Map of the Hypoxic Zone and Gulf Oil Spill: Part of why more corn ethanol is not the solution

Check out the map of the oil spill and the 2009 hypoxic zone in today's New York Times. As I mentioned in my last blog, the nitrogen runoff from corn grown all along the Mississippi causes a huge dead zone in the Gulf every summer. As this map shows, the dead zone at least as large as the oil spill and it takes a huge toll on the marine life and region's economy every summer. With about a third of the corn crop going to make corn ethanol, it should be clear that more corn ethanol is not a real solution.

Given the double whammy that corn ethanol and oil impose on the Gulf coast, it is particularly ironic that corn ethanol's top priority is extending a tax credit--the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit--that lines the pockets of the oil industry and corn ethanol to the tune of $5.4 billion per year. And in exchange for this huge give away, what do we get beyond oil spills and dead zones? As I've written about before, not much. NRDC has proposed a Greener Biofuels Tax Credit, but the reality is that just about anything else we might do with these billions of tax dollars would be better for jobs, energy security and for the Gulf.