Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the energy policy this Congress has passed recently. This Congress has decided to spend a lot of taxpayer money and subsidize this concept of corn-based ethanol in the United States.
We are sending a lot of money to farmers to grow corn so that it can be burned in our vehicles. Now, I don't blame the farmers for what they do. After all, we have encouraged them to produce corn-based ethanol.
But the problem with corn-based ethanol is it is a pollutant. Now we are finding out from Science Magazine that it's a pollutant more so than was first thought from the beginning. Because of the subsidies, we are encouraging corn-based ethanol.
It also has raised corn prices throughout the world because no longer are we eating corn, we are burning it in our vehicles. It has increased the amount of land that we are tilling up, grasslands, for example, forest, for example, and turning it into agricultural land where we produce corn-based ethanol to burn in our vehicles.
It's also expensive. Everything that has to do with corn products has raised in prices over the last 2 years because we are not using corn in our foodstuffs, we are burning it in our vehicles. But probably the greatest problem with corn-based ethanol is how it's produced. Corn is one of those commodities that takes a lot of fertilizer. In fact, it takes more fertilizer to produce corn than any other product that we eat, such as rice or wheat or even the grasslands.
Because that fertilizer is being dumped in the Midwest, it drains off in the rivers down the Mississippi River and comes into the Gulf of Mexico. One would argue, so what? Well, the problem with that is, fertilizer has nitrogen in it and phosphorus. That nitrogen and phosphorus, when it goes into the Gulf of Mexico, has created what is called now a dead zone.
It's called a dead zone because nothing lives there except algae. The fish, the ones that are there, have died unless they have moved way offshore, you know, out there off the continental coast where we don't drill for crude oil any more.
This map here shows, this is a NASA map, satellite photo, shows that it's about 470 miles along our gulf coast, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi. It even goes all the way to Florida, but it also extends out in the gulf about 178 miles. It's a dead zone. Nothing grows there. Nothing lives there but algae, and it's all because Congress with unintended consequences is encouraging the production of corn-based ethanol, and the fertilizer goes down the Mississippi River and kills everything in this area. Madam Speaker, it stays for years. It gets bigger every year, this dead zone. It kills off the fish, and all of the fishermen along the gulf coast are having to go way out in the Gulf of Mexico out there where we don't drill for crude oil anymore, and they have to fish to get fish for Americans to eat.
Congress needs to reevaluate its policy of depending on some product that now not only is a pollutant but is an expensive pollutant, and it also creates havoc in the Gulf of Mexico by causing a dead zone. We need to be aware of such unintended consequences when Congress passes legislation.
Madam Speaker, we need an energy policy. We need an energy policy now--Americans demand it--but we also need some common sense in what we do, and maybe we should rethink the whole concept of corn-based ethanol because, after all, Madam Speaker, it's not going to save us all.