Promoting Pasture Pie Power
By Diana Estill
If you're like me, you're tired of paying high gasoline prices.
So I know you'll be as excited as I was to discover this
news; your car, the one you're driving right now, can run
Now, before you start pulling those little nibblers from
the freezer and shoving them into your automobile gas tank,
let me explain. Two Dallas energy firms have announced plans
to build ethanol plants in the Texas Panhandle. (No, contrary
to belief, ethanol plants are not in any way related to
Ethanol is a byproduct of corn. And according to an article
I studied for several seconds, today's cars can run on a
gasoline mix that can be as much as 85 percent ethanol.
(I've no idea where you can buy ethanol or how to mix it
with gasoline, so please hold your letter requests.)
But the news keeps getting better. These new ethanol processing
plants will be fueled by cow patties! Yes, you read that
right - cow chips -- which begs an obvious question; how
many cow pies does it take to generate a gallon of ethanol?
Or better still, how many cattle does it take to excrete
enough pasture Frisbees to make a tanker car full of ethanol?
And where, exactly, would one locate such a processing plant?
Well, in Hereford, Texas, of course - cattle capital of
the world - where residents are already used to the smell
of fresh manure.
My mind reeled through the many possibilities associated
with this new venture. If an ethanol processing plant can
be powered by pasture pies, then maybe electric power plants
can, too! And if that were true, electric companies might
soon have to ask for rate hikes based on the increasing
cost of manure. They could suddenly begin grazing cattle
along utility pole rights-of-way. And given our deregulated
markets, we could be flooded with utility firms carrying
names like Excrement Electric and Cow Pie Energy.
Immediately, I saw several more problems. First, there'll
be a direct impact on the fertilizer industry. Homeowners
will have to decide which is more important - lush lawns
or the fuel required to mow them. And beef could all but
disappear from food store freezers. I mean, why slaughter
something that if left alive will fuel your car? Perhaps
someone should have researched powering these plants with
dog doo instead.
But wait. What about that corn? Folks, I see a serious shortage
developing. Think about it. Corn is needed to feed the cows
that make the manure that fuels the processing plant that
produces the ethanol. Yet the ethanol itself is derived
from corn. Corn has suddenly become the key to our whole
economy! Entire industries (tortilla, muffin, and even beer)
could be crippled by corn shortages. National parklands
could be consumed by this crop. Price wars could be waged
and legislation enacted to stabilize the forces of supply
and demand. Cornmeal lobbyist might become even more powerful
than they already are!
Well, if all that happens most of us will still enjoy major
benefits from new forms of renewable energy and we'll be
able to drive on chicken feed and power our homes for the
price of a few cow pies. So I say let the chips fall where
Estill is a freelance writer and humorist living in Texas.
To read more of her columns, visit www.DianaEstill.com