and pest science, disease management, hydrology, soil physics, agricultural engineering, economics, regional planning, field-to-wheel biofuel systems analysis, and related public policy.
Incentives and best agricultural practices will probably be needed to encourage sustainable production of biomass for production of biofuels. Producers need to grow biofuel feedstocks on degraded agricultural land to avoid direct and indirect competition with the food supply; they also need to minimize land-use practices that result in substantial net greenhouse gas emissions. For example, continuation of CRP payments for CRP lands when they are used to produce perennial grass and wood crops for biomass feedstock in an environmentally sustainable manner might be an incentive. A framework could be developed, with input from agronomists, ecologists, soil scientists, environmental scientists, and producers, to assess the effects of cellulosic-feedstock production on various environmental characteristics and natural resources. Such a framework would provide guidance to farmers on sustainable production of cellulosic feedstock and contribute to improvements in energy security and in the environmental sustainability of agriculture.
Deployment of coal-to-liquid fuel technologies would require large quantities of coal and thus an expansion of the coal-mining industry. For example, because a plant producing 50,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of liquid transportation fuels uses approximately 7 million tons of coal per annum, 100 such plants—producing 5 million bbl/d of liquid transportation fuels—would require about 700 million tons of coal per year, or a 70 percent increase in the nation’s coal consumption. That would require major increases in coal-mining and transportation infrastructure, both in bringing coal from the mines to the plants and in bringing fuel from the plants to the market. These issues would represent major challenges, but they could be overcome. Thus, a key question is whether sufficient coal is available in the United States to support such increased consumption while also supplying other coal users, such as coal-fired electric power plants. In evaluating domestic coal resources, the National Research Council concluded:
Despite significant uncertainties in existing reserve estimates, it is clear that there is sufficient coal at current rates of production to meet anticipated needs through 2030. Further into the future, there is probably sufficient coal to meet the nation’s needs for more than 100 years at current rates of consumption. [However, a] combination of increased rates of production with more detailed reserve analyses that take into account location, quality,