Webcast on Alternative Crops, Policies for Bioenergy Set for March 5

Arne Hallam; ahallam@iastate.edu
Bruce Babcock; babcock@iastate.edu
Sandy Clarke; sclarke@iastate.edu

February 15, 2007

Iowa State University and ISU Extension will offer a program that explores the economics of liquid fuels produced by plant sources other than corn, the overall market for biofuels, and what it will take for the United States to significantly reduce its consumption of fossil fuels.

"Biofuels will become a larger and larger part of the energy sector over time," said Arne Hallam, chair of the Department of Economics. "The speed at which alternative energy sources replace fossil fuels will be as important to Iowa consumers, manufacturing and transportation firms as to producers and distributors of these products."

"Alternative Crops and Alternative Policies for Bioenergy" is scheduled for Monday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and can be viewed at several Iowa Extension offices; call your local office for details.

ISU economists and bioeconomy experts will address five issues and wrap up with a question and answer session.

First, Robert Brown, head of ISU's Office of Biorenewables Programs, will look at the potential to produce liquid fuels from cellulosic feedstocks. He will examine the various feedstocks being researched, the production processes needed to turn those feed stocks into ethanol, and competitive advantage of those feedstocks.

Next, Cathy Kling, head of the Resource and Environmental Policy Division at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), will talk about the environmental effects of alternative feedstocks and the impact of the systems needed to grow those feedstocks on such things as erosion, water quality, and carbon sequestration.

This will be followed by a discussion of the farm-level economics of growing alternative energy feedstocks. Chad Hart, head of CARD's Biorenewable Policy Division, will talk about the costs and returns of producing those feedstocks, including a look at the issue of residue removal.

Then, ISU economists John Miranowski and David Swenson will examine the effect of biofuel production and processing on community, regional, and statewide development.

Finally, CARD Director Bruce Babcock, will look at bioenergy policy options. With given market realities, what are the costs and benefits of alternative policies such as energy taxes, cap and trade policies, and targeted subsidies?

Materials from the program will also be available after March 12 on the ISU Extension Bioeconomy Web page (www.extension.iastate.edu/bioeconomy).