Ethanol’s Three Headed Monster

Ethanol’s Three Headed Monster –  It looks like Congress is keeping the three-headed monster, which I dub Cornzilla, alive cuz we know that ethanol is simply a wiz-bang product that’s going to be hugely profitable.  This is why it needs government to 1. subsidize it, 2. protect it from foreign competition, and 3. force people to buy it. Private investors?  We don’t need no stinkin’ private investors!  Who needs private investors when we’ve got politicians willing to keep Cornzilla alive?

EPA Could Eliminate 55 GW of Coal Power with Regulations – By far the greatest threat coal poses is to future climate. But even regulations that only seek to reduce its more immediate health threats could cut coal plants in the US by 20%, according to a report from coal industry consulting firm The Brattle Group, via Electricity Forum. Even aside from regulations specifically to lower greenhouse gas emissions, if the EPA mandates further reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulates, mercury and other harmful emissions by 2015, 40 to 55 Gigawatts will likely be retired. Another 11-12 Gigawatts would be shut down, if cooling towers are required, with 75% of the reduction coming from the oldest, dirtiest coal plants, that are mostly in the Midwest. New mandates in combination would reduce the number of coal power plants by about 20%. This would be even without greenhouse gas regulation. To replace coal power from the oldest dirtiest plants, natural gas power plant conversions would likely increase.


Deepwater Wind Energy to Build Giant Wind Energy Center in Atlantic Waters – Shortly after the announcement made by the Obama administration, which supports the offshore wind-power development, Deepwater Wind Energy has great plans regarding the building of a “Wind Energy Center” that according to the company would supply electricity for several East Coast states. Deepwater Wind Energy also stated that more than 200 offshore wind turbines would be assembled in southern Rhode Island Sound. The turbines will be capable of generating around 1,000 MW of clean energy, most of them being located in deep waters (20-25 miles from the coastline).As officials said, the northeastern United States now has one of the largest renewable energy projects ever proposed. “This ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower priced power, using more advanced technology than the offshore projects announced to date. We expect the offshore wind industry in the United States to follow the European experience, where a more mature industry is building larger projects farther from shore,” Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore said in a press release

Cancún Agreement Signals a New Pragmatism in Global Climate Policy – In the end, it came down to Bolivia. The South American country — whose President Evo Morales was one of the few world leaders to attend this meeting — had raised angry objections throughout the two-week-long U.N. climate-change summit in Cancún, Mexico. On Friday night, with the draft texts of an agreement prepared and every other nation ready for a deal, Bolivia wouldn’t budge. “We reject this document,” Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Pablo Solon told the assembled representatives of more than 190 nations at the final plenary session, “and therefore there is no consensus for its adoption.” That spelled trouble, because the rules of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — the body to guide global-warming action — require decisionmaking by consensus. That gives an effective veto to even a single obstinate country: a handful of holdouts blocked adoption at last year’s summit of the Copenhagen Accord, a last-minute agreement brokered by President Barack Obama. “Showdown at the Bolivian pass coming up soon,” tweeted Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who followed the negotiations.

Bond Girl: Default and bankruptcy in the municipal bond market – There have been quite a few bearish articles recently about the muni market. Not long ago there were even some "scary charts" showing a sharp sell off for the muni market, and at that time Bond Girl pointed out the correction was not because of imminent muni defaults, but because of the end of the Build America Bond (BAB) program. For those who want to know more about munis, here is an ubernerd post from Bond Girl at Default and bankruptcy in the municipal bond market (part one)  I am just writing this post to demystify a process that evidently needs demystifying. …

Is Obama endangering Social Security? – There’s a meme doing the rounds on the left, that giving employees a 2% break on their Social Security contributions for a year is, in Ryan Grim’s words, “a hidden threat to Social Security.” At the heart of the logic is a quotation from FDR: “We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.” This logic is now being applied in reverse. It’s going to be politically difficult to increase employees’ payroll contributions by 50% in a year’s time — that’s a tax hike, and nobody likes tax hikes. So there’s a decent chance that they will remain at 4.2% rather than 6.2%, with the extra Social Security contributions being paid not by employers, and not by employees, but rather by the general fund. Rep. Keith Ellison picks up the narrative, quoted in Grim’s story: We’ll replace the loss of money from Social Security with general fund money, but in the past Social Security has been raided to help fund general fund programs. So how long will it be before somebody says Social Security is not sustainable and we need to cut the program?
MoveOn Calls for Phone-In Filibuster – Liberal organizers want to flood the Senate phone lines today in the run-up to a test vote this afternoon clearing the way for President Barack Obama’s tax deal with Republicans. MoveOn alerted its members in an email on Monday asking them to call their senators and urge them not to vote for the measure, which would extend tax cuts for two years for every income bracket and reinstate the inheritance tax at 35% for estates larger than $5 million. “As President Obama said, the middle class is being held hostage by the Republicans, and for ransom they’re demanding a massive tax break for the rich,” the email reads. “But President Obama has agreed to pay that ransom by extending the Bush tax breaks for the top 2% of earners, lowering the estate tax, and cutting the payroll tax for one year, which would undermine the key source of revenue for Social Security.”
Pew Poll Finds Broad Support for Tax Deal – The latest poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found broad and consistent bipartisan support for the tax deal struck by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, pointing to a disconnect between activists on both sides of the political spectrum and broader public opinion. The Pew poll, conducted Dec. 9-12 among 1,011 adults, found that 60% of the public supports the deal, and 22% oppose it. But that support is remarkably consistent across the spectrum. Among those polled, 62% of Republicans, 64% of conservatives, 63% of Democrats, 65% of liberals and 60% of political independents said they support the deal, which extends all the Bush-era incomes taxes for two years, cuts payroll taxes next year, extends unemployment benefits for a year and keeps in place a variety of tax breaks for middle-class and working class people passed in last year’s stimulus law. About half of Republicans, Democrats and independents said they thought the plan would help the economy, compared with about 29% who said it would hurt.
Video: Stockman Says Tax-Cut Deal Is Bad Policy – WSJ – Former Reagan White House budget director David Stockman says the tax deal emerging in Washington is “Keynesian flimflam” that won’t help stimulate the economy. In an interview with Simon Constable, he rails against the current system of deficit financing and warns the U.S. faces a crisis of indebtedness in the long run.
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