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ABO’s Response to EPA’s “Biofuels and the Environment: First Triennial Report to Congress”

Monday, February 7th, 2011

We support the EPA’s effort to quantify the potential for algal biomass to serve as a long term, viable option for low carbon fuel and the potential environmental impacts of algae-to-fuel technologies.

The authors of the study focused on a single technology pathway – algal oil to biodiesel. We commend that the researchers recognize this is just one of myriad approaches to create fuel from algal biomass and as such, broad conclusions about the potential impact of algae-to-biofuels technologies cannot, and should not, be made.

We also significantly appreciate that the authors of the study refrained from making sweeping policy recommendations based on either incomplete data or limited pathway evaluation.

We believe this report (as well as others during the past year) must be seen as a call to action for the US algae industry to more proactively develop and share data with researchers at organizations like the EPA. This includes lifecycle analyses, techno-economic projections, yield rates, etc. In doing so, we will introduce new, current and more accurate data into the existing body of work upon which most research reports rely.

With this goal, we should see the development of reports that more accurately reflect the state of algae-fuel technologies and their potential environmental impact. This will help ensure policymakers will have the information needed to make informed decisions and craft effective policies that promote the industry’s commercial development and expand the supply of renewable, domestically produced transportation fuels in the United States.

ABO is committed to facilitating the creation of a new body of work and research through coordinated efforts with, among and between ABO’s membership, the various federally-funded algae consortia and the newly formed Committee on the Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels at the National Academy of Sciences.

The EPA report can be viewed here: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=217443