- An analysis of the pros and cons of achieving legislated RFS levels, including the impacts of potential shortfalls in feedstock production on the prices of animal feed, food grains, and forest products, and including an examination of the impact of the cellulosic biofuel tax credit established by Sec. 15321 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 on the regional agricultural and silvicultural capabilities of commercially available forest inventories. This analysis will explore policy options to maintain regional agricultural and silvicultural capacity in the long term, given RFS requirements for annual increases in the volume of renewable fuels, and include recommendations for the means by which the federal government could prevent or minimize adverse impacts of the RFS on the price and availability of animal feedstocks, food and forest products, including options available under current law.
- An analysis of barriers to achieving the RFS requirements.
- An analysis of the impact of current and projected future levels of biofuel production and use, and the incremental impact of additional production, on the environment. The analysis will consider impacts due to changes in land use, fertilizer use, runoff, water use and quality, greenhouse-gas and local pollutant emissions from vehicles utilizing biofuels, use of forestland biomass, and other factors relevant to the full lifecycle of biofuel production and use. The analysis will summarize and evaluate various estimates of the indirect effects of biofuel production on changes in land use and the environmental implications of those effects.
- A comparison of corn ethanol versus other biofuels and renewable energy sources for the transportation sector based on life-cycle analyses, considering cost, energy output, and environmental impacts, including greenhouse-gas emissions.
- Recommendations for additional scientific inquiry related to the items above, and specific areas of interest for future research.
As part of its deliberations, the committee will consider the relevant reports of past NRC committees, the work of relevant current committees, and reports of other organizations, and individual researchers. In addition, the committee will consider the relevant experience and reports of various federal government agencies.
To inform its analysis, the study committee will seek the input of feed grain producers; food animal producers; producers of other food products; energy producers (renewable and petroleum-based fuel producers, fuel blenders); forest owners and forest products manufacturers and users; individuals and entities interested in nutrition, or in the relationship of the environment to energy production; producers and users of renewable fuel feedstocks; users of renewable fuels; and experts in agricultural economics from land grant universities.