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An energy policy that makes sense - JAMES LEE

To the editor:

I wonder how many taxpayers noticed that when the Bush tax cuts were extended during the Lame Duck session of Congress last December, the bill also included $7 billion for ethanol subsidies.

According to Cornell University agricultural expert, David Pimental, powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland -- the same space needed to grow a year's supply of food for seven people.

Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into one gallon of ethanol would require 131,000 BTUs. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUs. Thus, 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that is actually in it.

Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs.

Ethanol from corn costs about $1.74 per gallon to produce, compared with about 95 cents to produce a gallon of gasoline. That helps to explain why fossil fuels -- not ethanol -- are used to produce ethanol. The multi-billion dollars a year in current federal and state subsidies (mainly to large corporations) for ethanol production comes from, either borrowed, or printed money.

This unsustainable monetary policy, coupled with increased demand for corn for ethanol results in higher prices for meat, milk and eggs, because about 70 percent of corn grain is fed to livestock and poultry in the United States.

Increasing ethanol production would further inflate food prices.

Since it requires more fossil fuel to make an equivalent amount of ethanol, it is difficult to understand how this process will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

It is also difficult to understand why our elected representatives would continue a program that increases our dependence on foreign oil, inflates the price of food, not only in the United States, but worldwide, and spends taxpayers' funds on a program that only enriches a few corporations that could not profitably continue ethanol production without government subsidies.

How about this idea? Since foreign oil produces the same amount of carbon dioxide when burned as oil produced in America, why not utilize our own oil?

It would cost less, create tens of thousands of American jobs, generate income for the U.S. Government through oil royalties, reduce the money flowing out of this country every year by $350-$500 billion dollars, and most importantly, actually reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Let's tell our elected representatives to end our current policy of national energy suicide.

JAMES LEE

Locust Grove