SC8. Considerations and Challenges Associated with a Vibrant Bioeconomy

Coordinated public and private development of a vibrant bioeconomy provides a rational, trans-disciplinary approach for addressing the 21st Century Food, Water, and Energy Nexus. Developing a vibrant bioeconomy will address this critical nexus by focusing on identifying, producing, recycling, converting, and using renewable aquatic and terrestrial biomass resources to produce biofuels, biochemicals, biopower, and a multitude of other bioproducts in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner. Critical components influencing this three-way nexus include: (1) appropriate, site-specific resource management, (2) provision of reliable bioenergy/bioeconomy in a way that addresses sustainability, and (3) local food security


To provide conference participants a balanced perspective regarding the critical considerations and challenges associated with developing a vibrant bioeconomy. Four proposed presentations will examine the: (1) multiple approaches and pathways leading to a sustainable bioeconomy; (2) dimensions of sustainability and resource management influencing the bioeconomy and food security; (3) land use competition – is there enough arable land for meeting food, feed, fiber, and fuel needs; and (4) Examples of integrated systems.


Donna Perla, Senior Advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


  • Virginia Dale, Director, Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Stephen Kaffka, Director, California Biomass Collaborative and Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
  • Douglas Karlen, Distinguished Senior Research Scientist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Bryce Stokes, Senior Advisor, CNJV/U.S. Department of Energy (Billion Ton Study)

Donna Perla has 32 years of EPA experience including sustainable development of biomass & waste-to-energy systems in the Office of Research & Development, where she led ORD’s sustainable biofuels research strategy and co-led an EPA-wide Biofuels Strategy. As Division Director of EPA’s Project XL Program she led regulatory flexibility/innovation for energy, water, and agricultural systems. She has worked closely with USDA & DOE as USDA’s Senior Advisor for Bioenergy in the Chief Scientist’s Office and as USDA Acting Director of the Financial Assistance Program Division in the Natural Resource Conservation Service. For the past ten years, she has represented EPA on the inter-agency Biomass R&D Board and currently works with the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee in the EPA Administrator’s Office with the Agricultural Counselor. (202-564-0184;

Dr. Virginia Dale is Director of the Center for Bioenergy Sustainability at Oak Ridge National Lab. Her primary research interests are environmental decision making, land-use change, landscape ecology, sustainable agriculture, and bioenergy systems. Virginia has authored 10 books and more than 235 articles and served on national scientific advisory boards for five agencies of the United States. She has a B.A. and M.S. in math from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in mathematical ecology from the University of Washington. Her presentation builds from a workshop sponsored by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on “Biofuels and food security interactions” that defined key issues and underscored the importance of clear definitions consistent terminology, and context-specific solutions. (865-576-8043;

Stephen Kaffka is Director of the California Biomass Collaborative and extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. He is also chair of the BioEnergy Work Group for the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He participates on several advisory committees for the California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board and has carried out research on water quality, agriculture, and the reuse of saline drainage water for crop, forage, energy biomass feed stocks and livestock production. He has M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University in agronomy and a B.S. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in biology. He is a co-author of the chapter on Bioenergy and Food Security in the recent SCOPE book on “Bioenergy & Sustainability: Bridging the Gaps.” (530-752-8108,

Dr. Douglas L. Karlen uses soil quality assessment to quantify the effects of landscape position, tillage, crop rotation, and nutrient, manure, and crop residue removal on the sustainability of the food-energy-water nexus. He is a native of Wisconsin and has his BS, MS and PhD degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Michigan State University, and Kansas State University, respectively. Doug is author or co-author of 218 refereed journal articles; a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society; and a 2015 recipient of the Hugh Hammond Bennett award for national and international leadership in natural resources conservation. (515-294-3336;

Dr. Bryce Stokes is a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy(Billion Ton Study) with Allegheny Allegheny Science & Technology, a DOE contractor in Washington, DC. His education includes engineering and forestry degrees. Work experiences include forest industry, U.S. Forest Service research, and 6 years as an energy consultant. His forestry research focused on harvesting machine and system design and management; biomass recovery and utilization; reducing environmental impacts; and, developing specialty harvesting. Other activities were biomass production and assessment, carbon sequestration, climate change, and environmental quality such as soil carbon and structure, water, and biodiversity impacts. He has over 140 scientific and technical publications. He was one of the authors of the 2005 Billion ton Report and co-led the 2011 update. (202-586-6471;


  • Virginia Dale, Corporate Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Donna Perla, Senior Advisor, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Douglas L. Karlen, Agricultural Research Services, United States Department of Agriculture

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