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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Energy Policy (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Kathleen E. Halvorsen

Committee Member 1

Chelsea Schelly

Committee Member 2

Richelle L. Winkler

Committee Member 3

Sam R. Sweitz

Committee Member 4

David J. Flaspohler


Bioenergy, a renewable form of low carbon or carbon neutral energy, can be used to address issues including climate change and energy security. Given these benefits, many national governments have introduced policies promoting bioenergy consumption and production. Because bioenergy projects are generally constructed in and around rural communities, they have social, economic, and environmental impacts on those communities. The objectives of this dissertation are to increase understanding of how community members perceive local bioenergy project impacts and analyzing the roles played by bioenergy policies in the development and outcomes of a jatropha-based biodiesel project in Yucatan, Mexico and woody biomass power production in Wisconsin, USA. This dissertation has five chapters including introductory and concluding chapters. The other three chapters consist of three peer reviewed journal manuscripts. The first two contain results from qualitative interviews conducted in Mexican and USA communities proximate to recent bioenergy projects. The interviews were designed to understand how the community members perceived the projects and their socioecological impacts. The third article analyzes bioenergy policies related to the jatropha and woody biomass power projects discussed in Chapters Two and Three. The findings show that community members had mixed views about the projects; they generally appreciated increased local job opportunities, but had concerns about environmental impacts, particularly in Wisconsin, USA. Analysis of relevant Mexican and US bioenergy policies shows policy gaps that likely contributed to project failure. The results of this work can help improve future public and private bioenergy policy that better protects values at multiple spatial scales.