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Ethanol – Is the End in Sight

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Dina Cappiello, an Associated Press reporter, filed an article titled, “Ethanol’s Impact – The Secret, Dirty Cost of Obama’s Green Power Push.” The Des Moines Register published the story on November 12th.
There is one glaring challenge with ethanol made from corn or soybeans and if it is happening here in Iowa, you can bet it is going on in other states. This challenge comes from farmers themselves. The challenge is one where greed overpowers commonsense.
Farmers are raping the land in the chase for one more acre of corn or soybeans. It doesn’t matter that they are already farming ditch-to-ditch. “Now they are stripping millions of acres of conservation land, destroying habitat and increasing the amount of pollution running into our streams, rivers and lakes,” wrote Cappiello.
Where rolling grass, trees and brush once covered non-farmable hills in the southern counties of Iowa, corn and soybean fields cling to the poor dirt. This dirt is nothing like the rich, fertile soil found throughout the center of Iowa There ugly slash marks visible to the eye, where storms have dislodged the soil and washed it into the gullies, streams and farm ponds below.
If the silt runoff flows into larger and larger streams, rivers and lakes the effect is a disaster because along with the silt, nitrates, pesticides, and other chemicals end up destroying everything they come in contact with.
The Associated Press published a study that found 5 million acres of land that had been set aside for conservation – more land than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined – have vanished on President Obama’s watch, reported Cappiello.
Cappiello continued, “Landowners have filled in wetlands. They’ve plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked away in the soil. Sprayers have pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some which seeped into our drinking water, contaminated and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.”
In hindsight we are seeing, firsthand, the results of using corn for ethanol. Remember, every action we take has a reaction, good or bad to the environment, and the environmental debt is hanging over our heads. Many scientists and environmentalists are now rejecting corn-based ethanol as bad policy.
Farmers should be growing native grasses on the hills of southern Iowa since the roots hold the soil together. Cappiello reported that farmers “have yielded to America’s demand for more corn.”
Craig Cox, with the Environmental Working Group, said, “This is an ecological disaster.”
EWG is usually a natural ally of President Obama, like other environmental groups; now find themselves out of sorts with the White House.
Cappiello reported that “It’s a cost the administration is willing to accept. It believes that supporting corn ethanol is the best way to encourage the development of other biofuels that will someday be cleaner and greener than those of today.”
Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, said in an interview with the Associated Press, “All renewable fuels are not corn ethanol. Pulling the plug on corn ethanol might mean killing any hope for the next generation of fuels. That is what you give up if you don’t recognize that renewable fuels have a place here.”

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