Agency Roles & Responsibilities
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA has many programs within its Mission Areas — including Rural Development; Research, Education, and Extension; Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; Natural Resources and Environment; and Marketing and Regulatory Programs — that support research, development, and implementation of biomass resources for renewable power, fuels, and bio-based products. For more information, see USDA's Bioenergy Matrix — a navigational aid that provides background on activities across the spectrum in bioenergy research and education; feedstock development, conversion, and commercialization; data gathering and analysis on agricultural productivity, economics, and productivity that are essential for bioenergy development; and conservation programs to help guide best management practices for biomass production. Also, USDA's Fact Sheet on the 2008 Farm Bill provides a summary of renewable energy provisions, which are among the chief means through which USDA funds bioenergy projects.
U.S. Department of Energy
DOE also has many programs within the Office of Science, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), among several others, with mission foci or major activities that support biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts promotion. DOE primarily funds projects through Science's Biological and Environmental Research and Basic Energy Sciences offices — such as Bioenergy Research Centers and other competitively awarded projects supporting fundamental bioenergy-relevant research in biofuels feedstocks, genomics, catalysis and conversion — and EERE's Biomass Program, which advances pioneering bioenergy technologies from applied research through commercial-scale demonstrations. See the Office of Biomass Program's Multi-Year Program Plan for Programs contributing to one or more aspects of biomass utilization technology development, and links and fact sheets at Useful Links for key information about DOE's bioenergy investments.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation actively maintains a bioenergy portfolio through providing competitive awards to investigators in fundamental and innovative research programs in science and technology that also contain provisions for educational advances. Programs located within NSF's Engineering Directorate and in particular the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division have awarded funds for biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts activities to individual investigators at universities, centers of multiple universities, and industrial/university collaborations. Specific Programs with a bioenergy research focus include Catalysis and Biocatalysis, Energy for Sustainability, and Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation, as well as other Programs and Directorates that contribute to further extending the research and knowledge underpinning the biomass-derived energy and product fields, and which also educate the future scientific leaders in these fields.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) work on biofuels, and bioenergy, is primarily linked to mandates in the Clean Air Act and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). A number of other EPA regulations also relate to different aspects of biofuel production and use. EPA is currently engaged in three major activities: issuing guidance associated with the National Renewable Fuel Standard rule (RFS-2), preparing a report to Congress assessing the environmental impacts of expanded biofuel production under RFS-2, and supporting a biofuel research program that aims to assesses health and environmental impacts of biofuel production use from different feedstocks and fuel blends.
U.S. Department of the Interior
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plays the primary role for the Department, in offering woody biomass as a by-product of land management actions authorized primarily through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Since 2001, woody biomass — as a byproduct of mechanical land treatments and a source of renewable energy — has been a part of BLM's product line, in reducing wildland fire risks, improving forest health and resiliency to insect and diseases as well as a changing climate, and supporting the economies of forest-dependent rural communities. Currently the BLM offers over one half million tons of woody biomass from mechanical land treatments to local wood product markets in 13 western States including Alaska.
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Executive Office of the President
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) coordinates federal science and technology policies and research and development efforts, including those related to the development and use of biomass/biofuels. In particular, OSTP encourages research efforts of scale that can complement efforts enabled through the Biomass Research and Development Board. Through its leadership of various interagency and interdisciplinary groups, some under the National Science and Technology Council, OSTP is able to make connections across a number of areas of science and technology — for example research related to water, land, and energy use, which can inform Federal efforts to create viable options for the use of biomass.
U.S. Department of Transportation
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has recognized responsibilities for vehicle and infrastructure safety in all modes of transportation, as well as established regulatory authorities. DOT agencies serve key roles in facilitating the integration of renewable fuels into the existing transportation enterprise. These roles include ensuring the safety of alternative fuel vehicles, as well as the safety of the supply chain infrastructure needed to transport, transfer, store and deliver biobased products. Especially through the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, DOT serves a supporting interagency role to develop, demonstrate, validate, and integrate multi-modal renewable fuel infrastructure systems and technologies, and involved agencies include the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and others.