Concerns about energy security and climate change have motivated the public and private sectors to make or pledge significant investments in bioenergy research. Indeed, most of the recent national discussion of renewable or sustainable energy, has focused on a desire to develop biofuels. Increasingly, various stakeholder groups, including scientists, have encouraged a consideration of research, both current and needed, on the sustainability and environmental consequences of biofuel production.

On 27 September 2007, six ecosystem researchers went to Capitol Hill to provide members of Congress, congressional staff, and other Washington, DC, public policy experts with a timely science briefing, “Ecosystem Science: Informing a Sound Bioenergy Policy.” The briefing, sponsored by the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers (AERC), was held in conjunction with the annual AERC science symposium in Washington, DC.

During the briefing, the researchers discussed the impacts of bioenergy crop cultivation on basic ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat, soil conservation, and water quality, as well as the environmental and economic challenges associated with energy crops.

Briefing participants were: -Dr. Robin Graham, “Considering the ecosystem sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks: A primer on the issues”

-Dr. Carl C. Trettin, “Forest Service, Center for Forested Watershed Research - Effects of woody biofuel production on water resources”

-Dr. Jane M.F. Johnson, “Balancing biomass for bioenergy and conserving the soil resource”

-Ms. JoAnn Hanowski, “Planning for the expansion of biomass production in the Midwest: Remaining wildlife neutral”

-Dr. Stephen Polasky, “University of Minnesota - Bioeconomics of biofuels: Environmental and economic consequences of shifting towards renewable biomass for energy”


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