Prevent Use of Invasive Plant for Bioenergy

Target: Environmental Protection Agency and North Carolina Department of Agriculture

Goal: Discourage investment in the invasive Arundo plant as a biofuel crop

In the race to produce large amounts of cheap fuel domestically, a biofuels center in North Carolina is pushing Arundo, a fast-growing, energy-rich and highly invasive plant, for ethanol production. Although it produces 3 times more ethanol per acre as corn and requires minimal nutrient and water input, it is among the worlds most invasive plants, destructive to native ecosystems and environmental balance. It would drive many plants and wildlife to extinction, putting the environment and society at risk in the long term.

Requirements for renewable energy standards and goals throughout the United States are encouraging researchers, corporations and governments to find cost-effective solutions quickly. But short term economic benefit potentially gained through the investment in the Arundo plant would lead to long-term damage to the economy, society and the environment by destroying ecosystems and many species. California has already spent $70 million on the eradication of Arundo, as it is nearly impossible to control or get rid of. The plant is similar to bamboo, growing about ten inches per day, regrowing from roots nine feet underground, and able to burrow under roads. There is no doubt that this plant would spread disastrously with even slight encouragement. Scientists at North Carolina State University, the Environmental Defense Fund, and even members of the North Carolina biofuels center, among other groups, seriously caution the use of this plant.

The use of Arundo as a biofuel depends on a statement by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture that the plant is not a noxious weed, as well as its designation as a biofuel by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is imperative that these influential organizations consider objective information about the invasive and devastating nature of Arundo and declare it unsuitable for bioenergy production.


Dear Environmental Protection Agency and North Carolina Department of Agriculture,

A biofuels center in North Carolina is leading the investigation of Arundo as a crop for ethanol production. However, this plant has scientists, environmental groups and some within the biofuels center seriously concerned.

Arundo is among the world’s top 100 most invasive plants, growing rapidly, sprouting from roots several feet underground and burrowing under roads. This plant destroys native ecosystems, thus driving many endangered and sensitive species to extinction, and disrupting balance in natural environments. With the unpredictable threat of climate change on the environment and species we depend on, the encouragement of such an invasive plant could be disastrous for the economy, society and the environment in the long term.

Please consider this decision with a long-term view of the situation. Instead of promoting Arundo as a biofuel, investigate other, less invasive options for biofuels, and focus more on wind and solar energy. Designate Arundo as a noxious weed, unsuitable for biofuel production.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Macleay Grass Man via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Gianna Macias says:

    Gianna Macias · Top Commenter · Mexico City, Mexico
    Sounds great but the danger are also great. If man was careful and grew this plant in a safe manner, that is not “saving money” in the control of the plant. Unfortunately very soon most of the area will be flooded with the plant. Judgding from past human experiences IT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA.

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