Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Natural Resources

Major Professor

Don Hodges

Committee Members

Don Hodges, Adam Taylor, Bill Mark, Maureen Peuttmann, Charles Nicholson

Abstract

The United States government, both at the Federal and state levels, are continuously relying on emerging technological and methodological tools in order to provide essential information to decision and policy-makers. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a rapidly emerging tool for both the private and public sectors. Governments around the world are aggressively looking towards life-cycle information to guide policy and promote environmental issues. LCA’s beginning in the United States dates back to 1969 at the Coca-Cola Company as a innovative way at looking at their beverage container’s impact on the environment. Since then life-cycle concepts have been slowly adapted and accepted for various reasons.

The first essay provides a thorough historical synopsis of LCA in America and focuses towards its acceptance particularly inside of government policies. The second and third chapters present life-cycle inventories and analysis on both wood and switchgrass fuel pellets. The fourth chapter investigates the implications of integrating LCA into government policy at the Federal and state levels as well as outlines recommendations for the advancement of LCA at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

LCA is continuing to make a name for itself and become accepted in the United States. The first essay in this dissertation introduces life-cycle assessment and describes the methodology as well as its goals and intentions. The remaining essays present some insights into recognizing the value of life-cycle information inside of government policy by looking at its evolution and history (Chapter 2), illustrating the types of information LCA provide (Chapters 3 and 4), and providing policy implications and identifying opportunities for the future of LCA inside of policy in the United States (Chapter 5).

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