“Obama’s green energy drive comes with an unadvertised environmental cost,” notes the Associated Press, in a story focusing on President Obama’s environmentally-destructive support for ethanol mandates:
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. . .It wasn’t supposed to be this way. With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. . .But 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, an Associated Press investigation found.
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 highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact. 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.
“They’re raping the land,” said Bill Alley, a member of the board of supervisors in Wayne County.
The Obama Administration forced up the ethanol content of gasoline. In doing so it, it made gasoline costlier and dirtier, increased ozone pollution, and raised the death toll from smog and air pollution. Ethanol mandates also have caused widespread deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. By driving up food prices, they fueled Islamic extremism in Egypt and the Middle East. Ethanol mandates also increase world hunger and mortality. The Obama Administration’s ethanol mandates have drawn intense criticism from experts across the political spectrum.
While in the Senate, Al Gore, working with fat-cat lobbyists, “saved the ethanol” industry by pushing through big taxpayer subsidies for ethanol. Years later, he admitted that ethanol subsidies were a “mistake,” a harmful policy partly designed to appeal to “farmers in the State of Iowa,” which holds the influential Iowa caucuses for presidential candidates.
In 2008, two prominent environmentalists described how ethanol mandates have harmed the environment and spawned hunger across the world. In their Washington Post editorial, Lester Pearson and Jonathan Lewis lamented that
food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts. . .Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm. . . . food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time Magazine reported this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest ‘carbon sink.’ And when the forests are cleared and the land plowed for farming, the carbon that had been sequestered in the plants and soil is released. . .the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions — and thus a catalyst for climate change.