Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


The prospect of obtaining domestically-produced biodiesel from algae has attracted wide investor interest. Although many analysts predict that economic production is five to ten years away, the production process involves such a wide range of environmental and land use issues that it is not premature to begin thinking about the kinds of places in which “green biodiesel” could be efficiently made in the United States. Our land use and environmental laws were all drafted by people who never imagined the possibility that huge volumes of algae would be an important energy resource; nor could they have known that the location of algae farms would be dependent on a wide range of factors including terrain, climate and neighboring uses. This essay is a very preliminary examination of the potential legal issues posed by this potentially valuable resource.