AP investigation explores hidden cost of ethanol

Nov. 6, 2013
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In this July 20, 2013, photo, a plant that produces ethanol is next to a cornfield near Coon Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
For years, corn ethanol has been a centerpiece of America's green energy strategy. President Barack Obama and his administration have described this homegrown fuel as a way to reduce greenhouse gases and to wean the country off foreign sources of oil. But an Associated Press investigation to be published Nov. 12 will highlight the environmental impact of ethanol production.
 
As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they touched off a cascade of unintended consequences, including the elimination of many acres of conservation land.

The months-long reporting effort into the hidden cost of this green energy source was led by Washington bureau reporters Dina Cappiello and Matt Apuzzo, but represents the efforts of dozens of AP journalists, photographers, video producers, data experts, editors and others across the country. AP used its footprint in the 50 states to interview farmers, politicians, environmentalists, scientists and many others. AP’s data experts also burrowed deep into statistics to tell a comprehensive story. 

“We want our investigative reporting efforts focused on topics that truly matter to people, that touch lives and that can provide information of real value to our members and customers and their audiences,” said Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee. “The unintended consequnces of green energy, when it comes to a program like ethanol, is truly one of those topics.” 

In addition to a main text story, the report will also include:

•    A timeline, Q&A and list of top ethanol-producing counties.
 
•    State-specific versions of the stories will be provided for AP members in the Corn Belt, including Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana and others.
  
•    Data showing county-by-county changes in corn planting and conservation will be available to AP members and customers to further localize the story.
 
•    Videos, photos, audio cuts, a graphic and in-depth interactive feature.

Readers can join a conversation with AP journalists who reported the story on Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. ET on Reddit.

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Contact
Paul Colford
Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press
pcolford@ap.org
212-621-1895

Erin Madigan White
Sr. Media Relations Manager
The Associated Press
emadigan@ap.org
212-621-7005

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