Logging and mill residues are currently the largest sources of woody biomass for bioenergy in the US, but short-rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are expected to become a larger contributor to biomass production, primarily on lands marginal for food production. However, there are very few studies on the environmental effects of SRWCs, and most have been conducted at stand rather than at watershed scales.
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This is a joint report between three national labs, ORNL, INL, and ANL, that describes outcomes from a workshop. The Bioenergy Solutions to Gulf Hypoxia Workshop gathered stakeholders from industry, academia, national laboratories, and U.S. federal agencies to discuss how biomass feedstocks could help decrease nutrient loadings to the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), a root cause of the large hypoxic zone that forms each summer.
Synthesis manuscript for an Ecology & Society Special Feature on Telecoupling: A New Frontier for Global Sustainability
Growing interest in renewable and domestically produced energy motivates the evaluation of woody bioenergy feedstock production. In the southeastern U.S., woody feedstock plantations, primarily of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), would be intensively managed over short rotations (10-12 years) to achieve high yields.
With the goal of understanding environmental effects of a growing bioeconomy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), national laboratories, and U.S. Forest Service research laboratories, together with academic and industry collaborators, undertook a study to estimate environmental effects of potential biomass production scenarios in the United States, with an emphasis on agricultural and forest biomass. Potential effects investigated include changes in soil organic carbon (SOC), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water quality and quantity, air emissions, and biodiversity.
One approach to assessing progress towards sustainability makes use of multiple indicators spanning the
environmental, social, and economic dimensions of the system being studied. Diverse indicators have different
units of measurement, and normalization is the procedure employed to transform differing indicator
measures onto similar scales or to unit-free measures. Given the inherent complexity entailed in interpreting
information related to multiple indicators, normalization and aggregation of sustainability indicators
Understanding the complex interactions among food security, bioenergy sustainability, and resource management
requires a focus on specific contextual problems and opportunities. The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable
Development Goals place a high priority on food and energy security; bioenergy plays an important role in
achieving both goals. Effective food security programs begin by clearly defining the problem and asking, ‘What
can be done to assist people at high risk?’ Simplistic global analyses, headlines, and cartoons that blame biofuels
The Federal Activities Report on the Bioeconomy has been prepared to emphasize the significant potential for an even stronger U.S. bioeconomy through the production and use of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Bioeconomy activities have already touched on the interests of many federal agencies and offices. This report is intended to educate the public on the wide-ranging, federally funded activities that are helping to bolster the bioeconomy.
Water consumption and water quality continue to be key factors affecting environmental sustainability in biofuel production. This review covers the findings from biofuel water analyses published over the past 2 years to underscore the progress made, and to highlight advancements in understanding the interactions among increased production and water demand, water resource availability, and potential changes in water quality. We focus on two key areas: water footprint assessment and watershed modeling.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office held a workshop on "Social Aspects of Bioenergy" on April 24, 2012, in Washington, D.C., and convened a webinar on this topic on May 8, 2012. The workshop addressed questions about how to measure and understand the social impacts of bioenergy production based on a set of social sustainability indicators for bioenergy that were developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.