Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Stoves no answer to energy crisis

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Corn stoves are a wonderful energy alternative to the handful of people using them, however the Jan. 2 article, ‘‘Warming up to the idea of corn stoves?” leaves a misleading impression that these stoves can play significant role as a major energy source.

The current ethanol boom already has shown us the effects of corn-to-energy programs on corn prices and corn-reliant staples such as milk, eggs, meat and poultry. Widespread use of corn as a home heating source is not economical or feasible. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland farmers harvested 1.18 million tons of corn in 2007. In 2006, Maryland had approximately 2.6 million housing units. Using the figures from the article, if just 25 percent of these households used corn stoves, total annual corn usage at these households would reach 1.95 million tons, exceeding 2007 Maryland corn production 65 percent! There simply is not enough acreage to grow all of the field crops we currently rely on for food and feed while simultaneously increasing corn production for these so-called green alternatives.

We’ve already seen what burgeoning ethanol production has done to the price of corn, soybeans and grocery staples. Corn stoves will only add to the problem.

Sandor Toth, Silver Spring