U of I to explore bioenergy's socioeconomic impact

The goal is to determine benefits and costs of participating in future liquid biofuel production.


University of Idaho researchers will work with public and private stakeholders to understand the social and economic opportunities and challenges forest biomass-based energy development poses to the Northwest's rural communities.

Project coordinator Debbie Gray says researchers will first focus on gathering input from community stakeholders such as private landowners, forest managers, economic development agencies, elected officials and tribal governments.

"We want to make sure this research is grounded in community expertise," Gray says. "This project will help answer the questions that regional stakeholders have about prospective markets for forest biomass, including the potential biofuels industry currently being studied through the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance."

Researchers are collaborating with the alliance, a group of university researchers and businesses seeking to develop jet biofuel, to create a stakeholder survey. A recent meeting with stakeholders from Idaho Department of Lands, Idaho Forest Group, Associated Logging Contractors, Potlatch Corp., Hancock Forest Management and the Nez Perce Tribe helped U of I researchers develop scenarios.

During the final six months of the project, researchers will take their results out to communities and stakeholders.

A $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture supports the three-year effort.

To learn more, visit www.nararenewables.org or www.uidaho.edu/communitypartnerships.

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