Energy & Environment

The economics of U.S. ethanol policy: A rebuttal

In his July 27 blog posting “The economics of U.S. ethanol policy” Professor Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University reports the results of new research suggesting that allowing the current 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol blender’s tax credit (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, or VEETC) and 54-cent-per-gallon ethanol tariff to expire on Dec. 31, 2010 would have little or no adverse impact on the domestic ethanol industry.

That’s true only if you take a “Field of Dreams” view of the ethanol industry: If we mandate that Americans use more ethanol, then someone, somewhere will produce that ethanol.

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The fading call of the wild

They are cultural icons as symbols of strength, agility, speed and grace.  They hold special places in music, art, theater and film.  Phrases that Americans use every day illustrate their ubiquity; we know what people mean when something is described as 'fast as a cheetah,' 'proud as a lion' or 'hungry as a wolf.'  They are regarded as important touchstones in this country despite the fact that many Americans have never seen one of them in the wild.

Yet many species of wild cats and canids remain perilously close to extinction. 

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The economics of U.S. ethanol policy

With the economy still not creating nearly enough jobs, U.S. ethanol producers are warning that ending the government subsidies and import restrictions that benefit their industry could eliminate some 112,000 to 160,000 jobs.

An unlikely collection of environmentalists, taxpayer groups and meat producers, meanwhile, argue that America no longer needs and can’t afford the current policies.

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Improving the environment and cutting the deficit: Here's how

We can cut the deficit and help the environment at the same time. The two biggest challenges facing Congress right now are not mutually exclusive; we can do both. How? By cutting subsidies to industries that don’t need them and only encourage environmental damage.  By updating our energy and farming policies to reflect the realities of today’s economy. And by stopping just some of the infrastructure projects members of Congress insert into spending bills as political pork. This is the message of a recent Green Scissors report by Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and Taxpayers for Common Sense and released with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Mike Castle (R-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.).

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Republicans on the wrong side of history by opposing energy reform (Sen. Harry Reid)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made the following remarks at a media availability today following a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting to discuss energy legislation in the Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

We have a responsibility — both to our constituents and our children — to take on America’s energy challenge. Many of us want to do that through a comprehensive bill that creates jobs, breaks our addiction to oil and curbs pollution. Unfortunately, at this time not one Republican wants to join us in achieving this goal. That isn’t just disappointing. It’s dangerous.

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Moratorium could be more devastating than spill itself (Sen. David Vitter)

Recent studies have estimated that the Obama administration’s latest offshore drilling moratorium could destroy more than 100,000 jobs along the Gulf Coast while costing billions of dollars in lost wages.  In just six months, it could end up doing more damage to our economy than the oil spill itself.

And the damage is not limited just to oil rigs; it would also hurt the thousands of workers employed in industries that support drilling and exploration, and the millions of dollars in lost revenues from taxes and lease sales directed to coastal restoration would eventually affect every Gulf Coast resident.

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Nuclear power is green power (Sen. Lamar Alexander)

Forty years ago, at the time of the first Earth Day, Americans became deeply worried about air and water pollution and a population explosion that threatened to overrun the planet’s resources.  Nuclear power was seen as a savior to these environmental dilemmas.  It could produce large amounts of low-cost, reliable clean energy.  Unlike oil, nuclear power did not need to be hauled in leaking tankers from countries that didn’t like us.  Unlike coal, it didn’t spew tons of pollution out of smokestacks.  

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The failure staining our shores (Sen. George LeMieux)

The oily sludge staining Florida’s previously pristine beaches is a clear sign of failure. It is failure by the oil industry to safely manage its privilege to extract a natural resource, and it is failure by the White House and the Administration to respond with the leadership and sense of urgency this crisis demands.
 
The first failure belongs to BP and its partners. Drilling without the clear knowledge they could kill a well in a worst-case scenario was irresponsible and a failure of good judgment. Their missteps cost lives and now affect the environments and economies of five states. They are responsible for every loss associated with this disaster and should pay claims as quickly as possible.
 

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Green buildings need safer chemicals policy reform

We all take risks. It’s a part of our everyday lives and a part of day-to-day business. But accurately assessing risks and identifying safer paths of action is not something that comes naturally to us. From consumer debt to the Gulf oil spill to the collapse of the auto and financial sectors, we’ve taken risks without accurately understanding the impact of our decisions. All too often optimism trumps caution.

America faces another set of similarly impactful risks, and this time it gets really personal — it affects human health. The issue is toxic chemicals in products, and the opportunity is chemicals policy reform.

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Lessons from the Gulf for nuclear reactors

One crucial lesson from the BP oil spill is that measures to speed licensing, cut corners on safety and undermine regulation can lead to tragic consequences. Yet Congress appears on the verge of repeating mistakes that led to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf.

Federal lawmakers are weighing a BP-type deregulation of new nuclear reactors — the one energy source in which damage from a major accident could dwarf harm done by a ruptured offshore oil well.

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