Ethanol Boom Saps Water in the West

Corn ethanol production not only fails to produce much net energy, it is depleting water supplies.

Ethanol Boom Saps Water in the West. By Jim Moscou. Newsweek Web Exclusive





  1. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    that is old news, it was determined along time ago that corn is not the answer to our fuel problems. Only our government ever thought it was usable. Cost too much to process, puts more methane gas in the air breaking it down, takes away from crops for food sources, uses too much water. Just another myth of the Bush administration that of course went wrong. Sugar cane is better, easier to grow, and has no bad containments in processing. But hey, that is too easy, like soybeans, solar power etc…..

  2. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I am stunned by how drastic the water shortages are becoming out West. We are losing lakes such as Mead and Powell, losing rivers, and aquifiers are dropping so quickly that it is obvious our water usage is far out-stripping natural water replenishment.

    The West is on borrowed time, and in 20 years we probably won’t even believe how dire the situation has become. The West has already gone beyond the point of no return.

    Soon the true costs are due, and the price is going to be disastrous for you Westerners. I just moved back East, and this was one of the factors in that decision.

    The denial of the reality of the water issue is so pervasive out West I wonder how so many can be so delusional. But it will be them that pay the price in the next few decades.

  3. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    You are right smokymtman, lake mead is estimated to possibly be dry within 25-30 years. But I hate to tell ya moving back East will not save you from the effects of climate change, you are going to be freezing your you know what off, and the closer you are to water, the risk of major flooding will be there. It does not matter where you go, climate change has it’s good and bad hands to deal out to you….Enjoy your move though, nice change of scenery!

  4. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    It’s true that you cannot escape climate change by moving away from it. However, some areas will have a more difficult time coping with the changes. It seems to me that the West and Southwest will have the most difficult hardships due to the severe droughts and lack of natural water replenishment.

    The West is drying very quickly, and the growth of these areas is so rapid that there is an imminent and severe water shortage that is going to present extreme difficulties for the west.

    I grew up in the East, and lived for 7 years on the border of the Great Smokies Nat’l Park. After being in Boise for a while, I found myself really missing the green forests of the East, anyway.

    But you are 100% correct when you say “It does not matter where you go, climate change has it’s good and bad hands to deal out to you.”

    Thanks too for wishing me well! I hope I am wrong about the severity of the impending water crisis of the West in the future decades.

  5. Monty Avatar

    Every watershed is like a “hugh bowl” and everything dumped into it will end up in the river—chemicals, motor oil, septic overflow, household waste & such. And everyone who can afford to do so wants to build their “trophy home” along a river, the closer the better. So in addition to issues about water quantity, there are increasing issues about water quality. As the”python article suggests humans are putting the “big squeeze” on eveything!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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