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Table 3 Major environmental concerns associated with large-scale biomass and biofuel production

From: Integrating policy, market, and technology for sustainability governance of agriculture-based biofuel and bioeconomic development in the US

IssueUnfavorable consequences
Land use change (direct and indirect)Entailing economic incentives and a large amount of land to grow perennial biomass to meet the Renewable Fuel Standards [31]
Transnational indirect land use (ILUC) including deforestation elsewhere [32, 33]
Estimation difficulty [34]
Overharvesting of crop residuesOverharvesting due to cost savings [35]
Overharvesting due to temporal and spatial yield variations [29, 36, 37]
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissionsVarying from case to case [38]
Emissions associated with ILUC [32, 33]
Measurement difficulty [39, 40]
Soil erosion and nutrient lossVarying from case to case [41, 42]
A potential limiting factor for residue removals in some locations [37]
Air qualityIncreased emissions of PM, O3, and SOx [6] and NOx [43]
Varying from case to case [44]
Water useIncreased water use for feedstock production [44, 45], especially in areas already facing water shortage [41, 46]
Water qualityIncreased chemical use for biomass production [38, 45] or supplementing soil nutrient loss from residue removals [47,48,49]
BiodiversityVarying from case to case and unknown impacts [38, 50, 51]
Impacting locally important wildlife species [52]
Habitat alterations by feedstock production [53], especially monoculture plantations [54,55,56]
Risk associated with introduction of genetically modified or non-native plant species [54, 56,57,58,59]