Discussion: (14 comments)
Comments are closed.
The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute
View related content: Carpe Diem
The Huffington Post presents a devastating assessment of Obama’s push for green energy, especially his ongoing religious-like commitment to corn ethanol, which environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected as an ecological disaster and as bad environmental policy. Here’s an excerpt:
Farmers planted 15 million more acres of corn last year than before the ethanol boom, and the effects are visible in places like south central Iowa. The hilly, once-grassy landscape is made up of fragile soil that, unlike the earth in the rest of the state, is poorly suited for corn. Nevertheless, it has yielded to America’s demand for it.
The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America’s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply. Even the cemetery that disappeared like an apparition into a cornfield. “They’re raping the land,” said Bill Alley, a member of the board of supervisors in Wayne County.
The ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today. As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies. Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.
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.
The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.
“This is an ecological disaster,” said Craig Cox with the Environmental Working Group, a natural ally of the president that, like others, now finds itself at odds with the White House.
But it’s a cost the administration is willing to accept. It believes supporting corn ethanol is the best way to encourage the development of biofuels that will someday be cleaner and greener than today’s. Pulling the plug on corn ethanol, officials fear, might mean killing any hope of these next-generation fuels.
MP: As I’ve mentioned before, anytime you have Paul Krugman agreeing on “demon ethanol” (his term) with such a diverse group as the Huffington Post (above), the Manhattan Institute, the Wall Street Journal, Reason Magazine, the Cato Institute, Investor’s Business Daily, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, John Stossel, The Ecological Society of America, the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, George Will, and Time Magazine, you know that demon ethanol has to be one of the most misguided public policies in U.S. history.
Comments are closed.
1150 17th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036
© 2014 American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research