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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Commentary: Trumping hydrocarbon fuels and consumers

Too many presidential candidates court corporate cash by promoting ethanol
Paul Driessen
Donald Trump loves to tout his poll numbers. But if he’s doing so well, why does he pander to Iowa’s ethanol interests?
The gambit might garner a few caucus votes among corn growers and ethanol producers. It certainly brings plaudits from renewable energy lobbyists and their political enablers. But it could (and should) cost him votes in many other quarters – beyond the Corn Ethanol Belt and even in Iowa.
The fact is, the 14.5-billion-gallon-per-year ethanol mandate prolongs policies that are bad for consumers and the environment. And yet many presidential candidates and other politicians support it.
The ethanol mandate forces refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline. It’s the epitome of feel-good government programs run amok. Congress enacted the steadily expanding ethanol blending requirement to stave off the “imminent” depletion of crude oil worldwide, decrease US imports of oil whose price was “only going to increase,” reduce gasoline costs for motorists, and prevent manmade climate change.
We now know all these concerns were misplaced. In fact, the ethanol mandate fails every economic and environmental test.
The “fracking revolution” (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) has unleashed a gusher of US oil and gas production. Domestic oil production in 2014 reached its highest level in 114 years, and the United States is now the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. Global crude and American gasoline prices have plummeted. Fracking technology can be applied to shale deposits anywhere in the world, and even to conventional oil fields, ensuring that the world has at least another century of oil and natural gas supplies – and ample time to develop new energy technologies that we cannot even conceive of today.
Since ethanol gets a third less mileage than pure gasoline, adding ethanol to fuel actually increases fuel costs per tank, especially when crude oil fetches less than $30 per barrel and regular gasoline is under $2 per gallon in most states. For motorists driving 15,000 miles a year, $1.85-per-gallon gas means $1,200 in savings, compared to April 2012 prices. Ending the ethanol mandate would save them even more.
As to climate change, numerous studies demonstrate that there is no credible evidence that manmade carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming. Moreover, rising CO2 emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing nations overwhelm any imaginable US reductions.
The ethanol mandate has devolved into a black hole that sucks hard-earned cash from consumers’ wallets, while padding the pockets of special interests and their political patrons. Poor, minority, middle class and blue-collar families are especially hard hit.
Devoting 40% of America’s corn crop to ethanol production has significantly increased corn prices and thus the price of all foods that utilize the grain: beef, milk, pork, chicken, eggs, farm-raised fish, and countless products that include corn syrup. The corn converted into biofuel each year could feed more than 400,000,000 malnourished people in impoverished and war-torn countries.
Ethanol is corrosive and mixes easily with water, resulting in serious damage to gaskets and engines. Consumers have spent billions “degunking” and repairing cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, chain saws and other small engine equipment, to prevent (or in the aftermath of) fuel leaks, engine failures and even fires. Vehicle, outdoor equipment and marine engine manufacturers warn against using gasoline blends containing more than 10% ethanol.
The mandate raised fuel costs nationwide by an estimated $83 billion between 2007 and 2014. In New England it is expected to cost the economy $20 billion, reduce labor income by $7.3 billion, and eliminate more than 7,000 jobs annually between 2005 and 2024. It has cost Californians $13.1 billion in higher fuel costs since 2005, and could inflict $28.8 billion in additional costs there by 2025.
Corn ethanol’s ecological impacts have convinced the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations to oppose further extensions of the mandate. More than 35,000,000 acres (an area larger than Iowa) are now devoted to growing corn for ethanol, and the EWG says the mandate encourages farmers to convert extensive wetlands and grasslands into cornfields.
Growing corn, turning it into ethanol and trucking it to refineries (since it attracts water, it cannot be carried by pipeline) also requires vast amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, diesel fuel and natural gas. Only a tiny fraction of that acreage, water and fuel is required to produce far more energy via fracking.
Contrary to Environmental Protection Agency claims that ethanol helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, those lands released an additional 27,000,000 tons of CO2 in 2014, the EWG calculates. In fact, the group says, corn ethanol results in more carbon dioxide emissions than estimated for the Keystone XL pipeline.
The United States also imports sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. The American Energy Alliance says the EPA does not account for the associated greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, EPA calls sugarcane ethanol an “advanced” fuel, even though it has been around since the 1920s.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) set expectations for biofuel development based on aspirations, not reality. It assumed switch-grass and wood waste could be converted into advanced cellulosic fuels, but the process has proven very costly and difficult. In an effort to hide this inconvenient truth, EPA now defines even some kinds of liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and electricity as derived from cellulosic fuels, in an effort to meet the mandate – even though none of these fuels can be blended into gasoline.
It’s encouraging that EPA’s Inspector General wants the agency’s pro-ethanol rhetoric investigated.
Many consumers are rejecting ethanol-blended fuels, and sales of straight gasoline have climbed from just over 3% of total US gasoline demand in 2012 to nearly 7% in 2014.
Simply put, the ethanol mandate is a disaster. When the government writes fuel recipes and meddles in the free market system, everyone loses except ethanol special interests. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is right: ethanol mandates and energy subsidies should all be terminated. Let biofuel, wind and solar power compete on their own merits, instead of being force-fed to consumers and taxpayers.
However, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has made support for ethanol a litmus test for the February 1 presidential caucuses. He wants Senator Cruz defeated for opposing the ethanol mandate. The governor’s stance also reflects the fact his son heads up the pro-ethanol America’s Energy Future lobbying group, and ethanol interests have contributed sizable amounts to the six-term Republican governor’s reelection campaigns.
There’s even a pro-ethanol van following Mr. Cruz around Iowa, to change recent polling results that found half of Iowa voters do not care much or at all about preserving the federal corn ethanol mandate.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump still thinks the mandate should be increased from this year’s 14.5 billion gallons to the full 15 billion gallons allowed under the antiquated RFS law. Jeb Bush and Chris Christy also support ethanol coercion. While this position might be politically expedient in Iowa, its affect on voters beyond the Hawkeye State is likely negative.
Mr. Trump and other candidates often say they will surround themselves with experts who know their stuff on important issues. Their pro-ethanol stance makes you wonder which wunderkinds are advising them right now. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, by contrast, share Senator Cruz’s disdain for energy mandates and subsidies.
The issue is a small but important indication of what’s at stake in the 2016 presidential election.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. © January 2016

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A “Peace Officer” considers the Kelly Thomas verdict. | Orange Juice Blog

A “Peace Officer” considers the Kelly Thomas verdict. | Orange Juice Blog

 In the aftermath of the media scrutiny surrounding the verdict in the Kelly Thomas case, the media and bloggers have missed an opportunity to ask the question of not just how this happened, but what kind of police department should we have? Manuel Ramos’ attorney John Barnett clearly won the legal argument, as the jury believed him when he stated both during closing statements and to the press, “These peace officers were doing their jobs … they did what they were trained to do.” Barnett’s use of the word “peace officer” was deliberate and was repeated by both the print and broadcast media. It was meant to portray the police actions that evening as not both necessary, but “just”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

More Omaha police fired in 'caught on tape' case « Watchdog.org

Just days after a federal lawsuit accused Omaha police of excessive force in a widely publicized (see video below) “caught on tape” tape case, two more officers have been fired bringing the total to six.

More Omaha police fired in 'caught on tape' case « Watchdog.org

Friday, January 10, 2014

You see, they don't really give a crap about you! STATE WON’T END REAL TAX ON ‘PHANTOM PROFITS’


— Democratic legislators routinely accuse Republicans of giving a cold shoulder to the poor and downtrodden. Yet the tables were turned at a Capitol hearing on Wednesday as a Democratic chairwoman sparred with a Republican who introduced a bill to cut the tax burden of victims of Ponzi schemes of the sort run by Bernie Madoff.
In opposing Senate Bill 797, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said she understands the dire consequences of the situation, but that people can’t expect the state government to step in and help when these scams occur.

STATE WON’T END REAL TAX ON ‘PHANTOM PROFITS’ | UTSanDiego.com


Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Study Demolishes Almost Every Gun Control Myth | Mediaite

 A study published in the latest issue of the academic journal Applied Economics Letters took on many of the claims made regularly by advocates of stricter gun laws. The study determined that nearly every claim made in support of stronger restrictions on gun ownership is not supported by an exhaustive analysis of crime statistics.

New Study Demolishes Almost Every Gun Control Myth | Mediaite

HAMMOND: Should you lose your gun rights if you visit a shrink? - Washington Times


Is it any wonder that both patients’ advocates and gun owners warned the Department of Health and Human Services that its proposed actions would discourage treatment and endanger public safety? Of course, the exercise is not about public safety, but rather about President Obama’s efforts to destroy what his allies call the “gun manufacturers’ lobby.”
The problem for him is that neither Congress nor the American people support his efforts.

Read more: 
HAMMOND: Should you lose your gun rights if you visit a shrink? - Washington Times

Mark of the Beast – LewRockwell.com

Happy New Year. Just when you thought the NSA spying scandal couldn’t get any worse, it has.
Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Administration (NSA), and asked plainly whether the NSA has been or is now spying on members of Congress or other public officials. The senator’s letter was no doubt prompted by the revelations of Edward Snowden to the effect that the federal government’s lust for personal private data about all Americans and many foreigners knows no bounds, and its respect for the constitutionally protected and statutorily enforced right to privacy is nonexistent.
Mark of the Beast – LewRockwell.com

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Obama To Americans: You Don't Deserve To Be Free - Forbes

Obama To Americans: You Don't Deserve To Be Free - Forbes

The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Steven Greenhut on the Rapidly-Inflating Student Loan Bubble - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Americans are still talking about the recently deflated housing bubble, but there’s a new bubble in town. It’s the student loan bubble and when this one pops, it might dwarf the wreckage we’ve witnessed in the real-estate markets. In the latest news, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors warned that soaring student-loan debt has “parallels to the housing crisis,”

Steven Greenhut on the Rapidly-Inflating Student Loan Bubble - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Dan Walters: California politicians manipulate our rights - Dan Walters - The Sacramento Bee

The seriocomedy over gutting the California Public Records Act continued Thursday as the politicians went into panic mode in the face of rapidly expanding criticism.
Dan Walters: California politicians manipulate our rights - Dan Walters - The Sacramento Bee

Fat Times Again? by Steven Greenhut - City Journal

For all the austerity talk, the Brown administration is ignoring unfunded liabilities and other debts run up in the previous decade to cover the rapidly escalating costs of retirement and medical benefits for public employees. Sure, the budget is balanced—if one ignores those items, just as your personal budget may be balanced if you ignore credit-card debt and student loans.
Fat Times Again? by Steven Greenhut - City Journal

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Which E-book Reader Should You Buy? by Jeffrey Tucker

 To be sure, this review is deeply unfair. I’m comparing the best on the market (which is the iPad, in my view) with the worst on the market — and what is the fault of the hardware, firmware, and apps is very much mixed up. In any case, this is a dollar-store item sold in stacks at the cash register. There are so many products that are in between. The Google tablet (Nexus) looks just fantastic, is getting great reviews, and is half the price of a an iPad or iPad Mini. Samsung also offers what looks like an outstanding product at half the price. The newer Kindles like the Paperwhite seem effortless (but still won’t read certain file types).

It's funny how we see what we want, and don't see what we don't want to see--So we have to look with rigor of consciousness

Finally posted something on Gadfly. Have been in retreat. I am dealing some monumental life changes in my personal life, and so have gone into something of a cocoon. When I'm ready, I'll be back on the air.

 I was finding my voice, and then a convergence of the harshness of seeing for the first time, the reality of the state, and world I live in, in a way I had not understood before, and my personal life shifting dramatically, but if not for the joy and love present, I would have held back in fear.

The elections, and the reality of our political state knocked the wind out of my breath.

 I am studying. I am accounting. I am grateful and want to be gracious, generous, and effective.

 It's winter. It's a good time to stoke the hearth, embrace one's loved ones. Click to read the post on Gadfly

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.