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OpenMarket: Brian McGraw

  • Defending the Incandescent Light Bulb

    February 16, 2011

    Jim DiPeso, writing at The Daily Green, does not care much for Freedom Action's campaign to overturn the impending ban on the incandescent light bulb. That's fine, we certainly don’t expect everyone to agree or it wouldn’t have been banned in the first place. But he makes a number of questionable claims that are worth addressing, and includes unnecessary personal...

  • Anti-Ethanol Legislation Begins Popping Up

    February 15, 2011
    Two bills have recently been introduced that intend to block efforts made to increase U.S. consumption of ethanol.

    The first, from Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), intends to cut funding for EPA's E15 program. My understanding of the legislation is that "cutting funding" for the program is the equivalent of ending it, as the EPA needs funds to carry out the remainder of the regulatory process (permits, guidelines for fueling stations, E15 warning stickers, etc.).

    The second is from Jeff Flake (R-AZ), would end the VEETC and corresponding tariff on foreign ethanol.

    Both bills would...
  • Biofuels and Rising Food Prices

    February 11, 2011
    The ethanol industry is, again, being hammered by the media. This time its The Washington Post, publishing an op-ed by Tim Searchinger, a professor at Princeton University: How biofuels contribute to the Food Crisis.

    Searchinger gives a fair, honest estimate of the effect biofuel production has on food prices and convincingly refutes a number of common talking points put out by biofuel enthusiasts:
    Nearly all assessments of the 2008 food crisis assigned biofuels a meaningful role, but much of academia and the media ultimately agreed that the scale of the crisis resulted from a "perfect storm" of causes. Yet this "perfect storm" has re-formed not three years later. We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it.

    He also notes the...
  • Natural Gas Vehicles and the EPA

    February 8, 2011
    Much has been written in the media lately about EPA regulations that intend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Might the EPA start by considering something that reduces the scope of government and greenhouse gas emissions? Vehicles can be converted such that they can run on compressed or liquid natural gas (CNG or LNG), which produces fewer GHGs than petroleum.

    Given recent natural gas discoveries which have pushed prices lower, this might even be a natural market process if it weren't for burdensome licensing requirements. The licensing of natural gas vehicle conversions are prohibitively expensive, with some estimates ranging up to $200,000 per engine class.

    This estimate claims that licensing is even more...
  • TSA Given Approval To Unionize

    February 4, 2011
    As the New York Times says, this is a debate that has been brewing for potentially a decade: the "right" for Transportation Security Administration workers to unionize. The American Federation of Government Employees followed up with a press release praising the decision:
    AFGE National President John Gage today released the following statement:

    "Today marks the recognition of a fundamental human right for 40,000 patriotic federal employees who have been disenfranchised since the inception of the agency.

    Calling the right to collective bargaining a "fundamental human right" is a recent development. This would imply that those who operate businesses do not have the "fundamental human right" of being able to choose which workers they employ, but who's...
  • Egypt and Global Oil Supplies

    February 3, 2011
    The ongoing situation in Egypt has U.S. elected officials in a huff over volatile oil prices, as significant amounts of oil are shipped to the United States through the Suez Canal. Oil has risen approximately 5.5 percent to $90/barrel in the last week, much of the increase attributable to fears over supply issues.

    From this, politicians find impetus to support the idea of micro-managing the U.S. economy:
    "I’m optimistic that further technology advances, both in vehicles and fuels, could make us even less reliant on imported oil than the current forecast predicts," Bingaman said. "I hope that Congress will have the good sense to remain on this path toward...
  • More Presidential Hopefuls Embracing Ethanolism

    February 2, 2011
    As the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week, potential 2012 GOP presidential nominees are making the rounds in Iowa singing the praises of renewable fuels. Newt Gingrich was a particularly egregious example. The latest to jump ship is former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. He embraced the 9/11 national security meme, while giving us his historical take of what he deems the "radicalization" of Islam and the necessity of a smart, "independent" energy policy:
    Santorum believes that domestic production of renewable liquid fuels in critical to this country’s national security. "Post 9/11, I went from someone who was skeptical at best of developing domestic sources of energy, to...
  • New EPA Report Confirms Biofuel Policy Harms Environment

    January 31, 2011
    A draft EPA report released a few days ago largely confirms what we already know, that conventional biofuels produced on a large scale in the United States (corn ethanol), offer slight GHG reductions but come with a host of other, more troublesome,  problems. As the report is still a draft, the EPA has asked that it not be cited or quoted from. The report is available here. If you navigate to page 116 you can find their preliminary conclusions and recommendations. The report offers a visual summary of potential consequences or benefits from various technologies (ethanol, bio-diesel, algae-based fuels, etc.). Under corn ethanol, there are 6 listed categories of environmental effects: water quality, water quantity, soil quality, air quality, biodiversity, and invasiveness. Ethanol's score offers a "...
  • California Businesses Vote With Their Feet

    January 28, 2011
    According to this report, 204 businesses left California for greener less green pastures in 2010. That is up from the 51 businesses which left in 2009. This certainly won't help tax revenues that California so desperately wants (though not enough to tax marijuana sales).

    Mark this down as one of the many reasons why it isn't a good idea to dig your state into a nearly inescapable fiscal hole. Their budget deficit is projected to be $19 billion dollars, with annual unfunded pension liabilities potentially reaching ...
  • Newt Gingrich Panders to Corn Belt, Eyes 2012 GOP Bid

    January 25, 2011
    Today, Newt Gingrich spoke at the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association Annual Summit. Here is a link to his speech. Remember, Gingrich is no dummy, he is an accomplished author and holds a doctorate from Tulane University. Despite this, he engages in the usual pandering to the farm state promoting policies that are fiscally irresponsible and destructive towards America. Unfortunately, this pandering has been shown to be widely successful in helping launch presidential campaigns.

    An excerpt of the important parts of his speech:
    5:40 in: "This is why the people who talk about food versus fuel are just plain, flat wrong. (HUGE APPLAUSE). It is factually untrue. If anybody has created a problem with food on the planet it is the...

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