Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BP Ending Cellulosic Ethanol Production in the U.S.?

From an article by Jim Lane, released online today in Biofuels Digest, "BP announced it is canceling plans to build a 36 million gallon commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Highlands County, Florida. The company said that it would refocus its US biofuels strategy on Research & Developement, as well as licensing its industry–leading biofuels technology.

“Given the large and growing portfolio of investment opportunities available to BP globally, we believe it is in the best interest of our shareholders to redeploy the considerable capital required to build this facility into other more attractive projects,” said Geoff Morrell, BP vice president of communications.

BP originally announced plans to build the Florida facility in 2008 with the intention of turning thousands of acres of energy crops into 36 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.

While BP did not directly comment on its plans to build a second, 72 million gallon plant in the southeastern US by 2017, the company, in a statement, said that was “ending its pursuit of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production in the US.”

Read the entire article in Biofuels Digest.

Arundo donax, Giant reed: one of the invasive plants being considered as a biofuel crop
Image by: Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Natural Areas Training Academy - Only 10 days left to register!

Only 10 days left to register!
Managing Visitors & Volunteers
in Natural Areas

Presented in a hybrid format for the first time ever (a combination of online and in-person training), this workshop will provide guidance on how to integrate visitors and volunteers into natural areas management.
Online learning: To be completed at your own pace anytime during the period 10 October — 10 December 2012
In–person field trip: One day field trip on 11 December 2012, at Gold Head Branch State Park (Keystone Heights, FL)
Tuition: $225
Registration deadline: November 9

This workshop provides guidance on how to integrate visitors and volunteers into natural areas management. 
In the Managing Visitors Modules, participants will:
·         Learn to effectively and appropriately plan recreation opportunities for visitors, including trails and facilities
·         Apply knowledge of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines to develop new facilities, as well as evaluate existing facilities
·         Create effective and informative interpretation to educate visitors

In the Managing Volunteers Modules, participants will:
·         Develop an understanding of the benefits and challenges of managing a volunteer program
·         Learn about the orientation and trainings required for a volunteer program
·         Learn how to recruit volunteers and write effective volunteer job descriptions
·         Understand the importance of providing recognition for your volunteers

Note: Group tuition rates are available for a single agency registering multiple participants — please contact the workshop coordinator, Sarah Friedl, for details.
For more information, contact Sarah at sefriedl@ufl.edu or 850-875-7153, or visit our website (http://wec.ufl.edu/nata).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New guide for dealing with kudzu bug in soybean

Soybean growers in the south have had to find effective ways to control kudzu bug. Fortunately, the United Soybean Board has worked with researchers at Clemson University, North Carolina State University, and University of Georgia to release a new guide for growers dealing with this pest.

The guide includes information on how to identify the different life stages of the pest, where it can be found, how it lives, and current management practices for trying to manage this new invader. You can find a link to it here or on our page for growers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kudzu Bug on the Move and Becoming Nuisance!!

Kudzu bug on home
Kudzu bugs congregating on porch in North Carolina
Cooler temperatures signal emergence of kudzu bug adults from their preferred plant hosts in search of sites to spend the winter months. Unfortunately, this is often inside of houses! North Carolina homeowners are reporting high numbers on homes this week. Their more southern neighbors might expect the same within a matter of days or weeks as temperatures cool and host plants senesce.

Dan Suiter and Wayne Gardner have just released a new alert for homeowners dealing with these invasions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Organizers of the North American Invasive Plant Ecology and Management Short Course (NAIPSC) have announced the schedule of speakers for October through December 2012. Check out the NAIPSC website (http://ipscourse.unl.edu) for all the details and get instruction on how to join the NAIPSC online community.

The NAIPSC webinar series is designed to inform participants who are involved in invasive plant management, research, and/or policy and provide an online venue for sharing resources, ideas, and information. Registration in the NAIPSC community is good for life. Don’t miss out! Sign up today! 

Invasive Arundo donax a Biofuel?

A letter calling for scientists' to write asking for sustainable bioenergy production that will avoid using proven invasive species as feedstocks. This is in response to news that the EPA is about to approve the invasive plant, Arundo donax for use as a biofuel.

The letter as written:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
 The Honorable Steven Chu
Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
Dear Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Chu, Secretary Panetta, Administrator Jackson, and Secretary LaHood,

As scientists in the fields of ecology, wildlife biology, forestry, and natural resources, we are writing to bring your attention to the importance of working proactively to prevent potential ecological and economic damages associated with the potential spread of invasive bioenergy feedstocks. While we appreciate the steps that federal agencies have made to identify and promote renewable energy sources and to invest in second and third generation sources of bioenergy, we strongly encourage you to consider the invasive potential of all novel feedstock species, cultivars, and hybrids before providing incentives leading to their cultivation.

Studies have shown that some of the plants considered most promising in terms of bioenergy capacity may actually be highly invasive and potentially harmful to native species and ecosystems.[i],[ii],[iii],[iv] In fact, many of the characteristics that make a plant appealing as an ideal source of biomass such as ease of establishment, rapid growth, resistance to pests and diseases, and low input requirements, are the same characteristics that make a plant more likely to become invasive.[v],[vi] According to the National Invasive Species Council, “Absent strategic mitigation efforts, there is substantial risk that some biofuels crops will escape cultivation and cause socio-economic and/or ecological harm.”[vii]
Many of today’s most problematic invasive plants – from kudzu to purple loosestrife – were intentionally imported and released into the environment for horticultural, agricultural, conservation, and forestry purposes. These invasive species already cost billions of dollars a year in the United States[viii] and are one of the primary threats to North America’s native species and ecosystems. It is imperative that we learn from our past mistakes by preventing intentional introduction of energy crops that may create the next invasive species catastrophe – particularly when introductions are funded by taxpayer dollars.
Under Executive Order 13112, a federal agency cannot “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.”

 To ensure ongoing compliance with the Executive Order and to prevent unintended consequences from the promotion of non-native and modified plants, algae, and microorganisms, we therefore request that federal agencies clearly assess the invasion risk of bioenergy feedstocks (including hybrids, varieties, genetically modified organisms, and cultivars) before these feedstocks can be eligible for federal incentives leading to their cultivation (through mandates, purchases, research grants, loans, and other means). Those species that may become invasive in the United States should be ineligible for incentives, unless the risk is low and, at a minimum, prudent measures are available and mandated to reduce the invasion risk and potential for harm. Tools for assessing the invasiveness of plant species and cultivars are widely available, including USDA APHIS’s newly revamped weed risk assessment.[ix] The National Invasive Species Council is best suited to coordinate this assessment process.
A thoughtful, consistent, proactive approach to sustainable bioenergy production that avoids potentially invasive feedstocks, while encouraging the development and implementation of new energy crops to meet U.S. renewable energy goals, would demonstrate wise stewardship of federal funds and serve to benefit the agencies in the long run. By assessing and reducing risks up front, we can minimize the potential for bioenergy crops that are promoted with taxpayer dollars to become invasive and cause harm to natural ecosystems. It is much cheaper and easier to take the steps to prevent an invasive escape than it is to deal with it after it has occurred.


CC:     Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Lori Williams, Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council
Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget

[i] Raghu, S., R.C. Anderson, C.C. Doehler, A.S. Davis, R.N. Wiedenmann, D. Simberloff, and R.N. Mack. 2006. Adding biofuels to the invasive species fire? Science 313: 1742.
[ii] DiTomaso, J.M., J.M. Barney, and A.M. Fox. 2007. Biofuel feedstocks: the risk of future invasions. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Commentary, QTA 2007-1.  http://www.fs.fed.us/ficmnew/documents/notices/Biofuels2007.pdf (accessed March 12, 2012).
[iii] Barney, J.N. and J.M. DiTomaso. 2008 Nonnative species and bioenergy: Are we cultivating the next invader? BioScience 58: 64-70.
[iv] Low, T., C. Booth, and A. Sheppard. 2011. Weedy biofuels: What can be done? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 3: 55-59.
[v] Witt, A. 2011. Biofuels as Invasive Species. CABI Expert White Paper Series on Biofuels.
[vi] Raghu, et al. 2006.
[vii] National Invasive Species Council (NISC). 2009. Biofuels: Cultivating Energy, not Invasive Species.
[viii] Pimentel, D., L. Lach, R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2000. Environmental and economic costs associated with non-indigenous species in the United States. BioScience 50: 53-65.
[ix] Koop, AL, L Fowler, LP Newton, and BP Caton. 2011. Development and validation of a weed screening tool for the United States. Biol. Invasions 14: 273-294.