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Midwest U.S. Landscape Change to 2020 Driven by Biofuel Mandates
MEHAFFEY, M. H., E. R. SMITH, AND R. Van Remortel. Midwest U.S. Landscape Change to 2020 Driven by Biofuel Mandates. A.R. Townsend (ed.), ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS. Ecological Society of America, Ithaca, NY, 22(1):8-19, (2012).
In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007) which sets targets for the proportion of transportation fuels that are to be renewable including conventional biofuels (e.g. corn-based ethanol) and “additional renewable fuels” (e.g. advanced biofuels, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic). EISA also amended the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) created as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act such that the total amount of renewable fuels targeted by 2022 would increase from 9 billion gallons in 2009 to 36 billion gallons or approximately 13% by volume of all transportation fuels. Through this revised program, the US Environmental Protection Agency established new statutory requirements in 2010 for the production of biofuels, including annual targets for individual fuels that initially consist entirely of corn starch-based fuels (9 billion gallons), but then shift to more advanced biofuels as we approach 2022 when the amount of conventional biofuels is estimated to reach 15 billion gallons, or roughly 42% of the total renewable fuels produced (U.S. EPA, 2010)
Meeting future biofuel targets set by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), without a loss of animal feedstock or grain for human consumption, will require a substantial increase in production of corn. The Midwest, which has the highest overall crop production apacity, is likely to bear the brunt of the biofuel driven changes. In this paper we set forth a method for developing a possible future biofuel landscape and evaluate changes in agricultural practices and production between a base year (BY) 2001 and the biofuels target (BT) of 2020. In our 2020 BT Midwest landscape a total of 16 million hectares of farmland was converted from rotational cropping to continuous corn. Several states across the Midwest had watersheds where continuous corn increased by more than 50%. Econometric modeling predicted that corn yield would double. In our study we were able to get within 2% this expected corn production. The greatest increases in yield were in the Corn Belt as a result of high rates of continuous corn production. In addition to changes to cropping practices as a result of biofuel initiatives we also found that urban growth would result in a loss of over 3 million hectares of productive farmland by 2020. In this study we demonstrated a method that can effectively be used to develop a finer resolution BT future scenario from economic model output. Understanding where changes are likely to take place on the landscape will enable proactive conservation measures to maintain sustainable production for both food and fuel into the future.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION
LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY BRANCH