The push for increased use of ethanol in gasoline was meant to help protect the environment, but an Associated Press investigation has found it has led to the destruction of millions of acres of conservation land. The Star-Telegram reports:
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 economic benefits to the farming industry.
Congress passed a law requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of ethanol into gasoline in 2007. Last year farmers planted 15 million more acres of corn in 2012 than it had before the mandate. In 2010, fuel became the number one use of corn in America.