Government at the Wheel

While on the topic of the wheel, let’s talk about the illogic of ethanol production. Ethanol is made from corn and added to our gasoline on the premise that it burns more cleanly than fossil fuels, reduces our dependence on imported oil and can help us reduce our carbon footprint. I guess that’s the logic. But when you pull the covers back, a different story appears.

The fossil fuel savings is questionable. We may burn as much oil and gas to produce corn on the farm or ethanol at the chemical plant as we save by adding it to our gasoline.  If you consider the vast amount of pollution caused by the EPA-exempt farm, the fertilizers flowing into our rivers and streams and then the Gulf, the Atlantic, or the Pacific, we may be enlarging our carbon footprint. Corn likes nitrogen, nitrogen eats oxygen, and so we have the dead zone in the Gulf that is the size of Rhode Island. And that doesn’t count the air pollution from the diesel fuel it takes to run the tractor to farm it or the semi to transport it. Environmental degradation on land, sea and air. Despite those questions, our government raised the ethanol mandate for ethanol production in the 2006 farm bill while subsidizing the farmers who grow the corn. More tax costs to you. The EPA recently announced that it was raising the percent of ethanol in your gasoline from 10 to 15%.  Fuel prices will go up at your local station.

There’s more — because beef, pork and chicken production at the CAFO houses depends on corn almost exclusively, and corn as food is being displaced by corn as fuel, the government predicts even more price rises at the store. Pork is up 34%, poultry 15%, beef 14%. And it will only go higher.

And you thought Real Food was expensive?