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For those of you interested in the subject of ethanol, our cover story on the issue last week ("Stalking the answers," July 19) generated some spirited debate on the Enviro-Mich listserve. The online forum sponsored by the group Citizen Action (you can view the archives on the Web at is a lively spot, with lots of solid, informed opinions regarding all things environmental in this state.

Some of the people commenting on Ben Lefebvre's story thought more emphasis should have been placed on the inherent limits of using corn as a fuel.

A National Academy of Sciences report produced by researchers at the University of Minnesota and released the same week our story came out found that, even if all the corn grown in this country were used to make fuel, it would amount to only about 12 percent of our total gasoline consumption.

Others commenting on our story thought the point was clearly made: As one expert told Lefebvre, there's no single "magic bullet" when it comes to alternative energy sources, what's really needed is "silver buckshot."

There were also some who made a point News Hits wholeheartedly agrees with: Although we need to find environmentally friendly alternatives to burning greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels, there needs to be a corresponding effort aimed at simply reducing energy consumption. Even something that's perceived as a green option such as ethanol takes almost as much energy to produce as it eventually provides, and that the making and transporting of it can still add to the problem of global warming.

As one person on the list pointed out, "I think Jimmy Carter had it right when he tried to declare that a national focus on energy conservation was a moral equivalent to going to war."

As opposed to the immoral option of going to war to continue supplying our SUVs with petrol.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or

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