Letters to the Editor
Readers write about ethanol, subway "smart card" security, and potatoes.
Support for corn ethanol as a solution to oil dependency
Regarding your Aug. 12 editorial, "Stop the rush to corn biofuel": The criticism of ethanol relies on inaccurate facts and widely disseminated antiethanol talking points that intentionally distort and disguise the truth.
First, the EPA rejected the waiver request by the governor of Texas to reduce by half America's production of ethanol for failing to present sufficient evidence showing that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) was causing severe harm to the United States or even to the Texas economy.
Second, far more important factors driving up grain and food prices are: higher oil prices, growing worldwide demand, and commodity speculation. If increasing ethanol production was having the impact its critics claim, why have corn prices fallen by 35 percent since the beginning of June?
According to a March 2008 report by Argonne National Laboratory, it takes between 3.5 and 4 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol. It is ludicrous to assert that water that falls from the sky, namely rain, onto cropland should be included in any calculation.
If ethanol production is cut, America will have to import that much more oil and send more billions of dollars overseas.
In response to your recent editorial on ethanol: Liquid fuel made from corn for biofuel is having a detrimental economic impact on food supplies and costs. The supply and demand principle is the cause.
A similar shortage will exist under T. Boone Pickens's plan to fuel vehicles with natural gas. And we will need a new refueling infrastructure for vehicles at added cost. The increase in demand for natural gas, with corresponding price increases, will also be a consequence.
Drilling for oil will be able to fill the need for liquid fuel for airplanes, trucks and buses – including hybrids – heavy equipment, and petroleum-derived products to put the US on a path to energy independence, national security, and better economics.
Put subway hackers to work
Regarding the Aug. 18 article, "Not-so smart cards easily hacked": The three MIT students were guilty of one thing: Embarrassing the management of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Rather than continue to press the students in court, the MBTA should spend its scarce resources to retain the students to conduct a security audit of the patches proposed by MBTA staff and vendors.
High regard for potatoes
In regard to the Aug. 13 article, "A head, and heart, for the lowly potato": I'm not surprised that countries are looking at the potato as a tool to fight hunger.
I'm a market gardener and I raise potatoes among other crops. No grain crop produces as much food per unit of land as the potato. During the Great Depression, some families avoided starvation by growing potatoes. Equally important as a survival food in tropical and subtropical climates is the sweet potato.
Aside from the nutritional value, potatoes are a joy to grow. I like to walk my potato rows, watching the plants' rapid growth, feeling for the swelling tubers, and, lastly, seeing the tubers come up bright and shiny from the digging fork.
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