Support Small Fueling Stations. Smaller petroleum dealers and “refueling stations” should be supported, as they have a higher change for success (as has occurred in Sweden).
Support Development of New Fuel Standards. As higher blends become more desirable, the fuel standards will need to be modified. Because this is a lengthy process, this should start as soon as possible.
Optimizing Ecological Impacts
While many perceive biofuels as environmentally beneficial because they are “renewable,” these fuels have the potential to positively or negatively affect the natural world—everything from local soil and water quality, to biodiversity, to the global climate—and human health, depending on factors such as feedstock selection and management practices used. Whether the impacts are largely positive or negative will be determined, in great part, by policy.
As described in detail in the report, the most significant potential impacts associated with biofuel production result from changes in land use, including natural habitat conversion. With regard to climate change, land use changes (from razing of tropical forests to replacement of grasslands) for the production of biofuel feedstock can result in large releases of carbon from soil and existing biomass, negating any benefits of biofuels for decades. Therefore, governments must prioritize the protection of virgin ecosystems and should adopt policies that compel the biofuel industry to maintain or improve current management practices of land, water, and other resources.
Next-generation feedstock and technologies offer the potential to improve soil and water quality, enhance local species diversity, and sequester carbon if lands are managed sustainably. This provides governments with yet another reason to speed the transition.
In addition, national and international standards and certification schemes will be necessary to safeguard the resource base (see below). Standards and best management practices take time to develop properly, so it is critical to initiate practical, step-by-step processes that entail consistent progress towards increased sustainability. Work on this has begun but should be supported with more substantial resources and greater international coordination.
Some specific actions that governments should take to help safeguard the environment and human health, while ramping up biofuels production, are provided below.
Conserve Natural Resources. Local, national, and regional policies and regulations should be enacted to ensure that impacts on wildlife, and on water, air, and soil quality are minimized. For example, payment systems for irrigation