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Agency Roles and Responsibilities

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA is involved in and committed to the nation's quest for energy security. Its funded energy related programs are large in scope and extend among many USDA agencies and mission areas including:

  • Rural Development
  • Research, Education, and Extension
  • Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services
  • Natural Resources and Environment
  • Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

USDA has programs to assist farmers, rural residents, and the nation respond to energy-related issues and opportunities. These range from basic scientific research to the development and commercialization of new technologies.

For more information, see USDA's Energy Matrix—a one-stop-shopping matrix for info on USDA energy-related programs, or its Renewable Energy Special Projects page—for efforts between USDA and other federal departments to support clean energy. Also, USDA's Farm Bill page provides a lot of information on the implementation of the legislation through which many bioenergy projects are funded.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

DOE 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 major activities that support the promotion of biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts.

DOE funds projects through the Office of 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 biofuel feedstocks, genomics, catalysis, and conversion.

DOE also funds projects through EERE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), which advances pioneering bioenergy technologies from applied research through commercial-scale demonstrations.

See BETO's Multi-Year Program Plan for information on the funded programs, the activities being pursued over the next five years, and why these activities are important to meet the energy and sustainability challenges facing the nation. See the links on BETO's Publications page for fact sheets, summaries, and other information on DOE's bioenergy investments.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF 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 biofuel, biopower, and bioproduct activities to individual investigators at universities, centers of multiple universities, and industrial/university collaborations.

Specific programs with a bioenergy research focus include the:

In addition, there are other programs and research directorates that contribute to 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 (EPA)

The EPA's 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 relate to different aspects of biofuel production and use.

EPA is currently engaged in:

  • Issuing guidance associated with the National Renewable Fuel Standard rule (RFS-2)
  • Preparing the third report to Congress on assessing the environmental impacts of expanded biofuel production under RFS-2. The most recent triennial report can be found here.

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)

The DOI 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 by:

  • Reducing wildland fire risks
  • Improving forest health and resiliency to insect and diseases as well as a changing climate
  • Supporting the economies of forest-dependent rural communities.

BLM manages approximately 65 million acres of forests and woodlands in Alaska and 14 western states (Forest Inventory and Analysis Report 2007). Biomass utilization is expected to rise as an increasing number of renewable and bioenergy facilities come on-line. Currently the BLM offers over one half million tons of woody biomass from mechanical land treatments to local wood product markets.

Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates federal science and technology policies and research and development efforts, including those related to the development and use of biomass and biofuels. 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 (DOT)

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 bio-based products.

DOT serves a supporting interagency role to develop, demonstrate, validate, and integrate multi-modal renewable fuel infrastructure systems and technologies. Involved agencies include the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and others.