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Too eager for ethanol

August 26, 2007

Re "Drunk on ethanol," editorial, Aug. 20

The editorial is one of the best statements I've seen on the idiocy of our current energy policy (or, really, lack thereof). Just as Americans seek a miracle diet, they also want to keep their SUVs, RVs and Hummers running smoothly without having to think about global warming, peak oil, national security, the Middle East, oil imports or nasty old tar sands. Let's just have a brainless, painless policy to pay farmers to grow corn, pay ethanol producers to convert it to fuel and keep those tanks full. We'll just ride that horse until it is exhausted, then jump on another one and be off again -- no point in developing a rational policy where none is needed. Americans are so fuelish!

Gary Peters

Paso Robles

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The horrors of the U.S. ethanol economy are as numerous as the ears of corn maturing all over California. We should take note of the massive amount of water that is being dedicated to ethanol production in this state alone. It takes as much as five gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol, and that does not count the amount of water used to irrigate corn, a relatively thirsty crop. In many farming places, there is now corn as far as the eye can see, and you can almost hear it slurping water.

Promoting a massive corn economy in California makes no sense, particularly in light of our growing concerns about water supply reliability.

Lisa Coffman

Executive Director

California Water

Impact Network

Shaver Lake, Calif.

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Health problems from contaminated groundwater were claimed for methyl tertiary butyl ether, a noxious, odorous chemical that is only slightly soluble in water. Ethanol is deemed OK and politically correct, although it is infinitely soluble in water, can have a pleasing taste and has been shown to cause birth defects in the children of women who drink it while pregnant. Is this a step forward? Again, Congress has mandated a significant change in the chemistry of a major consumer product without much testing or knowledge of its effect on the environment.

James Langley

Houston

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The editorial, using one-sided arguments that make the pursuit of ethanol look like a fruitless effort, failed to mention that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 20%, has a 34% net gain in overall energy and is the highest-performing fuel. The Times instead focused on reciting environmental statistics from a Stanford University study that has been widely challenged by experts and misinterpreted by the mass media. American farmers have the means and ability to feed and fuel this country. It's unfortunate that The Times would strategically pick and choose statistics to skew the reality of ethanol.

Douglas A. Durante

Director, Clean Fuels

Development Coalition

Washington

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As an engineer who has worked in the energy field for more than 40 years, including ethanol refinery design and engineering, The Times is to be congratulated for further exposing the ethanol fraud being perpetrated on U.S. taxpayers.

Daniel Dunn

Northridge

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