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Oil And Dead Zone Threaten Gulf Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico fights the strangle hold of two different threats – a dead zone and the BP oil spill.
Congress ratified a renewable fuels standard in 2007, which requires ethanol production to be tripled over the next 12 years. The Department of Agriculture has released a plan that will attain that goal, including erecting ethanol refineries in every state. The Environmental Protection Agency has to make a decision whether or not to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline blends from 10 percent to 15 percent.
"More nitrate comes off corn fields than it does off any other crop by far. The ethanol subsidies are driving farmers toward more corn," said Gene Turner, a zoologist at Louisiana State University.
The fertilizer provides food to giant algae blooms, which dies and sinks to the ocean floor and decomposes, suffocating and consuming marine life. Known as hypoxia, the oxygen depletion kills everything that is unable to escape. Fish reproductive organs are frequently shrunk in size, leading to a lack of spawning.
Since the 1980’s the Gulf dead zone has doubled and is expected to increase up to 8,500 sq miles in 2010. It will affect the Gulf Coast from Texas to Alabama.
Scientists are afraid the oil spill will make the Gulf dead zone worse, for as oil decomposes, it also consumes oxygen.
Other ‘dead zones’ involve the Black Sea, the northern Adriatic, Japan, South America, the mouth of Baltic Sea, China and the off coast of Australia. In all, there are estimated to be approximately 405 dead zones across the world.
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