Sustainability

Oral

394503 - A Hierarchical Decision Modeling Framework to Meet Environmental Objectives in Biofuel Development

Tuesday, June 5
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Northstar B
Co-Authors: Mashor Housh, Haifa, Israel – University of Haifa; Ximing Cai, Urbana, IL – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Biofuel development to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would alter conventional crop patterns, influencing hydrologic responses of agricultural watersheds. Therefore, although biofuel mandates could be potentially useful for energy security and climate change mitigation, they might have alternative, often opposing impacts on the agro-hydrological systems, specifically, on riverine nitrate-N load, and streamflow. While decision-making in biofuel development should take these externalities into account, conventional modeling approaches treat those externalities as regulatory constraints, which is difficult to be implemented in the real world; furthermore, they fail to consider the hierarchical nature of the decision-making process. This study therefore proposes an alternative decision modeling framework for biofuel development to optimally control the impacts on water quality for different levels of streamflow requirement in the watershed. The framework is developed based on bilevel programming paradigm to mimic the hierarchical decision-making process in environmental regulation, and uses location and type of ethanol bio-refineries as policy instruments. The model is applied to the Sangamon River basin, a typical agricultural watershed in central Illinois. The results show that the proposed instruments can effectively guide the decisions in biofuel development to meet the environmental objectives in the watershed. However, adopting the proposed framework yields a lower profit than the conventional models, which is the “price” of a more realistic solution to the hierarchical decision problem. The results also highlight the importance of spatial heterogeneity and identifying an appropriate spatial scale to design effective environmental policies in biofuel development.

Majid Shafiee-Jood

PhD Candidate
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Majid Shafiee-Jood is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois. He holds B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering and M.Sc. degree in Water Resources Engineering both from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. His core research interests include integrated water resources planning and management. Specifically, his research focuses on integrating hydroclimatic information in agricultural and water resources decision making. Shafiee-Jood is a former President of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) student chapter at the University of Illinois and one of the founders and organizers of Illinois Water Day.

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