Future Midwest Landscapes-EDT
Environmental Decision Toolkit
The Future Midwestern Landscapes Environmental Decision Tool Kit (FML-EDT) is a study of biofuels and ecosystem services in the Midwestern U.S. with a key outcome to develop a tool to help ensure that biofuels-policy and land-use decisions are made in ways that recognize implications for ecosystem services, and thereby more broadly protect human well-being in the Midwest.
As part of EPA’s core mission “To protect human health and the environment”, the FML-EDT is part of one of several EPA place-based projects which aim to create research results relevant to the stakeholders, issues, and landscapes in an explicit geographic area.
EPA is identifying ecosystem services as the outputs of ecosystem processes that contribute to human well-being. EPA is focusing this research on informing trade-offs among ecosystem services that would provided under alternative management and policy decisions.
In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush established aggressive national goals for development of biofuels. The “20-in-10” goal calls for reducing gasoline usage by 20% in the next 10 years. This reduction is to be achieved by “increasing the supply of renewable and alternative fuels by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 ” (Twenty In Ten: Strengthening America's Energy Security).
Federal, state and local policies are already encouraging biofuels production and the results are changing land uses in the US, especially the Midwest which is a center for agricultural activity. Current incentives for biofuels include:
- IRS (tax incentives)
- USDA and DOE (grant and loan programs)
- Customs (fuel ethanol import duties)
- EPA (renewable fuel content standards)
- State and local incentives
A key objective of the FML-EDT is to develop tools to evaluate alternate pathways of how our country may achieve the "20-in-10" goal. The long term goal of the FML-EDT is to use alternative future landscape scenarios and ecosystem services for the Midwestern US to help achieve the "20-in-10" goal in a sustainable manner. These scenarios would articulate a spatially explicit model of best practices for the environmentally sustainable development of renewable energy resources.
ReVA's FML-EDT goal emphasizes and supports the current goal of the Office of Research and Development's to focus on conducting spatially explicit analyses of potential changes in land uses associated with feedstock production, and the resulting changes in ecosystem services.
Specific objectives necessary to achieve ReVA's FML-EDT overall goal include:
- Develop and analyze alternative future scenarios
- Engage Stakeholders
- Collaborate across organizations
- Stakeholder involvement in scenario definition
- Collaborator involvement in scenario definition
Data & Methods
Several alternative future landscapes will be presented that reflect different assumptions about how biofuels will be developed and how lands and watercourses will be managed. Some of these will be at the scale of the entire study region, others at subregional or watershed scales.
Type “A” (policy-driven)
Type "A" scenarios are the type most familiar to agricultural economists: models of agricultural supply and demand are used to project changes in prices and plantings over time. are considered relatively realistic; since land uses are assumed to reflect profit maximizing choices of farmers, land use will respond predictably to the conditions of the scenario.
Type “B” (landscape design-driven)
Typ "B" scenarios are more familiar to modelers in ORD: land uses, environmental practices or other management assumptions are directly changed by the modeler to explore best or worst cases. assume hypothetical land use changes that land owners have no actual incentive to make. However, they allow scientists to construct landscapes that reflect an environmental objective and to test the benefits or harms that would be derived.
ReVA is currently evaluating the following Ecosystems Services to be quantified and valued (see figure):
- Water Provisioning
- Flow Regulation
- Water Quality Regulation
- Downstream Aquatic Ecosystem Services
- Wildlife Habitat
- Air quality
ReVA will also investigate how landscape analysis methods developed for the FML-EDT might be implementated as part of I-FARM (http://www.i-farmtools.org/i-farm/ ), a popular, on-line “integrated crop and livestock production and biomass planning tool” that is operated by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, and Purdue University's L-THIA/EQIP (http://www.ecn.purdue.edu/runoff/lthia/lthia_index.htm )
|U.S. EPA Region 7||Stakeholder involvement for scenario building|
|USDA-ARS Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP)||Feedstock production technology characteristics|
|EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality||Information on biofuel conversion technologies|
|DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory||Information on biofuel conversion technologies|
|USDA - CSREES/NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP)
||Information on ecosystem services of conservation practices and restored agricultural ecosystems|
|Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University||
Agricultural scenario simulations using FAPRI
Mapping of actual or simulated land uses
Field or watershed-level modeling of agricultural practices and water quality
MODIS NDVI classification of land cover for changes in crop lands and wetlands
Mapping of projected land use changes
Spatial analysis of ecosystem services
Development and pilot testing of web-based environmental decision toolkit
|APPCD (ORD/NRMRL)||MARKAL energy sector simulations|
Fine-scale mapping of wetlands
N15 transport and behavior in foodwebs as affected by BMPs
Ecosystem services of restored wetlands
|Kansas State University||Data on feedstock production practices including:long term soil productivity, carbon balance, water balance
Long term soil productivity
Regional hydrologic modeling for groundwater
|NHEERL (ORD||Food insecurity|
|AMD (ORD/NERL)||Air quality modeling and benefits mapping using CMAQ|
|LRPCD (ORD/NRMRL)||Ecosystem services of restored wetlands|
|Midwest Spatial Decision Support System Partnership
||Development and pilot testing of web-based environmental decision toolkit|
|U.S. EPA Regions 5, 7, 8
||Client involvement for design of web-based environmental decision toolkit|
|Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University||Implementation of ecosystem services computational tools as part of I FARM system