Biofuel Production — Dissecting the Water-Energy-Land Nexus

May 17, 2012
1:30 – 3:00PM Eastern
Hosted by The Horinko Group’s Water Division

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The Horinko Group’s Water Division will host the third installment in its 2012 free webinar series on May 17 at 1:30pm Eastern to examine the implications of biofuel production on our nation’s land, water, and energy supplies. The rising cost of traditional petroleum and intensifying political debate over our reliance on foreign oil are pushing up pursuit of alternative domestic fuel sources.

As biofuel production continues to increase, concern is building regarding excessive water usage and deleterious effects on water quality. This webinar will provide factual data and insight from experts on this range of issues; in addition to analysis weighing often overlooked inputs and outputs.


  • Noel R. Gollehon, Senior Economist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Dept of Agriculture

    Noel Gollehon is a Senior Economist with the Resource Economics, Analysis, and Policy Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA. With over 20 years of Federal experience examining water policy issues focused on water quantity and quality issues in relation to agriculture, he is frequently called on as a water-use expert for USDA and other government agencies. He has a broad understanding of national/regional irrigation water use and the productivity of water as an input in agricultural production. He also has a specific understanding of irrigation that comes from moving sprinkler pipe. He researched water policy issues while receiving a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska. He has Federal experience with the Economic Research Service in various research and administrative positions before moving to his current position in NRCS.


  • Elizabeth Erdmann, Assistant Director, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Government Accountability Office

    Elizabeth Erdmann is an Assistant Director with the Natural Resources and Environment team of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington, DC. She is responsible for leading past work related to biofuels and other energy-water nexus issues, such as produced water from oil and gas extraction and energy required to supply, use, and treat water.Ms. Erdmann has been with GAO since 2000, during which time she has led a variety of reviews of federal programs, including those related to water resources, nanotechnology, hard rock mining, oil dispersants, and research dissemination. Ms. Erdmann received a Masters in Public Administration from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. She has received GAO honors for outstanding contributions to complex reviews of environmental and science issues.

  • Dr. May Wu, Principal Environmental System Analyst, Center for Transportation Research, Energy System Division, Argonne National Laboratory

    Dr. May Wu, a Principal Energy Systems Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory, is the principal investigator of a research project on biofuel water sustainability funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The research focuses on analyses of water quality and water quantity associated with large-scale biofuel development. In recent work, Dr. Wu and her team used large-scale watershed modeling to estimate the impact of increased production of cellulosic feedstock on nutrients, soil erosion, and water resource availability in the Mississippi River basin. Dr. Wu’s team has developed a data inventory and tools to assess the spatially explicit biofuel water footprint and water resource availability of conventional, cellulosic, and advanced biofuels in the entire U.S. at the county level.Before joining Argonne in 2004, Dr. Wu was a senior research microbiologist at Nalco Chemical. Prior to that position, Dr. Wu conducted her postdoctoral work at Argonne on the production of biologically derived succinic acid, which received an?R&D 100 award. Dr. Wu holds several U.S. patents and a dual Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Toxicology from Michigan State University.

  • Ronald Pate, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Earth Systems Analysis & Energy Technologies and Systems Solutions, Sandia National Laboratories

    Ron Pate is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he has worked since 1986 on a variety of technology and systems engineering research, development, testing, and analysis programs spanning the areas of national security, defense systems, sensors, energy systems, and critical resource issues. In recent years, Mr. Pate has focused on renewable energy, biofuels and the interdependencies of energy, water, land, other key resources, and climate change. He is currently engaged in project development, management, coordination, and technical contribution to several biofuel and renewable energy projects and a 2012 National Climate Assessment technical report on the interdependencies of energy, water, land, and climate change.In October 2011, Mr. Pate returned from a two-year temporary assignment in Washington, DC, working with the Office of Biomass Program (OBP) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy. In this assignment, he provided technical support to OBP’s emerging algae biofuels program. This included being part of the core DOE team involved in the development and publication in 2010 of a National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap report under the auspices of OBP.

Join Us to Learn About

This webinar will break down consumptive water, energy, and land usage data related to biofuel production in the United States. Through a balanced and factual approach, we intend to provide a platform to raise awareness of the underlying issues, while identifying current and near-term efficiencies and improvements. Key take-aways include:

    • A closer look at consumptive water, energy, and land usage as it relates to our nation’s biofuel production;


    • Improved understanding of biofuel demands and their impacts on agriculture, land, water and energy; and,


  • Better appreciation of opportunities for near-term efficiencies and improvements, including an outlook for emerging alternative biofuel sources.

Who Should Attend

This webinar is intended for all members of the water community, the entrepreneurial family farmer to the industry leader, professionals in the fuel and energy sectors, NGOs with an interest in agriculture, energy, and water usage, federal and state natural resources professionals, sustainable and agricultural research interests, students and practitioners of water resources management, and water sector policy shapers and decision-makers.