Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Recent promotion and development of wood-based bioenergy in the U.S. South have targeted cellulosic liquid fuels for the transportation sector and wood pellets for power generation. Bioenergy development has promised to meet multiple sustainability goals including renewable energy, energy independence, new markets for wood, and rural development. On the other hand, it has garnered opposition from environmental groups for threatening forests and air quality and from conservatives who object to government subsidies and doubt climate science. A team of anthropologists undertook research on narratives, interests, and behaviors of various bioenergy stakeholders. We conducted multi-sited and cross-scale ethnographic research around emerging bioenergy facilities and at extension events, workshops, and conferences attended by landowners, managers, bioenergy industry representatives, and scientists. We also analyzed written materials from websites, news articles, and policy statements. We use the concept of imaginaries to analyze of the promotion of wood-based bioenergy as a new sustainable energy system, while noting the ways the dominant bioenergy imaginary excluded some sustainability goals and voices. As a result, counter-narratives emerged, success was limited, and landowners and communities received few of the expected benefits. This case provides important lessons for envisioning and implementing new sustainability technologies.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah; Brosius, J. Peter. 2018. Envisioning and implementing sustainable bioenergy systems in the U.S. In: W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.), Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research,World Sustainability Series,


    Google Scholar

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page