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Take a Closer Look: Biofuels Can Support Environmental, Economic and Social Goals.

INTRODUCTION The U.S. Congress passed the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) seven years ago. Since then, biofuels have gone from darling to scapegoat for many environmentalists, policy makers, and the general public. The reasons for this shift are complex and include concerns about environmental degradation, uncertainties about impact on food security, new access to fossil fuels, and overly optimistic timetables. As a result, many people have written off biofuels. However, numerous studies indicate that biofuels, if managed sustainably, can help solve pressing environmental, social, and economic problems (Figure 1). The scientific and policy communities should take a closer look by reviewing the key assumptions underlying opposition to biofuels and carefully consider the probable alternatives. Liquid fuels based on fossil raw materials are likely to come at increasing environmental cost. Sustainable futures require energy conservation, increased efficiency, and alternatives to fossil fuels, including biofuels.

Bruce E. Dale , James E. Anderson , Robert C. Brown , Steven Csonka , Virginia H. Dale , Gary Herwick , Randall D. Jackson , Nicholas Jordan , Stephen Kaffka , Keith L. Kline
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Bruce E. Dale
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Michigan State University
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Bioenergy Category
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Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.