Stop Encouraging Growth of Invasive Species


Target: Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe

Goal: End EPA’s approval of invasive grass species as biofuel ingredients

The EPA recently developed a program known as the Renewable Fuel Standard program, which requires oil companies to blend a minimum amount of biofuel into their gasoline. Under this program, the EPA will only approve of fuel created from grass that produces 60% less greenhouse gas than normal gasoline. The EPA also approved the use of giant reed and napier grass as acceptable biofuel ingredients. This will promote expansion of plantations that environmentalists say will threaten native species and natural landscape.

Environmentalists are particularly concerned about new plantations that will grow giant reed, an invasive grass species that can have up to two-inch wide stems and grow 20 feet tall. Giant reed displaces native vegetation and threatens endangered species. Texas, California, Colorado, and Nevada have all deemed the plant a noxious weed. Other states have labeled it a threat. Removing giant reed can be very costly in terms of both money and energy; it can cost up to $25,000 per acre to eliminate.

The EPA has responded to some complaints from environmentalists by making a rule that lays out regulations for reducing risks of invasive grasses expanding beyond the plantations. However, these regulations are not enough. Switching to homegrown, renewable sources of energy is an important goal, but we cannot do it at the expensive of native species and land.

Sign the petition below to tell the EPA to place heavier restrictions on the use and growth of giant reed and other invasive species.


Dear Bob Perciasepe,

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard program, oil companies are required to blend a minimum amount of biofuel into their gasoline. This helps us move forward towards more renewable and natural sources of energy, however, the EPA’s approval of napier grass and giant reed as biofuel ingredients could lead to the emergence of more plantations that grow these invasive grasses.

Giant reed is of particular concern, as it grows very wide and tall and can push other species out of their native lands. Giant reed is considered a noxious weed in many states and a threat to the environment in others. It can be costly and energy-intensive to remove.

Simply requiring biofuel producers using these feedstocks to demonstrate that their growth of giant reed or napier grass will pose a likelihood of spreading beyond the plantations is not enough. Effective restrictions and sanctions should be placed on these particular biofuel ingredients, as they pose a serious risk to native species and the ecosystem that significantly undercuts their usefulness as alternative energy sources.

I urge you to keep giant reed and napier grass out of our beautiful American landscape.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: treesftf via Flickr

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