Ethanol: The road to energy independence or food crisis?

Regarding the July 26 article, "Ethanol's rise prompts worries of a corn crunch": Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" provides much needed insight into this debate. Our country has always produced more corn than we could use.

This surplus corn ought to be made into ethanol, but it takes about two calories of petroleum to produce one calorie of corn. In essence, to grow corn solely for ethanol, results in greater use of petroleum. It would be cheaper, and more environmentally friendly, to fill a car with petroleum.
Joshua Grossman
Columbus, Ohio

Regarding the July 26 article on ethanol: It raises an important question. As agricultural land continues to be depleted by man and nature, and as the population continues to increase faster than the food supply, is it moral to take food from children to feed our metal horses? Switch grass, sugar cane stalks, and wood fiber, among other things, are corn substitutes, and use much less energy to be converted into fuel. Moreover, much more fuel-efficient cars can be produced almost immediately. We can easily get the average miles per gallon up by five miles in five years with existing technology, probably at no extra cost.

Moreover, corn uses a lot of fertilizer, which eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico, to the detriment of fishing there.
Roy Lechtreck
Alabaster, Ala.

While the degree to which ethanol production raises food prices is uncertain, one thing is undeniable: Taxpayers will be on the hook, one way or another. Taxpayers already spend an estimated $5 billion a year subsidizing the growing of corn. The production of ethanol costs them another $2 billion a year. If farmers, driven by a desire to sell more corn to ethanol distillers, overproduce and end up with a surplus, taxpayers are likely to see higher subsidy payments.

If corn production falls due to bad weather and ethanol producers must pay more for corn, taxpayers will shell out more in agricultural and ethanol subsidies. With ethanol subsidies expected to reach $5 billion a year by 2025, the last thing taxpayers need is higher food prices to boot.
Jeff Dircksen
Policy Analyst
National Taxpayers Union
Alexandria, Va.

Camp pictures should be for family only

Regarding the July 26 article, "Parents plug in to kids at camp': In one sense it is great to have parents connected to their children while at camp. On the other hand, a more cautious stance needs to be taken. If anybody can access them, then it can put the kids at risk. I would rather have some pictures mailed to me from my kid than have the pictures posted to the world.
Noah Powers
San Antonio

Nuclear energy: an unsound investment

Regarding the July 27 article, "Spent nuclear fuel edges closer to Yucca": My heart goes out to the citizens of Nevada. I am extremely concerned about the recent push for increased nuclear power. At best it is a band-aid and I am afraid that the long-term storage problems will make fossil-fuel problems pale by comparison. If we pursued a more active policy of reducing energy waste and use of existing natural resources, we would have a much sounder long-term investment. As it is, we are consuming and burdening our children with the cleanup.
Dorothea Leicher

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