Corn can be clean, efficient energy source Perhaps The...


May 09, 2002

Corn can be clean, efficient energy source

Perhaps The Sun's facts on mom and apple pie will be better than its information on corn ("Corn, and what's wrong with it," editorial, April 25).

Corn is the most important crop to the United States because we are better at growing it than any other country in the world. The same cannot be said for crops such as soybeans or wheat, which would fare badly on much of the land where corn is bountiful.

And technical advances in farming - better, bigger equipment; global positioning satellite-guided application of nutrients; corn that reduces or eliminates pesticides; and low-till or no-till land management systems - have all made growing corn much more environmentally friendly.

The question the editorial raised about ethanol's energy balance might have been timely in the early 1970s, but advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiencies in farm production have reduced the energy inputs.

In fact, the Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Transportation Research has calculated the energy input to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn at 55,600 BTUs and the energy output from combusted ethanol at 76,600 BTUs per gallon.

This produces an energy gain of more than 20,000 BTUs and confirms that corn efficiently processes solar energy.

Peter A. Meyer

Chicago, Ill.

The writer is president of PMI Consultants, an agribusiness consulting firm.

After reading the editorial on growing corn, I felt like it was a page out of the environmental extremist handbook.

We have transferred a huge amount of wealth to the Middle East in exchange for energy. Our military presence there subsidizes a large percentage of the cost of oil.

Ethanol and bio-diesel fuels can help meet our energy needs. And no-till corn production is environmentally friendly and does not ruin the soil.

Maryland has more acres of lawns and golf courses than corn. Concerns about the environment should start with them, since lawns and golf courses use about 10 times as much fertilizer and pesticides as corn.

Wayne McGinnis

White Hall

The writer is a farmer and former chairman of the Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation.

Where's clemency for killer's victims?

As I read about death penalty opponents lobbying to persuade Gov. Parris N. Glendening to stop this month's execution of Wesley Baker for the murder of Jane Tyson ("Critics lobbying to stop execution," May 4), I couldn't help but wonder about the legal term "clemency."

As this grandmother was shot while her two grandchildren watched, was any clemency shown her? Her grandchildren will have to live with this horrific memory for the remainder of their lives. Where is the clemency for them?

Some people want a moratorium on the death penalty. Others of us want a moratorium on the deaths of innocent people.

Barbara Blumberg


Make pet owners more accountable

There has to be some way to start holding pet owners accountable for the hideous situations in which they place animals ("City girl, 3, hurt in pit bull attack," May 3).

I think the grandmother in this recent pit bull attack should be charged with, at the very least, negligence (to the child) and cruelty (to the dog).

Tweefie Millspaugh


Regarding the incident in which a 3-year-old was bitten by her grandmother's dog, one cannot but ask these questions: Why was the child wandering alone near the dogs? Why did the dog's owner allow anyone to approach a mother dog with puppies, of which she would be protective?

Having a child or a dog is a major responsibility, and adults should not have both in the same household unless they can carefully supervise them both all of the time.

Robin Tierney


U.S. policy on Israel fosters Arab violence

The Neville Chamberlain "peace in our time" award should be given to the Bush administration, with special mention to Secretary of State Colin Powell and his State Department, because the United States forced Israel to withdraw its forces from the West Bank and let Yasser Arafat out of his confinement.

As a result of this head-in-the-sand policy, the Bush administration, in my opinion, bears significant responsibility for the latest suicide attack near Tel Aviv and the resulting deaths of Jewish civilians ("Sharon warns of a forceful reply to attack," May 8).

If I had known that the Bush administration would have a different policy on terrorists in the Middle East from the one it enunciated against those who attacked America, I would have voted for Al Gore.

John A. Malagrin


A brighter horizon for school reform

As a crowing critic of MSPAP, I stand tall at the precipice of a new horizon ("Maryland school test is dropped," April 25).

Finally, those of us labeled as quixotic detractors in the way of real school reform see the possibility of Maryland's public schools focusing on the academic achievement of individual students.

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