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OpenMarket: Marlo Lewis, Jr.

  • Policy experts blast Bush fuel mandate at Hill briefing

    February 12, 2007
    At a Capitol Hill policy briefing on February 9 for congressional staff and media, sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute and Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute blasted the rampant ethanolism that is becoming the closet thing we Americans have to a state religion.

    Jerry Taylor debunked what he calls the “12 Lies of Ethanol,” explaining inter alia why a bigger ethanol mandate will increase our pain at the pump, won't contribute to energy independence, and will harm hog, cattle, poultry, and soy farmers. I attach the witty and footnoted outline of his remarks.

    Dennis Avery waxed eloquent on the “massive land costs of corn ethanol.” He explained by the numbers why Bush's proposed mandate would be a disaster for consumers and the environment. I attach...
  • Dupont's rent seeking explained

    February 2, 2007
    Today, in a press release timed to coincide with publication of the Summary for Policymakers of Climate Change 2007, also known as the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, DuPont calls for legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, stating: "We believe that voluntary measures, while constructive, are not sufficient to address an issue of this magnitude by themselves."

    The media--for example, USA Today--treat pronouncements like this as newsworthy, as if some climate shift had occurred in U.S. politics.

    In reality, energy-rationing profiteers have been pushing Kyoto-style policies for years, beginning with that erstwhile darling of eco-...
  • Heidi Cullen's modest proposal

    February 1, 2007
    Not content to report the weather, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has become a global warming pundit, recently appearing on Larry King Live, where she seemed to say (incorrectly) that melting sea ice contributes to sea level rise.

    In a blog post a few weeks ago, Ms. Cullen scolded a fellow meteorologist, who declined to lecture viewers about global warming, noting how the issue had been "politicized" and that, given the cyclical nature of weather patterns, he was unsure what "generalizations" could be inferred from the warming trend of recent times.

    I admire her colleague for his lack of political and intellectual pretension. But Cullen found it unacceptable, and proposed a remedy: "If a meteorologist has an ...
  • More meddling in the market

    January 30, 2007
    I post this article, despite its breathless credulity about the imminence of a world beyond petroleum, because it reveals how Washington works. Bush and the corn lobby will ask Congress for a biofuels mandate that drives up the cost of gasoline. Congress and the Big Three will ask Bush for tax credits to sell more cars that use the more costly fuel.
    Gas substitutes boost the flex-fuel car

    Soon, alternative fuels might be made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber - and new cars would be able to run on them.

    By Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, January 26, 2007

    Prospects are brightening for a big change at your local service station.

    Instead of just regular, plus, and premium, gas stations in a few years may well be offering fuel made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber. And new cars would be...
  • Will Bush repeal ethanol tariff? Don't bet on it.

    January 26, 2007
    From a free-market perspective, the only redeeming social value in the Bush Administration's biofuels initiative is the proposal to lift the 54-cents-a-gallon tariff and 2.5 percent ad valorem duty on imported ethanol.

    Think about it for a moment. If the goal is to lower gasoline prices and increase the diversity of fuels available to American consumers, then ending the virtual ban on Brazilian ethanol -- which comes from sugarcane and is less expensive than the Iowa-corn-fed variety -- is a no-brainer. Ditto if the goal is to damp the flow of petrodollars to Middle East governments suspected of funding terrorists.

    But Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa takes strong exception to the Administration's proposal. Given Washington's addiction to pork and the prominence of the Iowa Caucuses in the upcoming presidential...
  • Kyoto = blackouts

    January 26, 2007
    I recently debated a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) activist on global warming and the future of the U.S. electricity supply. The activist made the "negawatts" argument that conservation should be our leading source of power. Utilities, she said, should not plan to build new capacity until they have exhausted every option to improve their energy efficiency and that of their customers.

    The debate took place in the conference center of a hotel in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the Q&A segment, a representative from the local utility noted that the population in their service area was projected to grow by 1 million people in the next three years. "Efficiency enhancements may help us manage demand in our existing customer base," he said, "but there's no way we can serve a million new customers without new capacity" (or words to that effect). Moreover, he noted, what was...
  • Comments on the energy portions of Bush's SOTU

    January 24, 2007
    In this post, I comment on President Bush's remarks, in the State of the Union address, about energy. Although a few nods to the old supply-side emphasis of Bush's first term remain, the speech is heavy on political correctness, corporate welfare, and central planning.
  • Federal Judge postpones CA CO2 case

    January 18, 2007
    Several automakers and dealers are suing (warning: big PDF file) California to overturn the "landmark" (pro-Kyoto) legislation requiring new vehicles sold in the state to meet CO2 emission standards. The automakers are suing under the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations "related to" fuel economy. The automakers correctly argue that CO2 standards are just fuel economy standards by another name. As EPA has explained, "No technology currently exists or is under development that can capture and destroy or reduce emissions of CO2, unlike other emissions from motor vehicle tailpipes. At present, the only practical method for reducing tailpipe emissions of CO2 is to improve fuel economy." Thus, although federal law expresses fuel economy standards in terms of miles per gallon, EPA measures...
  • Scharzenegger to order 10% emissions cut; expected to boost ethanol

    January 9, 2007
    Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected today to order California's petroleum refiners and gasoline sellers to reduce the carbon content of the fuels they sell by 10%. Cui bono? Can you spell "ethanol"?

    Even with this mandate and the 2002 law (AB 1493) imposing CO2 emissions standards on new cars sold in the state, actual CO2 emissions from California's transport sector are likely to grow. Consider the European experience. Due to high motor fuel taxes, Europeans pay roughly twice what Americans pay for gasoline. Yet from 1990 to 2004, EU transport sector CO2 emissions increased almost 26% and are projected under current policies to be 35% above 1990 levels in...
  • Ethanol demand will drive grain prices to record levels, Lester Brown warns

    January 8, 2007
    Lester Brown, founder and President of the Earth Policy Institute, estimates that in 2008, U.S. ethanol distilleries will require 139 million tons of corn -- twice as much as the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts. He predicts that "the emerging competition between cars and people for grain will likely drive grain prices to levels never seen before."

    Most ethanol is made from corn, but "as corn prices rise, so too do those of wheat and rice, both because of consumer substitution among grains and because the crops compete for land." A surge in U.S. corn prices will have dramatic effects on global grain prices. Brown explains: "The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying 70 precent of global corn exports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some...

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