The Energy and Sciences Coalition hosted an interesting briefing on June 4th for the House R&D Caucus about the importance of understanding the impact of biological systems on future energy and environment solutions. Presenters included Susannah Tringe of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Martin Keller of Oakridge National Laboratory, Doug Ray of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Tim Donohue of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. They focused on two main topics, the impact of microorganisms on atmospheric carbon production and the next generation of biofuels. Tringe discussed the usefulness of federally funded user facilities which provide modern scientific tools to any researcher regardless of affiliation. The witnesses noted that these user facilities can aid in the sequencing of soil and ocean microbial communities. These microorganisms are important parts of the carbon cycle that cannot be dismissed, especially since they may drastically increase in number due to the warming of areas that were previously covered in permafrost. In regards to bioenergy, Donohue spoke about the Great Lakes Research Center, which has bipartisan support and intends to create effective biofuels from the non-edible parts of plants. Although the energy return on investment has yet to be determined, the Center’s research has the potential to drastically change the way the United States produces energy.
9 June 2014