Issue 123 -Lake Erie Polluted From Farm Nitrate Runoff
Introduction… Iowa, largest corn producer, 2nd largest nitrate polluter In Mississippi River Basin. The downside to producing 15,909,400 gallons of Ethanol In 2015-2016 is the increase in nitrate pollution in the Mississipi River basin, Lake Eirie, and Midwest drinking water supplies. This past summer, the Gulf of Mexico has its largest “dead zone” in modern history.
Why is Ethanol contributing to nitrate pollution?… Here’s the simple math. In 2015-2016 the U.S. produced 14,586,000 bushels of corn of which 5,468,000 were used to produce Ethanol. Out of the 78,000,000 acres of harvested corn, 29,337,000 or 38% was used to produce Ethanol.
It would be reasonable to assume that 38% of the nitrate pollution that comes from corn production is nitrate pollution that comes from corn production for Ethanol.
Conclusion…When the American people discovered that burning corn-based Ethanol had no net production of energy as sold during the 1973 Energy Crisis…we were then told that Ethanol would reduce air pollution. But, the unintended consequence is our water supplies, rivers, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico are getting destroyed by the related increase in nitrate pollution.
Sources: Geoff Copper, “How Much Ethanol Comes From Corn?” National Corn Growers Associaton; Elizabeth Royte, “The Simple River-Cleaning Tactics That Big Farms Ignore,” National Geographic, 7 Dec 2017; Bill Moist, “What Researchers Say About Ethanol CO2, oilandgasinsider.com/?p=899, Bill Moist, “Time To Cut Ethanol? oilandgasinsider.com/?p=841