Biofuel Mandate: Would Fuel Growth of Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’

September 18, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A new study is sounding the alarm on the harmful environmental consequences of a federal mandate to increase biofuel production to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

The increase would lessen our dependence on foreign oil, but would also significantly add to fertilizers entering the Mississippi River basin, worsening the ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico and devastating the region’s fishing and shrimping industry.

The study, published in the current journal Environmental Science and Technology, details the consequences of increased biofuel production mandated by a federal law passed by Congress in 2007.

An area the size of the State of Massachusetts is currently located in the Gulf of Mexico, called the “dead zone,” which is a vast marine wasteland where fish and other marine life can’t survive. The fertilizer and nutrient-rich sentiment wash off from area farmlands, causing massive algae blooms that deprive the dead zone of oxygen.

The dead zone is about 17-21 percent larger today, compared to the first measurement taken in 1985. Since 2001, five large record-breaking Gulf dead zones have been detected, with the largest measuring a massive 8,894 square miles.

Donald Scavia, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, calls the growth of dead zones “an ecological time bomb.” And the increased biofuel production would worsen the ecological catastrophe, already occurring throughout the Mississippi River basin.

Government officials had plans in the works to reduce fertilizer runoff and shrink the dead zone to the size of Delaware by 2015, but that would not be possible with the projected increase in biofuel production.

There is a bright spot in this depressing ecological nightmare. Scientists say that dead zones can be reversed once the fertilizer runoff is reduced.

Source


Comments

2 Responses to “Biofuel Mandate: Would Fuel Growth of Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’”

  1. White House Eyeing Phasing Out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies | ChattahBox News Blog on September 20th, 2009 1:30 pm

    […] Additionally, many of the subsidies for renewable sources of energy are awarded towards increasing the production of corn-based ethanol, which negatively affects climate change and the environment. […]

  2. US govt considers phasing out fossil fuel subsidies « nuclear-news on September 20th, 2009 9:23 pm

    […] Additionally, many of the subsidies for renewable sources of energy are awarded towards increasing the production of corn-based ethanol, which negatively affects climate change and the environment. […]

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