Producing inefficient fuel will endanger food sources

The United States is slowly but inexorably running out of two essential ingredients for producing food: topsoil in which plants can grow and phosphates to make fertilizer. At some point in the second half of the 21st century, our ability to grow vast amounts of grain in the American Midwest will be so diminished that our society might simply collapse. The world’s per capita human food production has been in steady decline for years due to the expected stresses of an expanding population on finite agricultural resources, combined with the massive diversion of food products to feed a cancerous, energy-inefficient global biofuel industry.

Growing corn for ethanol eats up huge amounts of phosphate-based fertilizers and greatly increases the speed at which topsoil erodes.  Half of America’s Midwest food-growing capacity in the form of vital topsoil is now resting at the bottom of the Mississippi, Atchafalaya, other rivers, and at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.  Topsoil is washed away by wind and rain when farmers disturb soil to grow crops. We need agriculture to survive, but nonessential biofuel production provides little net energy gain while skyrocketing food prices.  

President Obama wants to increase the rate of topsoil erosion by using so-called “crop residue” to make costly, energy-inefficient cellulosic ethanol. This tactic will rob our soils of nutrients, making them less fertile and requiring the use of even more phosphate based fertilizers.  

Obama almost unbelievably continues to champion the idea of feeding our cars with food-based fuels, as he wishes to expand ethanol production by allowing fuel blenders to increase the ethanol mix for cars and truck from 10 percent to 15 percent. This move will undoubtedly increase engine maintenance costs, void many engine warranties and seriously escalate food price inflation. 

Obama is planning to cut food stamps benefits at the same time he is obliviously conspiring to increase food costs by turning even more of our precious gains into fuel.  Food supply security and hungry people seem to be the very last things on Obama’s mind.

Eugene, Ore.

Extend family assistance to stimulate the economy

John Horejsi, Coordinator, Social Action Linking Together

Being inundated with depressing economic news is common, but both Republicans and Democrats have rightfully praised at least one program: a little know Recovery Act initiative known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

As noted in recent media reports, the initiative is expected to put more than 200,000 unemployed people back to work in 32 states and the District of Columbia. In Fairfax County, Va., the program has already made a difference.

Since the April 21 startup through today, nonprofits and county departments collectively have served more than 700 families in direct emergency assistance for rent, utilities and basic needs supports and have placed 52 people in four-month subsidized employment opportunities.

From what I am hearing and based on the media reports, a year-long extension that would add $2.5 billion is being considered by Congress. Should the proposal get bogged down in political wrangling, many of our nation’s most vulnerable will, unfortunately, suffer. 

This is a good investment for the American people, one that clearly stimulates the economy, and employers and local government officials have already documented the returns of that investment.

Vienna, Va.

Palin, cronies use battle only to garner attention

Harriet Bialkin

I stand for religious freedom, and I find it offensive that there are people in this country that think any religion other than Christianity is not acceptable. All of us have the same rights to build a place of worship so that we can pray as we choose. Religion and politics should be totally separate from each other, and Sarah Palin and her cronies should stay out of it. It does not affect them other than their need to get attention. It is a phony fight like all their other fights.

Springfield, Va.