S. 1713, The Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration (WECHAR) Act of 2009 (7 comments ↓)

  • This item is from the 111th Congress (2009-2010) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.
  • This bill, or a similar bill, was reintroduced in the current Congress as S. 1455, The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act.

S. 1713 would establish loan guarantee programs to develop biochar technology using excess plant biomass, to establish biochar demonstration projects on public land.

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Erich J. Knight

September 26, 2009, 5:26pm (report abuse)

Building Soil Carbon is the bond that unities all political persuasions,

Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon living biomass in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw;

"Feed the Soil Not the Plants" becomes;

"Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !".

Unlike CCS which only reduces emissions, biochar systems draw down CO2 every energy cycle, closing a circle back to support the soil food web.

The photosynthetic "capture" collectors are up and running,

the "storage" sink is in operation just under our feet.

Pyrolysis conversion plants are the only infrastructure we need to build out.

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

Erich J. Knight

September 26, 2009, 5:38pm (report abuse)

Another significant aspect of bichar and aerosols are the low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease.

The Biochar Fund

http://biocharfund.org/ recently won $300K for these systems citing these priorities;

(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,

(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,

(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and

(4) Climate change.

many USDA-ARS studies at The up coming ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;


Our farming for over 10,000 years has been responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. This soil carbon, converted to carbon dioxide, Methane & Nitrous oxide began a slow stable warming that now accelerates with burning of fossil fuel. Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent.

Sandyn Skudneski

September 30, 2009, 12:54pm (report abuse)

Biochar is well reported in the latest IPCC Report in the "Systems Management" section. (http://www.unep.org/compendium2009/PDF/compendium2009.pdf). In addition to climate, soil fertility and energy there is the strong possibility for job creation in R&D, manufacturing and O&M. Charring versus burning is also being strongly considered to responsibly deal with invasive species and pine beetle kill in the Western US.

shirley knot

October 5, 2009, 11:50am (report abuse)

Turning bioenergy crops into buried charcoal to sequester

carbon is ridiculous, and could plunge the earth into an

oxygen crisis towards mass extinction. From a physicist

Anthony Pollard

October 12, 2009, 4:38pm (report abuse)

Don't really understand where Shirley is coming from, but from my experience the combination of fast pyrolysis and buring to the char is a promissing way to pull excess carbon from the atmosphere. There has been carbon stored below ground for millenia and we have been actively digging it up and using it to get to work. Its about time that we started to put some back in the earth.

Scott Deerwester

October 22, 2009, 10:33am (report abuse)

I don't think that anyone is suggesting turning bioenergy crops into biochar. Rather, turning agricultural plant waste (corn stalks, yard waste, wood chips, etc.) into biochar yields tremendous benefits:

- Carbon sequestering

- Soil amelioration

- Depending on the technique, energy production

Lopa Brunjes

October 23, 2009, 3:04pm (report abuse)

Yes, from reading the bill, they are talking specifically about invasive species and standing, diseased, dead wood, which are both fire hazards that are expensive to mitigate. Bioenergy crops, which also connote appropriated agriculture for non-food crops, is not mentioned anywhere in the bill.

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