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Expanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels - Lessons from the Upper Midwest for Sustainability

New Release:

Book CoverExpanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Summary of a Workshop (2010)
While energy prices, energy security, and climate change are front and center in the national media, these issues are often framed to the exclusion of the broader issue of sustainability--ensuring that the production and use of biofuels do not compromise the needs of future generations by recognizing the need to protect life-support systems, promote economic growth, and improve societal welfare. Thus, it is important to understand the effects of biofuel production and use on water quality and quantity, soils, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, public health, and the economic viability of rural communities.

Meeting Recap: What about the Blend Wall? (2010)
On April 8, 2010, the National Academies’ Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS) Program hosted an informal working meeting to discuss emerging issues associated with the production and use of higher level ethanol blends—beyond E-10. The meeting was held in conjunction with the publication of the summary of a June 2009 workshop examining the environmental, economic and social impacts of expanding biofuel production in the Upper Midwest. An issue raised at the June workshop now receiving increased attention is the possibility that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will allow higher ethanol blend levels in gasoline. Attached is recap of the dialogue from that meeting. 


  Project Information  

Project Scope
Meetings and Events
Committee Membership

Contact Information:
Science and Technology for Sustainabillity Program
The National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 334-2694

Project Scope

An ad hoc committee organized a workshop in June 2009 that assessed the sustainability impacts of expanding biofuel production at a regional level. Workshop participants assessed lessons learned from dramatic increases in corn based fuels and identified the implications of advanced biofuel production, examining feedstock production, refining, distribution and use. The objective of the workshop was to inform local, state and federal decision-makers and to suggest policies that could be developed to encourage more sustainable practices and to mitigate potentially adverse impacts on specific regions of the country as the U.S. transitions to the next generation of biofuels.

Meetings & events

Expanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels - Lessons from the Upper Midwest for Sustainability

Lussier Family Heritage Center
3101 Lake Farm Road
Madison, Wisconsin
June 23-24, 2009

Meeting Agenda:

Expanding Biofuel Production - Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels - Lessons from the Upper Midwest for Sustainability (PDF 34KB)


U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), Implications for State Biofuels Policies

     The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA): Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) (131 KB)
     Bruce Rodan, Office of Science and Technology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

A Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Where Are We?

     Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts (169 KB)
     John Miranowski, Iowa State University

     Next Generation Hydrocarbon Biorefineries (6.9 MB)
     John R. Regalbuto, National Science Foundation

Sustainability and a Transition to Advanced Biofuels

     Sustainable Biofuels (3.6 MB)
     John Sheehan, University of Minnesota

The Economics of Expanding Biofuel Production in the Upper Midwest (Panel Discussion)

     Biofuels and Rural Development (622 KB)
     Dave Swenson, Iowa State University

     Economics of Expanding Biofuel Production in the Upper Midwest (1.5 MB) 
     Douglas G. Tiffany, University of Minnesota

The Environment and Health (Panel Discussion)

     The Environment and Health (Panel Discussion) (1.2 MB)
     Phil Robertson, Michigan State University & GLBRC

     Connections Between Midwest Agriculture, Bioenergy, and Water Quality (9.8 MB)
     Chris Kucharik, University of Wisconsin-Madison

     Looking Beyond GHG, Land Use, Energy, and Biodiversity - Other Environmental, Health, and Safety Considerations (2.7 MB)
     Donna Perla, US Environmental Protection Agency

     Biofuels: Roadmap to Sustainable Landscapes (230 KB)
     Pete Nowak, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Business of Biofuels: Perspectives from the Investment Community and Industry (Panel Discussion)

     BP Biofuels: Achieving Better, More Sustainable Biofuels, Sooner (446 KB)
     Ruth Scotti, BP Biofuels, North America

     Expanding Biofuel Production: An Investor's Perspective (645 KB)
     Paul Batcheller, PrairieGold Venture Partners

     Role of the RFS in Inducing Investment in Cellulosic Biofuels Refineries (29 KB)
     Bruce A. Babcock, Iowa State University

Research for Decision-Makers (Panel Discussion)

     Research for Decision Makers: Federal Research Relevant to Sustainability (1.7 MB)
     Jeffery Steiner, U.S. Department of Agriculture

     Sustainable Bioenergy Production: A U.S. Department of Energy Perspective (1.2 MB)
     Alison Goss Eng, U.S. Department of Energy, Biomass Program

     Impact of Rapid Land-Use Change in the Northern Great Plains (3.7 MB)
     Alisa Gallant, U.S. Geological Survey

     Biofuels Bonanza?: Exploring Community Perceptions of the Promises and Perils of Biofuels Production (2.6 MB)
     Theresa Selfa, Kansas State University

Tools to Inform Policy Choices (Panel Discussion)

     Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts from our Forests: Meeting the Challenge (2.5 KB)
     Marilyn Buford, U.S. Forest Service

     Metrics Models and Tools for Evaluating the Impacts of Biofuels (851 KB)
     Alan Hecht, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

     Tools to Inform Policy Choices: A Technology Policy Perspective (1.9 MB)
     Greg Nemet, University of Wisconsin


Committee Membership information

The committee listed below was established by the U.S. National Academies. The project's steering committee reviews all proposals and oversees the organization of the workshops.

  • Patrick Atkins
    Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA)
  • John Carberry
    Former Director, Environmental Technology, DuPont
  • Peter Ciborowski
    Research Scientist, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Elisabeth Graffy
    Economist, US Geological Survey, Office of the Associate Director for Geography
  • Nathanael Greene
    Senior Policy Analyst, National Resource Defense Council
  • Jason Hill
    Research Associate, University of Minnesota
  • Tracey Holloway
    Director, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John Miranowski
    Professor of Economics, Iowa State University
  • Marcia Patton-Mallory
    Bioenergy and Climate Change Specialist, US Forest Service
  • Gary Radloff
    Director, Policy and Strategic Communications, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
  • Bruce Rodan
    Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

Steering Committee, Biographies (PDF 33KB)



This workshop was supported by the Energy Foundation and the National Academies' George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science.