State Policies

Evaluating Current State Invasive Species Policy in Light of Federal Support

The states bear primary responsibility for avoiding, detecting, eradicating, and managing invasive species. As a result, state laws are integral components in a comprehensive and effective national policy.

© Rachel Woodfield, Merkel & Associates, Inc.,

In California, just one invasive seaweed, Caulerpa taxifolia, cost $8.3 million between 2000 and 2008—possibly because one person dumped the contents of a personal aquarium into the ocean.

Based on the Environmental Law Institute’s report, “Status and Trends in State Invasive Species Policy: 2002–2009,” the Union of Concerned Scientists prepared fact sheets for eleven states. The states evaluated for their invasive species policies include:

Few of these states address all of the pathways by which invasive species are introduced, and some pathways (like international trade) are the sole responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, the success of state efforts to prevent invasions depends partly on the effectiveness of federal policy. Similarly, state efforts can be helped or hindered by law in neighboring states (where invaders may be causing problems or being successfully managed).

Unfortunately, federal policy is lax, incomplete, and can hinder state efforts. Stronger federal leadership is needed to protect the states’ economy, environment, and public health from invasive species. The entire nation would benefit from such a change.

Other State Policies

State Invasion Portfolios: Zooming In on Some Key States

Our series of invasion portfolios spotlights the environmental and economic damage that invasive species cause in individual states. We focus closely on a few states to make the damage tangible on a local level, and to highlight concrete, responsible policy solutions for this urgent environmental problem.

Invasive Species in Ohio: Pathways, Policies, and Costs

A new UCS report finds that invasive species such as the emerald ash borer and zebra mussel already are causing significant damage in the state of Ohio. While the total cost of these non-native species is currently estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars a year, preventive legislation could significantly limit their economic and environmental impact.