Energy from farms and forests could provide more than 18,000 jobs in the region, reduce water pollution and help clean the air, according to a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
The report, released this month, concludes that the farms, forests and landfills in the watershed could produce 500 million gallons of fuel-enough, the report said, to meet the gas needs of the Washington, D.C., metro area for six weeks.
Biofuels has become a buzzword as of late, with policy-makers talking about burning everything from algae to poultry manure in pursuit of alternative energy.
Part of the attraction is reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil and finding cleaner fuels that combat climate change. But increasingly, the idea seems to be taking pollution problems, such as the manure that fuels the algae blooms fouling waterways, and turning them into solutions.
The report, Chesapeake Biofuel Policies: Balancing Energy, Economy and Environment, was prepared by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the commission, a tri-state body that advises Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia on Bay policy. It does not call for taking farmland or timberland out of production to meet the goals. But it does call for the states to develop biomass harvest guidelines and encourage winter crops as feedstocks.
The report also suggests creating an interagency biofuels council to coordinate efforts and incorporate the promotion of biofuels in agriculture and forestry management.