Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Energy independence and global climate change are two
significant factors that have contributed to an increased focus on U.S. bioenergy
production from clean, renewable fuel sources.
Increased bioenergy production can benefit agriculture and rural
economies by boosting demand for renewable energy feedstocks. Policies to enhance ethanol and biodiesel production and other renewable fuels such as butanol offer many environmental, energy security, and
economic development opportunities for the U.S.
and for U.S.
agricultural provides the underpinnings of a strong and vibrant economy by
ensuring continued production of food and fiber. Soils are agriculture’s greatest natural
resource and asset, and they must be protected and enhanced to support
increased bioenergy production. As
biomass is utilized for more increasing biofuel production, attention must be
given to conserving and restoring the soil resource and to protecting the
organic matter content of soils. Organic
matter content is the key to soil health, fertility, productivity, and erosion
As a research-based consortium focused on the sustainability
of the nation’s soil resource, CASMGS has the expertise, critical mass, and
rapid-response capability to examine potential impacts of large-scale biofuels production on:
in land use, and potential conversion of conservation lands to biomass
production. If such changes
are indicated, science-based recommendations on practices to avoid
unintended environmental or ecological impacts is warranted. For example, targeting biofuel crop
production in different climates and soils to optimize biomass production
and soil protection should be a focus of research now to support existing
and future policies for bioenergy production. If the production of biofuel results in
a loss of soil organic matter (Carbon) the future capacity of the soil to
produce food and fuel will be compromised.
in water needs, availability, and water quality impacts.
for grains and oilseeds such as corn or soybeans, and impacts on
food and feed availability and prices.
for “waste” biomass such as corn stover,
rice hulls, and other crop materials used to reduce soil erosion and
restore and improve soil fertility.
Particularly when cellulosic energy
production becomes more widely used.
analyses and GHG/C accounting for biofuels
production. A low-carbon fuel
standard will ensure the best total GHG outcomes.
which biofuel feedstock and fuel production systems will provide the
greatest climate benefits.
co-benefits of biofuel production, such as soil quality, reduced
erosion from marginal crop lands, and enhance wildlife benefits.
and biofuels can play an important role in
mitigating global climate change.
However, not all biofuels or biofuel
conversion processes are equal in terms of associated GHG emissions.