Corn ethanol trying to ride the Gulf spill to higher volumes

Yesterday, RFA delivered a letter to President Obama urging immediate solution and long-term strategies in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Certainly both are needed, but unfortunately RFA’s solutions amount to using more corn ethanol today and even more tomorrow, which is really no solution at all. Given the economic cost that corn ethanol imposes on the Gulf of Mexico every summer in the form the dead zone caused largely by nitrogen running off corn fields all along the Mississippi, more corn ethanol would be demonstrably bad for the very people most heavily impacted by the oil spill.

NRDC staff are in the region working to support the local groups that will have to respond first and most directly to the devastation the oil spill will cause. (Search the tag “gullspill” for a wealth of NRDC posts on the spill.) We’ve also offered a package of real immediate solutions and long-term strategies. They’re summarized here, and include immediately a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling, stronger rules on drilling and an independent investigation and for the long-term passing a climate bill that will drive drive investments in the fuel economy of our cars and trucks and truly sustainable and low-carbon alternatives to oil including electrification and advanced biofuels. As I’ve written about before, on biofuels the most important thing Congress and President Obama can do is stop subsidizing big oil and old corn ethanol through the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credits, which is a $5.4 billion per year give away to these companies for obeying the law. Instead our tax dollars should go to real solutions such as wind, solar, electric cars and biofuels that actually help clean up the water rather than just substituting one form of pollution for another.