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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2007

Ethanol's Threat to the Environment

The unintended consequences of ethanol subsidies, per a new report by the National Research Council:

… agricultural shifts to growing corn and expanding biofuel crops into regions with little agriculture, especially dry areas, could change current irrigation practices and greatly increase pressure on water resources in many parts of the United States. …

… The switch from other crops or noncrop plants to corn would likely lead to much higher application rates of highly soluble nitrogen, which could migrate to drinking water wells, rivers, and streams, the committee said. When not removed from water before consumption, high levels of nitrate and nitrite—products of nitrogen fertilizers—could have significant health impacts.

Nutrient and sediment pollution in streams and rivers could also both be attributed to soil erosion. High sedimentation rates carry financial consequences as they increase the cost of often-mandatory dredging for transportation and recreation.

Posted on 10/16/07 12:43 PM by Alex Adrianson

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