 percent net reduction in emissions. these benefits can fall away completely. and environmental impacts. Rapid growth in biofuels use in the past five years has contributed to a sharp increase in food. and most recently as a solution to the country’s energy and climate change problems. But as the market for biofuels expands. and dozens of entrepreneurs are working to commercialize this and other advanced biofuel technologies.org . and Green 5 www. but also from fastgrowing trees and grasses as well as from a range of organic wastes and potentially even algae. on aver- age. the loss of wildlife habitat. White. These latter concerns are now the main driver behind the promise of biofuels. The feedstocks can be grown on marginal land that does not have to compete with food production and that can be cultivated in ways that minimize harmful effects on water quality and wildlife habitat. These concerns point to a crossroads for the U. The country must now choose between a business-as-usual approach that worsens environmental and climate problems. an ofttouted benefit and justification for expanding biofuels production. threatening jobs and livelihoods. Corn ethanol leads to only minimal. that the production of advanced biofuels at a large scale will be environmentally beneficial. There is no guarantee. and soybean prices in the United States and abroad. and declining freshwater resources.S. biofuels industry.Summary O ver the last decade. however. Advanced biofuels can be produced not just from annual crops. economic. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. compared to gasoline.” At the same time. Three broad efforts in U. biofuels industry to contract. as biofuel crops compete with forests and food crops for limited land and other resources. Studies suggest that the environmental costs of producing “first-generation” biofuels such as corn-based ethanol on a large scale likely outweigh the benefits. Of particular concern is the link between biofuels expansion and the global conversion of land for agriculture. or a more cautious approach during which decision makers take the time to “get biofuels right” before rushing forward with more production. as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Taking the more sustainable path includes an immediate transition to “second-generation” biofuels while phasing out reliance on unsustainable first-generation fuels.S. the global economic recession has led the U. so too do the social. These feedstocks may also require fewer fossil fuel inputs and retain more carbon in their soils than corn and soybeans.worldwatch. Research is now under way on the conversion of cellulose to biofuel. biofuels have been championed in the United States as a new source of income for rural communities. These costs include increased water pollution. although current assessments show much promise. feed grain. If land that is rich in carbon is converted from forests or other natural ecosystems to biofuels production.S. if any. enhancing their ability to mitigate climate change.
ways to reduce congestion. and urban planning that promotes biking and walking. Create a holistic energy policy across all transportation-related sectors. they offer the prospect of a more sustainable energy future. using existing economic instruments and other tools. Decision makers should also consider wider transportation solutions such as more fuel-efficient vehicles.S. Rather. Spur the rapid development of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reforming U. 2. it is about finding a new model that takes the United States down a truly red. power refineries.org . white.Summary tally sustainable and help ensure that the use of biofuels for transportation contributes to both energy security and global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: 1. 3. distribution. and green path. Although second-generation biofuels are not a panacea. 6 Red. investments in public transportation. White. The solution to the biofuels challenge is not simply a matter of substituting different feedstocks. and use. biofuel policies will require overcoming an array of economic forces that uphold the current industry structure. and Green w w w. w orldwatch. rising damage to the landscape and climate will fuel greater opposition. and if they are not reformed. Getting there will require careful analysis of biofuel production. Present policies reward the least promising biofuels. and use byproducts. Develop sustainability standards and make government support for biofuels conditional on meeting these standards. including alternate ways to grow feedstock.
biodiesel can be made from animal fats and waste oils. and mustard. biofuels are not typically stand-alone fuels but are blended into conventional fuel sources. trucks. the U. the main biofuel produced domestically.. White. Globally. and • oilseed crops. including corn. Biofuel Basics The terms biofuel. generating the fuel from corn and sugar cane. As the promise of renewable fuels has been more widely advertised.g. wheat. and milo (grain sorghum). The two most popular biofuels nationwide are corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel.worldwatch. governments around the world have moved to produce and promote wider use of biofuels. ethanol. whereas bioenergy or biomass energy is commonly used to describe electricity or heat generated from renewable biomass sources. but they have important distinctions. cassava. and biodiesel are sometimes used interchangeably. But there are many other potential biofuels.The Promise of Biofuels E very day.3 Biofuels. and other vehicles.1* As concerns about energy security and the nation’s self-proclaimed “addiction to foreign oil” escalate. and biogas. biobutanol.4 (See Sidebar 1. production of ethanol and biodiesel increased from some 4.6 (See Table 1. are now touted as a solution to the country’s energy and climate problems. In addition to plant feedstocks..) As production has * Endnotes are grouped by section and begin on page 34. although biofuels can theoretically be produced from a wide range of plant and animal feedstocks.” or energy derived from biological plant and animal matter. cellulosic ethanol. • starch crops. Sidebar 1.org Red. soybean. as the transportation sector now accounts for nearly 30 percent of U.S. using the same basic methods that brewers have relied on for centuries. although certain modified vehicles (“flex-fuel”) can run on a higher E85 (85 percent ethanol) blend. including sugar cane. In the United States.8 billion gallons in 2000 to 21 billion gallons in 2008. Ethanol is typically found as a blend with petroleum gasoline. transportation sector uses an estimated 14 million barrels of oil to power more than 244 million cars. such as gasoline and petroleum diesel. corn ethanol) is made by fermenting sugars from plants with high starch or sugar content into alcohol. respectively. which is known collectively as biomass. www. Source: See Endnote 4 for this section. using more sophisticated technological processes that have to first break down cellulose into sugars.S. “Second-generation” ethanol (e. and sweet sorghum. which have long been popular with farmers who see a new market for their crops. Biofuels are just one form of “bioenergy. When used for transportation. In the United States “biofuel” is most often used in reference to cornbased ethanol. Biofuels can be derived from an array of feedstocks using astonishingly diverse technologies. sunflower.g. cellulosic ethanol) is made from more advanced and nonfood crop feedstocks.2 Worries about climate change add to the alarm. and Green 7 . including biodiesel. but the industry came into its own only in the last decade.5 Ethanol accounts for the bulk of global biofuels production. Currently. Biodiesel can be used in pure form (B100) or as a blend with petroleum diesel. greenhouse gas emissions. including rapeseed. sugar beets.) Biofuels research and development has been under way in the United States since the late 1970s. barley. canola. and the United States and Brazil are the two leading producers. Biodiesel is made by reacting oils with alcohols in a process known as esterification. biofuel usually refers to liquid fuels for transport. Conventional or “first-generation” ethanol (e. the impetus for reducing dependence on petroleum and other fossilbased transport fuels grows stronger. the primary feedstocks fall into three main categories of agricultural crops that are also used for food: • sugar crops.
Biodiesel output expanded from 230 million gallons in 2000 to 3.08 0. It must also work to speed the transition to so-called “secondgeneration” biofuels derived from agricultural and forestry wastes and other non-food sources.24 0.12 0.13 0.317 17.45 0. as biofuel crops compete with forests and food crops for limited land and other resources. w orldwatch.73 1. 2008 Country/ Region million gallons Ethanol million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) Biodiesel million gallons mtoe Total million gallons mtoe United States Brazil European Union (EU-27) China Canada Thailand Colombia India Australia Rest of World World 8.The Promise of Biofuels Table 1. Yet U. policies continue to support the rapid increase in biofuels production.S. requires that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be included in the U.888 2. largely from rapeseed (Germany is the single largest biodiesel producer).08 0.780 2.8 Global production of biodiesel has grown rapidly as well.53 11.5 percent of global production.9 billion gallons in 2008.10 Indonesia and Thailand are significant producers of biodiesel from palm oil. including a maximum of 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol from 2015 on. biofuels industry is at a crossroads.23 7.13 0.59 Source: See Endnote 6 for this section.93 711 308 2.54 0. social. supporting greater industry expansion. exports represented only some 2.95 0.846 542 264 213 109 72 44 640 21.11 Expanding biofuels development has triggered worldwide concern about the economic.33 0.05 0.15 The U.21 13. Rapid growth in biofuels use in the past five years has contributed to a sharp increase in food.92 6.40 0. These “indirect” effects of bio8 Red. it is clear that the current biofuels industry. which produces the fuel mainly from soybeans.org . liquid fuel mix by 2022. followed by the United States. but by 2007 this share had climbed to 8 percent.205 19.15 0.08 12.982 6. it must take aggressive and concerted action to address the serious environmental. and social impacts of this boom.14 But industry experts predict that corn ethanol production could surge well beyond this level if oil and fuel prices continue to rise.78 44. so too has the fuel ethanol trade.66 9. which hold greater promise for the environment and global climate.17 0.12 Of particular concern is the link between biofuels expansion and the global conversion of land to agriculture.02 0.10 1. w w w. feed grain. environmental.53 0.37 0.472 734 502 238 90 79 66 26 128 17.S.693 6. In 2000. is creating a host of problems while failing to deliver measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. increased. updated in 2007.113 41 26 123 30 6 18 512 3. In order to become sustainable over the long term.9 The European Union produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s biodiesel.09 0.13 In the United States. based primarily on corn ethanol. and economic concerns that stem from current biofuels production.05 1.31 1.7 Biofuels account for an estimated 1 percent of global transport fuel consumption. Biofuel Production by Country/Region. The nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).24 32. although starting from a much smaller base.14 0. and Green fuels are only beginning to be understood. and soybean prices. White.S.
O. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts that farmers will plant some 85 million acres of corn in 2009–10.000 Million Gallons 4. U. a known groundwater contaminant.S.S.S. including some 500 million gallons of imports. down slightly from the year before but still the third largest acreage since 1949 (following 2007 and 2008).Biofuels in the United States Today T he U.9 (See Figure 2. but the industry Red. 160 companies were producing ethanol in the United States.000 Biodiesel Ethanol 6. Licht. VeraSun.S.10 U. In the late 1990s. in 2008 domestic ethanol production was estimated at 9 billion gallons.3 (See Figure 1. Biofuel Production. although the market has changed considerably in just the last two years as economic conditions have changed.org . biofuels industry has really taken off only in the last decade or so. gasoline use is expected to remain relatively small: about 10 percent by 2020 and 15–17 percent by 2030.) The increase in ethanol consumption reduced U. and projections for 2009 are more conservative.5 The addition of the new companies contributed to a decline * 1. 57 more than the year before.000 Source: RFA.) But ethanol’s share of annual U. U. NBB 8. and Archer Daniels Midland. U.2 billion bushels.1 Since then. and Green 9 www.2 By comparison.6 In early 2009.8 As much as one-third of this corn crop. agricultural regions have lobbied successfully for policies to increase domestic biofuels use as a way to shore up corn prices and stimulate rural development.S.5 gallons of ethanol are needed to displace 1 gallon of gasoline because of ethanol’s lower energy content. Figure 1. the country was home to 193 ethanol plants with a combined nameplate capacity of 12. strong initial growth in ethanol production stemmed from the need to find a less toxic substitute for the gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether). ethanol production has expanded rapidly over the past decade.S. As of September 2008. and demand topped 9. In 2002. producers generated some 2.S.6 billion gallons.7 Rising ethanol production has led to a sharp increase in U.1 billion gallons of ethanol.worldwatch.S.S. biodiesel production has lagged far behind ethanol in volume. or 4.4 * While the nation’s ethanol market experienced a significant downturn at the end of the year.4 billion gallons. F. up from only 5 percent in 2000.000 0 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 in the market share of industry leaders such as POET. The U. will be used to produce ethanol in 2009–10. demand for corn. White. there is still considerable potential for growth over the next few years. and demand barely topped 2 billion gallons.000 2. demand for motor gasoline by about 5 percent in 2008. 1990–2008 10.
17 In 2009. The nation’s biodiesel producers rely mainly on soybeans and waste cooking oil as feedstocks. When oil prices were high—up to $147 a barrel in July 2008— corn ethanol continued to flourish.) The volatility in feedstock prices.) Estimates indicate that the high U.21 Domestic demand for gasoline dropped late in 2008 as well—down 7.20 But as oil fell to $36 a barrel in early 2009.6 billion gallons. led to a shakeup in the U. ethanol blending became less attractive and producers were faced with expensive feedstocks and lower profits. the largest one-year decline since records began in 1950—and the market for ethanol blending eroded further.Biofuels in the United States Today Figure 2.org 10 Red. demand for corn for ethanol production accounted for 20 percent of the rise in corn prices in 2008. although some are using canola or cottonseed oil. and profits. a significant input to current systems of food production. White. demand for corn ethanol was responsible for 10–15 percent of the rise in food prices for the year ending in April 2008. 1980–2008 4. U.18 Rising food costs due to ethanol production are projected to cost the government an additional $600–900 million in expenditures on federal food assistance programs in fiscal year 2009. dollars.S.16 The rising price of corn has caused hardship for other U.12 Yet production remains well below capacity: in 2008.S. a sharp decline in oil prices has put pressure on biofuel producers by squeezing their profit margins.S.1 percent for the year. In October 2008.400 80 60 1.11 As of September 2008.22 All of these factors led to high volatility in 2008 in both the wholesale price of ethanol and in the per-gallon profit.23 (See Figure 4.S. corn production 2. Corn Used in Ethanol Production.S. such as livestock and poultry production and the manufacturing of high-fructose corn sweeteners.S.14 The rapid expansion in biofuels—particularly corn ethanol—has had mixed economic impacts. agricultural sectors that rely heavily on corn for animal feed and other products. VeraSun. even though it had been a rising star earlier in the year. w w w.000 Source: USDA 100 Ethanol Share of Corn Production (%) Corn Used in Ethanol Production (million bushels) 3.600 40 800 20 0 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 September–August Market Years 2004 2008 0 has expanded rapidly as well.13 Another 850 million gallons of capacity is slated to come online by the end of 2009. the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the increased * All dollar amounts are expressed in U. there were 176 biodiesel plants nationwide. w orldwatch.24 Other U.64 billion gallons of capacity.15 * (See Figure 3.19 More recently. filed for bankruptcy. compounded with the global economic downturn and credit crisis of 2008. One of the more cited effects is the higher volatility of corn and soybean prices triggered both by demand-induced price increases and by sharp jumps in the price of oil. ethanol industry. with a combined annual capacity of some 2. the country’s second largest producer with 1. domestic biodiesel output was only 711 million gallons. and Green .200 Corn used in ethanol production Ethanol share of U.S. demand.
assuming that infrastructure development and feedstock growth will support a 30 Red. One study estimates that renewable transportation fuels could lead to more than 1.33 The effects of ethanol plants on U.S. job creation from ethanol.35 The Renewable Fuels www.Biofuels in the United States Today companies also declared bankruptcy. U.28 Estimates show that only some 34 percent of U. 2005–09 6 Ethanol Unleaded gasoline 5 Dollars per Gallon 4 3 2 1 0 2005 Source: Platts 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Association estimates that the ethanol industry supported the creation of some 238.36 By comparison. Corn and Soybean Prices. and Green 11 .25 Estimates indicate that more than 24 ethanol plants were shut down or idled between late 2008 and March 2009. industry consolidation in recent years has resulted in the transfer of many locally owned plants from farmer cooperatives to large companies. where as many as 80 percent of ethanol facilities remain locally owned.000 new jobs nationwide in 2007 and some 52.000 jobs during 2007.S. who may earn up to 10 times more per bushel from ethanol-related dividends than from selling the crop without dividends and under absentee ownership. Industry reports initially promised the creation of nearly 700 permanent jobs in an area near an ethanol plant.27 Although investment in corn ethanol was profitable for many investors initially.S. biodiesel. U.S. ethanol facilities were locally owned in 2006— down significantly from earlier years—and this share has continued to plummet to no more than 21 percent in 2009.S.30 The loss of local ownership can translate into fewer benefits for local communities. and other advanced biofuels are positive. annual capacity.32 Another study from Iowa indicates that every quarter-share of local ownership at an ethanol plant supports some 29 jobs in the local economy (beyond plant operations) during a period of high returns. suggests that local ownership can increase local economic benefits by 5 to 30 percent.29 Additional consolidation in both the ethanol and biodiesel industries is expected. these numbers do not take into account the possible adverse impacts on the food and livestock industries from the diversion of corn to ethanol.34 However.26 Because many ethanol companies are privately owned.S. and the trend was expected to continue through 2009. low or moderate oil prices.000 jobs in 2008.38 Future prospects for U. 2000–09 15 Source: USDA Soybeans Corn 12 Dollars per Bushel 9 6 3 0 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 Figure 4.37 This translates into about 635 new direct and indirect jobs for every 10 million gallon plant. accounting for about 21 percent of U.S.worldwatch.31 Local ownership may be particularly beneficial to farmers. job creation have been mixed. White. and large sell-offs of biofuel assets. U. Ethanol and Gasoline Prices.2 million new “green” energy jobs by 2038. especially with a worsening economy. the full extent of problematic debt and other financial instability remains largely unknown. biodiesel plants were estimated to support more than 20. One study in the state of Minnesota.org Figure 3. but more realistic estimates may be 130–250 permanent jobs during a boom year.
including in the biomass and advanced biofuel and cellulosic ethanol sectors. and other issues. currently set at a maximum blend level of 10 percent ethanol into conventional gasoline (known as E10). percent share of renewable fuel demand by the same year.000 jobs may be created. distribution. Department of Energy (DOE) projects that for every 1 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol that comes online.5 billion gallons per year because of the total amount of transportation fuels used. could lead to the creation of 2 million jobs if the country achieves 25 percent low-carbon fuels content by 2025. Washington.45 Some investors are also reluctant to invest during a time of low or moderate oil prices and weak demand for oil and ethanol.46 These financial uncertainties have been a leading factor in calls to increase the nation’s ethanol blending limit. but some proponents argue that addi- skidrd * A higher-level blend of 85 percent (E85) can be used only in specially modiﬁed engines and is sold at only a small number of ﬁlling stations across the United States.org .48 Changing the blend level is more than a formality. 12 Red. w orldwatch. a study released in early 2009 predicts that meeting the advanced biofuels requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard will create 123. however.50 Bioidiesel blends available at a station in Seattle. some experts predict that the blend level may be raised to 12 or 13 percent in the short term.39 Another study estimates that investment in green jobs.S. necessitating higher blending limits of 15–20 percent to guarantee a larger domestic market for ethanol and encourage more development and investment.S. White.40 The U. and the U. Including ethanol in every gallon of gasoline in the country is currently impossible due to limitations in production. up to 20.42 U.41 Lastly.000 jobs (including 29. and Green w w w. before the full effects are known. Environmental Protection Agency and DOE are studying the effects on vehicle engines and the environment of raising the blending limit.000 direct jobs) by 2012.Biofuels in the United States Today tional support is necessary to maintain a viable industry.49 With mounting pressure from industry groups and potential support from the heads of both agencies.44 One estimate indicates that the number of investment banks with a history of supporting ethanol development over the last decade has dropped from around 20 to only five today.S.43 The global recession and credit crunch are often cited as hampering the development of advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. Limiting the level of ethanol that can be blended restricts the overall amount of ethanol that can be sold in the United States to about 12.47 * Many ethanol proponents have argued that this virtual production cap—often called the “blend wall”— will soon be reached. ethanol producers continue to receive generous subsidies (amounting to an estimated $8 billion in 2008) to help maintain production.
In theory. and Green 13 . when evaluated over the entire fuel lifecycle (from field to tank).7 percent in 2008. These emissions occur when fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured. pump irrigation water. transportation sector by only 0. ethanol consumption reduced total emissions from the U.7 In places where coal. biofuels could be a “zero-carbon” or “carbon-negative” energy source because many potential feedstocks (grasses.worldwatch. more efficient processing. Point markers indicate best estimates made by EPA. www.) As a result. such as when crops are tilled and when new land is cleared for feedstock cultivation. and operate refineries.6 (See Figure 5. and other developments. in large part because the refining process is fueled by sugar cane bagasse.Climate and Environmental Impacts of Current Biofuels B iofuels are considered to be an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels in part because they have the potential to emit fewer greenhouse gases per mile traveled than gasoline and petroleum diesel. a carbon-intensive fuel. GHG Emissions Reduction Potentials for Ethanol. by Feedstock Type 0 Emissions Reduction Potential (%) -20 Corn Ethanol -40 Sugarcane Ethanol -60 -80 Cellulosic Ethanol -100 Note: Ranges are based on scientific literature and do not include emissions from changes in land use. however.5 Current best estimates suggest that corn ethanol provides only a 12–18 percent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. current U. depending on such factors as where and how the fuel is produced and on specific assumptions used in the studies. the stalks that remain after sugar cane has been pressed to make sugar.3 Ethanol from sugar cane also offers a strong energy return. Estimates of energy balance vary widely among and even within fuel types. One way to analyze a biofuel’s climate contribution is by assessing its “fossil energy balance.S.” or the amount of energy contained in the biofuel compared to the amount of fossil fuel used to produce it. In reality. and applied. compared to gasoline (the Environmental Protection Agency estimates a 22 percent reduction).4 The energy balance for some biofuels is expected to improve over time with increased yields. biofuels depend on significant fossil fuel inputs that release a variety of greenhouse gases. transported. and other plants) continually store carbon in their root systems and the soil. when fossil energy is used to run farm machinery.2 Most research indicates that biodiesel and other advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol display some of the highest lifecycle energy balances. trees. White.1 Greenhouse gases are also released during changes in land use.8 Figure 5. is used to power the refinery. including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. the lifecycle emissions for ethanol can be as high as or higher than those associated with gasoline. and when the processed fuel is transported and used. on average.org Red.S.
Studies indicate that the emissions from land use changes made to accommodate greater corn production—such as converting forests to cropland—would take decades to “repay” through any reductions that corn ethanol brings by displacing fossil fuels. which can help to restore soil nitrogen levels. requires only 2 percent of the nitrogen and 8 percent of the phosphorus.20 Producing soybean biodiesel.255 million acres of cropland depending on feedstock and productivity: the equivalent of 8–36 percent of the world’s current arable land. about 40 percent of corn ethanol’s greenhouse gas emissions occur during the agricultural phase of production. w orldwatch. such as during extensive tilling. and it degrades into nitrous oxide. especially when carbon-rich ecosystems such as forests.S.21 Low-input perennial plants such as prairie grasses also require fewer chemical inputs than corn.14 Dedicating U. per unit of energy gain. as land is converted to make up for the overall loss in food crops. savannahs. Land that is cropped annually stores very little carbon in its vegetation.10 The EPA puts the average emissions reductions even higher—at 68 percent—based on a combination of soybean and yellowgrease feedstocks. although application rates vary significantly by crop. in contrast.12 One study estimates that clearing tropical forests to plant oil palm plantations for biodiesel will incur a “carbon debt” of 75 to 93 years—the amount of time needed for the biofuels made from the palm oil to offset as much greenhouse gas emissions as was released during land clearing. croplands and food crops to biofuel production can cause land use changes 14 Red.24 In addition to releasing greenhouse gases. in contrast.23 Continuous corn cropping in particular has been criticized for reducing soil carbon. The use of chemical inputs also contributes to a biofuel’s energy and climate footprint.19 Many U.17 Nitrogen fertilizer in particular is often over-applied. has more than double the climate benefits of corn ethanol.15 Estimates indicate that using first-generation biofuels to meet 10 percent of global fuel consumption by 2030 would require an additional 291–1.9 not only in the United States but also in other countries. and the soil is both deprived of a fresh carbon source and exposed to air and sunlight that causes it to release carbon that was stored.18 Recent studies suggest that the nitrous oxide released during biofuels production may in fact be four times greater than was previously estimated. and grasslands are converted. biofuels contribute to the emissions of other w w w. such as soybeans. a potent greenhouse gas. White.S. on average.16 Other factors that will increase the demand for cropland include rising populations and the expanding global appetite for meat.Climate and Environmental Impacts of Current Biofuels Land use changes will also affect the climate impact. Biodiesel.org An ethanol production plant surrounded by corn in South Dakota. and could shift the fuel from reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent to doubling them instead. corn farmers have had to increase their fertilizer use in recent years because they chose to boost their profits by skipping annual rotations of corn with a legume crop. and Green jimparkin/stockxpert . Current best estimates for soy-based biodiesel show a 41 percent improvement in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions over conventional diesel. that corn ethanol does. the carbon debt rises to 600 years.13 If native peatlands are cleared.22 Climate change impacts from farming also occur when soils degrade over time and lose their organic carbon stores.11 Clearing land for new crop production can release large amounts of greenhouse gases. A 2006 study from the University of California at Berkeley found that.
or about 200 times the water used at the ethanol refinery. some 2 million acres were removed from the program. while others result from fuel combustion in the vehicle engine. constraining their range and reproduction. including smog-forming compounds and particulates. is likely to reduce the habitat available for some of these species.35 Biodiesel. which encourages farmers to “set aside” or retire marginal lands from production as a way to reduce soil erosion. in contrast.33 One study estimates that irrigating corn for ethanol requires some 780 gallons of water per gallon of fuel produced. at both the local and regional levels.29 The Gulf of Mexico “dead zone.S.43 A variety of animal species rely on the habitat provided by CRP lands for their survival. while cellulosic biofuels will reduce particulate pollution. water consumption for ethanol is likely to increase as corn cultivation expands to drier areas: between 2005 and 2008. as these crops have the potential to cross-breed with native plants to produce invasive weeds—or to become invasive species themselves. with studies showing both small increases and small decreases in nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution. requires about one gallon of water per gallon of fuel produced.37 In the southern Great Plains. Some of the pollutants are released during the refining stage. ethanol’s water demand more than tripled.36 Biofuels production is also expanding in regions where non-renewable aquifers are shrinking. as well as mallard ducks. was its second largest on record in 2008. Lark bunting. and restore watersheds. improve wildlife habitat.S. mainly from increased nitrogen and phosphorous loading in surface and ground waters.S. although the amount of water required for irrigation varies significantly.S.Climate and Environmental Impacts of Current Biofuels air pollutants.28 Other research predicted that planting more corn to meet ethanol targets in the United States alone would increase nitrogen pollution to the Mississippi River by 37 percent.25 Other research points to air pollution problems from low-level ethanol blends and shows mixed results with high-level (E85) blends. which is being tapped at an unsustainable level. ecosystems.32 Corn ethanol is very water intensive— not just at the refinery stage. with the bulk of the pollution estimated to come from agriculture in the Mississippi River basin. including in areas where the water table has already dropped significantly. where each gallon of fuel produced requires 3–4 gallons of water.40 The corn ethanol boom poses a particular threat to the U.38 Several new ethanol refineries are slated for construction near the aquifer. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). agriculture depends heavily on irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer.34 U. A study from the University of Minnesota indicates that corn ethanol— regardless of how the refinery is powered—will always increase particulate pollution compared to conventional gasoline. White. National Academy of Sciences concludes that expanding corn ethanol production to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard will also result in considerable additional harm to domestic water quality. and Bobolink. and Green 15 .45 www. despite only a doubling in production. Baird’s sparrow.42 With a guaranteed market for 15 billion gallons of ethanol through 2022.org Red. but also in the field. including grassland birds such as the Grasshopper sparrow.41 In 2008.31 Biofuels are contributing to water supply concerns as well. corn acreage will come at the expense of land and wildlife conservation. landowners will have a continued incentive to turn much of this land back to production. and more than 20 million acres of CRP land are up for renewal in the next few years. The current or future cultivation of non-native biofuel crops presents a further threat to biodiversity conservation.44 A loss in CRP lands.S.27 A report from the U.worldwatch.39 Further expansion of U.” caused by nitrogen and other water pollution.26 Air quality impacts for biodiesel have been unclear. combined with the impacts of climate change on U.30 Growing soybeans for biodiesel also adds to the problem. especially if the net revenues from growing ethanol feedstocks continue to be higher than those associated with keeping the land in conservation.
gammagrass.1 Advanced biofuels can also be made from non-plant biomass sources. represent another substantial source of cellulosic biomass. some of which are being developed as dedicated “energy crops” that can be converted to ethanol or biodiesel.5 A closely related potential feedstock is forest waste from the timber industry and more-aggressive clearing of underbrush for fire w w w. they need to develop much further if they are to be a sustainable energy solution. the tropical Asian grass Miscanthus.4 But there are downsides to the use of these trees. including hybrid willow and poplars that can grow well with few chemical inputs. The most widely cited second-generation 16 Red.Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels A lthough ethanol and other biofuels have become more sophisticated in the years since U. Wood chips from timber waste come off a shredder’s conveyor belt. such as fats.S. federal support was first levied in the late 1970s. Other potential feedstocks being tested include blue grass. derived from the fibrous—or cellulosic—material in plants. and Green biofuels are “cellulosic” biofuels. manure. some studies suggest that removing just 25 percent of the corn stover from fields will reduce soil quality and decrease carbon content. compared with 425 gallons from conventional corn ethanol.2 Corn stover also yields relatively few gallons per acre: 180–270. w orldwatch. switchgrass has received the most attention in the United States. But large-scale development of advanced biofuels has not yet taken place. even on prime agricultural land. Advanced biofuels rely on non-food feedstocks and offer dramatically improved energy and greenhouse gas profiles over conventional biofuels such as corn ethanol. especially in locations where the species are non-native and may be invasive. in the form of stems and leaves. Of the many possible perennial feedstocks. Corn stover—the stalks and cobs that remain after harvesting—is actively being promoted by corn interests as a feedstock for second-generation refineries. a variety of sugar cane bred to produce high sugar levels.3 Fast-growing trees are being considered as potential feedstocks as well. the broad economic and environmental effects of the fuels at commercial scale are not yet known. White. and energy cane. Potential cellulose sources include perennial grasses and fast-growing trees. While many of these feedstocks and technologies are promising. Nearly all studies on the role of biofuels in mitigating climate change and boosting energy security conclude that the transition to so-called “second-generation” or “advanced” biofuels is necessary to make the wider use of biofuels feasible.org kurmis/stockxpert . and the organic material in urban wastes. However. Crop residues.
Microalgae have drawbacks. although the yield could theoretically be much higher. Like second-generation feedstocks.worldwatch.) One of the most compelling advantages of advanced biofuels over conventional biofuels is the potential to provide a more positive energy balance. These oils can be separated and used to produce biodiesel and other biofuels. interest has grown again.9 Research from the Argonne National Laboratory showed that the useful energy provided by the ethanol is approximately nine times the energy required to produce it.S. The DOE has resumed research. resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. and it hosted a workshop in December 2008 to discuss both barriers to commercial development and the release of an Algal Biofuels Roadmap. They may also confer additional environmental benefits. Despite limited government funding. The U. However. these systems may be able to provide significant greenhouse gas benefits. Algae for Biodiesel: Third-Generation Biofuels As research continues on second-generation advanced biofuels. microalgae do not compete with food crops. One of the latest developments to garner media attention is the testing of a commercial jet plane fueled in part by algae biofuel. Algae can also be carbon neutral if the biomass residue after oil collection is converted and used to power the processing system. Department of Energy (DOE) puts the price at roughly $8 per gallon. private research and testing has continued. the current high costs of production (primarily a result of energy inputs) must be reduced. cellulosic ethanol has the potential to provide 4–9 times more energy than is required to produce it. By using emissions that would otherwise be vented to the atmosphere. Another potential drawback of algae is the high water demand.Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels Sidebar 2. with hundreds of companies now working to commercialize microalgae for biofuels. Source: See Endnote 7 for this section. Several companies have developed systems to divert carbon dioxide emissions from industrial operations into algae production. In the last two years.6 Another advanced and even more cutting-edge “third-generation” feedstock is algae for biodiesel. and Green 17 . Costs could be lowered by using waste heat as a power source and by selling byproducts for other uses. low-input. Other recent advances include a breakthrough in light immersion that allows algae biomass to grow to depths of one meter (10–12 times deeper than before). especially with the use of outdoor ponds that have high evaporation rates (although closed systems or the use of wastewater streams minimize this risk).S. Microalgae are photosynthesis-based single-celled organisms that can combine energy from the sun with carbon dioxide and other nutrients to produce biomass that is rich in natural oils. and the recent decoding of the genes of two widely available ocean-dwelling microalgae. Researchers are also considering genetic manipulation of algae to improve performance. with some species doubling their mass in a single day.org its lifecycle production (from field to tank). including cleaning wastewater. the U.7 (See Sidebar 2.8 One study has shown that sustainable. This translates into producing as much as 100 times more oil per acre than standard oil crops such as soybeans. They grow rapidly. prevention. White. For the biofuel to be competitive.10 Red. which could pose environmental threats if grown in open systems where the organisms could spread to natural ecosystems. which could help further microalgae research. however. some researchers and industry groups are taking a look at microalgae—often called the “third generation” of biofuels. including a Solix Biofuels plant in Colorado connected to a beer brewery and plans by GreenFuel Technologies to build a site linked to a cement plant in Spain. low-management switchgrass ethanol in three Midwestern states can yield 5. Whereas corn ethanol yields about 25–35 percent more energy than is invested in www. research on microalgae for biofuels began in the early 1980s under the DOE’s Aquatic Species Program. Early U. including in the fermentation of ethanol and as a supplement in animal food.S. during budget cuts in the late 1990s the program was discontinued in favor of pursuing research on ethanol.4 times more energy than invested. Although some experts estimate costs as high as $33 per gallon. Microalgae offer many potential benefits as a feedstock. Departments of Energy and Agriculture estimate that 368 million dry tons of these wastes could be harvested sustainably every year.
test plots planted with switchgrass have yielded enough biomass to produce nearly 1.17 One issue that deserves closer analysis is the potential advantage of cellulosic biofuels for soil. Colorado. researchers found that planting all available land with switchgrass reduced sediment flows (and thus erosion potential) by 84 percent. w orldwatch. it can still provide habitat for small animals and birds). Advanced biofuels also offer potential emissions benefits during refining. and high-diversity habitats. wetlands. such as in instances where waste byproducts are used to help power the biomass conversion process. land.20 The environmental advantages of cellulosic biofuels can be amplified further with the use of appropriate management practices. Current estimates suggest that fueling vehicles with cellulosic ethanol could reduce emissions by 86–94 percent compared to gasoline (the U. waterways.200 gallons of ethanol per acre annually. U. and wildlife conservation. switchgrass. making the refining process largely independent of fossil-based power such as coal and natural gas.18 Other research confirms that lower inputs of agrochemicals for second-generation feedstocks can have potentially positive effects on soil and water quality. unless yields are improved with breeding or by using a combination of high-yielding grasses. may store enough carbon in the soil and root mass to overcompensate for carbon released during the rest of the lifecycle. such as switchgrass.21 But if fastgrowing trees are cultivated. it makes sense to grow switchgrass and other perennial biofuel crops on more marginal lands than in the test plots to avoid competition for good farmland. like corn. an average crop of 155 bushels of corn per acre will provide less than 500 gallons per acre. meanwhile. and phosphorous by 83 percent. more-complex selective harvesting would be needed to avoid substantial soil erosion and to leave sufficient habitat for large wildlife.19 Using a combination of high-yielding perennial grasses rather than monocultures may improve benefits to wildlife as well. Several estimates of the amount of harvestable biomass in the United States assume that much of the existing Conservation Reserve Program land will be used for energy crop production—posing a potential threat to these lands. generates residues of lignin that can be used as a process fuel. nitrogen concentrations by 53 percent. will produce less than 500 gallons an acre. however.org The Solix Biofuels test site for algal biofuel research at Colorado State University. and perhaps as little as 300 gallons.12 For example.S.13 trast. research shows that some perennial crops. Fort Collins. Perennial crops such as switchgrass and other prairie grasses can be harvested annually with minimal increases in soil erosion (and.22 Harvesting on fragile soils.S.15 (In con18 Red.Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels These energy gains represent climate benefits for second-generation biofuels. Under these conditions.16) In practice. and Green Colorado State University .11 Many of these climate-gain estimates are based on the need for fewer agricultural inputs as well as increased soil carbon storage. meaning they could help take carbon dioxide out of the air on a net basis. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 91 percent) versus a reduction of only 12–18 percent on average for corn ethanol. in a simulation of the impacts on soil and water quality in a central Iowa watershed over 20 years. if the grass is not cut too low. secondgeneration feedstocks vary widely. will incur much higher environmental costs and may mirror some of the same problems seen with firstgeneration biofuels. Processing cellulosic ethanol.23 w w w.14 In terms of projected fuel yields. White. For example. for example.
Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels Sidebar 3. but it most often includes Fisher-Tropsch liquids (FTLs). and discovering efficiencies that can help make more fuel at a lower cost.40 per gallon—more than double the costs for corn and sugarcane ethanol. there were 25 cellulosic ethanol demonstration or pilot Red. thermochemical. including these factors. Technologies for Advanced Biofuels: Biochemical and Thermochemical Platforms Second-generation production of cellulosic biofuels currently follows one of two technology platforms. White. Also. The feedstock is heated until it converts into a syngas. developing feedstocks that are easier to break into components. and Green 19 . the cellulose must be broken down further into sugars. Although the biochemical process is normally associated with ethanol production.worldwatch. collection.) As of July 2008—before the recent economic downturn—an estimated 55 cellulosic biorefineries were completed. and microorganisms to break down plant feedstocks into components that can be converted to fuels. and storage to help lower the overall cost. and the “thermochemical platform. These processes can be divided into two main approaches: the “biochemical platform. Source: See Endnote 28 for this section. enzymes. which is then run through a catalyst that changes it into a liquid fuel. as well as a range of alcohols.26 The U. The flexibility of feedstocks offers advantages as well. more research is needed to make second-generation biofuels more cost-competitive with first-generation biofuels and to bring advanced biofuels to commercial production. under construction. The type of fuel that results is determined by which catalyst is used.” which relies on heat. As of late 2008. For example. too. some researchers are investigating the use of modified E. Potential areas for further research include developing better pretreatment processes and enzymes for hydrolysis. works by applying heat and chemicals to convert almost any kind of biomass into a variety of fuels.27 A variety of second-generation processing technologies have the potential to improve the www. Departments of Agriculture and Energy hope to lower total feedstock costs.24 Cellulosic refineries also require large amounts of feedstock. including wood and forest wastes that are difficult to convert through the biochemical platform.S. While both of these platforms are understood today. refers to a process that uses chemicals.” which relies on enzymes or biological processes to break down the feedstocks. improving microorganisms for fermentation. One alternative being explored is to use fermentation with the syngas rather than a catalyst.org efficiency of biofuel processing and make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with first-generation biofuels and gasoline. estimated at 700 tons per day for a facility producing 10–20 million gallons of fuel per year.25 Producing such large quantities will require advances in harvesting. such as that based on corn. coli to convert cellulosic feedstocks to microdiesel. cost. and chemical catalysts. The ethanol produced through the biochemical process is identical to ethanol generated through first-generation production. states. and associated emissions reductions. or in the planning stages in 31 U. The two biggest limitations for cellulosic biofuels are arguably the cost and the challenges associated with transporting and storing massive quantities of cellulosic feedstock. Once separated. which is compatible with biodiesel.S. it can use currently available technologies that help reduce the cost. because the thermochemical platform is similar to the way petroleum is refined. which would allow for direct production of ethanol. Both approaches can be used to produce a wide variety of fuels. it may be used to make other fuels. biochemical. pressure. from the estimated $60 per ton in 2007 to $47 per ton by 2012. The first. which are similar to biodiesel.29 In April 2009. The second platform. They also have their advantages and disadvantages with regard to feedstock flexibility. including ethanol. with a total projected capacity of 630 million gallons per year. Pretreatment and hydrolysis are used to separate the cellulose from other plant fibers such as lignin and hemicellulose. which can be fermented into alcohols that are then distilled into ethanol or other fuels.28 (See Sidebar 3. transporting. finding technologies to better clean syngas. The potential benefits of the thermochemical process include its ability to better convert cellulosic materials. production cost estimates for cellulosic ethanol were $2.
S. and dedicated energy crops.33 Federal agencies are providing funding for most of these ventures.37 Individual states are funding projects as well.32 Unlike corn ethanol refineries that are concentrated in the Midwest.30 There were also two cellulosic diesel plants in operation. and Green w w w.39 20 Red. cellulosic ethanol refineries are located across the country.31 These facilities are embracing a wide diversity of feedstocks. although only nine were producing at a significant level.34 In January 2009. one at the pilot level and one at the demonstration level. including agricultural residues. wastes.”35 In May 2009.Benefits of “Advanced” Biofuels plants in operation.38 However. White.org .36 The DOE is also providing significant funding. and additional funding. a recent report from the Sandia National Laboratories concluded that as much as $250 billion in investments is needed to achieve production levels of 60 billion gallons a year. President Barack Obama directed the Secretary of Agriculture to increase investments in advanced biofuels production. including up to $385 million for six cellulosic ethanol plants as part of a goal to make cellulosic ethanol costcompetitive with gasoline by 2012. loan guarantees. woody biomass. w orldwatch. Farm Bill’s “Biorefinery Assistance Program. including refinancing. the USDA approved its first-ever guaranteed loan for a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant—a wood-chip facility in Georgia—under the U.
or production process. White. many people who work with biofuel supply chains now realize that nearly all stages of the biofuel process—from production to processing to the choice of fuel available—could be improved. such as protecting workers’ rights. These improvements can best happen if producers and policies give preference to biofuels that are produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. most efforts to define “biofuel sustainability” are being pursued at a relatively small scale. only a handful of them address social and economic considerations. An oil palm plantation on former forest land in West Java.org Achmad Rabin Taim . But there is no guarantee that this will be the case. Indonesia. For example. and energy products are already being applied to biofuels. and Green 21 www. incorporate environmental considerations. that offer the highest lifecycle emissions-reduction values. especially when the fuels are produced at a large scale. So far. supporting increased production while ignoring the environmental and social costs. Developing widely accepted sustainability criteria for biofuels is difficult due to the range of variables involved and because the environmental effects of biofuels are often highly specific to the crop type. including lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and energy balance.2 However. oil palm can Red.worldwatch. Fortunately.4 There is a general consensus that biofuels should produce less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum fuels and produce more energy than is required for cultivation and processing. One way to address the potential consequences of ongoing biofuels development is by developing broadly applicable sustainability standards for the fuels (similar to measures that exist in the forestry and organic food sectors) that go beyond existing quality-control and technical standards. contributing to local development. location and climate. and guaranteeing fair compensation for land use or land transfers.3 Many more efforts. some analysts fear that the market will simply adjust. however. As the demand for biofuels increases. Elements of existing sustainability standards for forestry.Making Biofuels Sustainable M any second-generation biofuels show the potential to be more sustainable than conventional biofuels. and that are processed using technologies that deal with wastes responsibly and even utilize these byproducts as energy sources. agriculture.1 Such criteria would enable biofuel producers to engage in thirdparty certification of their practices and products and help end-users determine whether the fuels they use were produced in a sustainable manner.
a method of sowing crops without disturbing the topsoil. such as the use of processing wastes to generate energy or to serve as an animal feed. from entering the atmosphere. farmers who practice the method continuously for at least five years. Climate-friendly choices include avoiding fragile lands and practicing no-till cultivation. however. so its expansion would not compete with traditional food production. which has the added climate benefit of preventing methane.5 Other practices that can determine the degree of environmental impact include the use of fertilizers and pesticides. A 2007 analysis from the Argonne National Laboratory showed that corn ethanol produced in a facility fired by wood chips could achieve emissions reductions of 52 percent compared to gasoline. there may be a positive net energy yield only if the benefits from byproducts are included in the analysis.13 Jatropha requires few water or fertilizer inputs. as a process fuel to lower their emissions (although for now the grains are more 22 Red.6 For some crops. grain sorghum—a crop that requires low resource inputs. suggesting more room for adoption.9 Some plants are exploring the use of biogas from cattle manure to power the process. and the use of different fuels to power the refining process. it may be possible to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of biofuels simply by using different feedstocks. For conventional biofuels. soil quality.17 Among the most prominent efforts to develop voluntary sustainability criteria for biofuels are those coordinated by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and a variety of other multi-stakeholder groups. Sustainability criteria can be applied to biofuel processing as well. w orldwatch. there is interest in using the byproduct glycerin as an energy source. and the Chicago Carbon Exchange now grants “carbon credits” to U.10 For biodiesel processing.S. is able to grow on land unsuitable for food crops.7 valuable as livestock feed). the use of crop rotations to preserve soil carbon. and is highly efficient—can be substituted at corn ethanol refineries.18 (See Table w w w. versus a 3 percent emissions increase if powered by coal. and greenhouse gas emissions.Making Biofuels Sustainable have an adverse effect on biodiversity if it is grown on land that is newly converted from primary forest. the plant requires special handling and processing because it is toxic to humans. For example.12 For biodiesel.15 Notill farming also helps minimize the release of carbon from soils. possible substitutes for soybeans include the oilseed plants camelina and jatropha. but it can have a positive effect if it is grown on degraded land.8 Ethanol plants could also burn distiller’s grains.11 Even with first-generation biofuel technologies. but only some 20 percent of corn producers have embraced the practice.16 No-till is currently being used on one-fifth of the nation’s farmland. and Green USDA/NRCS/Gene Alexander . which affects water quality. improvements in processing include enhanced energy efficiency and a greater reliance on renewable energy as a power source. grows on marginal lands. an ethanol byproduct. and is inedible.14 Better management practices on farms are also an important component of biofuel sustainability and can be built into sustainability standards and criteria. which affects water supply.org No-till planting of corn on the contour in a field in northwest Iowa. a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide. it requires 50–80 percent less fuel than tillage-based agriculture. White. Because no-till cultivation minimizes the number of passes over a field needed to establish and harvest a crop. the use of irrigated water.
including biofuels. economic. www. (See Sidebar 5 on page 29. Table 2. and economic and development issues.) The European Union has attempted to integrate sustainability criteria into national biofuels policy as well. food security. Source: See Endnote 18 for this section. the RSPO brings together industry and organization representatives to work toward a sustainable supply chain for palm oil. water. and social best practices. air.worldwatch. land rights. the RTRS is working to create sustainability criteria and principles for global soybean production that cover a range of environmental and social issues. CSBP is working to develop sustainability criteria for the production Biomass Production (CSBP) of feedstocks for second-generation cellulosic biofuel refineries in North America. a common biodiesel feedstock. nonprofit. and Green 23 Cyndy Sims Parr . human and labor rights.S. is striving to create a consensus among stakeholders on a certification program for sustainably produced biodiesel. Selected Biofuel Sustainability Initiatives Group Description Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) The most prominent international multi-stakeholder initiative. The alliance’s draft sustainability standards include environmental. biodiversity. including requirements under the U. the CEN established a technical committee in 2008 to establish sustainability criteria for biomass. The program’s first certified “sustainable” oil was shipped to Europe in 2008.Making Biofuels Sustainable 2. biofuels must demonstrate a 35 percent savings in greenhouse gas emissions compared to their fossil fuel counterparts. based on a lifecycle analy- A field of ripening sorghum in Arkansas. by 2020. SBA. In early 2009.S. including biofuels. Initiated in 2004. environmental groups. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Council on Sustainable Established in 2007. The group also envisions a certification mechanism or purchasing guidelines to follow the criteria.19 Under the directive. the EU finalized climate regulations that require 10 percent of the region’s transport fuels to come from renewable sources. Members include government agencies. and biofuel producers. White. a U.) Mandatory standards are also under development.org Red. Officially established in 2004 in response to increasing concerns over palm oil plantations. European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA) Known for creating voluntary European standards on a range of items. The guidelines address climate change. the RSB has developed draft sustainability principles and criteria for sustainable biofuels production and processing. Renewable Fuel Standard to consider the climate impacts of indirect land use changes. The group is also working on a corresponding verification program. soil. California recently adopted a regulation that requires the use of lower-carbon-intensity fuels over time and plans to incorporate additional environmental and social standards in the future.
solar. In the transportation sector. most of which bring additional societal benefits. According to one study. according to a study by the Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.) Many countries and cities already rely or plan to rely on biomass for electricity and heating. Electricity is a more versatile form of energy than liquid biofuels. and “cofiring. Over the long term. using biomass for electricity and heat is likely a more sustainable option than using it to produce biofuels to meet energy and transportation needs because of higher efficiencies. with power providers able to choose from a wide variety of low-carbon energy options. biomass can substitute for up to 20 percent of the coal in co-firing plants. using biomass for biofuels would cost up to three times more than using biomass for electricity and heat. (As with biofuels. 24 Red. however. In the United States. such as higher fuel efficiency. where traditional biomass accounts for nearly 14 percent of the electricity supply and half of the energy derived from renewable sources. lighter weight. provided the electricity is generated from renewable sources. another greenhouse gas. White. while providing 81 percent more mileage.org . and Green w w w. greater emissions reduction potential. Many of the same feedstocks currently used to make biofuels—such as crop and wood residues. Electricity could therefore be a more climate-friendly “transport fuel” than biofuels. Research indicates that in the long term. Biomass is considered one of the most promising fuels for CHP applications because it is one of the few renewable energy resources that can be transported and stored relatively easily. And using biomass for electricity to power vehicles reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 108 percent more on average than if biofuels had been used. where exhaust heat from electricity generation is used to provide an additional energy service.Making Biofuels Sustainable Sidebar 4. biomass is the second largest source of renewable electricity after hydropower yet accounted for only 1. and biomass power. —Amanda Chiu Source: See Endnote 24 for this section.3 percent of electricity generation in 2007. w orldwatch. for the same amount of reductions. Co-firing holds the most potential out of all renewables for reducing a significant amount of emissions in the near term. Using biomass for electricity and heat in both transport and non-transport applications could significantly lower the costs of reducing emissions. CHP is also a high priority in Denmark. and they might have a more prolonged presence in fueling heavy-duty vehicles. in contrast. are less certain. with the goal of phasing out all fossil fuel use by 2030. Biomass-fueled power generation can also be ramped up when needed. Biomass and Biofuels: Transitioning Transportation Fuels Substituting biofuels for fossil fuels in transportation is usually an assumed part of any energy solution to address climate change. CHP operates at efficiencies of between 75 and 90 percent and generates two products: electricity and useful heat. especially when the electricity is used to power plug-in hybrid-electric and electric vehicles. Advancements in vehicle technology. And increased use of non-motorized vehicles such as bicycles as well as the adoption of more pedestrianfriendly urban planning could shift dependence away from transport fuels altogether. particularly for use in passenger vehicles. and urban wastes—can also be used to generate electricity and heat. biofuels are currently the only near-term alternative to fossil fuels. While conventional coal plants emit about 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. and considerably lower costs. There are also many non-fuel options to reduce the environmental impacts of the transport sector. the land use efficiency of producing biomass for electricity and heat remains uncertain. In Sweden. But evidence shows that there might be better alternatives for our transportation needs and that the best use of biomass may be for electricity and heating. biomass-fueled electricity could play a more critical transportation role. the city of Kalmar plans to replace its fossilfueled electricity and heating infrastructure with biomass CHP. biomass is being used to generate electricity at a large scale via two main methods: “combined heat-andpower” (CHP). where as much as 22 percent of the electricity supply is generated from biomass. not biofuels. (Changes in nitrous oxide emissions. as well as greater investment in public transit. including wind. The heat is used either to warm residential and commercial buildings or to fuel industrial processes.” a process that burns a combination of biomass and coal. and electric motors. Today.) Biofuels have tremendous value as a “transition” fuel as the world moves away from its current reliance on fossil fuels and toward a low-carbon future. which leads to linear reductions in carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions. trees and grasses. could reduce fossil fuel demand.
21 Feedstocks cannot be grown on lands that have a high biodiversity value. soil. crop residues. woody trees. and water protection as well as social issues such as food prices and land rights. and biannual reports must address the sustainability of regional biofuels use. on lands considered to have a high carbon stock. or on peatlands.22 The EU will also study the effects of indirect land use changes by the end of 2010.23 Many bioenergy analysts argue that if the end goal is sustainability—in particular the mitigation of climate change—then producing liquid biofuels for transportation may not be the most optimal use of the world’s biomass resources. These experts argue that a better.org Red.worldwatch.24 (See Sidebar 4.) Current and expected limitations in ethanol infrastructure and production—such as difficulties transporting ethanol. and problems with biomass collection and storage—may also force the United States to rethink the future of biofuels in its energy mix. and Green 25 . rising to 50 percent by 2017. more cost-effective use of energy crops.25 www. White. and other biomass is for electricity and/or heat production. covering both environmental issues such as air.Making Biofuels Sustainable sis.20 The regulations also require that these emissions savings increase over time. the lack of pipelines.
corn ethanol must achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in lifecycle emissions compared to gasoline.” with 16 billion gallons of that from cellulosic biofuels.3 (See Figure 6. promulgated in 2005 but amended under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.6 Perhaps more significantly.7 In an effort to address climate change concerns. and biodiesel and advanced biofuels must achieve a 50 percent reduction compared to the petroleum fuels they would replace. as well as global. The revised RFS (known as RFS2) calls for the increased blending of biofuels into conventional motor fuels.4 If the projected volume is less than the minimum level established by the revised RFS2. the EPA must lower the volume requirements for cellulosic biofuels and may decide to reduce the targets for advanced biofuels and total renewable fuel. Specifically. w orldwatch.2 Twenty-one billion gallons of this is to come from “advanced biofuels. biofuels development. Biofuel Requirements Under the U.org 26 Red.S. the revised RFS includes some degree of sustainability criteria.Federal and State Biofuel Policies P olicy choices are instrumental in determining the direction of national. The United States has supported ethanol since the late 1970s and currently has an extensive federal mandate and support system for biofuels. The most important piece of legislation that affects domestic biofuels development is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Environmental Protection Agency with assessing cellulosic production targets annually. 2009–22 40 35 30 Billion Gallons 25 20 15 10 5 0 2009 2011 2013 2015 2017 2019 2021 Unspecified Advanced Biofuels Biodiesel Cellulosic Biofuels Unspecified Biofuels/Corn Ethanol Source: EISA biofuels. based on the projected available volume for a given year.S. White. derived from a mix of both conventional biofuels and second-generation Figure 6. For cellulosic biofuels. and Green .5 Recent estimates from the Energy Information Administration suggest that the mandate to use 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022 will not be met until at least five years later. the RFS2 requires that biofuels produced under the mandate meet specified greenhouse gas reduction targets. the requirement is at least 60 percent lower emissions.1 This is supported by a variety of additional federal and state incentives. It also charges the U.8 To qualify for the RFS. particularly corn ethanol.) Through these targets and associated funding. the RFS2 provides an overall incentive for producing cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. The EPA has the authority to lower these reduction requirements for any of the w w w. including feedstock restrictions that help protect sensitive lands such as old-growth forests. Renewable Fuel Standard. it mandates the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022.
Therefore. which it proposed to do for advanced biofuels in its draft RFS2 implementation rules released in May 2009. it will be produced Red. and not to facilities that were online before the law went into effect. water. the EPA will need to establish measurable assessment criteria. it appears that the RFS2 target of 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2015 will be met largely with corn ethanol produced in “grandfathered” facilities. and soil quality. and over time land cleared for biofuel production can actually make positive contributions to carbon sequestration. Critics of the longer timeframe argue that greenhouse gas reductions are needed as soon as possible. But that same ethanol considered over a 100-year timeframe would put the emission changes at a 16 percent decrease. An American SUV marked for use of E85 ethanol fuel. depending on the crop.18 The EPA proposed a few measures that would tighten the loophole for existing plants in May 2009. essentially creating a working definition of sustainable biofuels production. including effects on air. The differences between the two periods are explained by the estimated greenhouse gas savings at the tailpipe when petroleum is displaced: a longer time period means more gallons are used and more carbon dioxide is avoided. if corn ethanol continues to be profitable. White.10 The legislation also requires the EPA to consider indirect emissions. and not several decades in the future.Federal and State Biofuel Policies advanced biofuels by up to 10 percent.19 Moreover. using a 30-year timeframe would mean that corn ethanol produced using natural gas would emit 5 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum fuels. It is important to note. these are not caps on production. although the revised RFS sets minimum production requirements for renewable and advanced biofuels. although it remains to be seen whether any of these will take effect.S. that the RFS2 greenhouse gas reduction requirements apply to new ethanol plants.15 The revised RFS also requires the EPA Administrator and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy to report periodically to Conwww.worldwatch.13 Although it is unclear which methodology will ultimately be used to determine greenhouse gas reductions for different biofuels.12 In early May 2009.11 Numerous scientific studies and a recent assessment from the state of California show that including land use changes could substantially alter the greenhouse gas profiles of many biofuels.16 The EPA Administrator must also undertake periodic reviews on existing technologies and the feasibility of meeting the targets established by the RFS2. such as those from land use changes. the EPA outlined methods for calculating these effects in draft rules and began seeking scientific peer reviews as well as public comments.org gress on the environmental effects of the federal biofuels measures.14 Using the longer 100-year time period minimizes the effect of land use changes such as deforestation because most carbon is emitted by land clearing.17 Because the capacity of current U. Emissions are gradually reduced over time. To report on these wide-ranging effects. and fuel use. According to EPA’s calculations. however.9 These greenhouse gas reductions must be calculated on the basis of a lifecycle analysis. and Green 27 petrr . one of the areas that is likely to draw controversy is the timeframe over which reductions are considered. ethanol plants is estimated at 12 billion gallons annually. without any required emissions reductions. including feedstock production. refining.
5 percent on imported ethanol.27 There is also a small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. biofuel industry benefits from a 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol that is currently in place through 2010.32 The previous year. including the biodiesel tax credit which is now set at $1 a gallon through 2009.Federal and State Biofuel Policies above and beyond the 15-billion-gallon (and 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction) cap for 2015.35 California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. in March 2009 the European Union imposed a new tax on biodiesel imports. the U. Known technically as the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit (VEETC) and currently effective through 2010. and Green Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory . creating a disincentive to U.31 In late 2008. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. which could help the United States shift to more sustainable sources of biofuels from countries such as Brazil.24 The tariff effectively reduces the amount of foreign ethanol that is imported into the country by raising the price of these fuels (a limited amount of tariff-exempt fuel is allowed in through the Caribbean Basin Initiative). for example.22 Another available credit—the cellulosic biofuel tax credit—allows producers to claim up to $1.S. the Department of Energy announced grants of more than $4 million to six universities for advanced ethanol research. in an effort to keep ethanol priced competitively with gasoline. by which U. adopted a mandate in 2008 that requires all gasoline sold in the state to contain 9–10 percent ethanol by the end of 2010. The so-called “blender’s tax credit” (or production tax credit) is the most important federal support for ethanol after the RFS. Even though this additional production would not count toward the mandate. authorizes loan guarantees for advanced biofuels research and commercialization. White.29 (The “splash-and-dash” loophole.25 In early 2009. as well as an “ad 28 Red.S.01 per gallon of qualified ethanol through 2012. several members of Congress introduced a bill to lower the tariff. federal policy provides support for biofuels research.34 These federal biofuel incentives are supplemented by state blending mandates and other incentives. production. Florida. blenders would still profit from the tax credit they receive under current law.28 However.org A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher investigates the lignocellulose deconstruction of switchgrass. valorem” tariff of 2.33 Other federal funding supports research into enzymes. improvements to biofuel refining. calls for the introduction of low-carbon w w w.26 Biodiesel receives similar incentives. development. and infrastructure through direct funding grants and loan guarantees. blenders received the tax credit for blending imported biodiesel with even tiny amounts of petroleum diesel and then re-exporting it.20 The VEETC was previously set at 51 cents per gallon but was lowered to 45 cents in the 2008 Farm Bill. the DOE announced funding for six ethanol companies of up to $385 million to bring cellulosic ethanol to commercial production. w orldwatch. the credit provides a tax break to registered blenders for every gallon of pure ethanol blended into gasoline. and improvements to gasification.30) In addition to biofuels mandates and tax credits.23 In addition to these tax credits. established in 2007. for example. was ended in 2008.S.21 A related tax credit is the small ethanol producer credit of 10 cents per gallon for facilities that produce less than 60 million gallons per year.
although industry proponents have vowed to protest the results. expanding energy efficiency programs. White.36 (See Sidebar 5.Federal and State Biofuel Policies Sidebar 5. The standard also covers alternative vehicles such as electric vehicles and those running on compressed natural gas. including ethanol and biodiesel. Source: See Endnote 36 for this section. The LCFS requires analysis of the full lifecycle impacts of fuels. with separate yearly requirements for gasoline and diesel.) And Iowa has adopted a state-level Renewable Fuel Standard that requires 25 percent renewable fuels in the state by 2020. ARB also hopes the new LCFS will serve as a model for other jurisdictions. other proposed greenhouse gas emission reduction programs include a cap-and-trade program linked with the Western Climate Initiative. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is part of a broader effort to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. which can be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. increases the number of high-ethanol-blend fueling stations. state and federal mandates and incentives ensure that U. ARB plans to develop and propose additional sustainability criteria—including environmental and socioeconomic variables—and argues that international cooperation and enforceable certification standards are essential. feedstock transportation. and the effects of the measure on the ethanol industry are unknown. The measure is projected to curb some 16–23 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2020 and will require reductions starting in 2012. demand for biofuels will remain high—regardless of price and consumer choice. eight Midwestern states have adopted a regional biofuels promotion plan that spurs local production. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard: A Model for National Policy? Proposed in 2007 and adopted in April 2009. federal fleets are required to increase their consumption of alternative fuels by 2015. support to biofuels. 11 states have such mandates for ethanol.S.39 Many cities and states also require their fleets or transport services to use particular kinds of fuels: so far.40 Together. the regulation covers only one sustainability factor: land use change. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff will further evaluate the effects of land use changes by 2011 so these can be incorporated into the carbon measurements under the rule.org Red. Under the EISA.S. refining and production. and Green 29 . The analysis will also eventually incorporate indirect effects such as land use changes. However. and requires at least 50 percent of all transportation fuels consumed in region to be regionally produced.38 Procurement preferences and purchase mandates are also a form of U. So far. California’s LCFS calls for staged reductions in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels of 10 percent by 2020.worldwatch. fuels—including ethanol and biodiesel—into the state fuel supply. In addition to the LCFS. and combustion in vehicles. including 11 states that are considering similar standards. www. including direct effects such as farm inputs. according to the Renewable Fuels Association. and achieving a 33 percent renewable energy mix. for example. based on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions by approximately 30 percent.37 Meanwhile.
w orldwatch. White. The big challenge for the United States now is to accelerate the transition to second-generation biofuels. 1. mature technologies are struggling.S. but in the interim U.S. using existing economic instruments and other tools. and Green . biofuel policies continue to provide incentives for corn ethanol. Best-case scenarios aim for broadly available secondgeneration biofuels within 10 to 15 years. fuel supply. with additional incentives provided for higher emission reductions. including rethinking the revised RFS mandate levels and requirements to avoid supporting increased corn ethanol. to the overall sustainability of a fuel. A related proposal that would also help moderate food prices is to tie the tax credit to the price of corn. and the global economic crisis are putting the United States at a crossroads in energy policy. These are: (1) spur the rapid development of cellulosic and advanced biofuels. (2) develop sustainability standards.1 For example.The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U. growing pressure to address climate change. such as tax credits for biofuels. and economic problems. or take the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and rethink the role of biofuels for the future. But can the country reach its goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. If the wrong decisions are made today. This continued support makes it difficult to jumpstart advanced technology solutions and diversify the U. social. Even though the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) provides incentives for cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Announcements made in the first half of 2009 about federal funding opportunities for advanced biofuels are a muchneeded step in the right direction but will not in themselves solve the fundamental problems. and should be phased out systematically to free up support for second-generation fuels and processes. while also ensuring environmentally and socially sustainable growth? Three broad efforts in U. and (3) create a holistic energy policy across all transportation-related sectors. policy would make biofuel production more sustainable and ensure that the use of biofuels contributes to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing environmental or social standards.S. Biofuels M ounting evidence of the pitfalls of first-generation biofuels. Experts have suggested a range of solutions to bring advanced biofuels to market sooner.S. lowering it to zero w w w. there is no guarantee that these technologies will become attractive investments at a time when current. support could be provided only for biofuels with lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 50 percent relative to petroleum fuels. even though it is plagued with environmental. Another proposal is to tie existing support. The country now faces a choice: continue with the current policies and hope for the best. Spur the rapid development of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. the nation—and the world—could miss out on important opportunities for change for years to come.org 30 Red.
While the revised Renewable Fuel Standard does not directly acknowledge the need for sustainability standards. the plan does not envision mandatory requirements or a certification program. Biofuels when corn prices reach a certain level. The EPA has clarified that the final rules must be transparent. that expanding the U. Establishing these two elements would help strengthen the system and guarantee that bioRed. among other areas. with fuels that achieve deeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions eligible for greater support. and final rules were not expected before the end of the year at the earliest.3 The same could be done on the federal level.6 According to the plan. The mandate also requires that biofuel production not harm the environment or natural resources. including indirect effects. reduce the costs of corn. Several federal agencies. it requires minimum greenhouse gas emissions reductions from biofuels based on a complete lifecycle analysis. benchmarks. Although the agency has outlined ways to include land use effects in greenhouse gas estimates. Exemptions from other taxes could be made contingent on the use of cellulosic or other advanced biofuels that meet goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. for example.S. set a floor for government support that requires lifecycle reductions of at least 50 percent or better.S. and include a clearly articulated methodology. and economic viability. and provide greater climate benefits. ethanol supply to include more sugarcane ethanol imports from Brazil could reduce pressure on U. www. and phase out incentives for corn ethanol. and Green 31 Recommendations for spurring rapid development of cellulosic and advanced biofuels: • Use existing and new economic instruments. • Revisit the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate to ensure that it will promote second-generation biofuels instead of propping up first-generation biofuels. In October 2008. the Board seeks to develop sustainability criteria. Develop sustainability standards and make government support conditional on meeting these standards. and indicators that will help determine best practices in agriculture and land use practices. based on the best available science. cropland. • Base the tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel on performance. exempts cellulosic ethanol from the state’s gasoline tax if it achieves a 60percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline. for example—are accounted for in calculations. For instance. and in part because of how other pressures on land—rising populations.S. efficient production. the Massachusetts Clean Energy Biofuels Act. the Board released a National Biofuels Action Plan designed to promote interagency coordination and realize significant second-generation biofuels production within 15 years. However. Or.5 2.2 This may help keep food and grain prices in check by moderating the demand for corn ethanol when prices are high but providing incentives when prices are low. White. The EPA released its proposed rules for implementing the revised RFS in early May 2009. some biofuels proponents have made it clear that they are opposed to including these measures. in part because of concerns about whether indirect land use impacts should be viewed globally.S. such as the blending tax credits. are contemplating the role of sustainability standards for biofuels under the auspices of the Biomass Research and Development Board. signed in July 2008.worldwatch. They should also be flexible enough to accommodate future updates as scientific understanding of indirect effects improves.org . Looking beyond the U. production base. some observers have recommended eliminating or suspending the ethanol import tariff as a way to moderate pressure on domestic land resources and ethanol prices and spur the production and use of non-corn ethanol. Departments of Energy and Agriculture. to spur development of advanced biofuels.The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U.S. including the U.4 There is evidence. • Lower or eliminate the ethanol import tariff for fuels that meet sustainability criteria.
with individual producers rewarded for their participation or excluded from incentives if they do not participate. and pure electric vehicles are expected to perform even better due to highly efficient motors. as discussed in Sidebar 4 (page 24). Biofuel production affects and is affected by a wide range of policies. flex-fuel vehicles. 3.10 And. 32 Red. geothermal. But this narrow approach fails to situate biofuels as part of a larger transportation and energy system and may allow important opportunities to remain unexplored.The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U. is tasked with addressing the range of policy issues and obstacles related directly to biofuels. giving consumers a role in demanding cleaner and greener fuels. is six times greater than the world’s energy use. which are designed to prevent grassland and wetland conversion.9 An electric transport system is not possible with the current electricity transmission system and requires a transition to a more flexible. of these resources. and smarter grid. their long-term significance in U. the environment. The amount of renewable energy in the world. using biomass w w w. if not more. In the transport sector. Create a holistic energy policy across all transportation-related sectors.7 Compliance with these two programs and with new ones developed specifically for feedstock crops could be recognized in this context. supply. including those related to agriculture. energy.org Recommendations for developing sustainability standards for biofuels: • Adopt a federal low-carbon fuel standard that reduces the carbon content of transportation fuels over time. and sustainability. Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV) emit 30–60 percent fewer emissions per mile compared to similar conventional vehicles.S. wind. w orldwatch.8 Sustainable production could also be recognized at the refinery level or even at the retail level. transport fuels would be relying on a far more diverse energy market. • Create incentives for sustainable production of biofuel feedstocks in current and future farm support and other programs by making government support conditional on performance and compliance with sustainability standards. rural development. One specific policy option is to encourage biofuel producers and processors to adopt sustainable production and processing practices. it does not deal with the relative importance of biofuels in a renewable energy portfolio. Complementary policies include adopting ambitious national renewable energy targets and advanced feed-in laws that make it easier for small. biomass. Including biofuels in the programs developed under the recently established Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets could also help encourage more sustainable production. hydropower. • Work with ongoing multi-stakeholder processes to establish internationally accepted sustainability standards and certification mechanisms for biofuels. clean energy producers to sell their surplus electricity into the grid.S. By transitioning to electricity as an energy source for transportation. and climate change. liquid biofuels can serve as a temporary bridge to a more efficient system based on electric vehicles and powered by renewable energy. White. The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard plans to address sustainability issues stemming from land use and may offer a model for lowering greenhouse gas emissions over time. as well as those promoting national security. energy use. responsive. is a requirement for farmers to qualify for direct payments under USDA regulations. with the feedstocks identified in terms of percentage volume or a lifecycle greenhouse gas estimate. Compliance with the sodbuster and swampbuster programs. and Green . and job creation. including solar. and every region of the world has at least one. and ocean power. Biofuels fuels meet minimum criteria. or their role in a new energy economy. such as production. announced in May 2009. The new Biofuels Interagency Working Group. • Acknowledge production of sustainable biofuels through labeling at the retail level. While the EISA touches on many diverse policy areas.
looking specifically at lifecycle greenhouse gas studies on biomass used for electricity and heat. www. but any fuels that are used should be as sustainable as possible. and investments in good public transportation systems and rail. iofoto/stockxpert Recommendations for ensuring policy coherence across all transportation-related sectors: • Create a broad transportation policy that looks beyond biofuels to more-efficient vehicles. and prospects are not good for suffi- cient sustained private investment in moresustainable alternatives in the absence of additional incentives. The costs of expanding U. Aerial view of sugarcane fields on Maui. white. • Adopt ambitious national renewable energy targets and advanced feed-in laws that enable small producers to sell their surplus electricity into the grid at a fair price and set a carbon performance standard for electricity. The experience of recent years has demonstrated the dangers of pushing blindly for increased biofuel production without considering the unintended consequences. Biofuels to provide electricity and heat rather than liquid transportation fuels offers clearer environmental benefits.S. better urban design. there is a large probability that corn ethanol will continue to dominate domestic biofuel production. White. and social benefits. • Reconsider the best use of biofuels and biomass. environmental. • Increase investment in electric vehicle technologies. The challenge for a red.S. The country should also focus on improving public transit options and other transportation alternatives to further minimize fuel demand. including a national smart-grid to encourage vehicle-to-grid net metering and development of improved batteries.The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U. Hawaii.org Red. corn ethanol production have been felt in food and fuel prices. Given the country’s current policy and economic structures. The United States has a real opportunity to adjust course and ensure that clean and sustainable biofuels. rather than just more biofuels. are a priority. and Green 33 . and green path is to ensure that second-generation biofuels are developed quickly while avoiding the mistakes of the past. electric/plug-in vehicles.worldwatch. even though other biofuels might deliver much greater climate. Improvements in vehicle efficiency are needed as well to reduce demand for fuels.
note 6.apec.O. “Bioenergy Ethanol and Biodiesel Conversion Factors. Timothy Searchinger et al. Licht.. viewed 6 March 2009. op.pdf. IA: Center for Agricultural and Rural Development.. July 2007). “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt. 5.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills& docid=f:h6enr. DC: April 2009). EIA. 9. “APEC Biofuels Activities by Member Economy. Fuel Ethanol Production. Monfort. Licht. viewed 6 March 2009. Licht. 23 September 2008. note 5. 26 March 2009.html. w w w. 19 December 2007.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv. 10. “Despite Obstacles. Licht.O. Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney. DOE Lacks a Strategic Approach to Coordinate Increasing Production and Infrastructure Development and Vehicle Needs (Washington. 13. DC: June 2007).S. Licht. 29 February 2008. 23 October 2008. DC: 3 December 2008). p.txt. p.org/ member_activities. cit. pp.13c Estimated Petroleum Consumption: Transportation Sector. op. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. 1238–40. F.’” International Herald Tribune. Energy Information Administration (EIA).” www.html. Biofuels in the United States Today 1. Emissions of Greenhouse Gases Report (Washington. Ethanol data for 2008 from F. 7. 6: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Howarth et al. viewed 17 February 2009. 3. Government Accountability Office. ECO-Asia Clean Development and Climate Program. Licht. Washington. cit. “Historic Fuel Ethanol Production. note 5. 14.” http://bioenergy.S. 1235–38. Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing Land Use. 4. DC: June 2007).” Vital Signs Online (Washington. Peter du Pont. viewed 17 February 2009. Simla Tokgoz et al. 10 June 2008.” op. Gummersbach.” presentation at the Brookings Institution.pdf. 1949–2007. 22–25 September 2008.S. 72.O.O. F. w orldwatch. F.R. op.biofuels.O. note 2. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. April 2008).Endnotes The Promise of Biofuels 1.” www. cit.O. For more information.org . DC.” Science. Emerging Biofuels: Outlook of Effects on U.org/industry/ statistics/#A. See. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. H.” in R. note 5. 2009). Figure 1 from the following sources: ethanol data for 1990–2007 from RFA. Bringezu. The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions (Washington. Department of Energy. 15.O. “Alternative and Advanced Fuels. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Oilseed. note 5. Joe Monfort. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. 29 February 2008. note 5. DC: 2009). 26 March 2009. “Use of U. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 2. and Green mittee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) International Biofuels Project Rapid Assessment. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land Use Change. and from F. 2. 1 February 2006. pp.O. 12. viewed 17 February 2009.org/pdf_files/fuelfactsheets/ Production_Graph_Slide. 8. cit. cit. U. op.gov/afdc/ fuels/. p. p. on Monfort.” www.. Howarth and S. Worldwatch calculations based on F.ethanolrfa. op. see U.” in Annual Energy Review (Washington. Biofuels Continue Surge. Iowa State University. biodiesel data for 2008 from F. vehicles data from U. 10. Table 1 from F. White. for example. op. Germany (Ithaca. available at http://frwebgate.afdc.” Science. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. Proceedings of the Scientific Com34 Red. “Estimated US Biodiesel Production by Fiscal Year. 32. biodiesel data for 1990–2007 from National Biodiesel Board (NBB).W. Joseph Fargione et al. Government Accountability Office. R. Licht. Grain. and on F. 2. Conversion from liters to gallons from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). NY: Cornell University.S.. note 5. Licht. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. and Livestock Markets (Ames.O. ethanol data for 2008 from F. “Bush: ‘America Is Addicted to Oil.biodiesel. W. Licht.O. World Ethanol and Biofuels Report. op. Licht.ornl. “Historic U. “Rapid Assessment on Biofuels and Environment: Overview and Key Findings.S. 6.gpo.” www. “Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Oil use from U.. cit. 11. Conversion factors from ORNL. DC: Worldwatch Institute. cit.S. 23 October 2008.access . cit. “Table 5.S. eds. Licht. F. 3. 10 April 2009. this note.energy.O. op. cit. DOE Lacks a Strategic Approach to Coordinate Increasing Production and Infrastructure Development and Vehicle Needs (Washington.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.
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Estimate of 34 percent from John Farrell.html. 12. 22.” www.2 billion bushels from Christopher Doering. Krauss. 24. www.usda. Table A2 in Annual Energy Outlook 2009 Early Release (Washington. p. 23.bio diesel. 2008). 15 July 2008. 10. 20. “Biorefinery Locations. note 24. “High Corn Prices Cast Shadow Over Ethanol Plants. Figure 4 from the following source: Robert Sharp. January 2007). Kho.” Renewable Energy Newsletter (Agricultural Marketing Resource Center). Kate Galbraith. “Outlook ’09: US Biofuels Industry Expected to Consolidate. “Ethanol’s Boom Holds Hidden Costs: Higher Food Prices. summer and fall 2007. cit. and the Ethanol Industry Reels.” www.ethanol. op.” Los Angeles Times. 2 March 2009. EIA’s projections assume that the Renewable Fuel Standard enacted in the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 will be extended indefinitely. Ibid.pdf. pp. note 24. 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Ibid.. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 43. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production: Perspectives to 2030 (Cambridge. Conference of Mayors and the Mayors Climate Protection Center (Lexington. U. PA: LECG. Figure 5 from the following sources: Estimate of 12 percent from Jason Hill et al. MA: Center for American Progress and Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “Life-cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts of Different Corn Ethanol Plant Types. 2006). eds. “The ‘Holy Grail’ of Biofuels Now in Sight. Current and Potential Jobs in the U. U. p.. “Agriculture Secretary in Talks to Raise Ethanol Blend. 40. Licht. “Rapid Assessment on Biofuels and Environment: Overview and Key Findings” and N. note 6..” Refrigerated Transporter. 27 January 2006. as reported in “Biodiesel Industry Stands Ready to Meet 2009 Goals.” PowerPoint presentation. Ethanol Industry at a Crossroads. “U. IL: November 2007). 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H.ch/page70341. “Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program. MA: 15 January 2009). Red. and David Ditsch. cit. Cellulosic Biofuel Technologies. cit. cit. See “Climate and Environmental Impacts of Biofuels” section earlier for discussion and references. Perlack et al. 196–98. note 30. pp. 33. op. April 2009. the current average. 2006). USDA. Kort.” www. “Renewable Diesel Technology. 4. Prospects and Implications for Trade and Development (New York: 2008).gov/cgi-bin/getdoc. for example. March 2007).cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills& docid=f:h6enr.” graduate research project supported by the National Resources Conservation Service and Iowa State University. Tilman. Estimate assumes that each bushel yields 2. “President Obama Issues Presidential Directive to USDA to Expand Access to Biofuels. 34.” press release (West Conshohocken. 351. 22. 3. Worldwatch Institute. note 12. DOE. 30. 37. CA: February 2009). Capehart.. cit. 19 May 2008. 1598.. 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p. The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions (Washington. cit. “Biofuels Data” (Washington. CBO.gov/fuels/lcfs/lcfs. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. note 6. Farm Bill of 2008. op. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land Use Change. Yacobucci. “Ethanol Incentives and Laws. 28. Extended per the Farm Bill of 2008. note 21. Sets New Tax on Imported U. 2. Yacobucci.R. 22. 8. note 1. 25. DC: CRS. EPA. H. cit. DC: 5 May 2009). 29 February 2008. note 21.R. viewed 4 May 2009. op.gov/ afdc/progs/ind_state_laws. 5. DC: CRS. op. op. cit. 3. 26. updated 5 March 2009.S. op. Renewable Fuels Association.worldwatch. White.” Science. “Bipartisan Senate Bill Seeks Lower Tariffs on Ethanol Imports.. 1238–40. 29 February 2008. note 6. 31. cit. note 21. 33.S. note 21. 35. note 35. cit. 29. 7.ethanolrfa. Ibid. 39. cit. 6: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. cit. See. note 32. Ibid.” press release (Washington. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Proposed Regulation to Implement the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Volume I.S. available at www. cit.” E&E News. p. Yacobucci. Brent D. DOE. DC: April 2009). note 20. 37. Ibid. See also IRS. cit. cit. Brent D. DOE.irs. H. cit. and Green 41 . note 1. California Air Resources Board (ARB). Figure 6 from ibid. 3. “California to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Vehicle Fuels. ARB. cit. note 20. DC: Congressional Research Service (CRS). 6: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. 20. Waiver Authority Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) (Washington. 24. 16. Joseph Fargione et al. Department of Energy (DOE). 2. DC: May 2009). Energy Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Washington. cit. IRS. 3. op. ARB. 18 March 2009. “Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program. 2. December 2008. CA: 5 March 2009). “EPA Proposes Rule to Reduce Global Warming Emissions from Biofuels. op. for example. 15.” www. U.. Ibid. 10.php/FL/ETH. 1235–38.xpd?bill=h110-6. 12. See also U. 38. EPA.org/policy/actions/state/.” www. 12 billion gallon nameplate capacity per U. 23. “Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program. Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan: A Framework for Change (Sacramento. cit. Yacobucci. cit. Ibid. “ANALYSIS: California Rule Could End Ethanol’s Honeymoon.R.S. 27. op. U. “DOE Selects Six Cellulosic Ethanol Plants for Up to $385 Million in Federal Funding.afdc. Ibid. Selected Issues Related to an Expansion of the Renewable Fuel Standard (Washington. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Universities. op.ca. cit. DC: 5 May 2009).S.org Yacobucci. CBO. 13. 3 March 2009). Biodiesel. note 21.” press release (Washington. Anne Austin. 36. 40. Biofuel Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs (Washington. op. Yacobucci. Red. DC: 10 September 2008). op.energy. 24 April 2009.S. 5 May 2008). Timothy Gardner.” in IRS Publication 510: Excise Taxes. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. p. H. “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt. pp. 11. 9. For more on waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard. DC: CRS. www. Ben Geman.4 Million in Six Innovative Biofuels Projects at U.” Biodiesel Magazine. 29 July 2008).” Reuters. p. see Brent D. DOE.” www. 32. Farm Bill of 2008. Austin. note 13. “Industry Welcomes Tax Credit Extension. op. “EPA Proposes New Regulations for the National Renewable Fuel Standard Program for 2010 and Beyond.gov/publi cations/p510. pp.” fact sheet (Washington. 31 March 2008). DOE. 19. op. op.S. Timothy Searchinger et al. 13 March 2009. Public Law 110-234. Yacobucci. note 27. 14. 18. Sidebar 6 from the following sources: ARB. DC: 28 February 2007) 34. DOE. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 4. 27 April 2009. 21. CA: October 2008). “Biofuels: E. Union of Concerned Scientists. Fred Sissine et al.” Science. 6: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. “Use of U. pp. Margot Roosevelt. op. op.” fact sheet (Washington. DC: updated 23 March 2009). “EPA Lifecycle Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Renewable Fuels. 30. “Legislative Actions: State. note 1. Proposed Regulation to Implement the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Volume I. viewed 12 March 2009. note 21.U. Staff Report: Initial Statement of Reasons (Sacramento.” press release (Washington.” prepublished draft implementation rules (Washington. op. CA: 5 March 2009).htm. 14. “DOE to Invest up to $4.” Los Angeles Times. “Chapter 2: Fuel Tax Credits and Refunds or IRS Instructions for Form 720. cit. cit. U.arb. note 21. Ibid. 6. op. Ibid.. Staff Report: Initial Statement of Reasons (Sacramento. 55–61. 17.Endnotes congress/bill. DC: May 2009).S. Yacobucci. EPA. p.” New York Times.
ndsu. “Clean Energy Biofuels Act. Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles Volume 1: Nationwide Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Palo Alto. for example. For cropland discussion. Biomass Research and Development Board. www. “USDA Announces New Office of Ecosystems Services and Markets.” available at www. p.energy.htm.gov/documents.Endnotes The Road Ahead: Policy Options for Sustainable U. for costs. Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. 5-5 through 5-7. “America Needs a True Renewable Energy Policy.” North Dakota State University Extension Service. 5.” Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center. LowCarbon Energy: A Roadmap (Washington. DC: October 2008). Environmental Protection Agency. www.S. and Green w w w.edu/news/columns/biofuels-economics/biofuel-economics-how-many-acres-will-beneeded-for-biofuels-part-ii/. DC: Worldwatch Institute.” press release (Washington. “Electric Vehicles (EVs). See. See. viewed 3 March 2009. for climate benefits. 21.” Farm Bill Forum Comment Summary and Background. 2. White.S. 28 February 2008. DC: 18 December 2008).html.ag.” Minnesota Public Radio. 4.S.S.. 8. Johnson and C. p.S. “Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Compliance Provisions. 7. Clean Air Task Force et al. updated 4 February 2009.shtml. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.” www. See. 9. 10. see Bruce A. Iowa State University Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Biofuels 1. “Biofuel Economics: How Many Acres Will Be Needed For Biofuels? Part II.usda. 3. Electric Power Research Institute. Department of Energy (DOE). 7 May 2008. “Rising Corn Prices Heat Up Ethanol Tariff Debate.fuel economy. see Cole Gustafson.org . “Ethanol Greenhouse Gas Emissions. “Statement Before the U. for example.mass. viewed 3 March 2009. DC: 9 February 2009). U. Robbin S. Mark Steil. Babcock. 9 October 2007.afdc.” www. w orldwatch. National Biofuels Action Plan (Washington.” press release.gov/afdc/ ethanol/emissions. viewed 27 April 2009. USDA.gov/feg/evtech. for example. 6. Six times greater from Christopher Flavin. 42 Red.gov/legis/laws/seslaw08/sl080206. 2008). CA: July 2007).” Hearing on Fuel Subsidies and Impact on Food Prices. see U. 15 April 2008. Ford Runge. “Ethanol: Train Wreck Ahead?” Issues in Science and Technology (University of Texas at Dallas).” Reuters. “Bernanke Backs Lower Tariff on Brazil Ethanol. DOE and U. (Washington.
see second-generation biofuels agricultural crops. 14 defined. 19 Chicago Carbon Exchange. 24 co-firing process.org Red. 28–29. White. 7 environmental impact of. 15. 6 cellulosic ethanol defined. 15 feedstocks. 20 blend wall. 13 biobutanol. 8 carbon credits. 17–18. 22 Canada. 18 Caribbean Basin Initiative. 5 policy options.worldwatch. 18 job creation from. 13–15 mitigating. 7. 18 Biomass Research and Development Board. 31 Biorefinery Assistance Program. 32 biogas. 23 Asian grass. 9–10 production process. 8 promise of. 17. 16. 28 blue grass. 15 biodiversity conservation. 16 environmental impact of. 13 greenhouse gas emissions and. 12 blender’s tax credit. 7 energy crops. 13–15 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 13–15 defined. 8 job creation from. 12 locations of refineries. 17 aquifers. 11–12 production incentives. 7 microalgae and. 17 fossil energy balance. and Green 43 . see feedstocks air pollution. 25 coal. 17 fossil energy balance. 7. 24. 14 carbon dioxide. 13 production by country. 22 carbon debt. 15 Algal Biofuels Roadmap. 22 biomass advanced biofuels from. 14. 29 California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (2007). 18. 16 www. 32–33 switchgrass and. 32 camelina. 17 reliance on. 17 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009). 16 Brazil.Index A advanced biofuels. 7. 7–8 Biofuels Interagency Working Group. 7–8. 15 Archer Daniels Midland. 24 carbon storage corn stover and. 10. 22 climate impacts of biofuels. 13. 13 switchgrass and. 28 cellulose converting to biofuels. 19 water use. 13 global production. 20 production costs. 24 B bagasse. 15 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 25 biofuels climate impacts. 28 C California Air Resources Board. 9 Argonne National Laboratory. 7 environmental impacts. 16 in feedstocks. 17 climate impacts of. 19 biodiesel algae for. 28 production increases. 13. 22 Arkansas. 7 biochemical platform. 7. 16 defined. 28 Aquatic Species Program.
23 D deforestation. 7. 13–14. 7 Fisher-Tropsch liquids (FTLs). 16 food costs and. and Green w w w. 19 economic impacts of corn and soybean production. 15. 31 distiller’s grains. see also cellulosic ethanol. 17 greenhouse gas emissions and. 27 Denmark. 8. 17. 9 44 Red. 12 on greenhouse gas reductions. 16 Council on Sustainable Biomass Production. 14 production process. 18 on Renewable Fuel Standard. 9 production process. 26. w orldwatch. 13 changing. 19 tariffs on. 22 ethanol production and. 31 on blend levels. 19 food costs. 10–11. 26–27 implementation rules. coli. 24 fuel lifecycle. 13–14. 16 gasoline biofuels and. 17–18 combined heat-and-power (CHP) method. 10–11 fossil energy balance. 17 energy cane. 27 E E. 31 esterification. 16 carbon storage in. 7 environmental impact of. 15 ethanol blending limit. 13–15 first-generation biofuels.org . 13–14 first-generation biofuels environmental impacts. 8 VEETC and. 13. 23 energy crops. 14 microalgae and. 28 water use. 9–10 production process. 15 corn production and costs. 12 electricity. 24 Congressional Budget Office. 19 production subsidies and incentives. 27 second-generation biofuels. 28 on job creation. 18 Environmental Protection Agency biofuel policies. 7 ethanol. 16 feedstocks. 5.Index Colorado. 7. 22 F feedstocks advanced biofuels and. 5. 17 on sustainability standards. 16 Energy Independence and Security Act (2007). 10–11 fossil energy balance. 29–32 environmental impacts of biofuels. 13 transitioning. 7 sustainable production. 13–15 policy reporting requirements. 7 G gammagrass. 24. 7 water use. 13 industry. 24 Department of Energy (DOE) as funding source. 12 European Union biofuel production. 12. 5. 8 import taxes. 15 ethanol blending limit. 7. corn ethanol biochemical process. 13 locations of refineries. 28 land use change study. 10–11. 10 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). 17 producing biofuels from. 16 energy crops. 9 land use changes and. 19 defined. 18 corn ethanol economic impacts. 11–12 production increases. 13 MTBE additive. 5. 15 of global recession. 26–29 sugar cane. 20. 9. 13–15 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 13 fossil fuels evaluating fuel lifecycle. 32 thermochemical process. 19 fertilizers. ethanol production and. 9 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 25 sustainability criteria. 19 production increases. 32–33 energy balance. 9–10 corn stover. 27. 13. 13. 28 thermochemical process. White. 27 production costs. greenhouse gases and. 20 policy requirements. 19 trade. 12 on microalgae costs. 15 environmental impacts. 9–11 job creation from. 12 ethanol displacement. 13–15 land use changes and.
22 grain sorghum. 27. 31 meat consumption. 13–14 microalgae and. 9 policies federal and state. 31 population increases and. 11. 22–23 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. 18 Solix Biofuels. 30–33 pollution. 12 policy options for. 26 climate impacts and. 7 Gulf of Mexico. 31 nitrogen. 18 promise of biofuels. 26 Renewable Fuels Association. 11 Mississippi River. 20 second-generation biofuels benefits. 13 fertilizers and. 5. 14 microalgae. 7 sustainability of. 20 glycerin. 23 corn ethanol production and. Barack. 15 oil palm. 17 splash-and-dash loophole. 15. 17–18 soybean production economic impacts.Index VEETC and. 13–14 no-till cultivation. 22 O Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 31 requirements. 14 policies and. 7 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 11. 31 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 11–12 policy options. 29. 13 policies on. 21–23 climate impact of. 18 land use changes biofuel sustainability and. 28 lignin. 24. 5. 14 Spain. 13 petroleum diesel biofuels and. 8. 32 phosphorus. White. 10–11 environmental impacts. 14–15 nitrous oxide. 7–8 H heating. 25. greenhouse gases and. 14 prairie grasses. 21–25 technologies for. 17 pesticides and. 15 job creation and. 24. 5. 15 Obama. 8 evaluating fuel lifecycle. 32 soil erosion. 16 population. 14 feedstocks and. 16 corn ethanol and. 22 Massachusetts Clean Energy Biofuels Act (2008). 14–15 poplar trees. 30–33 production process. biofuel contribution to. land use changes and. 13 PHEV (plug-in hybrid-electric) vehicles. 32 Ogallala Aquifer. 22 R Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) background. 33 hydrolysis. 5–6. 22 L land conservation. 23 J jatropha. 24 www.worldwatch. 6. 13 job creation from. 29 Roundtable on Responsible Soy. 20 Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets. 12 sugarcane ethanol M manure.org Red. 14. 18. 23 Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. 18 S Sandia National Laboratory. 22–23 GreenFuel Technologies. 22 transportation sector and. 26–29 for sustainable biofuels. 26–27 reducing. 16–20 fossil energy balance. 17 greenhouse gas emissions advanced biofuels and. 19 sodbuster program. 19 I Iowa. 17 Minnesota. 15 MTBE gasoline additive. 9 N National Biofuels Action Plan. 28 subsidies for ethanol production. 14 POET. 28 Georgia. 7. 21–22 P pesticides. and Green 45 .
32 Sweden. 32–33 transitioning fuels. 17 water quality corn ethanol production and. w orldwatch. 24 sustainability developing criteria. 21–22 federal/state policies on.org . 7 energy policy. 15 V VeraSun. 30–33 of second-generation biofuels. National Academy of Sciences. 9–10 volumetric ethanol excise tax credit (VEETC). 23 swampbuster program. 24 W Washington. 24 switchgrass. 15 U. 5. 14 University of Minnesota. 22 U United States biofuel production. 9 on sustainability standards. 19 third-generation biofuels. 28 technologies for advanced biofuels. 15. 8–12 biomass usage. 15 microalgae and. 18 willow trees. 16. 19 thermochemical platform. 28 U. 18 Western Climate Initiative. 19 University of California. 29 wildlife conservation. 16. 17 transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions and. 21–25 Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance. 20. 31 U.S. and Green w w w. 20. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program. 15.Index greenhouse gas emissions and. 28 syngas. 18 on corn production. 18. White. 24 ethanol production. 28 T tariffs. 16 wood chips. 19 sulfur dioxide. 17 switchgrass and.S. 15. 13 production costs.S. Farm Bill (2008). 7 46 Red. 12 water consumption. 5–6. 26–27 policy options for. 28 tax credits.
2001 On Food. 2003 153: Why Poison Ourselves: A Precautionary Approach to Synthetic Chemicals. nongovernmental organizations.worldwatch. and qualitative analysis of the major issues affecting prospects for a sustainable society. Energy. 2002 159: Traveling Light: New Paths for International Tourism. 2000 150: Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition.org Red. 2005 163: Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. 2008 175: Powering China’s Development: the Role of Renewable Energy. 1999 144: Mind Over Matter: Recasting the Role of Materials in Our Lives. 2002 162: The Anatomy of Resource Wars. and educational institutions worldwide. 1999 145: Safeguarding the Health of Oceans. and Materials 179: Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use. 2004 160: Reading the Weathervane: Climate Policy From Rio to Johannesburg. 2002 157: Hydrogen Futures: Toward a Sustainable Energy System. 2009 178: Low-Carbon Energy: A Roadmap. 1998 138: Rising Sun.worldwatch. 1998 141: Losing Strands in the Web of Life: Vertebrate Declines and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. White. 2005 170: Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosytems. 2001 158: Unnatural Disasters. 2002 156: City Limits: Putting the Brakes on Sprawl. Institutions. 1998 140: Taking a Stand: Cultivating a New Relationship With the World’s Forests. 2000 148: Nature’s Cornucopia: Our Stakes in Plant Diversity. They are used as concise and authoritative references by governments. Women’s Welfare. 1999 To see our complete list of Reports. 2001 151: Micropower: The Next Electrical Era. 2000 147: Reinventing Cities for People and the Planet. The Reports are written by members of the Worldwatch Institute research staff or outside specialists and are reviewed by experts unafﬁliated with Worldwatch.Other Worldwatch Reports Worldwatch Reports provide in-depth. On Climate Change. 2007 171: Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry. 2003 164: Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World. 2007 169: Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. 1998 On Economics. 2008 172: Catch of the Day: Choosing Seafood for Healthier Oceans. and Green 47 . 2001 154: Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution. 2007 165: Winged Messengers: The Decline of Birds. quantitative. 2002 161: Correcting Gender Myopia: Gender Equity. and Security 177: Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment. Population. and the Environment. 2003 166: Purchasing Power: Harnessing Institutional Procurement for People and the Planet. Gathering Winds: Policies To Stabilize the Climate and Strengthen Economies. Water.org/taxonomy/term/40 www. 2007 168: Venture Capitalism for a Tropical Forest: Cocoa in the Mata Atlântica. visit www. 2003 167: Sustainable Development for the Second World: Ukraine and the Nations in Transition. 2008 173: Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace. 1997 On Ecological and Human Health 174: Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity. 1999 142: Rocking the Boat: Conserving Fisheries and Protecting Jobs. 2000 149: Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape. and Urbanization 176: Farming Fish for the Future.
” —Alex Steffen. including: new technologies. Australia “State of the World 2009 is a very timely compendium of up-to-date thinking on climate change. The Perfect Storm Chapter 2.org for information on all of our publications or to sign up for our e-newsletter. the single most important reference guide to climate change yet published. Building Resilience Chapter 6.org • Online: www. Safe Landing Chapter 3.S. Using Land to Cool the Earth Chapter 4. Environmental Chemist.STATE OF TH E WOR LD 2009 Into a Warming World “State of the World 2009 is a research masterpiece.worldwatch.org Visit our website at www.org Plus a Quick-Reference Climate Change Guide and Glossary of 38 key terms for understanding climate change. consumption practices. 22 essays by experts on topics including: • • • • Biodiversity • Economics of Climate Change • Health Implications Cap and Trade • Green Jobs Carbon Tax • Technology Transfer Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) • Other Greenhouse Gases • Cities: Mitigation and Adaptation www. F09RWG . It addresses climate change concerns and provides a wide range of options for tackling this multi-faceted problem. University of Adelaide.” —Stephen Lincoln. Table of Contents: Chapter 1. and finance—with the ultimate goal of mobilizing nations and citizens around the world to work together toward combating global warming before it’s too late. This comprehensive guide conveys the profound. or 1-301-747-2340 internationally • Fax: 1-301-567-9553 • E-mail: wwpub@worldwatch. Co-Founder. 350. Worldchanging.95 plus shipping and handling O RD E R TODAY! Four Easy Ways to Order: • Phone: toll free 1-877-539-9946 within the U.worldwatch.worldwatch. policy changes. Australian Conservation Foundation “This report is particularly timely.com “This report is a persuasive call to action. President.org • Available Now • $19. Executive Editor. long-term consequences of global warming for humanity and our planet and investigates a wide range of potential paths to change.” —Ian Lowe." —Bill McKibben. Sealing the Deal to Save the Climate Special Features: State of the World 2009 includes Climate Connections. Harnessing Low-Carbon Energy on a Grand Scale Chapter 5.
org . if any. Large-scale production depends on intensive energy.S. such as corn ethanol. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. First-generation biofuels also result in minimal. Recent experience has shown that the environmental costs of producing “ﬁrst-generation” biofuels. and green path—before it is too late. But government mandates and other incentives envision a much larger role for U. www. White. and Green: Transforming U. biofuels. This includes setting veriﬁable industry standards that identify more-sustainable production methods and guarantee improvements. and the increased demand for biofuels is contributing to rising food prices and deforestation worldwide. and water inputs and can pollute water. but decision makers must take the time to get biofuels right. with a goal of reaching 36 billion gallons of use by 2022.worldwatch. white.S. The biofuels challenge facing the United States today is to ﬁnd new transportation and energy policies that take the country down a truly red. chemical. and degrade soils.WO R L DWAT C H R E P O RT 180 Red. enough to displace about 5 percent of domestic gasoline consumption. destroy wildlife habitat. likely outweigh the beneﬁts. Biofuels Ethanol demand in the United States is nearing 10 billion gallons per year. Advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol show promise as a way to overcome many of these problems and to mitigate climate change.
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