Summary Report of Stakeholder Responses to USDA’s Regional Biofuel Roadmap
(US Department of Agriculture) On June 23, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a strategic biofuels production report, “A USDA Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) by 2022” (USDA’s Roadmap). Subsequently, Secretary Vilsack directed the National Food and Agriculture Council (FAC) to obtain input from key bioenergy stakeholders throughout the country on USDA’s Roadmap. During October and November 2010, the FAC conducted a series of workshops in 42 States and Puerto Rico and collected 57 reports of stakeholder answers to a common set of 16 questions. Stakeholder comments, as a whole, successfully broadened the view of the roadmap by providing additional information and insights.
USDA stakeholders represented a wide variety of interests, including farmers, industry groups, industry executives, academia, and State FAC directors and staff. This report summarizes the results of the workshops, provides USDA responses to some but not all of the comments, and offers a perspective from a variety of USDA programs as a way for moving bioenergy forward.
…Key areas of common interest to all stakeholders included:
(1) policy stability that can reduce investment risk,
(2) market development through consumer education,
(3) economic cost-benefit analysis economics, environment, and energy security of biofuels,
(4) additional biomass resources for feedstock production,
(5) the Conservation Reserve Program and marginal land,
(6) additional work on cropping approaches,
(7) diversification of biorefinery locations to reduce transportation and delivery costs,
(8) greater recognition of woody biomass potential, and
(9) competing uses for biomass from the combined heat and power sector.
• Policy Stability. Stakeholders encouraged a greater long-term commitment at the Congressional and Departmental levels to biofuel energy policy so that uncertainty and risks in steady private sector investment could be avoided. Stakeholders were also strongly in favor of complementary legislation and regulation policies, rather than apparent opposing policies. There is a need for clear policy direction, common definitions, and fewer conflicting programmatic and regulatory policies.
• Market Development. Increasing consumer awareness and understanding of the benefits from bioenergy can help create demand pull and new markets. Addressing some of the misinformation regarding food and biofuel conflicts would benefit market development.
• Complete Economic Analysis. A cost-benefit study for biofuels focusing on energy security, environment, and economic development should be conducted. This analysis would facilitate further development of bioenergy.
• Additional Biomass Resources. Biomass for feedstock production can include sugar beets, industrial sweet potato, agricultural and industrial waste, fish waste, algae, municipal solid waste, agricultural waste from Tribal Lands, and other dedicated energy crops not included in the roadmap (e.g., guayule, and jojoba).
• Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Stakeholders expressed that not all CRP acreage is enrolled as non-productive or marginal lands. For productive lands: while there remains a strong commitment in preserving key conservation and wildlife goals of the CRP, there is room for allowing for penalty-free sustainable harvesting of energy biomass on a more than periodic basis.
• Cropping Approaches. Stakeholders urged more analysis on double cropping, intercropping, reserve cropping, and reclaimed land cropping opportunities.
• Local Energy. Bioenergy policies should include a higher number of regionally-tailored approaches and receive federal attention that involves all of America and avoid energy markets dominated by single regions. Examples provided included smaller biorefinery facilities that could reduce the transportation distances of feedstocks and fuels to reduce transportation and delivery costs.
• Wood. Stakeholders from major forestry regions of the country believed that a greater recognition of the role of both existing and new woody resources is merited. Interest was strong in ensuring that wood residues are sustainably harvested, and that potential disruption of existing markets be considered. Purpose-grown wood could also be a major contributor in some regions, and significant potential exists for use of wood from forest health and fuel reduction treatments for energy purposes.
• Biomass for heat and power. Many stakeholders expressed support for a greater acknowledgement of solid biomass in replacing or displacing fossil fuels for heat and power. This creates additional and possibly competing demand for biomass. READ MORE