Energy & Environment

Ethanol: Now is the time — for truth

Editorialists around the country are opining about tax incentives for ethanol that are expiring at the end of the year. Unfortunately, many of the articles we’re seeing don’t get the facts quite right. The New York Times, for example, asserts that the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates the U.S. production of up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol, which it does not. The RFS is silent on corn as a feedstock and silent on domestic production. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/opinion/29thu3.html?_r=1&ref=editorials)

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Standing in the way of justice for the BP calamity: GOP puts political points above all else

On August 3rd, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV scuttled plans to debate the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Spill Accountability Act, S. 3663, which would remove the ridiculously low liability cap of $75 million for damages from the BP oil disaster and other offshore oil drilling blow outs. Reid did this because he could not get a supermajority of 60 votes to allow commencement of debate on the bill. He said that he tried “jujitsu and yoga” to gain Republican support but to no avail.

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How bad does it have to be?

H. Sterling Bennett’s column Wednesday (“More Hype than Harm”) claims the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t that bad. He says the environmental movement “is in absence of good evidence” when we call this BP oil disaster a massive catastrophe and horrible tragedy. 

Eleven men died. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. Vast quantities of untested chemical dispersants have been dumped into the sea. Tens of millions of dollars in tourism and fishing revenues are gone. Thousands of fishing industry workers have lost their livelihoods.

So, how bad does it have to be?

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Creating a customer-first electricity transmission policy

Utilities across the nation are investing billions of dollars to produce more electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

They support the move toward a cleaner energy future because the benefits — including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more green jobs and improved energy security — are clear.

What's less clear is how utilities will get new supplies of clean electricity to customers. And most importantly, who will pay for the major transmission investments needed to move the energy?

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Lessons from the Horizon blowout: More hype than harm

Only two weeks after BP began capping the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout, people have begun to ask, “Where’s the oil?” The fact that skimmer ships sent out to clean the water of oil are unable to find oil to clean is leading the mainstream media to question whether  environmentalists tried to exploit this unfortunate event by making it seem worse than it really was for political reasons.

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Gulf Coast can't afford another disaster (Rep. Bill Cassidy)

Two man-made disasters have hit the Gulf Coast: the BP oil spill and the president’s moratorium on energy production. A third disaster is scheduled for a vote in the House today.

Two hundred twenty-six days before the Deepwater Horizon rig collapsed, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act was introduced in the House. A repackaged version is now being sold as a response to the BP oil spill.

This bill has much less to do with preventing another spill than it does preventing domestic energy production and destroying jobs.

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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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