Sugar more efficient for ethanol production
I appreciated your July 12 editorial
about sugar ethanol production in Hawaii. Here are a couple of additional points in sugar-based ethanol's favor:
First, in the corn vs. sugar debate, corn has a very low ratio of energy output vs. energy input -- it yields only 1.4 units of energy for every 1 put in (through fertilizer, processing and transportation). Sugar has a very high input/output ratio -- about 1:8. (See www.cleanhouston.org/energy/features/ethanol2.htm)
This high energy output has made Brazil self-sufficient in energy, or nearly so, just by using sugar cane ethanol.
Second, sugar cane bagasse (the fibrous debris left over after the sugar has been extracted from the cane) can be used to fuel the ethanol production process. That means that ethanol plants don't have to burn a whole lot of fuel to run the operation. It's a pretty cheap way to do things.
Ethanol is not a means to reduce fossil fuel
Mahalo to Miles Matsumura (Letters, July 5
) for his analysis of the supposed benefit of adding ethanol as an alternative fuel to his gas tank. By his analysis, driving his car with 10 percent ethanol actually increased his use of fossil fuel (gasoline) by 14 percent. The calculus is actually worse than that if you take into account the total release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Not only does the burning of ethanol release carbon dioxide, the processing of ethanol fuel from grains is not free from requiring energy. Unless that energy comes out of a solar panel, it also produces carbon dioxide.
In analyzing the efficiency and carbon dioxide production of alternative fuels, one must consider the entire sequence of processes starting from the extraction of the original material from its natural state. In this respect, the use of hydrogen to power a fuel cell is the best example for how scientists and engineers cheat, big time, in touting this mode of alternative power production.
These proponents completely ignore what it costs in energy and the associated release of carbon dioxide to extract hydrogen from its natural state of existence in our planet.
Courts have restricted campaign signs
Thank you for July 17 editorial
supporting the efforts of The Outdoor Circle to limit the size and number of political signs on residential properties.
I am writing because the editorial -- while supporting efforts to combat visual pollution -- stated that "legal opinion has it that restrictions on (the placement of signs) on private property and on how long they can be displayed would violate free speech guarantees."
In fact, courts across the country have upheld carefully crafted statutes that restrict the size and number of campaign signs on residential property.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which includes Hawaii, has ruled repeatedly that local governments can impose limitations on the size and number of signs in residential areas, so long as the limits are reasonable, do not prohibit such signs altogether and do not discriminate based on content.
In the 2006 Hawaii Legislature, committees in the House approved a measure to limit political signs, but it was blocked by a tie vote in the key Senate committee. It is hoped that such a bill will be enacted during the next session.
Allowing each residence to display a reasonable number of signs allows us to exercise our right of free expression while also protecting the scenic vistas that are so important to our economy and to the pleasure we derive from living in Hawaii.
Jon M. Van Dyke
Forget rail, shore up city's infrastructure
I have lived on Oahu for 17-plus years, and I have seen the local government do many things I did not understand. This proposed rail system takes the cake. Somehow a tax already has been approved for this project with no clear plan and no idea of how much it will cost to maintain. And this system will only support one part of the island.
I think they should fix roads (potholes), sewers, bikeways and parks before even contemplating such a project. What is the rush to take on another problem when they haven't even come close to maintaining our current infrastructure?
Telcom's problems have not abated
Regarding the July 2 column by Mike Ruley
, head of Hawaiian Telcom: Because I wanted to support our local company, I renewed my Hawaiian Telcom contract in April. Then began all my problems. When I tried to have an erroneous $7.96 DSL charge removed from my bill, I was told that I had to call another number. After another half-hour wait, the person told me that she would call me back about a rebate, but to go to their Pearlridge Center store to work out my problem. At the Pearlridge Telcom store, I was told to call billing.
I tried again on June 29 and, again, waited a half-hour. Then, the person assisting me had me on hold for another 22 minutes while she tried to reach DSL. She said she would call me back, and when I asked her if she would definitely call me back, she said she would. I didn't get a call back. I have not seen the "hold peak drop 75 percent," but more frustrating are the fallacious statements of Hawaiian Telcom's employees. I would like to see my concern resolved so I can pay my bill.
Despite city's sympathy, tax bills remain high
Well, the tax bills came in and the mayor's office stuck with the unfair property tax increase. When we contacted this office at the time the new taxes were announced, we got quite a runaround. "It was not Mufi's fault; it was (former Mayor) Harris' mismanagement that caused this huge increase. ..."
It was indicated that there perhaps would be a re-evaluation for people on fixed incomes whose homes were caught in the squeeze of increased value. Yet they went with the evaluation at the top of the housing bubble -- and now we must pay the inflated rate.
At one point I had great hope that Mufi would be on the side of the island people who have lived and worked here, but I was wrong. He is catering and benefiting from the speculators who have come from the mainland or other countries and evidently doesn't give a thought to people who are not going to be able to meet this enormous escalation.