Is ethanol an environmental disaster?
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The big news in the agriculture world yesterday was the Associated Press' investigation making the case that President Obama's policy supporting ethanol production has been a disaster for the environment. According to the report, the ethanol mandate has driven farmers to plant corn fields where they don't belong:
Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.
Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can't survive.
It's not new that people have been looking skeptically at the ethanol boom – for its effects on people's ability to buy corn to eat, and for the lingering questions over whether the fuel is any better for climate change than petroleum. But such a hard hitting investigation from one of the biggest brands in American journalism is a huge deal.
The renewable fuels industry has fired back, calling the report "one-sided" and "full of the same misinformation and falsehoods that ethanol detractors have been repeating for years." The trade group Fuels America immediately published a fact-check of its own about the AP's report.
What do you think about the use of ethanol in our gas? Do you seek it out or stay away? Both of these documents are must-reads for anyone interested in the ethanol debate.
Tags: agriculture, corn, energy, ethanol, politics