finding 7.3 : bioenergy-benefits-consequences

Bioenergy could emerge as a new market for wood and could aid in the restoration of forests killed by drought, insects, and fire.

This finding is from chapter 7 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: A central component of the process was a workshop held in July 2011 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to guide the development of the technical input report (TIR). This session, along with numerous teleconferences, led to the foundational TIR, “Effects of Climatic Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector.”78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 The chapter authors engaged in multiple technical discussions via teleconference between January and June 2012, which included careful review of the foundational TIR and of 58 additional technical inputs provided by the public, as well as other published literature and professional judgment. Discussions were followed by expert deliberation of draft key messages by the authors and targeted consultation with additional experts by the lead author of each message.

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting text summarize extensive evidence documented in the TIR, “Effects of Climatic Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector.”78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 Technical input reports (58) on a wide range of topics were also received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. Studies have shown that harvesting forest bioenergy can prevent carbon emissions1ff7435a-fc06-431c-b5ec-0b3c96a54146 d5f8237a-e5c6-4dda-a85b-cbd5f43cdc56 and replace a portion of U.S. energy consumption to help reduce future climate change. Some newer literature has explored how use of forest bioenergy can replace a portion of current U.S. energy production from oil.41269e24-05f2-4c4b-9425-5555d7fcf694 0169e20a-8550-4435-8db2-b149a7d1d94d Some more recent publications have reported some environmental benefits, such as improved water quality154cffb6-4cf1-4b1f-8fee-a910cfaed3a0 04b697c7-00a8-4018-9118-823a5cabba42 and better management of timber lands,0169e20a-8550-4435-8db2-b149a7d1d94d that can result from forest bioenergy implementation.

New information and remaining uncertainties: The implications of forest product use for bioenergy depends on regional context and circumstances, such as feedstock type and prior management, land conditions, transport and storage logistics, conversion processes used to produce energy, distribution and use.32a45d13-0467-4839-a635-aa8788b4d753 9e8af8e6-bbef-489d-b963-dc7c8d3972a3 The potential for biomass energy to increase forest harvests has led to debates about whether biomass energy is net carbon neutral.ac2a627c-7428-404d-90b3-fd11213a7620 c8893279-4691-499f-bb5a-ca2f8e85401c b2867ce5-d6c6-449d-a562-945fec7bc993 3dbabb47-edc2-4b4d-be52-222e2497a056 The debate on biogenic emissions regulations revolves around how to account for emissions related to biomass production and use.97f668c5-f969-4bb6-b234-d51874a11ab8 Deforestation contributes to atmospheric CO2 concentration, and that contribution has been declining over time. The bioenergy contribution question is largely one of incentives for appropriate management. When forests have no value, they are burned or used inappropriately. Bioenergy can be produced in a way that provides more benefits than costs or vice versa. The market for energy from biomass appears to be ready to grow in response to energy pricing, policy, and demand; however, this industry is yet to be made a large-scale profitable enterprise in most regions of the United States.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: High. Forest growth substantially exceeds annual harvest for normal wood and paper products, and much forest harvest residue is now unutilized. Forest bioenergy will become viable if policy and economic energy valuations make it competitive with fossil fuels.

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