James Clark Jr. is a law-abiding man, a part-time president of the Maryland Senate, a full-time farmer of Howard County feed corn and -- if the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms gives him a permit -a maker of 190-proof moonshine.
As a personal solution to the country's energy crisis, Clark wants to build two old-fashioned stills down by the barn on his 500-acre farm and use the alcohol to power his tractors and lawnmowers.
"We all have to be as self-sufficient as possible these days," Clark drawled yesterday when asked about his moonshine scheme. "I figure with two stills I can make four or five gallons of alcohol a day, which should be plenty for my needs."
Clark said he would use corn grown in his own fields to produce the alcohol in the two stills - one fueled by solar energy and the other by wood. The moonshine will be "denatured" - as the government requires with mix of no-lead methyl alcohol.
"I'm not sure whether it'll be a money-saver," said Clark, who noted that it takes one bushel of corn, which sells for about $3, to make two gallons of gasohol. "But one thing's certain. I'll always have an available supply.
Clark said he had nver attempted to make moonshine on his farm. "But it'll be no problem," he added. "There are plenty of people around here who know how to build a still."