Overview

Sustaining the Wisconsin Landscape: Biofuels Challenges & Opportunities will be a one-day conference that will examine the potential conservation trade-offs associated with the transition to a bio-economy. This will include some of the pros and cons of the current rapid expansion of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels from the state's working lands.

Biofuels hold enormous potential to help address Wisconsin's dependence on energy from out-of-state. These renewable energy resources also promise to boost the economies of our rural communities and help keep farmers on the land.

Yet any new technology is a double-edged sword. Sustaining the Wisconsin Landscape will look at the potential impact of biofuels production on the state's soil, water and land. How many acres of farmland will be put into corn production as the per-bushel price continues to rise? What will the future hold for the lands under various federal and state conservation programs? What share of the energy market can biodiesel fuel satisfy? How soon will there be significant production from cellulosic ethanol, switchgrass and other non-corn sources of biofuel? What are the larger implications of these technological transitions on our global climate?

In the spirit of the first Earth Day founded by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, our goal is to present multiple perspectives on these questions, provide opportunities for collaboration, and start the discussion that will help Wisconsin balance its need for home-grown energy with the long-term health of its natural resources.