Showing posts with label George W. Bush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George W. Bush. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2017

Delegate Keith Hodges Debates Sheila Crowley For The 98th District

Delegate Keith Hodges debates candidate Sheila Crowley in the race for the delegates seat of the 98th district here in Virginia.  Keith Hodges is the present seated candidate here in the 98th district and is a Republican.  Sheila Crowley is the Democratic challenger for that seat.  This debate happened in Gloucester County, Virginia at the Moose Lodge along route 17 North.  Watch the video and then cast your vote on November 7th, 2017 for the candidate you think will serve the 98th district the best.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Constitution’s Week in Review – 11 Sep 15

4th Amendment.

The ACLU and I don’t agree on a lot of issues, but here’s one where we are of like mind: civil asset forfeiture. The Oklahoma ACLU studied the civil asset forfeiture records for counties lying adjacent to Interstate 40, which sort of bisects the state East to West, and found that of $6 Million in assets seized from 2009 to 2014, only about $2 Million came from people eventually charged with a crime; $4 Million came from people never charged with anything.

Operating under the belief that no one these days carries large amounts of cash unless they have engaged in or plan criminal activity, “policing for profit,” as it is sometimes called (another sheriff called it “pennies from heaven”) is a clear affront to 4th Amendment protections against warrantless search and seizure.

An attempt in Virginia this year to tighten the rules and provide more protections for citizens failed to pass. In Oklahoma, one brave Republican State Senator has introduced legislation to make this less lucrative (for instance: all proceeds go to the general fund rather than to the jurisdiction making the seizure) and, predictably, law enforcement agencies are fighting it hard, as they did in Virginia. Here’s a great rundown on the issue, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.

Most people seem to take the position that this doesn’t affect them since they would never carry large sums of money, not realizing that “asset” includes more than mere cash; vehicles, homes and other property is also routinely seized. Everyone and anyone could be affected by this. If this bothers you, you know who to talk with.

Article 2 Presidential Powers.

I’m giving a presentation on Monday to a local Republican Women’s Club. They asked me to speak on Presidential Executive Orders. As if on que, President Obama issues anothercontroversial one, this time ordering paid sick leave for all federal contractor personnel. Apparently the President believes he has the statutory authority to unilaterally change the conditions for federal contracts, just not during his term of office. He has set this E.O. up so it takes effect after his predecessor takes office in 2017. Nice. I wonder if the new guy (gal?) will leave this in place?

I’m not going to go into any detail here on Executive Orders, I’ll save that for Monday’s presentation and maybe a future Constitutional Corner – it is rather complicated. But this order of President Obama may end up like Executive Order 12954, issued by President Clinton in 1995. Clinton attempted to stop the federal government from contracting with organizations that had strike-breakers on their payrolls. A federal appeals court invalidated that order because it conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act. A second order of Clinton’s, E.O. 13155, was also overturned. This one is going to cost the government a lot more money, we’ll see if Congress lets it ride. The most famous failed Executive Order was Harry Truman’s attempt to take over America’s steel mills. Shot down by the Supreme Court itself.

Transparency in the Judiciary.

The Supreme Court has placed themselves under great scrutiny of late, due largely to a series of questionable opinions, which have caused some (including moi) to re-examine our presumed “law of the land” doctrine. Another factor which often places our court system in an unfavorable light, is the fairly common prohibition of cameras in the courtroom. The rule makes it possible for courtroom artists to make a living, but otherwise tends to cloud the court in an aura of secrecy and non-transparency. Sure, most trials and hearings are open to the public, but who wants to take the time to attend unless you know someone involved in the case? And maybe there won’t be room if you get there late. Why not be able to watch from the comfort of your own home, with beer and chips at hand?

Every few years the prohibition of TV cameras during Supreme Court proceedings returns to the headlines and, of course, the media wants the proceedings open to photography of all kinds (did you know you can download audio recordings of Supreme Court oral arguments?). The Court, naturally, wants to retain a sense of decorum and avoid the circus atmosphere that accompanies trials or hearings with wide public interest (i.e., O.J. Simpson); but fourteen federal trial courts recently completed a four year study of the effect of video cameras, it will be interesting to what the study concludes.

What caused me to mention all this, however, was not the Supreme Court issue, but ratherthis article about the alleged questionable behavior of a municipal court judge in Georgia, caught by a hidden camera. I don’t attend trials or hearings as a practice, much too busy for that; and I’ve not been a defendant in one since 1968 (traffic court – boy that seems a long time ago), so I can’t say whether the judge’s behavior here was especially unusual or unprofessional. But here’s a case where a camera might have done some good in bringing questionable performance to light.

That’s all for now. We had a great time this morning on WFYL radio discussing “Kim Davis and the Rule of Law; we actually had two, count ‘em, two call-ins. Hope you joined us on “Listen Live.” If you didn’t, the podcast should be up on the website soon.

Time is fleeting to join us on Constitution Day to hear Dr. Herb Titus give us his view of the future effects of Obergefell v. Hodges. Herb is a great speaker, you won’t be disappointed. Go to and sign up for Lessons in Liberty.

Attendance is also climbing for my first-ever “youth-only” Constitution Seminar (19 September), held in partnership with Constituting America. There is still room, but the class looks like it might actually fill. Don’t delay if you know any local ( to Tidewater Virginia) 14-18 year olds who need to learn their “Supreme Law of the Land.”

Gary Porter
Executive Director

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Preferential treatment of one elected official by other elected officials.

Submitted by:  "We The People".

In general, the BOS must have at least two public discussions about anything they vote on. Don't know if any of you picked up on it or not, but when they had the public hearing on Charles Records' project they had Mr. Records' give his presentation, then Board members asked a couple of questions. That appears to have been public discussion #1. Then they had the citizen comment period for the public hearing. The 2nd public discussion appears to have taken place when Mr. Records returned to the podium and began addressing the concerns raised by the People who spoke. Then Anne Duecy-Ortiz gave a presentation, noting staff recommended approval. As those of you who have been following the BOS meetings know; the issue of changing animal control ordinances was first publicly discussed during the October Board meeting and the public hearing was conducted during the November meeting. Based on the non-questioning, non-analytic and out of character posture the BOS demonstrated during the public hearing; had Mr. Records fulfilled the planning commission's one and only stipulation before the meeting or if none of the adjacent landowners who spoke during the public comment period had not shown up at the meeting, the Board would have certainly voted in favor of the project. On top of all of that, by the BOS combining the two public discussions into one public meeting, they effectively restricted transparency and public involvement.  
A couple of questions everyone should be asking are, firstly, why the BOS allowed the public hearing to happen in the first place. The planning commission approved Mr. Records’ proposal on the condition that he resolve issues with adjacent landowners. It seems like County staff would have verified whether or not Mr. Records had fulfilled the planning commission’s requirements before a public hearing date was set. The second question is; why didn’t the BOS question Mr. Records about his proposal in the same manner they have questioned everyone else who has appeared before them with proposals since January 2014?
We The People 
Are Watching You Diligently

Our Own Notes:

Why do we even need this project?  High end garden apartments that will cost probably more than a house rental in the area?  We have had restaurants and a bank close doors recently which shows the economy in Gloucester is continuing to fall, not rise.  We already have a large supply of rentals in the area that are not being filled.  Actually this is all out of a playbook called Growing Smart which is produced by a company in Germany and used in localities throughout the world as mandated by the United Nations.  One has to ask, what does the United Nations have to do with local planning?  These days since you have not been paying attention, everything.  Below is that playbook.  

Growing Smart, Legislative Guide, (Part 8 of 19) 

Again, this is the United Nations mandating what and or how local government as well as state government is to be run.  Our liberties are being destroyed by these folks as well as our property rights.  Thank a local official next time you see one.  They are all following this playbook very well.  Anyone remember what George H W Bush once said?  It's time for a new world order and we will be successful.  Bet you didn't know that they have been successful and that New World Order is already here and in full play.  

  You thought you were still living in the USA?  Those days are gone.  We are all living in the UN now.  The USA is nothing but a designation on a map.  Oh, that was all done back in 1992 by George H W Bush in case you didn't know this.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gloucester, VA - FOIA and Private Email Accounts In Virginia

Over the past several years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of instances in which elected officials and their staff have been caught utilizing private email accounts to conduct government business or pass insider information through what they would have us believe to be a Freedom of Information exempt means. The names of many of them are familiar to us all and include former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former President George W. Bush, almost the entire Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the list goes on.  It has been argued unsuccessfully by many that government information contained in private emails is exempt from FOIA because the information is not in the control of the government entity. 
The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council(A state agency with the expertise to help resolve disputes over Freedom of Information issues) and the Code of Virginia do not support such contentions.  The following is the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council’s opinion on email communications.  This opinion is basically the Commonwealth’s adopted legal opinion on the use, access and retention of email communications as pertains to the Commonwealth of Virginia Freedom of Information Act. 
The use of e-mail in the business place has become routine and is a preferred mode of communication. For state and local government officials and employees, the application of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) relating to access to records and the Virginia Public Records Act (the PRA) relating to the retention of records comes into play.
Government officials and employees frequently ask two key questions about the use of e-mail --"Can the public and media access my e-mail under FOIA?" and "Do I have to save my e-mail?"
This document will attempt to answer these questions and provide guidance about the use and management of e-mail by state and local government.
The nature of e-mail
E-mail generally refers to any communication that requires an electronic device for storage and/or transmission.1 E-mail is a medium for correspondence -- essentially, e-mail is the "envelope" for the communication. For purposes of FOIA & the PRA, e-mail provides a medium for communication, much like a telephone or the U.S. Mail provides a means of communication. The fact that a communication is sent via e-mail is not alone conclusive of whether that e-mail must be accessible to the public under FOIA or retained pursuant to the PRA; one must look at the text and substance of the communication to determine whether it is indeed a public record.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act
FOIA addresses access to public records. Section 2.2-3701 of the Code of Virginia defines public records for purposes of FOIA to include "all writings and recordings that consist of letters, words or numbers, or their equivalent, set down by handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostatting, photography, magnetic impulse, optical or magneto-optical form, mechanical or electronic recording or other form of data compilation, however stored, regardless of physical form or characteristics, prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business."
Clearly an e-mail would fall under this broad definition of a public record, because it applies to all writings and recordings…set down by…mechanical or electronic recording…however stored, regardless of physical form or characteristics. As noted above, e-mail is just the medium, or the envelope, used to convey the communication. Just as a letter sent via U.S. Mail from one public official to another concerning public business would be a public record under FOIA, so would that same communication sent via e-mail.
FOIA requires that unless subject to a statutory exemption, all public records must be open to inspection and copying. Therefore, an e-mail relating to public business would be accessible just like any other public record, and may be withheld from public disclosure only if a particular exemption applies to the content of the e-mail.
The Virginia Public Records Act
While FOIA governs access to records held by state and local government, the PRA governs how long a government entity must retain certain records. The PRA defines "public record" for purposes of records retention, and like FOIA, the definition is fairly broad and would include e-mail as a public record. Section 42.1-77 defines a public record to include recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency or employee of the state government or its political subdivisions. Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a public record if it is produced, collected, received or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business.
The PRA sets forth different retention schedules for different types of records. Several factors shape how long a record needs to be held. Many records are only kept for so long as business requires them to be kept, although if a record has historical significance or is created by an agency head or director, it may need to be kept longer. For example, certain records are required to be maintained permanently, such as records from standing committees of the General Assembly, annual reports of state agencies, and correspondence of agency directors. Other records need only be kept so long as they are administratively necessary, such as reminders of events like blood drives or fund raisers, courtesy copies of correspondence, or messages received from a listserv. Along the continuum, other records may be required to be retained for 30 days to ten years, depending on their content. After the retention time has expired for a particular document, then that record may be destroyed pursuant to the guidelines set forth by the Library of Virginia.2

2 PRA is administered by the Library of Virginia. For more details on retention schedules for particular types of records or for a particular agency, or for information regarding the proper disposal of records, please contact the Library of Virginia. Records retention information and contact information is also available on the Library's website at
In providing guidance for adhering to the PRA, the Library of Virginia notes that e-mail should be treated the same as paper correspondence. Again, e-mail is only the medium, or the envelope, by which the correspondence is sent; the retention schedule for a particular e-mail will depend on its content and should be preserved the same as its paper equivalent. Both incoming and outgoing e-mail should be retained, along with any attachments sent via e-mail.
Tips for using and managing e-mail
All e-mails related to public business are subject to the provisions of FOIA and the PRA, and should be managed in the same manner as all other public records.
There is a tendency with e-mail to hit the delete button as soon as you are finished with a particular message. However, consideration must be given to whether that particular e-mail must be retained for purposes of the PRA -- you can't automatically delete your e-mail, just as you can't automatically throw away paper correspondence and records.
FOIA governs access to records. The PRA dictates how long you are required to keep certain records. If a government entity keeps an e-mail (or any other record) for longer than its retention schedule requires, that e-mail will still be subject to FOIA if requested. Conversely, if a government entity properly disposes of a record pursuant to a retention schedule, and a subsequent FOIA request is made for that record, FOIA does not require the government entity to recreate the record.
E-mail is often used as a substitute for a telephone call, and is quite informal. However, e-mail creates a record of that communication that must be retained pursuant to the PRA and will be available upon request to the public under FOIA. Consider the consequence of choice to use e-mail instead of the telephone -- it may not be in your best interest to be as informal on e-mail as you are on the telephone.
The Library of Virginia discourages the practice of maintaining permanent records solely in electronic format, without a paper or microfilm backup.3 For records that do not need to be maintained permanently, these e-mails can be printed out and stored in a traditional, paper file (and the electronic copy can be deleted) or electronic folders can be created on the computer to organize e-mails based on functions, subjects or activities. The Library of Virginia suggests that these folders are assigned to your home directory on the computer, and not on the network. By way of example, at the FOIA Council we print a copy of all of the FOIA questions that we receive via e-mail, along with our corresponding response, and file the paper copy in a chronological file. After we have printed a copy to retain for our records, we delete the e-mail off of the computer.
Public officials and employees should not commingle personal and official e-mails. Private e-mails do not need to be retained; e-mails relating to the transaction of public business do. From an e-mail management perspective, it is probably not a good idea to mix personal and official business in the same e-mail. Official e-mails that need to be retained should be maintained with other public records that relate to the same content.
As is clearly evident; the Commonwealth of Virginia does have established guidance pertaining to the use of private email accounts by elected officials and government employees.  Virginia also has laws against government officials and employees passing insider information, holding non-public meetings, conducting government business outside of the parameters of FOIA. Unfortunately, Virginia has not established laws prohibiting its officials and employees from sending government information to their private email accounts. There are no specific laws defining what can and cannot be done with government information sent to their private email accounts.  There are no specific laws that allow for government or public access to their private accounts to establish audit trails or fulfill FOIA requests.  There are no specific laws that prevent the disclosure of information protected from public disclosure when information is sent to a private email account.  There are no specific laws requiring the registration of private email accounts used to conduct government business.  Without more specific laws regulating private email use in government it is essentially left up to each official’s and employee’s conscious and integrity to decide whether or not they will follow the guidelines established by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council and the Code of Virginia.      
Many communities throughout the United States of America like Gloucester CountyVirginia now see many of their elected government officials and government employees using private email accounts to conduct government business, pass insider information, hold private meetings and skirt FOIA requirements.  A quick look at email addresses for Gloucester County Supervisors on the Gloucester County website revealed each Supervisor having there own county government email address.  A quick look at the Gloucester County Public Schools website revealed six of the seven Gloucester County School Board members list private email addresses.  A review of FOIA obtained Gloucester County Public Schools email conversations revealed email conversations that were either sent to, forwarded to, carbon copied to or originated from private email addresses belonging to Gloucester County School Board members and school administration personnel.  This is further evidence of these officials’ and employees’ ongoing conscious and deliberate effort to minimize transparency in local government. 
Betty Jane Duncan…
Ben Kiser…  AND
Ben Kiser…
Diane Gamache…
Charles Records…
Ann Burruss…
Carla Hook…
Kevin Smith…   AND  
Kevin Smith…
Kimberly Hensley…
Randy Burack… 
Troy Andersen…
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Environmental Costs of Corn-Based Ethanol

Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)
By Dr. Mercola
I’ve written extensively about the high price of genetically engineered (GE) cropson human health and ecosystems, and these ramifications are becoming increasingly well-known.
I’ve also railed against the flawed agricultural subsidies that promote the propagation of GE corn and soy, both of which can now be found in most processed foods. But the problems with corn, and GE corn in particular, do not end there.
In 2007, Congress passed a law requiring gasoline to be mixed with ethanol, ostensibly to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol was also a major part of Obama’s presidential platform for “green” energy, which he touted as the answer to global warming.

While the pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers continue to pound their purpose to 'feed the world', they seem to completely dismiss that we've destroyed millions of acres of wildlife to accommodate our federal mandate to grow 'fuel' instead of food.

I think we all understand quite clearly that most nutritional needs have nothing to do with the capacity to grow food, we already have resources to grow plenty of nutritional food for the planet if that's what we were really trying to accomplish.  

The US agriculture policy ensures our failure, designed by the interests of pesticide and junk food corporations to produce profits and not nutrition.  What better example than burning food for fueling our engines?  How does this help feed the world?
Corn is the primary source of ethanol in the United States, and this, ironically, has turned out to have devastating consequences for the environment. Converting food into fuel is also a facet of the “green” movement that even communist dictator Fidel Castro warned against:1
“With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming.
And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country ‘stronger, cleaner and more secure,’ the featured article2 states.
“Historically, the overwhelming majority of corn in the United States has been turned into livestock feed. But in 2010, for the first time, fuel was the No. 1 use for corn in America. That was true in 2011 and 2012.
Newly released Department of Agriculture data show that, this year, 43 percent of corn went to fuel and 45 percent went to livestock feed.”[Emphasis mine]
Needless to say, the more corn is used for ethanol, the more corn our farmers have to plant in order to meet demands for food and animal feed. In response to this rising demand, American farmers are converting everything from environmentally valuable grasslands to critically important pristine virgin lands into corn fields.

The Environmental Consequences the White House Didn’t Account for in Its Green Plan

The ethanol boom has come at a far higher price than the US government is willing to admit. Millions of acres of conservation land has been destroyed—converted into corn fields.
According to the featured article in the Star Tribune, five million acres of conservation land have disappeared while Obama has been in office. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.
More corn acres also mean more fertilizers being spread over greater areas and a further decimation of our valuable top soil along with continued mismanagement of dwindling water resources.
In just five years, (between 2005 and 2010), American corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizers by more than one billion pounds. As a result, many areas now have to address increasingly polluted drinking water.
In Minnesota, for example, about a dozen communities so far have spent millions of dollars to clean toxic nitrogen from their water supplies, and according to a recent government report, reducing the high levels from the state’s water supplies would require massive changes in how farmers grow their crops.
Implementing these changes could cost upward of $1 billion a year. According to executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Steve Morse:
"We're doing more to address water quality, but we are being overwhelmed by the increase in production pressure to plant more crops.”
Industrial monoculture farming practices as a whole pose a tremendous threat to water supplies, in multiple ways, whether through contamination or by depleting what little fresh water is available. And far from being a solution, GE crops make matters even worse, as they end up needing more agricultural chemicals than other crops, and typically require more water.

Fresh Water Reserves Also Depleted by Agricultural Irrigation...

Besides contamination by crop fertilizers, fresh water reserves are also being outright depleted by agricultural irrigation. An article in Harper’s Magazine3published in the summer of 2012 highlighted the rapid depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer—the largest subterranean water supply in the United States.
“Until the Second World War, the Ogallala went almost entirely untapped... It wasn’t until the 1940s, when a variety of new technologies coalesced on the plains, that large-scale irrigation sprang up for the first time—but from there, the transformation was quick.

Within a decade thousands of wells were drilled, creating a spike in productivity as unprecedented as it was unsustainable... 
[D]uring the early 1990s, farmers throughout the Great Plains began to notice a decline in their wells. Irrigation systems from the Dakotas to Texas dipped, and, in some places, have been abandoned entirely.”
According to Kevin Mulligan, a professor at Texas Tech University who leads the effort to monitor the Ogallala, available water in the aquifer has gone down by about 80-100 feet in just the past 15 years, and none of the water is likely to be replenished. A mere 20 years from now, it’s unlikely that any irrigated agriculture will be possible on the high plains—the water will be all gone.

Rivers and Gulf of Mexico Suffer from Toxic Agricultural Runoff

The billions of pounds of fertilizer being used on all of these corn fields are also contaminating rivers, and contribute to an ever-expanding dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—a zone, currently the size of Connecticut, that is too toxic to support aquatic life.
“The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact,” Star Tribune4 reports.
“The government's predictions of the benefits have proven so inaccurate that independent scientists question whether it will ever achieve its central environmental goal: reducing greenhouse gases. That makes the hidden costs even more significant. “
Upon closer analysis, it seems the White House “green” agenda amounts to little more than another gift to the pesticide industry, spearheaded by Monsanto. It’s certainly not saving the environment. Instead, Monsanto is rolling in dough courtesy of increased sales of its patented genetically engineered Roundup Ready corn... According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, ethanol is “good for business.” He claims it’s good for farmers, which from a financial perspective, it might be. But overall, the corn-for-ethanol agenda is nothing short of an ecological disaster that is costing us far more than money.

The World Is Running Out of Topsoil

A decade ago, farmers were paid about $70 annually per acre to enter the conservation program, which meant leaving their farmland idle and improve the soil fertility with cover crops. From an environmental perspective, this is important, as conservation lands trap carbon in the soil and prevent topsoil erosion. Grasslands also naturally convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which is what you might call a “staple” for human life on Earth. The world may in fact be running out of usable topsoil, the layer that allows plants to grow.
According to an article in Time World,5 soil erosion and degradation rates suggest we have only about 60 remaining years of topsoil. Forty percent of the world's agricultural soil is now classified as either degraded or seriously degraded; the latter means that 70 percent of the topsoil is gone. Our soil is being lost at 10 to 40 times the rate it can be replenished, and our agricultural systems are to blame, which epitomizes the term "unsustainable."
It takes decades or even centuries to regenerate significant levels of soil. This is the exact converse environmental effect an environmentally friendly biofuel is supposed to contribute to...Strategies like using rock dust powders, biochar, no till farming, and biological inoculants can help reverse this trend if they are started soon enough.
Agriculture as a whole also accounts for 70 percent of our fresh water use. When the soil is unfit, water is wasted—it washes right through the soil and past the plant's root system. We already have a global water shortage that's projected to worsen over the next 20 to 30 years, so this is the last thing we need to compound it. Soil degradation is projected to cause 30 percent loss in food production over the next 20 to 50 years—while our global food demands are expected to increase by 50 percent over this span of time. All of these things considered, should we really keep growing so much corn to fuel our cars?
Many don't realize that soil is alive and has an incredible diversity of microorganisms. One handful of soil contains more microbes than the number of people who have ever lived on our planet.
These organisms create a powerful synergy with the plants and recycle organic material, making the soil more resilient and better at holding water and nutrients, and better at nurturing plants. Microbes need carbon for food, and we're depleting our soil of this element by using chemical fertilizers, overgrazing, over-ploughing, and burning stubble in fields to accelerate crop turnover. Add to this genetically engineered crops, and our soil—which is crucial for growing nutrient-dense foods—is dealt another deathblow. In fact, reduced soil fertility could lead to famine on a scale never previously seen.

Ethanol—The Green Alternative That Demolishes the Environment

By law, biofuels are supposed to be at least 20 percent greener than gasoline. Ethanol, based on corn, didn’t meet this criteria at first. As reported in the featured article, certain assumptions were made about the price of corn, the number of acres planted, and the yield from each acre, in order to squeeze ethanol into the green category.
“The most important of those assumptions was called the yield, a measure of how much corn could be produced on an acre of land. The higher the yield, the easier it would be for farmers to meet the growing demand without plowing new farmland, which counted against ethanol in the greenhouse gas equation,” Star Tribune writes.
This is where genetically modified seeds really gained a stronghold. Pesticide producers like Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer stepped in, promising yields could be dramatically increased by using genetically modified corn. If each farmer could produce more corn on less acreage, environmental effects would be reduced. Inept (if not outright corrupt) politicians bought this line of nonsense hook line and sinker. In the end, yields per acre didn’t increase, but the price of corn did, more than doubling between August of 2010 and this year, thanks to ethanol now being added to gasoline. The dramatic rise in price per bushel spurred farmers to exit the conservation program. As stated in the featured article:6
“America could meet its ethanol demand without losing a single acre of conservation land, Energy officials said. They would soon be proven wrong. Before the government ethanol mandate, the Conservation Reserve Program grew every year for nearly a decade. Almost overnight, farmers began leaving the program, which simultaneously fell victim to budget cuts that reduced the amount of farmland that could be set aside for conservation. In the first year after the ethanol mandate, more than 2 million acres disappeared. Since Obama took office, 5 million more acres have vanished.”

Virgin Land, Air and Water—All Is Being Contaminated by Corn-Based Biofuel Needs

As reported by Mother Jones7 earlier this year, this conversion of grasslands to crop fields is the exact opposite of what might be in our best interest.
“ get ready for climate change, we should push Midwestern farmers to switch a chunk of their corn land into pasture for cows. The idea came from a paper8 by University of Tennessee and Bard College researchers, who calculated that such a move could suck up massive amounts of carbon in soil—enough to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 36 percent. In addition to the CO2 reductions, you'd also get a bunch of high-quality, grass-fed beef...Turns out the Midwest are doing just the opposite.”
What’s worse, farmers started sacrificing virgin land to grow even more corn. According to the Department of Agriculture, an estimated 38,000 acres of previously untouched land vanished below a sea of corn rows in 2012 alone. The Associated Press, using government satellite data, estimates at least 1.2 million acres of virgin land has been converted since 2006 (the year before the ethanol legislation was passed)—and that’s just in the states of Nebraska and the Dakotas!
The ethanol legislation requires the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the effects of the ethanol initiative on water and air pollution. Alas, such studies have not been done. Despite the complete lack of investigation, Vilsack9 recently stated that "There is no question air quality, water quality is benefiting from this industry.”

What’s the Answer

While I normally suggest you combat the broken agricultural system by purchasing organically and locally grown foods, the answer is more complex when it comes to avoiding corn-based ethanol. If you drive a car that runs on gasoline, you’re supporting the ethanol industry whether you really want to or not. One answer might be to invest in an electric hybrid, but the rare earth minerals that must be mined for the batteries are something to be considered in this decision.  In many areas, you may also be powering your "electric" car from a power plant using coal.

I believe we must all become more involved in the political process that permits these poorly thought-through policies to go through in the first place, and combat the political inertia that keeps them in place once it becomes obvious that they’re doing more harm than good.
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