What’s in your water? Ethanol mandates.

August 13, 2014

Last week, half a million people in Ohio were left without drinking water because of severe toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, primarily caused by fertilizer runoff

Increased fertilizer runoff is just another unintended consequence of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that’s doing more harm to the environment that good. (For those of you catching up, the RFS is a government policy that mandates that ethanol fuel made from corn be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply.)

As the level of ethanol mandated grows each year, more land acreage is devoted to grow corn to make it. In fact, farms across the Midwest, including Ohio, have converted an additional 13.5 million acres to grow corn.

Unfortunately, corn happens to be an incredibly water and fertilizer intensive crop. Phosphorous, the element in fertilizer that is causing the algae bloom, is carried with rain from the farm land and ground water into nearby lakes and streams — and it’s happening in more than just Ohio.

The image below shows the path that fertilizer is taking from some of our top corn producing states, like Iowa and Minnesota, into the Gulf of Mexico and causing what is known as the “dead zone.”

The dead zone is a pocket of low-oxygen water that forms off the coast of Louisiana every summer, and could stretch from Alabama to South Texas this year, threatening 18 percent of the U.S. commercial seafood market.

Even Iowans, who benefit most from this policy, are starting to ask, “Are we prepared to sit back and leave our quality of life, our natural resources and our health up to the goodwill of Iowa's agricultural producers?”

Unfortunately the Administration is slow-moving on fixing this policy, but Congress can change this legislation. Join us to call for swift action from your representatives when they’re back on the hill.