New project modelling biofuel production on the Upper Missouri Basin

A four year, $6 million research project is aiming to determine how the US’ Upper Missouri Basin would be affected if biofuels were produced and carbon capture technologies implemented in the region.

Experts from the Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana State Universities will generate economic models to see if changes in commodity and capturing carbon are sustainable, and feasible, in the region.

Each of the involved universities will receive $2 million in funding. University of Wyoming will be responsible for developing economic models, while Montana State University will study agriculture and biofertilisers, food security, clean energy, and water supply and quality. The University of South Dakota will be responsible for land-use, biodiversity and ecosystems services assessment.

The ultimate goal of the project is to decrease emissions of carbon into the atmosphere through alternative agricultural and energy approaches, such as biofuels, and above and below ground carbon sequestration.

Modelling of carbon reduction has already been done on a global scale. The new research, organised by the US National Science Foundation, aims to understand the regional scale. In particular, the project want to determine what is socially and technically possible in the Upper Missouri Basin region, and what it might look like.

“If we were to do wide-scale bioenergy production, how much is that going to impact the amount of food being produced, and what are the economic, ecological and social trade-offs?” said Selena Gerace, University of Wyoming Extension outreach coordinator for the project, in a statement.

“Our piece of the puzzle is looking at what would happen at both the farm and regional scales.”

As well as the three universities, the group working on the project includes 31 state, private and federal institutions and more than 50 people.

The Upper Missouri River Basin refers to the Missouri River and all its tributaries upstream of Sioux City, Iowa. The area includes all or parts of Wyoming, Montana, South and North Dakota and Nebraska, and more than 20 Native American reservations.


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