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Indicators are needed to assess environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems. Effective indicators
will help in the quantification of benefits and costs of bioenergy options and resource uses. We identify
19 measurable indicators for soil quality, water quality and quantity, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, air
quality, and productivity, building on existing knowledge and on national and international programs
that are seeking ways to assess sustainable bioenergy. Together, this suite of indicators is hypothesized

McBride, Allen

Adding bioenergy to the U.S. energy portfolio requires long‐term profitability for bioenergy producers and
long‐term protection of affected ecosystems. In this study, we present steps along the path toward evaluating both sides of
the sustainability equation (production and environmental) for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) using the Soil and Water
Assessment Tool (SWAT). We modeled production of switchgrass and river flow using SWAT for current landscapes at a

Relationships between people and their environment are largely defined by land use. Space and soil are needed for native plants and wildlife, as well as for crops used for food, feed, fiber, wood products and biofuel (liquid fuel derived from plant material). People also use land for homes, schools, jobs, transportation, mining and recreation. Social and economic forces influence the allocation of land to various uses.

Virginia Dale

Country borders have been chosen as system boundaries to inventory GHG emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. The use of country boundaries is clear and allows summing over all countries. The country inventories purposefully account for where and when both fossil-fuel combustion emissions occur, and changes in the biological stocks of carbon occur. The approach can be widely adopted, but this accounting is hampered by uncertain data (1, 2) and two basic shortcomings: Not all countries are required to report, and not all biological carbon stocks are inventoried.

Kline, Keith

A broad-scale perspective on the nexus between climate change, land use, and energy requires consideration of interactions that were often omitted from climate change studies. While prior analyses have considered how climate change affects land use and vice versa (Dale 1997), there is growing awareness of the need to include energy within the analytical framework. A broad-scale perspective entails examining patterns and process at divers spatial and temporal resolutions.

Virginia H. Dale

A primary objective of current U.S. biofuel law – the “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” (EISA) – is to reduce dependence on imported oil, but the law also requires biofuels to meet carbon emission reduction thresholds relative to petroleum fuels. EISA created a renewable fuel standard with annual targets for U.S. biofuel use that climb gradually from 9 billion gallons per year in 2008 to 36 billion gallons (or about 136 billion liters) of biofuels per year by 2022. The most controversial aspects of U.S.

Keith L. Kline , Gbadebo Oladosu

The establishment of bioenergy crops will affect ecological processes and their interactions and thus has an influence on ecosystem services provided by the lands on which these crops are grown. The regional-scale effects of bioenergy choices on ecosystem services need special attention because they often have been neglected yet can affect the ecological, social, and economic aspects of sustainability.

Virginia Dale , Richard Lowrance , Patrick Mulholland , G Phillip Robertson

The U.S. Department of Energy Biomass Program sponsored the Land-Use Change and Bioenergy workshop in Vonore, Tennessee, from May 11 to May 14, 2009. More than 50 experts from around the world gathered to review the state of the science, identify opportunities for collaboration, and prioritize next steps for the research and data needed to address key issues regarding the land-use effects of bioenergy policies. A key outcome of the workshop was the
identification of research areas that may improve our understanding of land-use change in a bioenergy context.


Despite recent claims to the contrary, plant-based fuels developed in economically and environmentally sensible ways can contribute significantly to the nation’s— indeed, the world’s—energy security while providing a host of benefits for many people worldwide.

Keith L. Kline , Virginia H. Dale , Russell Lee , Paul Leiby

As the US begins to integrate biomass crops and residues into its mix of energy feedstocks, tools are needed to measure the long-term sustainability of these feedstocks. Two aspects of sustainability are long-term potential for profitably producing energy and protection of ecosystems influenced by energy-related activities. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is an important model used in our efforts to quantify both aspects. To quantify potential feedstock production, we used SWAT to estimate switchgrass yields at a national scale.

Baskaran, Latha

In response to concerns about oil dependency and the contributions of fossil fuel use to climatic change, the U.S. Department of Energy has begun a research initiative to make 20% of motor fuels biofuel based in 10 years, and make 30% of fuels bio-based by 2030. Fundamental to this objective is developing an understanding of feedstock dynamics of crops suitable for cellulosic ethanol production. This report focuses on switchgrass, reviewing the existing literature from field trials across the United States, and compiling it for the first time into a single database.

Gunderson, Carla A.

IN THEIR REPORTS IN THE 29 FEBRUARY ISSUE (“LAND CLEARING AND THE BIOFUEL CARBON debt,” J. Fargione et al., p. 1235, and “Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change,” T. Searchinger et al., p. 1238), the authors do not provide adequate support for their claim that biofuels cause high emissions due to land-use change. The conclusions of both papers depend on the misleading premise that biofuel production causes forests and grasslands to be converted to agriculture.

Keith L. Kline , Virginia H. Dale

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are both strongly committed to expanding the role of biomass as an energy source. In particular, they support biomass fuels and products as a way to reduce the need for oil and gas imports; to support the growth of agriculture, forestry, and rural economies; and to foster major new domestic industries — biorefineries — making a variety of fuels, chemicals, and other products.

Perlack, R.D.

The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for understanding the geographic context of bioenergy supplies is discussed and a regional-scale, GIS-based modeling system for estimating potential biomass supplies from energy crops is described. While GIS models can capture geographic variation that may in?uence biomass costs and supplies, GIS models are not likely to handle uncertainty well and are often limited by the lack of spatially explicit data.

Graham Robin L.