by Alicia Pimental
August 01, 2008
The Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have released a new report that explains how the Chesapeake region can become a national leader in the shift to home-grown, environmentally beneficial biofuels.
“Next-Generation Biofuels: Taking the Policy Lead for the Nation,” outlined at the day-long Chesapeake Bay Biofuels Summit in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sept. 4, is the result of a year-long effort to explore the feasibility of cellulosic biofuels from sources including switchgrass, fast-growing timber and municipal wastes.
At the 2007 Executive Council meeting, Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay Commission agreed to “champion” the biofuels issue and position the Chesapeake region at the forefront of the evolution from corn-based ethanol to advanced biofuels. Commercial-scale development of cellulosic ethanol offers the Bay region environmental protection, economic opportunities and energy security.
The Chesapeake region is well-situated to become a leader in cellulosic biofuels over the next five to 10 years because it is:
- A very temperate region able to grow cellulosic crops, including switchgrass and fast-growing timber like willow and poplar.
- Well-situated near Philadelphia, which has gasoline blending facilities to create cellulosic ethanol.
- The only major corn-growing region in the U.S. that has not invested in corn-based ethanol.
- A thriving biotechnology region with many scientific and entrepreneurial institutions that can help develop the technology needed to implement a commercial cellulosic biofuels industry.
- Close to major population centers, including Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Richmond and Washington, D.C.
The report offers 20 recommendations for the Chesapeake region and each state in the watershed to capitalize on the transition from conventional biofuels to next-generation alternatives.
At the regional level, recommendations include:
- Coordinating state efforts to secure federal support for next-generation biofuels.
- Discouraging the use of invasive species as cellulosic sources.
- Encouraging local and on-farm use of biomass products.
- Establishing regional frameworks and priorities for research and development.
Recommendations for the individual states include:
- Establishing requirements and incentives for purchasing biofuels.
- Using best management practices for growing and harvesting feedstocks (such as woody material, perennial grasses and corn leaves and scraps).
- Providing incentives for creating and implementing forest management plans.
- Supporting the sustainable production of next-generation feedstocks on abandoned or underused lands.
Read the full “Next Generation Biofuels” report or view the announcement of the recommendations from the Chesapeake Bay Biofuels Summit.