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More on Biofuels
“The Clean Energy Myth” misses the mark [April 7]. The one-sided and scientifically uninformed piece ignores the large potential of second- and third-generation biofuels to reduce greenhouse gases and the ability of modern agriculture to responsibly manage land use. The Science magazine article on which TIME relies has been thoroughly rebutted by leading scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. TIME owes its readers the totality of facts to avoid misinformation. For many decades, the U.S. has worked with farmers and the scientific community to increase crop yields, reduce the intensity of pesticide and fertilizer use, improve water productivity and promote conservation tillage that reduces erosion and sequesters carbon. Last year alone our agencies invested more than $1 billion in research, development and demonstration of next-generation-biofuels production from nonfood feedstocks, which remains the core U.S. strategy. Our government is committed to advancing technological solutions to promote and increase the use of clean, secure, abundant, affordable and domestic alternative solutions.
Ed Schafer, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, and Samuel W. Bodman, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary,

It is wrong to attribute a significant part of the increase in Amazon deforestation to biofuels, as Mr. Grunwald does. First, suggestions that Brazil is a major culprit in global warming are not supported by scientific facts or reliable statistics. Second, the growth rate of Brazilian emissions has been on the decline primarily because of decreasing rates of Amazon rain-forest deforestation, which is the main source of carbon emissions in Brazil, and increasing use of ethanol fuel. Furthermore, from 1970 to 2005 the use of ethanol in our energy mix has averted the emission of 644 million tons of CO2, the equivalent of Canada’s annual emissions. When compared with the unsustainable energy patterns used in major developed countries, the Brazilian experience can be considered a model. Contrary to what the article claims, ethanol has been a central part of the solution.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Ambassador of Brazil to the U.S.,

Apple Pie and the Pope
Thanks for the lovely article on Pope Benedict XVI [April 14]. I appreciated your bringing out his appreciation for America, its unique and diverse faith history and his current efforts to balance science with morality as well as his efforts to balance faith with reason. I disagree, however, with the suggestion that Catholics have the prerogative to “legitimately balance church teaching against the demands of their conscience.” There is a Vatican II that existed only in the imaginations of a generation into sex, love and rock ‘n’ roll. When one attends to the actual written documents of that Council, what one discovers is the same Catholic teachings as before. The bishops simply put the key focus and dynamics of the church on paper.
Sharon Reidy,
Bedford, Mass., U.S.

Your reporters bent over backward to create some religious Americana that has a special place in the Pope’s heart. We’re plain talkers, not afraid to wade into deeply divisive theological and moral questions and yet always cognizant of our spiritual grounding harking back to this country’s origins. The truth is that the previous Pope and the handpicked bishops that rule the dioceses have driven out any plain talkers. That was all done with the iron hand of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger behind the scenes as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He wants a church made up of Ave Maria University zealots — the chosen few who will preserve Catholicism as the Pope envisions it in all its medieval splendor. To think that the church has gone from John XXIII to this Pope in just over 40 years.
William Tunney,
Grantsville, Md., U.S.

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