A company called Biomass Investment Group Inc. is planning to grow a crop that they have branded as E-Grass on a plot of land just north of Lake Okeechobee in central Florida. Progress Energy apparently will purchase the crop as fuel for one or more of its power plants.
That prospect worries the Sierra Club and state agencies that monitor invasive species. Apparently, E-Grass, which can grow to heights of 30 feet, has a reputation for spreading to places where it is not wanted. In California, there are major, expensive efforts underway to get rid of the plant.
As a native of Florida, I am familiar with the problem of invasive species that take over. I well remember how “pretty” some people considered “Florida holly” to be before it began growing out of control as its berries were spread by our numerous birds. The plant is more frequently called “Brazilian pepper” and is the subject of massive cutting campaigns to try to eradicate it. I have direct experience in cutting this tree; it was a good source of income when I was a teenager because lots of people were trying to get rid of it at the time.
Introducing a new, rapidly growing grass that has already proven its ability to become a weedy pest does not seem like a smart idea. That is especially true in Florida where lawns and landscaping are major attractions and where the sunny, humid climate makes for excellent growing conditions.