Concerns about invasions by novel bioenergy feedstocks are valid, given the parallels between the traits of energy crops and those of many common invasive plants. As the bioenergy industry is poised to introduce nonnative bioenergy crops to large acreages in the United States under state and federal mandates, it is important to consider these concerns - and not simply in an academic sense. Instead, the prevention of invasions should be codified in statutes and regulations pertaining to bioenergy production on both the state and federal level. Unfortunately, this is not occurring regularly or consistently at this time. The few existing regulations that do consider invasiveness in bioenergy systems suffer from vague terminology that could have major economic, environmental, and legal consequences. Here, we discuss existing regulatory challenges and provide solutions to address invasion potential of bioenergy crops. We provide model definitions and provisions to be included in revised or new state and federal regulations, including an invasion risk assessment process, a permit and bond system for high-risk crops, and a risk mitigation provision for all novel crops. Our proposal provides a consistent and transparent system that will allow the industry to move forward with minimal risk of invasion by novel feedstocks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Waste Management and Disposal