Posted on 20 March 2008.
A STATEMENT OF SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPLES TO APPLY WHILE STRIVING TO PRODUCE 25% OF ALL ENERGY FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES BY 2025
Released March 2008 by the 25x’25 Alliance, republished with permission.
|Biofuel, especially via cellulosic extraction
from crop residue, has huge potential.
(Photo: 25x’25 Alliance)
Editor’s Note: If you have boundless faith in the power of technology, innovation, and free enterprise, like we do, it shouldn’t seem difficult to accomplish the goal of generating 25% of all energy from renewable sources by 2025. The real question would be which sources might dominate: biofuel, solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, ocean waves, currents and tides – who knows? Fusion? The devil is in the details, however, hence sustainability principles are very, very important as we rush to completely transform the global energy industry with renewables.
Biofuel is a perfect example of a renewable fuel that has great potential but also is not sustainable in every manifestation we’ve seen. Over the past ten years as the demand for renewable energy has risen relentlessly, driven by a variety of compelling motives – energy diversity, energy security, environmental concerns, resource constraints, national economic interests – biofuel has been a promising option, enthusiastically pursued. Production of biofuel from crops in an agriculturally rich, relatively underpopulated nation like America, on land that otherwise lies fallow and is irrigated with ample summer rains is one thing. Production of biofuel from crops where rainforest stood a year earlier, in order to feed the market for carbon credits – when rainforest left intact might better accomplish the goals for which carbon credits were supposedly set up, is something else entirely.
The basic algebra of biofuel cannot be ignored if sustainability is a goal – biofuel can make compelling economic sense, but at yields of 5,000 BBLs per square mile, biofuel will not make a significant dent in global energy production, yet because it is profitable to produce, we can rip out every forest left on earth to grow it. To say other forces are consuming our forests – population growth, timber harvesting, food production, is true but beside the point. Biofuel is also playing its part in rainforest destruction, and if we’re all set to regulate CO2 emissions, we need to put at least equal energy into monitoring the health and extent of our rainforests. Sustainability principles for biofuel are absolutely essential.
It is important as well to recognize that the power of technology and innovation will not leave us reliant much longer on crops to produce biofuel. We are quickly learning how to economically extract biofuel from crop residue, forest tinder and timber industry byproducts, animal wastes and municipal wastes. Policies that encourage biofuel production need to be carefully structured to accelerate these 2nd generation methods of extracting and refining biofuel, rather than creating vested interests in perpetuating a reliance on 1st generation biofuels from crops. Better yet, technology and innovation needs to deliver 3rd generation biofuels that are grown in factory environments, where a square mile complex might deliver not 50,000 BBLs per square mile per year (the most promising 2nd generation estimates we’ve every heard of), but 500,000 BBLs per square mile.
If these sorts of innovations are allowed to happen, then the goal of producing 25% of all energy from renewable sources by 2025 may turn out to not have been ambitious enough. One of the biggest challenges as the renewables revolution delivers energy abundance to the world will be to watch for unintended environmental consequences – and these sustainability principles recently set forth by the 25x’25 Alliance are an important contribution raising the level of the global discussion. – Ed “Redwood” Ring
25% Renewable by 2025 – A statement of sustainability principles to apply while striving to produce 25% of all energy from renewable sources by 2025
- by the 25x’25 Alliance, March 2008
|Biodiesel & methanol from
livestock waste is a promising
source of alternative fuel.
(Photo: 25x’25 Alliance)
In September of 2007, the 25x’25 Alliance’s Steering Committee chartered a work group composed of a cross section of agricultural, forestry, industry, environmental and conservation leaders to help further define sustainability in a 25x’25 renewable future.
The mission of the work group was to develop recommendations for sustainability principles that would help guide the evolution of 25x’25.
The sustainability principles outlined in this report are the product of the 28-member 25x’25 National Steering Committee. Though the assumptions and principles were drawn from the consensus recommendations developed by the work group, they represent the views and position of the 25x’25 National Steering Committee rather than any individual 25x’25 Alliance partner.
Sustainability Principles for a 25x’25 Energy Future
In the Energy Independence and Security Act passed in December 2007 the U.S. Congress formally adopted 25x’25 as a national goal, affirming that it is the goal of the United States to derive 25 percent of its energy use from agricultural, forestry and other renewable resources by 2025.
The 25x’25 Action Plan Charting America’s Energy Future, authored and released by the 25x’25 National Steering Committee in February 2007, outlines specific steps that need to be taken to put the United States on a path to secure 25 percent of its energy needs from renewables by the year 2025. The 25x’25 goal and Action Plan stand on a foundation of five key principles – efficiency, partnership, commitment, sustainability, and opportunity.
Sustainability has always been considered as central to the success of the 25x’25 renewable energy initiative and is defined as follows in the Action Plan:
Sustainability: To be a long-term solution for America, renewable energy production must conserve, enhance, and protect natural resources and be economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially acceptable.
Underpinning the concept of sustainability is the ideal of stewardship or the responsible use and orderly development of natural resources in a way that takes full and balanced account of the interests of society, future generations, and other species, as well as private needs, and accepts significant answerability to society.
In developing these principles, a number of basic underlying assumptions were identified and agreed to:
Renewable energy production must comply with all existing federal, state, and local laws
All regions will have an opportunity to engage in the production of bioenergy feedstocks
and renewable energy.
Renewable energy production should address the multiple-values of the land-base
including environmental, economic, social, and historical.
Balance of stakeholder interests must be a central theme in renewable energy production.
The principles set forth for sustainability are mutually reinforcing.
The 25x’25 National Steering Committee recommends the following principles to 25x’25
partners and would support their adoption by renewable energy producers and policy makers.
|Wind power is already becoming cost
competitive with conventional energy.
(Photo: 25x’25 Alliance)
25x’25 Sustainability Principles
Access: Renewable energy producers and consumers should have fair and equitable access to renewable energy markets, products, and infrastructure.
Air Quality: Renewable energy production should maintain or improve air quality.
Biodiversity: Renewable energy production should maintain or enhance landscape biodiversity and protect native, rare, threatened, and endangered species and habitat.
Community Economic Benefits: Renewable energy production should bolster the economic foundation and quality of life in communities where it occurs.
Efficiency and Conservation: Renewable energy production should be energy efficient, utilize biomass residues and waste materials when possible, and conserve natural resources at all stages of production, harvesting, and processing.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Renewable energy production should result in a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuels.
Invasive and Non-Native Species: Introduced or non-native species can be used for renewable energy production when there are appropriate safeguards against negative impacts on native flora and fauna, and on agricultural and forestry enterprises.
Market Parity: Renewable energy production should have parity with fossil fuels in access to markets and incentives.
Opportunities: All regions of the nation should have the opportunity to participate in renewable energy development and use.
Private Lands: Renewable energy production on private working farm, forest, and grasslands should improve the health and productivity of these lands and help protect them from being permanently converted to non-working uses.
Public Lands: Renewable energy production from appropriate public lands should be sustainable and contribute to the long-term health and mission of the land.
Soil Erosion: Renewable energy production should incorporate the best available technologies and management practices to protect soils from loss rates greater than can be replenished.
Soil Quality: Renewable energy production should maintain or enhance soil resources and the capacity of working lands to produce food, feed, fiber, and associated environmental services and benefits.
Special Areas: Renewable energy production should respect special areas of important conservation, historic, and social value.
Technology: New technologies, including approved biotechnology, can play a significant role in renewable energy production, provided they create land use and production efficiencies and protect food, feed, and fiber systems, native flora and fauna, and other environmental values.
Water Quality: Renewable energy production should maintain or improve water quality.
Water Quantity: Renewable energy production systems and facilities should maximize water conservation, avoid contributing to downstream flooding, and protect water resources.
Wildlife: Renewable energy production should maintain or enhance wildlife habitat health and
|Enhanced geothermal using advanced drilling
techniques could be a gigantic surprise.
(Photo: 25x’25 Alliance)
Reference Materials Reviewed
25x’25 Action Plan: Charting America’s Energy Future. 25x’25 National Steering Committee.
Washington, DC. February 2007.
Achieving Sustainable Production of Agricultural Biomass for Biorefinery Feedstock.
Biotechnology Industry Association. Washington, DC. 2006.
Bioenergy. NCR-SARE Bioenergy Position Paper. Nov. 2007.
Getting Biofuels Right: Eight Steps for Reaping Real Environmental Benefits from Biofuels.
Natural Resources Defense Council. Washington, DC. May 2007.
Ken Cairn, B. Biomass Energy – Critical Issues for Consideration in Developing Biomass
Energy and Energy Policy in Colorado and the West. Community Energy Systems, LLC. Oak
Creek. CO. 2007.
Natural Resources: Woody Biomass Users’ Experiences Offer Insights for Government Efforts
Aimed at Promoting Its Use. U.S. Government Accountability Office. Washington, DC. GA)-06-
336. March 2006.
Principles for Bioenergy Development. Union of Concerned Scientists. Cambridge, MA. April
Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels: Ensuring That Biofuels Deliver on Their Promise of
Sustainability. Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne. July 2007.
Sample, V. Alaric. Ensuring Forest Sustainability in the Development of Woody-Based
Bioenergy. Pinchot Institute for Conservation. Washington, DC. Vol. 12, No. 1, 2007.
Sample, V. Alaric. Bioenergy Markets: New Capital Infusion for Sustainable Forest
Management. Pinchot Institute for Conservation. Washington, DC. Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006.
Science, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Forestry: A Findings Report of the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry. National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry.
Washington, DC. January 2005.
Sustainability: Meeting Future Economic and Social Needs While Preserving Environmental
Quality. National Corn Growers Association. Chesterfield, MO. 2007.
The Rush to Ethanol: Not All Biofuels Are Created Equal. Food & Water Watch and Network for New Energy Choices. Washington, DC, and New York, NY. 2007.
The Environmental, Resource, and Trade Implications of Biofuels. Woods Institute for the Environment. Stanford University. Stanford, CA . 2007.
|Solar power is the wildcard – it possibly
could experience exponential growth.
(Photo: 25x’25 Alliance)
25x’25 National Steering Committee
William Richards – Circleville, OH (Committee Co-Chair)
Corn and soybean producer; former Chief, U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation
J. Read Smith – St. John, WA (Committee Co-Chair)
Wheat, small grains and cattle producer; former President, National Association of Conservation Districts
Duane Acker – Atlantic, IA
Farmer; former President, Kansas State University; former Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Science and Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture
R. Bruce Arnold – West Chester, PA
Consultant, woody biomass utilization for the pulp and paper industry; retired engineer and
manufacturer, Scott Paper Company
Peggy Beltrone – Great Falls, MT
County Commissioner- Cascade County Montana; member, National Association of Counties
Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee
John R. “Jack” Block – Washington, DC
Former Secretary of Agriculture, 1981-1986
Michael Bowman – Wray, CO
Wheat, corn and alfalfa producer; Steering Committee member, Colorado Renewable Energy
Forum; Rural Chair, Colorado Ag Energy Task Force
Charles Bronson – Tallahassee, FL
Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; member, Florida
Cabinet; member, Florida Governor’s Council on Efficient Government; former President,
Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Glenn English – Arlington, VA
CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; former Co-Chair, U.S. Department of
Agriculture, DOE Biomass R&D Federal Advisory Committee; former Member of Congress (6th-OK) 1974-1994; Chairman, House Agriculture Subcommittee on Environment, Credit, and Rural Development
Tom Ewing – Pontiac, IL
Immediate past Chairman, USDA, DOE Biomass R&D Federal Advisory Committee; former Member of Congress (15th/IL) 1991-2001; Chairman, House Agriculture Subcommittee on Risk Management and Specialty Crops
Barry Flinchbaugh – Manhattan, KS
Professor of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University; Chairman, Commission on 21st
Century Production Agriculture
Robert Foster – Middlebury, VT
Dairy farmer, composter, anaerobic digester; President, Vermont Natural Ag Products; Vice-
President, Foster Brothers Farm Inc.; President, AgReFresh
Richard Hahn – Omaha, NE
Retired President, Farmers National Company
Harry L. Haney, Jr. Austin, TX
Consultant, non-industrial private forestland management; emeritus professor, Department of
Forestry, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech; past president, Forest Landowners Association
Ron Heck – Perry, IA
Soybean and corn producer; Past President, American Soybean Association
Bill Horan – Rockwell City, IA
Corn and soybean producer; former Board Member, National Corn Growers Association
A.G. Kawamura – Sacramento, CA
Orange County specialty crops, produce grower and shipper; Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture; Vice Chairman, Rural Development & Financial Security Policy Committee, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; founding Partner, Orange County Produce, LLC
Jim Moseley – Clarks Hill, IN
Managing Partner, Infinity Pork, LLC; former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture; former Director of Agricultural Services and Regulations, Purdue University’s School of Agriculture; Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Allen Rider – New Holland, PA
Retired President, New Holland North America; former Vice President, New Holland North
America Agricultural Business Unit
Nathan Rudgers – Batavia, NY
Senior Vice-President, Director, Business Development, Farm Credit of Western New York;
former Commissioner, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; former President, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Bart Ruth – Rising City, NE
Corn and soybean producer; Past President, American Soybean Association; 2005 Eisenhower
Fellow for Agriculture
E. Dale Threadgill – Athens, GA
Director, Faculty of Engineering, and Department Head, Biological & Agricultural Engineering, the Driftmier Engineering Center, and the Biorefinery and Carbon Cycling Program, University of
Georgia; private forest landowner
Mike Toelle – Brown’s Valley, MN
Chairman, CHS; past Director and Chairman, Country Partners Cooperative; operator, grain and hog farm, Browns Valley
Gerald Vap – McCook, NE
Chairman, Nebraska Public Service Commission; former Chairman, National Conservation
Foundation; President, Vap Seed & Hardware
Don Villwock – Edwardsport, IN
Grain and soybean producer; President, Indiana Farm Bureau Federation; former Chairman,
Sara Wyant – St. Charles, IL
President, Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.; former Vice-President of Editorial, Farm Progress
Ernest C. Shea – Lutherville, MD (Project Coordinator)
President, Natural Resource Solutions, LLC; former CEO, National Association of Conservation
About the authors: The “25×25 Sustainability Principles” was released in March 2008 by The 25x’25 Alliance, and is republished with permission. The 25x’25 Alliance began in 2004 as a group of volunteer farm leaders who first envisioned the goal of America achieving 25% renewable energy by 2025, and the group quickly gained the support of a broad cross-section of the agriculture and forestry communities. Now leaders from business, labor, conservation and religious groups are joining this alliance as well.
The 25x’25 Alliance is supported financially by the Energy Future Coalition, a non-partisan public policy initiative funded by foundations. For general inquiries, email info@25×25.org. The 25x’25 Alliance is headquartered at 1626 Bellona Avenue, Lutherville, MD 21093, (410) 252-7079.
Additional EcoWorld reports on Biofuel:
- Food vs. Fuel?
- Biofuel’s Mixed Blessings
- The Biofuel Bonanza
- Factory Farmed Biofuel
- Bioethanol vs. Biodiesel
- Growing & Refining Biofuel
- India’s Biodiesel Scene
- Biodiesel: The Alternative Fuel That’s Already Here
- Jatropha in Africa
- Europe Adopts Jatropha
- Jatropha – Biofuel Grown in the Desert
Also reference over 40 Editor’s posts on the topic of biofuel:
- Biofuel Posts, EcoWorld Editor’s Blog
Email the Editor about this Article