Is Ethanol Screwing the Chesapeake?

Sure, Ethanol is a renewable resource, unlike fossil-based fuels like gasoline and diesel, but could it be costing us the Chesapeake Bay? Apparently, as corn production in the greater Chesapeake Bay Watershed rises, the amount of fertilizer runoff increases, too. This runoff has the nasty tendency to cause algae blooms which then gum up the bay, causing further damage to the habitat.

This then begs the question: is the desire to move to more renewable resources worth the cost of the Chesapeake Bay? I’m not so sure. Of course, with market pressures driving up the price of corn to a point where it becomes the cash crop for the region, it’s hard to tell farmers not to grow it. Where’s the compromise?

2 Comments so far

  1. Max (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    Hydrogen fuel cells.

    I’m definitely not a supporter of growing corn for fuel because it means clearing more and more land, soil erosion, etc.

    I saw “The 11th Hour” this weekend and highly recommend it.

  2. Wayan (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

    Better than hydrogen fuel cells, which will leak hydrogen into the atmosphere (and that causes..?) would be overall conservation & reduction in auto and non-renewable energy use.

    And since that will not happen in my lifetime, sadly, I say an alternate to corn-based ethanol is switchgrass – a lower-impact plant than corn or sugarcane.

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