Ethanol is a fuel derived from plants. In the United States, federal regulations require that each gallon of gasoline contain a minimum of 10% ethanol. The vast majority of that ethanol is derived from corn. Because of the federal mandate, the price of corn has risen significantly in the past several years to meet the demand. Increasing the cost of corn increases the cost of the food we eat, since corn is the principal ingredient in feedstocks for cattle, hogs and chickens.
In Brazil, 90% of cars and trucks run on ethanol, which the Brazilians produce from sugar cane, which is abundant in their country. If we had adequate supplies here in the US, we could operate our vehicles on ethanol as well, but sugar cane does not grow as prolifically here.
Now, some biologists claim that we could vastly increase our ethanol supply by using a woody trash plant called Arundo donax, which resembles bamboo in appearance. The plant grows anywhere with little to no cultivation or irrigation. And it produces more yield per acre than any other crop. For more about the plant, read this news story.
Critics of Arundo donax contend that is so aggressive at crowding other plants that it represents a danger to our agricultural system. In fact, three states have banned the plant as being a “noxious weed”.
What do you think? Is Arundo donax America’s answer to energy independence? Or a danger that should be banned? Tell us about it at The Hot Seat Forum in this thread.