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Setting the standard for sustainable bioenergy crops
Date:5/8/2013

URBANA Bioenergy crops, such as Miscanthus and switchgrass, appear to be promising resources for renewable energy, but these new crops did not come with a manual on how to measure details on their sustainability impacts. Jody Endres, University of Illinois professor of energy and environmental law and chair of the Council on Sustainable Biomass Production (CSBP) says standards are needed so farmers, ethanol producers, and others in the biofuels industry will all be on the same page here in the United States as well as in Europe and Brazil.

Endres believes that three conditions must be met before the benefits of standards can be fully realized.

"First, to achieve public acceptance, standards must be built upon foundations of good governance," Endres said. "Environmental and social advocacy groups should be included at some level in the process. For example, we're discussing what standards the aviation sector should recognize to meet their sustainability expectations. Instead of the substantive innerworkings of standards' principles, such as protections for air, water, soil, biodiversity, and community values, debate has centered on the level of participation and transparency standards development observes, and particularly whether a standard meets environmental groups' governance demands."

The second precondition Endres defines is to fortify the producer's sustainability toolbox, including a determination as to whether or not existing tools are effective. "If they're not, how can we build these socio-technical systems to help farmers rethink their actions in the landscape and how it relates to the environment?" Endres asked. "For example, environmentalists would like to see improvements at the watershed scale. If only isolated farmers need to be certified, and they have to figure out what their contributions to that watershed are, it can be very difficult, particularly when states have not fully assessed baseline water quality and
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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