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Bioenergy Feedstocks at Low Risk for Invasion in the USA: a “White List” Approach

Quinn, Lauren D., Gordon, Doria R., Glaser, Aviva, Lieurance, Deah, Flory, S. Luke
BioEnergy research 2015 v.8 no.2 pp. 471-481
bioenergy, ecological invasion, feedstocks, fuels, industry, introduced plants, invasive species, issues and policy, risk, risk assessment, weeds, United States
Proposed introductions of non-native bioenergy feedstocks have resulted in disagreements among industry, regulators, and environmental groups over unintended consequences, including invasion. Attempting to ban or “black list” known or high probability invasive species creates roadblocks without offering clear alternatives to industry representatives wishing to choose low invasion risk feedstocks. Therefore, a “white list” approach may offer a proactive policy solution for federal and state agencies seeking to incentivize the cultivation of promising new feedstocks without increasing the probability of non-native plant invasions in natural systems. We assessed 120 potential bioenergy feedstock taxa using weed risk assessment tools and generated a white list of 25 non-native taxa and 24 native taxa of low invasion risk in the continental USA. The list contains feedstocks that can be grown across various geographic regions in the USA and converted to a wide variety of fuel types. Although the white list is not exhaustive and will change over time as new plants are developed for bioenergy, the list and the methods used to create it should be immediately useful for breeders, regulators, and industry representatives as they seek to find common ground in selecting feedstocks.