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To provide alternatives to petroleum-based energy, the United States (U.S.) government has mandated a greater proportion of plant-based biofuels be integrated into its energy portfolio. However, certain plant species being proposed for biofuel production in the U.S. are invasive species or are likely to escape cultivation and become invasive.
U.S. Executive Order (E.O.) 131121 defines invasive species as “alien [non-native] species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health” and states:
“Each Federal agency whose actions may affect the status of invasive species shall, to the extent practicable and permitted by law” “not authorize, fund, or carry out actions that it believes are likely to cause or promote the introduction or spread of invasive species in the United States or elsewhere unless, pursuant to guidelines that it has prescribed, the agency has determined and made public its determination that the benefits of such actions clearly outweigh the potential harm caused by invasive species; and that all feasible and prudent measures to minimize risk of harm will be taken in conjunction with the actions.”
The socio-economic and ecological costs of certain biofuel crops could greatly exceed their benefits. Thus, the Federal government needs to take strategic action to avoid inadvertently facilitating the introduction and spread of invasive species through its development, encouragement, funding, or other support of biofuels programs.