Trust the EPA for energy, environment information

If you had a question about energy or the environment, whom would you look to for expertise? 

The spokesperson for the egg farmers’ trade association? A board member of the Recreational Boaters of California? Or both of them together, co-authoring an op-ed (“Time to close the books on U.S. biofuels policy,” by Ken Klippen and Greg Gibeson, May 7) that, in its only bow to environmental responsibility, recycles Big Oil’s talking points against renewable fuels.

Recreational boats can leak motor fuel, so it isn’t surprising that this op-ed is an oil slick of inaccuracies.

On the environmental front, Klippen and Gibeson contend that “Since its implementation, the RFS [Renewable Fuel Standard] has contributed to the plowing of more than 23 million acres of wetlands and grasslands.”

But no new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s greenhouse gas inventory.

The op-ed also maintains that “Overall, lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol in 2012 were higher than from gasoline.” But the fact is corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline (including hypothetical land-use emissions). Says who? Says the Department of Energy’s GREET (Greenhouse gases, regulated emissions, and energy use in transportation) model.

You’d think that a spokesperson for egg farmers might know the facts about food prices. Think again.

The op-ed says, “The average U.S. family of four faced a $2,000 increase in food costs last year due to the effects of higher corn prices brought on largely by the RFS.” But the RFS hasn’t raised food prices, and, if you’re paying too much for food, blame Big Oil, not biofuels.

The facts: Food price inflation has averaged 2.9 percent since 2005, the year the RFS was implemented. But, from 1980 to 2004, before the RFS, food price inflation was 3.5 percent.  

So what is increasing food prices? According to the World Bank, “most of the food price increases are accounted for by crude oil prices.” For every $1 spent at the grocery store, only 12 cents pays for agricultural goods from the farm. The other 88 cents is spent on marketing, food processing and energy.

What about engine failure? The op-ed claims “The agency [EPA] continues to push gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15) despite its unsuitability for use in heavy-duty vehicles, vehicles built before 2001, marine engines and small engines such as lawnmowers and chainsaws due to engine failure.” 

In fact, E15 is the most tested fuel additive in history, approved for all vehicles model year 2001 and newer (80 percent of today’s automotive fleet). E15 has been available for more than a year and a half and driven more than 65 million miles, with no known cases of misfueling or engine damage.   

On energy and the environment, trust the EPA, not recreational boaters and the egg growers — unless you want to wind up with egg on your face.

Washington, D.C.

Price increase of duck stamp an investment

From Joseph Goergen, Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs Office

I write to express my support for the increase of the Federal Duck Stamp price for continual waterfowl conservation. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, simply known as the duck stamp, is an early American conservation success story. Since its establishment in 1934, this piece of legislation has helped conserve more than 6 million acres of critical waterfowl habitat. Out of every dollar collected by the stamp, 98 cents go directly to habitat conservation in the field. In addition to the contributions to the mission of Ducks Unlimited and the management and restoration of North American wetlands, the stamp has stimulated public awareness on the value of conservation in practice.

The price of the Federal Duck Stamp was last increased to $15 in 1991. This price has not been accurately adjusted for inflation. The work of Ducks Unlimited and conservationists across the country has become more costly and is increasingly important as our wetlands dwindle. The duck stamp is now at its lowest buying power ever. In 2013, a bill was introduced to the Senate to increase the stamp’s price to $25. The price increase of the Federal Duck Stamp will be a major investment in waterfowl habitat conservation and the historical preservation of North America’s wetlands.

Washington, D.C.

We must stand against injustice and oppression

From Anila Ali

As the mother of an adult daughter who deserves every right and opportunity afforded a man, I feel an obligation to speak out wherever injustice and oppression rear their ugly head. As a Muslim, I am horrified by the oppression women face in many Muslim countries where fundamentalist extremism has taken hold. We must stand together against ignorance, oppression and religious extremism wherever it exists, and stand up for the rights of all people. Only then will the ideals of our state and nation have the power to influence beyond our borders.

Irvine, Calif.