Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Bonus content

November 16, 2013

Prairies vanish in the US push for green energy

ROSCOE, S.D. (AP) — Robert Malsam nearly went broke in the 1980s when corn was cheap. So now that prices are high and he can finally make a profit, he's not about to apologize for ripping up prairieland to plant corn.

Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers.

This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline. In 2010, fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this year. That helps keep prices high.

"It's not hard to do the math there as to what's profitable to have," Malsam said. "I think an ethanol plant is a farmer's friend."

What the green-energy program has made profitable, however, is far from green. A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a farming practice that actually could worsen it.

That's because plowing into untouched grassland releases carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the soil. It also increases erosion and requires farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In turn, that destroys native plants and wipes out wildlife habitats.

It appeared so damaging that scientists warned that America's corn-for-ethanol policy would fail as an anti-global warming strategy if too many farmers plowed over virgin land.

The Obama administration argued that would not happen. But the administration didn't set up a way to monitor whether it actually happened.

It did.

More than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of ethanol, an Associated Press analysis of satellite data found. Plots that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and soybean fields.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Bonus content
  • Insurgents kill at least 11 Algerian soldiers ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Islamist insurgents ambushed an Algerian military convoy in a mountainous region, killing 11 soldiers and wounding five others, the Defense Ministry said Sunday. But five other deaths from injuries reported by a hospital offi

    April 21, 2014

  • Ukraine-9 [Duplicate] Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout in east BYLBASIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — Within hours of an Easter morning shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming militant Ukrainian nationalists and Russian state televisio

    April 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • South Korea Ship Sinking-12 [Duplicate] Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation JINDO, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean ferry that sank was crippled by confusion and indecision well after it began listing, a radio transcript released Sunday showed, suggesting the chaotic situation may have added to a death toll that could eve

    April 20, 2014 10 Photos

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope Easter [Duplicate] Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity's most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and n

    April 20, 2014 13 Photos

  • Colombia Gabriel Garcia Marquez Obit [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Gabriel Garcia Marquez hailed as literary giant MEXICO CITY (AP) — His death mourned around the globe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is being hailed as a giant of modern literature, a writer of intoxicating novels and short stories that illuminated Latin America's passions, superstition, violence and soc

    April 20, 2014 7 Photos

  • Easter butter lamb gets 'pardon' at Buffalo market BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — There's at least one butter lamb in Buffalo that won't be going under the knife this Easter. Butter sculptures in the shape of a lamb are a traditional part of Easter meals among Buffalo's large Polish-American population. Butte

    April 19, 2014

  • Pets-Prosthetic [Duplicate] More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking back legs. "It's a

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • APTOPIX Obama [Duplicate] Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn't make good on i

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Obama [Duplicate] Late sign-ups improve outlook for Obama health law WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge of eleventh-hour enrollments has improved the outlook for President Barack Obama's health care law, with more people signing up overall and a much-needed spark of interest among young adults. Nonetheless, Obama's announceme

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • White House Privacy [Duplicate] White House updating online privacy policy Eds: Minor edits. With AP Photos. A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller