Biofuel Industry News

  • Officials are considering how to deal with invasive biofuel plants

Scientists propose regulations on biofuel plants

Mar 28 2013 Read 1234 Times

Researchers at the University of Illinois have posed suggestions as to how to improve the regulation of biofuel plants in order to stop them becoming invasive.

In the US, only species listed on state or federal noxious weed lists are regulated, and these are often biased towards those that affect agricultural crops.

On the other hand, while invasive plant council lists do include species that affect natural landscapes, they have no regulatory power.

Scientists compared the two types of lists and how they are created, before coming up with suggestions as to how to regulate invasive plant species.

The university’s invasive plant ecologist Lauren Quinn commented: "State Departments of Agriculture usually put those lists together. We'd like to see greater representation from other stakeholders, such as Departments of Natural Resources or Transportation, which deal with invasive species in rights-of-way.”

She explained that a more transparent listing process would be based around a scientific process known as the weed risk assessment. This centres around whether the plant in question is invasive elsewhere.

Using the system, the invasive species council in each state would assess the plants currently on the list and rank them according to their potential invasiveness.

She explained: "High-risk species would be regulated on a new noxious list, but low-risk species would not be regulated.”

The expert added that such regulations would not threaten the development of new biofuel crops. She said the biggest threat to the biofuels industry is unsubstantiated accusations as to whether they relate to greenhouse gas savings or people claiming that the new biomass varieties will be an invasive species.

Ms Endres pointed out that there is not a lot of protection for natural areas against invasive species despite the fact that there is an executive order which requires federal agencies to prevent and control invasive species. 

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