CAST Presentations, Panel Discussion, and Webinar Examined Bioenergy Production Research

February 26, 2016

Preventing the Next Kudzu:  A Life-cycle Approach to Low-invasion Potential Bioenergy Production

February 22, 2016, was "rollout day" in Washington, D.C., for the CAST Commentary A Life-cycle Approach to Low-invasion Potential Bioenergy Production. With the assistance of the National Coalition for Food and Ag Research (NC-FAR), CAST presented the timely paper to a morning session of Senate staffers and then a lunch gathering of House staffers--Lee Van Wychen of the Weed Science Society of America introduced the program on behalf of NC-FAR. 

In the afternoon, CAST and the Environmental Law Institute cohosted a presentation regarding bioenergy and invasive species. CAST EVP Kent Schescke introduced the topic and panelists to an audience that included those attending the session and online webinar participants. Jacob Barney (Virginia Tech) and Read Porter (Environmental Law Institute) presented key information from the new commentary, A Life-cycle Approach to Low-invasion Potential Bioenergy Production. (photo above, from left to right, Kent Schescke, Jacob Barney, Lee Van Wychen, and Read Porter)

Commenters included Aviva Glaser (National Wildlife Federation), Anthony Koop (USDA/APHIS), and Jonathan Jones (USDA/APHIS). Schescke facilitated a Q&A period at the end of the presentation.


Prevention Is the Best Policy

Participants agreed that a life-cycle process is important when it comes to dealing with potential invasive species. Calling it a "nested sieve approach," the authors say, "Invasions can most effectively be prevented through a life-cycle approach that adopts appropriate scientific and policy tools at each step in the production process."

Bioenergy is being pursued globally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and provide a reliable energy source. To lessen conflicts with existing food/feed production, bioenergy crops are bred to grow on marginal lands with minimal inputs. Many are concerned that new invasive species may be introduced as bioenergy crops. The authors of this commentary show that the risk of invasion can most effectively be prevented through a life-cycle approach that adopts appropriate scientific and policy tools at each step in the production process, from crop selection to field production, feedstock transport and storage, and decommissioning--thus avoiding the "kudzu effect."

This paper provides a clear, comprehensive framework to guide regulatory agencies in the selection and permitting of biofuel feedstocks.

** Note: Thanks to the Environmental Law Institute, a YouTube video of the session is available below.

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Welcome to ELI/CAST Introduction
  9:20 -- Commentary presentation (science) – Jacob Barney
25:30 -- Commentary presentation (policy & regulatory) – Read Porter
36:45 – Aviva Glaser, National Wildlife Federation
46:45 – Tony Koop and Jonathan Jones – USDA-APHIS-PPQ
56:00 – Q&A