ESA Releases Position Statement on Biofuels Sustainability

On January 10, ESA released a position statement that offers the ecological principles necessary for biofuels to help decrease dependence on fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global climate change. The Society warns that the current mode of biofuels production will degrade the nation’s natural resources and will keep biofuels from becoming a viable energy option. Click here to read the press release and here to read the full statement.

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  1. Thank you for questioning the environmental sustainability of raising biofuels, such as ethanol. It seems so obvious that ethanol is a far less concentrated source of energy than oil and therefore that it would take huge amounts of farmland to produce with ethanol the same amount of energy that we are consuming today. We must learn that we have to improve our way of life to live harmoniously with all creatures, not merely to slow our rate of destroying the earth.

  2. The last bullet on page 1. Placing previously fallow and land enrolled in conservation programs…., REQUIRES IRRIGATION [caps added for emphasis], and…dioxide. Comment: If this is referring to CRP, and it seems that it does or at least CRP seems a part of the intent, ‘requires irrigation’ is not correct. These enrollments in much of the Midwest are in rainfed areas and will not receive irrigation when brought back into corn production.

    Page 2 under ‘SYSTEMS THINKING’ – the first sentence that is not bolded: A positive energy yield means that more energy is produced than is consumed by extraction and transport. Comment: the devil is in the details and definition is part of details. I believe that most, if not all, life cycle analysis addressing energy balance (or yield?) includes energy required for feedstock production as well as the energy required to make the conversion and transport the energy carrier (normally ethanol). This is one of the reasons that corn grain ethanol is not a ‘favored child.’ Energy required to produce corn grain is very high. Since the remaining portion of this paragraph focuses on systems thinking, I tend to believe the energy yield (balance???) should also be considering energy put into producing the whole system of producing feedstock as well as conversion and transport. I think this will make this statement more aligned with literature addressing energy yield/balance.

    Page 3 under SCALE OF ALIGNMENT. – last sentence in first paragraph. I really think you mean: If used, incentives should be applied to the ENERGY CONTENT DERIVED FROM biomass rather than the biofuel product in order…sources. Comment: I concur – this is a critical issue.

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