Mr. Speaker, Congress has a love affair with corn-based ethanol, and that love affair, Mr. Speaker, is on the rocks.
Ethanol has led to increased food prices, food shortages, and more pollution and less energy. As we have increased our reliance on ethanol, food supplies and prices have soared and have led to a global food shortage as customers stock up before stores run out. Shortages have led to food riots in Egypt, Haiti and other nations. There is an international shortage of basic commodities such as rice and wheat, and this has resulted in protests and riots.
American consumers are reactionary. They read about the international shortage and the riots and they run to the store to buy more food, stocking up. Yesterday, Wal-Mart and Costco announced they were limiting purchases of rice. You can only buy four bags of rice on any one trip at Wal-Mart.
Mr. Speaker, who would have thought that in the United States we would start having food rationing?
Also, because of inflation of the prices of corn-based ethanol, other food products are going up. Prices on beer, bread, coffee, pizza and rice are dramatically increasing. Anything that has a corn-based product has also increased in price.
In Mexico, cornmeal prices are up 60 percent. In Pakistan, flour prices have doubled. And even China is having a food inflation problem. In America, the cost of all groceries is skyrocketing. The shortage of staple food has larger consequences for our country, and, of course, it adds to inflation.
Also, we are now finding out that corn-based ethanol contributes to global warming. In March, Science Magazine reported that "Using good cropland to expand biofuels increases global warming."
Under Congress' ethanol mandates, farmers must plow more land to grow enough corn to use in our vehicles. This releases carbon stored in plants and in the soil. And Science Magazine continues to say that corn-based ethanol will increase greenhouse gasses by 93 percent in 30 years.
Ethanol also pollutes. Factories that convert corn into ethanol release carbon monoxide, methanol and some carcinogens at a very high level. The science that predicted less CO2 from corn ethanol is now being questioned as junk science.
Ethanol pollution has also contributed to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. What that is, Mr. Speaker, is the water that runs down into the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi, because of the pollutants in that water, it causes a dead zone about the size of New Jersey where nothing lives and nothing grows.
As Congress continues to subsidize corn-based ethanol, farmers are using more and more fertilizer to plant corn, and thus more fertilizer runs into the Mississippi River, down the river to the Gulf of Mexico, and the dead zone continues to grow.
You see, we don't eat corn anymore. We burn it in our cars. Farmers planting more corn only increase the dead zone problem. So now we are having a problem with food production that comes from the sea, from the Gulf of Mexico, all because of corn-based ethanol.
And, of course, ethanol hurts other industries. While grain producers have benefited from ethanol mandates because of record profits, some other industries are hurting. The losers are livestock farmers and ranchers, who have lost about $30 more an animal since the fall.
In other words, corn prices going up cost more to feed their beef, and then beef prices continue to go up as well. And we pay. The consumer always pays.
So, Mr. Speaker, Congress needs to rethink its love affair with ethanol. We need to lift the offshore drilling prohibition against drilling for crude oil and for natural gas. We need to develop our own natural resources. We need to allow permits for clean coal production. We need to use safe nuclear energy. And, we need to get back to eating corn instead of burning it in our vehicles. It is time for us to get a divorce from corn-based ethanol.
And that's just the way it is.
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