Dead zones vs. oil spills

While ethanol producers have been quick to spin the Deepwater Horizon tragedy toward their own advantage, NRDC's Nathanael Greene has a quick rebuttal:
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.
He's referring to this image from the NYT, which makes a side-by-side visual comparison easy; in fact, the hypoxic zone looks considerably larger than the oil spill to date.

A hypoxic zone is in some ways not as destructive as an oil spill - it will not cripple fragile marshland ecosystems, for example - but the impact on marine life alone is no doubt harmful for the coastal fishing industry that could be (and once was?).

It is not news that corn ethanol is hardly an environmental angel, but it is worth keeping in the public conscience as the Deepwater Horizon leak continues unabated and the inevitable public backlash builds in strength.

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