Letters for Friday — March 10, 2006

• I did more research

• Do some more research

• Fight the cell tower

I did more research

A big mahalo to Carl Wright from Apollo Kauai for suggesting I do some more ethanol research.

I did, and discovered a press release from UC Berkeley Press dated Jan. 26 wherein associate professor Alex Farrell (author of the Science article quoted by Wright) states, “At the moment, cellulose technology is just too expensive.”

This is the technology needed to produce ethanol from sugar cane, and this is exactly the point I made in my March 7 letter. Ethanol production using sugar cane is not economically feasible.

I did some more research and discoved that Kauai Apollo is affiliated with the Apollo Group, whose goal is to create 3 million jobs and raise $300 billion to invest in new energy technology through tax incentives and public bonds. In other words, it is a front for big business to get more taxpayer’s money.

I’ll gladly send a copy of the press release to anyone who wants one.

  • John Wyatt

Do some more research

By selectively quoting from a recent article I sent to District 14 constituents regarding ethanol, John Wyatt (The Garden Island, letters, March 7) erroneously focuses the ethanol debate for Hawai’i on studies dealing with corn as a feedstock rather than sugar. For The Garden Island readers who do not receive my newsletter, the article was done in a frequently asked question format. I have enclosed the full text of the question for your readers’ perusal, which is selfexplanatory.

Q: I heard it takes more energy to make ethanol than what ethanol contains? This doesn’t sound efficient.

A: In 1979, the American Petroleum Institute (API) did a study on the energy balance of ethanol, and concluded that it took more energy to make a gallon of ethanol from corn kernels than was contained in the final gallon of fuel ethanol. Or, you could say that the “net energy balance” of ethanol from corn was negative. According to the report, “traditional (corn to ethanol) technology” used 2.2 Btu (British thermal units) of energy for every Btu produced (2.2:1). “Energy efficient (corn to ethanol) technology” used 1.2 Btu for every Btu produced (1.2:1).

The same 1979 API study said that ethanol from sugarcane, the most likely feedstock for Hawai’i, was six times more efficient, and showed a net energy. Sugarcane to ethanol used only .33 Btu of energy for every Btu produced (0.33:1).

Corn may not be the best way to make ethanol. Plants with higher cellulose content like switchgrass or sugar cane are much better.

The 1979 American Petroleum Institute study gave “fuel” to ethanol opponents for their arguments against corn-based ethanol. However, the same study reveals positive results when sugar is used as the feedstock as I state in my article. The API study, along with the study that Mr. Wyatt cited (Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower, Pimentel & Patzek) have been disputed.

As recently as January 2006, a published study in the journal Science discredits the Pimentel & Patzek studies, stating that these studies ignored coproducts, used obsolete data or were so poorly documented that their quality cannot be evaluated. The ERG Biofuel Analysis Meta-Model was developed by students and faculty of the Energy and Resources Group and Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley to review the current state of biofuel energy analyses.

The Science article and analyses can be found at: rael.berkeley.edu/EBAMM/.

I am proud of my role in stimulating the production of ethanol in Hawai’i by passing the ethanol incentive tax credit legislation. It is one of two tax credits, both of which I worked on, that had a cost/benefit analysis completed which demonstrated positive gains to the State of Hawai’i. The plant owner cannot receive any tax credit unless the plant is producing ethanol. Most importantly, sugar ethanol production takes our 20th century sugar infrastructure into a 21st century higher value commodity, sugar for energy. It can help keep agricultural lands in agricultural production and lessen our dependency on imported fossil fuels.

I welcome and will work with any business interests who are willing to invest in Kaua’i to meet our agricultural, energy and environmental public policy goals to better the quality of life and the economic viability for our Kaua’i residents.

If any Garden Island reader would like to receive my e-mail newsletter, please contact me at: repmorita@capitol.hawaii.gov. In the subject line enter “Subscribe.” If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet, I will be happy to add you to my mailing list if you contact me at phone 274-3141, wait for the dialtone, extension 6-8435#.

  • Hermina M. Morita
    State Representative, District 14

Fight the cell tower

Do you value your health, views and property values?

Verizon is proposing a 55-foot cellular telephone antenna tower and generator for the back lot of the Wailua Family Restaurant. This is an unacceptable location and a detriment to the health, safety and well-being of the neighborhood.

The tower will emit harmful radio-frequency energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation. Verizon has shown no evidence that the proximity of the tower is safe for human life and there may be long-term detrimental effects that have not been studied. Have you ever heard that the little cell phone you’re holding causes brain cancer? Imagine the radiation that the tower will be continuously emitting forever.

Not only is this tower 20 feet taller than zoning allows, it will have a 15-foot wide head at the top. Those prized ocean and mountain views will compete with a 55-foot tower structure which will be 32 feet higher than any adjacent buildings.

Perceived health problems and the danger of living so close to the antenna will drastically reduce residential and commercial property values. Who wants to live or work in an area which is unsafe for their family?

Ultimately, Verizon is proposing a use that is not compatible with the zoning. Any communication facilities must be located in an industrial zoned area (Kaua’i County Code Section 8-6.3, a, 5). The proposed project is located in a neighborhood commercial district. The tower will sit 15 feet away from my neighbor’s house that has been there since the 1950s. If this project is approved, get ready for more communication towers in the adjacent area and in other zoning areas.

I understand the importance of having the towers, but this location is wrong on so many levels. This project must be denied and relocated to an industrial zoned area. Put this monstrosity where zoning allows and not where the off-island owner can make a quick buck while destroying the neighborhood.

No one wants to live, work, or play next to an eyesore.

We need to organize and speak out. Your community is being treated un-fairly. Please contact me for detailed information, hearing updates or if you can help in any way to get this project relocated. Contact me at: houselots@hotmail.com

  • Brendan McNamara

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