Ethanol: not a panacea, but certainly valuable

Your Nov. 3 editorial "Ethanol's False Promise" recycled a litany of discredited claims about ethanol. The science does support proponents' claims. Your editorial says ethanol is rarely available outside the Midwest, yet it is in 80 percent of California gasoline. Getty gas stations in Massachusetts and Connecticut use it during the winter because it's cheaper. Most oil, on the other hand, comes from as far away as the Middle East. Reputable studies have shown that ethanol has a significant, positive energy balance.

Furthermore, to claim that the ethanol industry has survived on subsidies when its direct competitor - oil and gas - receives the lion's share of subsidies in this country is misleading. According to a Senate accounting, 88 percent of the incentives in this year's energy bill go to oil and gas. Before California started using ethanol, it did extensive testing, and in every air-shed test ethanol-blended gasoline performed better than the cleanest gasoline-only formula. The Pew Center for Global Climate Change has said that ethanol offers the best opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, and DOE studies agree.

Ethanol is not a panacea, but it is a safer, cleaner, and domestically produced product that costs less with fewer subsidies.
William Coleman
Renewable Energy Action Project

Time for Europe to curb smoking

Regarding your Oct. 24 article "Europe's smokers feel the heat": After years of immobility over the tobacco controversy, movements are finally being made to curb smoking in many nations of Western Europe. As Sophie Kazan, of the European Network for Smoking Prevention, said in your article, "It's time." It's time to eliminate the cause of so much death and disease.

As a nonsmoker, I recall upon many occasions being offended by smokers and their carelessness regarding the locations they smoke in. A native of California, I distinctly remember a change in my enjoyment of restaurants when the antismoking campaign was launched, banning all smoking in public places. I hope that Europeans reap as much success from their campaign as Californians have reaped from theirs.
Jamie Bedke
Rexburg, Idaho

How history should be taught

Regarding Jonathan Zimmerman's Nov. 4 Opinion "Worshiping the state in school": I am a freshman high school student at Bard High School Early College. One of the things I most enjoy about my history class is that it tries to present both sides of the argument and understand not just the positives but the negatives as well.

For example, instead of "celebrating" Columbus Day in the traditional way, we instead read a statement from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez criticizing Columbus, which sparked an informed class discussion. This type of teaching not only gives students a better understanding of the subject matter but also encourages us to think for ourselves and arrive at our own conclusions, as Mr. Zimmerman suggests we should. More schools apparently should teach like Bard.
Stephen Bonnett
Brooklyn, N.Y.

If the schools are good, they will come

Regarding your Nov. 5 editorial "What Campuses are Missing": We need to watch the drop in the number of foreign students coming to US colleges and universities, but we don't need to start wringing our hands over this issue. We are still the greatest country in the world with some of the best schools, and the best and brightest from foreign countries will work through the entry problem to attend our great schools.
Guy LaBoa
Dahlonega, Ga.

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