Roundtable seeks international sustainability input

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 01, 2009
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Web exclusive posted Jan. 13, 2009, at 2:35 p.m. CST

Stakeholder outreach meetings on the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels will be held to gather input on Version Zero of the RSB's principles and criteria for sustainability which was published last fall.

The first meeting in the Southeast is scheduled for Jan. 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Southern Growth Policies Board in Durham, N.C.; a second meeting will follow the National Biodiesel Conference on Feb. 4 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. A meeting in Iowa is being planned for the first week of March and one in Washington, D.C., is being planned for later in March, according to the RSB Americas Coordinator Matt Rudolf.

The outreach meetings are aimed at biodiesel and ethanol producers, as well as other interested stakeholders from industry and the environmental movement. "There's a real feeling internationally that there's a need for standards that [non-governmental organizations], environmental groups and the biofuels community will feel good about," Rudolf said. "If someone is going to claim this is a sustainably produced biofuel, there is something to base that claim upon."

The RSB is proposing a voluntary system to certify sustainable biofuel production. An implementation working group has already begun working on certification plans for the standards, which are expected to be adopted in June. The next phase, Rudolf said, will be pilot-scale testing to see how workable the standards are in different locations.

Version Zero was developed by working groups formed around three broad issues: the environment, greenhouse gas reduction and social principles. "Many of those in the working groups were scholars and academics from all over the world who have been working in these areas for their entire career," Rudolf said.

Since the working group published Version Zero in August, meetings have already been held in other locations around the world. Rudolf began working in December to coordinate the RSB outreach in the Americas. He's based in Pittsboro, N.C., where he previously was executive director for the biodiesel cooperative, Piedmont Biofuels.

More information about the upcoming meetings is on the RSB Web site. Version Zero of the RSB sustainability standards can be read and commented on at the Bioenergy Wiki Web site.

In August, Biodiesel Magazine wrote about the RSB's release of the proposed standards. (Read "Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels releases proposed standards for review.")
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