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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Mar 1;45(5):1780-91. doi: 10.1021/es1014696. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Analysis of federal and state policies and environmental issues for bioethanol production facilities.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Florida State University, 2525 Pottsdamer Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, United States.


The purpose of this work was to investigate incentives and barriers to fuel ethanol production from biomass in the U.S. during the past decade (2000-2010). In particular, we examine the results of policies and economic conditions during this period by way of cellulosic ethanol activity in four selected states with the potential to produce different types of feedstocks (i.e., sugar, starch, and cellulosic crops) for ethanol production (Florida, California, Hawaii, and Iowa). Two of the four states, Iowa and California, currently have commercial ethanol production facilities in operation using corn feedstocks. While several companies have proposed commercial scale facilities in Florida and Hawaii, none are operating to date. Federal and state policies and incentives, potential for feedstock production and conversion to ethanol and associated potential environmental impacts, and environmental regulatory conditions among the states were investigated. Additionally, an analysis of proposed and operational ethanol production facilities provided evidence that a combination of these policies and incentives along with the ability to address environmental issues and regulatory environment and positive economic conditions all impact ethanol production. The 2000-2010 decade saw the rise of the promise of cellulosic ethanol. Federal and state policies were enacted to increase ethanol production. Since the initial push for development, expansion of cellulosic ethanol production has not happened as quickly as predicted. Government and private funding supported the development of ethanol production facilities, which peaked and then declined by the end of the decade. Although there are technical issues that remain to be solved to more efficiently convert cellulosic material to ethanol while reducing environmental impacts, the largest barriers to increasing ethanol production appear to be related to government policies, economics, and logistical issues. The numerous federal and state policies do not effectively give investors confidence to commit to the construction and long-term operation of facilities under current economic conditions. Additional changes in policy and breakthroughs in technology and logistics will be required to address these hurdles to increases in ethanol production in the U.S. in the next decade.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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