Hemp for Fuel Facts: Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp; he actually ran the thing on peanut oil for the 1900 World’s Fair. Henry Ford used hemp to not only construct cars but also fuel them. As an alternative to methanol, hemp has at least one glowing report: the plant produces up to four times more cellulose per acre than trees. And a hemp crop grows a little quicker than a forest. As for an alternative to petroleum… Hemp grows like mad from border to border in America; so shortages are unlikely. And, unlike petrol, unless we run out of soil, hemp is renewable. Growing and harvesting the stuff has much less environmental impact than procuring oil. Hemp fuel is biodegradable; so oil spills become fertilizer not eco-catastrophes. Hemp fuel does not contribute to sulfur dioxide air poisoning. Other noxious emissions like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are radically slashed by using biodiesel. Hemp fuel is nontoxic and only a mild skin irritant; anybody who’s ever cleaned out an old carburetor with gasoline can confirm the same is not true for petrol. Growing hemp for fuel would be a tremendous boon for American farmers and the agricultural industry, as opposed to people like, say, the Bush family. And that’s why hemp might not go anywhere as a fuel alternative. Oil interests are big and donate likewise to politicians, and selling a man on an idea that will cost him more than he’ll benefit requires an amazingly skilled orator — or a gun. Unfortunately, unless you’re the federal government, gunpoint conversions are usually illegal. Ergo, PR is about the best bet right now. There are many people working hard on this front, including the Hemp Car and its intrepid crew. Currently ginning up for a trans-America evangelism tour, the Hemp Car plans to spread the good word of hemp-fuel viability at stops in both the U.S. and Canada.