Wednesday, April 9, 2014

For Those Who Favor Ethanol Over Shale Oil

For anyone who tells you we don't have enough water for fracking....

The is reporting:
In order to meet the excessive ethanol mandates in the RFS, more and more land has been converted to grow corn for fuel — not food. In the 16 years prior to RFS implementation, corn acreage in the U.S. rose by just 6 percent. By contrast, in the seven years since the mandate was enacted, corn acreage has spiked by 22 percent — quadruple the growth in half the time. The Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 23 million acres of America's wetlands and grasslands — an area the size of Indiana — have been converted to industrial cropland since 2008, encroaching on our wildlife habitats and gobbling up enough conservation land to cover Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks — combined. [And a lot of those cornfields are making North Dakota farmers rich. Hoo-ah!]
But it's not just our land that's under attack. By 2030, nearly one of every 10 gallons of water consumed in the U.S. will be used for biofuels production. That's more than is cumulatively used by every household in the country. Let that sink in.
Making matters worse, fertilizer runoff resulting from the increase in corn production to make ethanol has contributed to an alarming growth of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving marine life asphyxiated and surrounding industries suffering in its wake.
And what about our air? Studies have found that corn ethanol nearly doubles emissions over a 30-year period. According to the EPA, the lifecycle emissions of corn ethanol are higher than that of gasoline. So much for being a cleaner fuel.
The environment is not the only victim. Food producers and anti-hunger activist groups, including Oxfam and ActionAid, have been warning us for years of the policy's impact on food prices and security. In the U.S., the average American family of four saw an increase of $2,000 in their grocery bills during 2012.
The RFS is slated to further increase the price of staple commodities like corn, wheat, rice and soybeans by 20 percent. And policy-driven land grabs by global corporations seeking to capitalize on the crop-for-fuel craze have forced family farmers and local citizens off their land, taking access to affordable food away from the world's neediest populations.
Sylvia Nasar's Grand Pursuit puts a lot of this in perspective. But you don't have to read much more to know how bad the president's ethanol program is. But if activist environmentalists are happy, that's fine with me. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I love North Dakota corn farmers getting rich off this, and North Dakota entrepreneurs getting rich with ethanol plants in the state. 

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