Study Cites Inefficiency

Of Alternative Fuels

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Farmers, businesses and state officials are investing millions of dollars in ethanol and biofuel plants as renewable energy sources, but a new study says the alternative fuels burn more energy than they produce.

Supporters of ethanol and other biofuels contend they burn cleaner than fossil fuels, reduce U.S. dependence on oil and give farmers another market to sell their produce.

But researchers at Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley say it takes 29 percent more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces. For switch grass, a warm-weather perennial grass found in the Great Plains and eastern North America, it takes 45 percent more energy, and for wood, 57 percent. It takes 27 percent more energy to turn soybeans into biodiesel fuel, and more than double the energy produced is needed to do the same to sunflower plants, the study found.

"Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation's energy security, its agriculture, the economy, or the environment," according to the study by Cornell's David Pimentel and Berkeley's Tad Patzek. They conclude that the country would be better off investing in solar, wind and hydrogen energy.

The researchers included such factors as the energy used in producing the crop, costs that were not used in other studies that supported ethanol production, Pimentel said. The study also omitted $3 billion in state and federal government subsidies that go toward ethanol production in the United States each year, payments that mask the true costs, Pimentel said.

* HOUSTON -- America's largest church celebrated its move into the former arena for the Houston Rockets with a capacity crowd of 16,000, an upbeat Saturday night sermon from its televangelist pastor, Joel Osteen, and a spirited welcome from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). The new home for the nondenominational Lakewood Church is the former Compaq Center, once home to the Rockets of the National Basketball Association.

* HOOVER, Ala. -- Two siblings who were inside their mother's car were missing after the vehicle went off a highway and into the Cahaba River, authorities said. Golfers rescued the mother but could not find the children -- a girl, 5, and her 18-month-old brother.

* CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- In their first meeting away from Thomas Jefferson's estate in Virginia, about 65 people who believe they are descendants of the nation's third president and slave Sally Hemings gathered for a weekend reunion in southern Ohio. The gathering drew people from Ohio, California, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington.

* TRENTON, N.J. -- Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), just back from a visit to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, apologized for suggesting that detainees there were worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi dictator "sort of had a political rationale about what he was doing." Muslim terrorists, he said, were more evil than Hitler because "he never went to the level that these people are going to." A caller objected, and LoBiondo apologized on the air and again Saturday to the Press of Atlantic City.

-- From News Services

Descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings pose for a photograph during a reunion in Chillicothe, Ohio.