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Study: Ethanol Harms Environment More Than It Helps

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File photo of a tractor. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A new study is raising serious questions about the benefits of using corn-based ethanol as fuel.

Dina Cappiello co-authored the report for the Associated Press and says that an exhaustive, months-long probe determined ethanol is falling far short of early claims that it would reduce emissions by 20 percent over time.

“Also, we exposed some of the other environmental consequences with ethanol from both land conversion to a huge increase in the use of farm fertilizer that has led to runoff,” she explains.

The study claims that the push for ethanol is actually hurting the same environment it purports to be saving.

Cappiello says they determined Illinois producers plowed under nearly 20,000 acres of conservation land to plant corn while in Missouri that figure was a staggering 300,000 acres.

“When you plow over these grasses, whether it’s a pasture for cows or whether it’s CRP or whether it’s native virgin grassland, you are actually releasing carbon,” she said.

The Associated Press study finds that nationally, five million acres of land set aside for conservation have been plowed under, an area larger than Yellowstone, the Everglades, and Yosemite National Parks combined.

The study came under immediate fire from pro-ethanol factions.

“They are definitely on the defensive,” Cappiello says. “They called it a piece of smear, a hatchet job, dumpster fire.”

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