Friday, November 15, 2013

Ethanol mandate causing environmental damage

I haven't been hearing the greenies talking about the damage caused by the huge increase in acreage of corn, due to the mandated use of ethanol.

Daily Caller quoting AP

… Yet the federal government’s biofuel mandate, the Renewable Fuel Standard, has raised corn prices and incentivized farmers to grow corn on environmentally fragile land once set aside for conservation. The AP reports that 5 million acres of conservation land has been put into service since President Obama took office.

Furthermore, the AP identified more than 1.2 million acres of valuable “virgin land” in Nebraska and the Dakotas alone that has been plowed into corn and soybean fields since 2006 — the year after the RFS was first signed into law.

More corn means more nitrogen fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is toxic when it seeps into drinking water and has been known to cause “blue baby” syndrome in children. Communities across the Midwest are feeling the effects of increased fertilizer use.

Nitrogen fertilizer use shot up by one billion pounds between 2005 and 2010, and the AP estimates that another billion pounds of fertilizer have been used for corn production since then. Nitrates travel down rivers and into the Gulf of Mexico where they boost algae growth, which consume huge amounts of oxygen when they die, making the sea zone unlivable for other creatures.

“On the one hand, the government is mandating ethanol use,” said Larry McKinney, the executive director of the Harte Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, “and it is unfortunately coming at the expense of the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Des Moines Water Works supplies drinking water to 500,000 people and is used to high nitrate levels in their water. DMWW gets its drinking water from one of two rivers — when nitrate levels are too high in one, they pull from the other. However, this year nitrate levels were high in both rivers, and workers with massive machinery had to work around the clock for three months over the summer to clean the water. ...

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