Assessing Public Preferences for Forest Biomass Based Energy in the Southern United States
This article investigated public preferences for forest biomass based liquid biofuels, particularly ethanol blends of 10% (E10) and 85% (E85). We conducted a choice experiment study in three southern states in the United States: Arkansas, Florida, and Virginia. Reducing atmospheric CO2, decreasing risk of wildfires and pest outbreaks, and enhancing biodiversity were presented to respondents as attributes of using biofuels. Results indicated that individuals had a positive extra willingness to pay (WTP) for both ethanol blends. The extra WTP was greater for higher blends that offered larger environment benefits. The WTPs for E10 were $0.56 gallon-1, $0.58 gallon-1, and $0.48 gallon-1, and for E85 they were $0.82 gallon-1, $1.17 gallon-1, and $1.06 gallon-1 in Arkansas, Florida, and Virginia, respectively. Although differences in WTP for E10 were statistically insignificant among the three states, significant differences were found in the WTP for E85 between AR and FL and between AR and VA. Preferences for the environmental attributes appeared to be heterogeneous, as respondents’ were willing to pay a premium for E10 in all three states to facilitate the reduction of CO2 and the improvement of biodiversity but were not willing to pay more for E85 in order to enhance biodiversity.