November 17, 2010With 2011 a month and a half away, the ethanol industry is pushing full steam ahead for a renewal of the tax credit and tariff provided to support the industry. There seems to be ample opportunity to push this legislation, as it could be attached to either any energy or tax legislation that makes it way through Congress. Rent-seeking lobbyists and politicians are out in full force hoping the river of cash doesn't run dry:
A group of senators have pressed Harry Reid over concerns that the expansion of ethanol is being constrained by "marketplace limitations." It also implies that eventually the ethanol industry will be ready to leave the government teat, though we must ensure this isn't done prematurely and that there is ample time for "broader discussions" on how to address the limitations facing biofuels (hint:...
November 16, 2010Eliot Spitzer, who occasionally publishes over at Slate, wrote yesterday about President Obama's "disastrous Asia trip" and decried America's fall from grace as a world leader. The culprit? Wall Street. Pretend you're shocked.
First, he writes that South Korea rejected a "reasonably standard and straightforward trade pact." That isn't quite what happened. Rather than Korea, the U.S. [has, for a few years now] rejected a reasonably standard and straightforward trade pact by failing to approve an already negotiated trade agreement. Obama went to Korea on behalf of the domestic auto industry in an attempt to negotiate increased access to the South Korean auto market on behalf of the UAW, etc. Here is a good summary on why Koreans are unlikely to be...
November 15, 2010The TSA doesn't have very many friends these days. Do they deserve any?
In an interview (halfway down on the left sidebar), John Pistole (TSA director) was pressed twice at why the gentleman from San Francisco was told that he might be subject to a $10,000 fine for his unwillingness to go through with new invasive security procedures. He dodged this question both times it was asked, despite it being critically important for him to acknowledge how outrageous this type of fine would be.
For a background on what happened, you can read an account here. According to Tyner, he had looked at the San Diego Airport's website ahead of...
November 10, 2010Marc J. Rauch, Executive Vice President/Co-Publisher of The Auto Channel, posted a lengthy diatribe on the American Petroleum Institute’s recent lawsuit on the EPA’s approval of E15 blends in newer vehicles. Read it here, and note the title: “Gasoline Whores File Frivolous Lawsuit in Attempt to Derail American Energy Independence.” He is mad.
The lawsuit itself is not all that interesting. What is interesting, I think, is how willfully blind the author is to a number of realities that put the successes of the ethanol industry into perspective. He addresses a number of organizations that provided public comments on the EPA decision:
Grocery Manufacturers Association Vice President for Federal Affairs Scott Faber said: “We were disappointed in the Administration’s decision to allow more ethanol...
November 8, 2010Via The Huffington Post, an update on Big Corn's quest to continue fueling our tasty beverages:
The makers of high fructose corn syrup want to sweeten its image with a new name: corn sugar.
The Corn Refiners Association applied Tuesday to the federal government for permission to use the name on food labels. The group hopes a new name will ease confusion about the sweetener, which is used in soft drinks, bread, cereal and other products.
The CRA wants to legally re-brand HFCS as "corn sugar" to avoid the negativity associated with consumption of HFCS that have appeared over the past years, as they believe recent scientific evidence has vindicated their industry. Given San Francisco's recent decision to ban McDonald's Happy Meals (why don't they...
November 5, 2010A number of environmental groups asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to remove herself from the decision process in whether or not the TransCanada oil-sands pipeline ought to be approved. This request came after remarks made last month when Clinton indicated that the Department of State was inclined to approve the project. The environmental groups claim that Hillary is too biased in support for the pipeline to objectively evaluate its merits:
This decision will test the administration's commitments to move America off of oil and combat global warming and should not be made by an official who admits to being inclined to approve it before analysis is completed. Therefore , we respectfully urge you to recuse yourself from this important decision.
I'm *confident* that this...
November 4, 2010The EPA again lowered its projection in meeting the 2011 "mandate" on cellulosic ethanol. (Is it really a mandate when the end result meets 1.5 percent of its goal?) The original mandate was revised from 250 million gallons to 5-17 million gallons this summer. This week brought even lower projections: 3.94 million gallons, about 1.5 percent of the original target. Rather than scrapping a bad idea, the RFA is clamoring for more and more money.
Many of the problems with bringing cellulosic ethanol relate to a lack of demand, the recession, large capital costs for new ethanol plants, regulatory uncertainty, etc., but apparently the DOE has been...
November 2, 2010A study soon to be released by the Department of Energy, titled "Empirical Data and Decomposition Analysis of U.S. Corn Use for Ethanol Production from 2001-2008." A presentation summarizing the results of the study was given in California to encourage the eligibility of corn ethanol in California’s low carbon fuel standards. The abstract concludes:
The results of this study provide little support for estimates that assume large land use conversion or diversion of corn exports due to ethanol production in the U.S. over the past decade.
And a bullet point from p. 12:
The analysis suggests minimal to zero indirect land use change was induced by use of corn for ethanol over the last decade.
The study is laughably incomplete as it doesn't look at a...
November 1, 2010I recently came across this article: "Ghost Billboard Erected on U.S.-Canada Border." The title says it all, there is a large metallic outline of a billboard near the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington. According to the artists, the purpose of this billboard is to:
Their hope is that their sign, flying by enigmatically ("What was that?"), will add a little bit of awareness to the whole signage landscape in the border zone.
I hope you like it, you helped pay for it. During times of cut-backs in the private sector, and voiced government concern over the deficit, why are we paying for this stuff? To me, the piece is even quite visually appealing, but if this...
October 28, 2010Hyundai's newest advertisement features their attempts at producing a "green" commercial. One of Hyundai's slogans is "Prepare to want one," yet as Marlo Lewis notes here, we see a car being powered by human labor. Who wants to buy one of those?
Even as an attempt to brand Hyundai as a green company, the ad is a flop. Yes, the film set is crunchy granola, but who says Hyundai had to build a set in the first place, transport a large tech crew to and from the set, buy or rent tons of equipment, and hire real actors? Hyundai could have avoided even more carbon emissions by making the commercial with a laptop and CGI software.