Global approaches to addressing biofuel-related invasive species risks and incorporation into U.S. laws and policies



Biofuels are being pursued for their potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions benefits, among other reasons. In order to maximize productivity, avoid food–fuel conflicts, and minimize GHG emissions, many advanced biofuel feedstock crops, such as those desired by the aviation community, are under consideration based on traits, such as high biomass and/or seed production, tolerance of marginal cultivation conditions, and short generation times, that may also be predictors of potential invasiveness risk. Biofuel-related invasion risks can be mitigated through careful feedstock crop selection and cultivation techniques developed from the invasion science literature. Existing voluntary best practices and some state and federal regulatory requirements in the United States recommend and/or require the use of such risk mitigation strategies. However, other policies and programs allow or provide incentives for biofuel production without conditions requiring the use of these strategies. We have synthesized information on the scientific knowledge of invasive species predictors and their use (or absence) in voluntary codes and U.S. regulatory frameworks and incentive programs. We highlight the existing tools and approaches for assessing invasion risk and avoiding the introduction and spread of invasive species as a result of biofuel feedstock cultivation. A well-coordinated combination of species restrictions, biosecurity requirements, and incentives for selection of less risky biofuel crops may effectively balance the desire for increased biofuel production while minimizing invasion risk.