Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘The Economy’ tag

Cooperation on Biofuels Increasing between Brazil and US

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With the US ending both the tariff on imported ethanol and the tax credit for domestic blenders, cooperation between the US and Brazil on biofuel technology is increasing, as well as efforts to trade renewable fuels on global markets. (See my post at the end of last year)

Yes, we need to be ever vigilant on the possible effects of increased biofuel production on food availability and prices as well as on land use, soil and water quality, and related issues. In my doctoral dissertation, however, I examined these issues in depth and contend that increased production can occur along with protection of ecological health.

The cooperation discussed in the article below can lead to greater efficiency of renewable fuel production, using less land and less water to produce more fuel.

Energy is fundamental to economic growth, and as countries in Latin America and Africa increase their ability to produce renewable energy domestically, they create more jobs and better the lives of their people in ways that will improve economic as well as environmental conditions for generations. These are undoubtedly positive.

It is a fascinating time to be alive.

Insight: U.S. and Brazil – At last, friends on ethanol

A gas station worker fills a car's tank with ethanol in Rio de Janeiro April 30, 2008. Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of ethanol. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

By Brian Winter

BRASILIA | Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:21pm IST

(Reuters) – After years at each other’s throats, Brazil and the United States are working together to promote the use of ethanol in a collaboration that could revolutionize global markets and the makeup of the biofuel itself.

The breakthrough came in January when Washington allowed a three-decade-old subsidy for U.S. ethanol producers to expire and ended a steep tariff on foreign biofuels. The tariff, in particular, had poisoned diplomatic relations between the world’s top two ethanol-producing countries for years.

Continue reading this article here.

US Ends Tariff on Imported Ethanol

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With surprisingly little fanfare, the US has ended the $0.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. This comes at the same time that Congress also allowed the $0.45 per gallon of ethanol tax credit for blenders to expire, potentially opening the door to much more US importation of Brazilian ethanol, as well as cooperation between the two countries on more advanced biofuels. Brazil was the leading producer of renewable fuel until 2005 when US production of ethanol from corn surpassed production of Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol.

The article below is clearly biased, quoting two top officials from UNICA, Brazil’s powerful sugarcane industry association, without presenting views from American officials who have been opposing these measures as they work to protect domestic energy production and agricultural markets.

That said, decreasing government intervention has always been favored by this humble author, and the elimination of these barriers to trade should make for the more efficient functioning of energy and agricultural markets.

Cooperation between the two largest producers of renewable fuels could also lead to faster development of fuels from non-food crop residues such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, and other cellulosic feedstocks.

Congressional Recess Means the End of Three Decades of US Tariffs on Imported Ethanol

Time for the world’s top two ethanol producers, the United States and Brazil, to lead a global effort for increased production and free, unobstructed trade for biofuels, says Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association.

SAO PAULO, Dec. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — For the first time in more than three decades of generous US government subsidies for the domestic ethanol industry, coupled with a steep tariff on imports, the United States market will be open to imported ethanol as of January 1st, 2012, without protectionist measures. The adjournment of the 112th Congress means both the US$0,54 per gallon tax on imported ethanol and a corresponding tax credit of US$0,45 per gallon for blenders, the VEETC (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit), will expire as expected on December 31st.

Continue reading this story here.

A Gradual Shift to Renewable Energy is the Best Path

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Lomborg is hitting the nail on the head in this article, as is Gürcan Gülen, the very intelligent researcher with a hilarious name.

Most renewable energy technologies are more expensive and less efficient than traditional fossil fuels. Attempting to roll out vast amounts of solar and wind power before they are competitive will increase costs to users, which will hurt our economy.

In the final paragraph he also makes a point that should have come much earlier: the best way to increase jobs and make these renewable technologies competitive is to invest in research and development.

Clean, domestic, renewable energy is the goal towards which we should strive, but jumping in with both feet before that technology is ready would be foolish. Those early adopters are helping to make these resources and technologies for affordable for all, so they should be applauded. But they are the people and the firms such as Google that can afford to make these investments even if they are not entirely economically efficient. Forcing everyday people across the country in to those forms of energy will cost taxpayer dollars and will increase utility bills. These are not good for America.

Patience and prudence are essential as we strive towards this important goal.

Green Smoke Screen

Supporters of “green energy” like to say it will create more jobs. They’re wrong.

By Bjørn LomborgPosted Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, at 6:46 AM ET

Phil Tussing installing  Phil Tussing installs photovoltaic solar panels. Click image to epxand.Political rhetoric has shifted away from the need to respond to the “generational challenge” of climate change. Investment in alternative energy technologies like solar and wind is no longer peddled on environmental grounds. Instead, we are being told of the purported economic payoffs—above all, the promise of so-called “green jobs.” Unfortunately, that does not measure up to economic reality.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the state of the science in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs. Gülen concluded that job creation “cannot be defended as another benefit” of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset—or worse—by the number of jobs that they destroy.

Read the entire article here.

Energy and Climate Change Discussions in Congress

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As Obama said during his campaign, and as this article reiterates, it’s preferable for Congress to take some sort of stand on a comprehensive energy policy. But if they’re not going to do it, the White House should use it’s tools to make something happen.

A buddy and I were just talking about this same set of policy decisions, drawing a parallel with how the last few weeks have impacted doing business in Egypt. Stick with me for a minute.

Corporate leaders around the world are eager to see who’s going to be in charge of Egypt, Africa’s largest economy, and an important leader in the Arab world. Of course this transition can’t be rushed, but investment will be withheld until there’s some certainty.

Good, bad, or indifferent, businesses will formulate their strategy based in large part on the policy environment in this important country.

Similarly, companies in the U.S. will make decisions regarding manufacturing practices, their vehicle fleets and transportation, and other, energy-intensive aspects of their business based in part on the policies about which our Congress continues to debate, without substantive action. Another article from the recent issue of The Economist discusses the influence of policy on energy prices as well as the trouble with policy uncertainty.

How many U.S. presidents, of both parties, have discussed the need for a comprehensive federal energy policy? I’m too tired to find the exact number, but it’s at least two. Thankfully, the article below is well researched and clearly delineates the desire on the part of several levels of government, including the present administration and the last one, as well as the call from business leaders to provide a decision on energy policy.

Plenty has already been written on this site about the need for balancing the objective of domestic, renewable energy, with economic realities, so rather than than pontificate about what SHOULD be done, I’ll just say that SOMETHING has to be done.

Congress, I know you’re busy, but this is important. If it’s only votes you’re after, figure out a way to win votes by making a decision. Dithering rarely wins the hearts and minds of voters.

Good, bad, or indifferent, whether you’re going to continue with the status quo by favoring imported fossil fuels; decide this is not a matter for the federal government and tell states they should formulate their policies independently; forge ahead with a more progressive policy that encourages research, development, and gradual implementation of domestic energy resources; or do something entirely different, please, just do something.

Grilling Lisa Jackson is a very small step. Take more steps. Soon.

Heated but hollow

Congress embarks on a rhetorical debate about greenhouse gases

Feb 10th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | From The Economist print edition

 Grilling Ms Jackson

WHILE campaigning to become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives, Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, vowed that he would grill Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in front of his committee so often that she would need her own parking space on Capitol Hill. On February 9th Ms Jackson submitted to her first interrogation, about one of the Republican Party’s pet peeves: the EPA’s plan to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases from cars and factories by decree.

That plan has been a long time in the making. During the administration of George Bush junior several states, frustrated by the administration’s refusal to address global warming, sued the EPA. They argued that it was required to use its powers under the Clean Air Act, a law from the 1960s aimed first at smog and later acid rain, to declare carbon dioxide a threat to the environment and public health and regulate it accordingly. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, which decided in 2007 that the EPA did indeed have the authority to do this. But the Bush administration, which maintained that restrictions on emissions would raise the price of energy and so hurt the economy while doing little to help the climate, managed to prevaricate for almost two years before passing the buck to Barack Obama and Ms Jackson.

Read the entire article here.

Colorado Senate Attempts to Strike Delicate Energy Balance

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Yikes. Once again I’m conflicted between an awareness that we need to move towards domestic, renewable energy, and an understanding that this move is expensive.

I am more than willing, and fortunate to be able, to pay 20% more in my power bill to support these efforts, but there are plenty of people who are not so inclined, and even if they were, cannot afford to do so.

One solution is energy efficiency. Homes and businesses that are properly insulated, have efficient appliances and machinery, and that use energy wisely can reduce their energy costs, thus enabling slightly higher bills per unit of energy used.

Hopefully our state legislature can succeed in striking this delicate balance.

The Associated Press February 10, 2011, 8:32AM ET

Colo. renewable energy rules survive GOP offensive

DENVER

Colorado Democrats slammed the door Wednesday on Republican plans to undo clean-energy policies adopted in recent years.

A Democrat-controlled Senate committee narrowly rejected three Republican proposals to lower consumer utility bills.

Democrats said they sympathized with residents paying steeper power bills but insisted the proposed changes would be short-sighted.

Read the entire article here.

Ritter, energy companies announce wildlife plans

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If this is implemented and enforced properly it could provide a great guideline for the continued advancement of Colorado’s considerable energy resources. The trick with any legislation like this is balancing the need for environmental protection with the need for economic development.

(AP) – Aug 10, 2010

DENVER — Gov. Bill Ritter and energy companies announced agreements Tuesday that are intended to minimize the impacts of oil and gas drilling on 355,000 acres of key wildlife habitat in western Colorado.

The deals between the state and nine companies, including ExxonMobil and EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), will cover part of the Piceance Basin, among Colorado’s most active natural gas fields and home to some of the country’s largest deer and elk herds.

[…]

“This balanced approach will drive our economy forward, allow us to maximize our vast energy resources and ensure sustainable communities for years to come,” Ritter said.

Read the entire article here.

World,China Oil Demand To Slow;Plenty Of Capacity-IEA

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This is great news, unless it drives shortsightedness in investors and researchers who would otherwise drive innovation.

  • JULY 13, 2010, 4:54 A.M. ET

UPDATE:2011 World,China Oil Demand To Slow;Plenty Of Capacity-IEA

 
   By Spencer Swartz 
   Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

LONDON–The International Energy Agency said Tuesday it expects oil demand to slow next year in China and most other parts of the world, indicating that crude prices are likely to trade at subdued levels well into next year.

In its first assessment of 2011 global oil trends, the Paris-based agency forecast world oil demand to grow by 1.3 million barrels a day, or 1.6%. That increase rate is below the 2.1% rise in global crude consumption expected this year, although it is in line with 1.7% growth seen on average annually from 2000 to 2007.

Despite a higher rate of global economic growth projected next year, the IEA said the dual impact of improving energy efficiency in industrialized nations and a gradual phasing out of economic stimulus in emerging markets like China–the fastest-growing oil consumer globally–would slow the pace of oil consumption.

[…]

“Whisper it quietly, but we might, just might, be in for some market stability for a while longer,” the IEA said.

[…]

Consumers are still bent on maximizing energy efficiency in places like the U.S. and oil traders have lingering doubts about the health of Europe’s and America’s economic recovery and the knock-on effect in emerging markets.

[…]

There are some potential problems ahead. Non-OPEC oil supply is forecast to grow by just 400,000 barrels a day in 2011, half the growth rate expected this year and far below recent historical averages, due to aging oil fields.

Read the entire article here.

Fowler diving headfirst into renewable energy

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Here’s an update on a very early post on this site. The town of Fowler, Colorado, has a diverse and integrated strategy to gain energy independence while saving money. Great stuff.

Posted: 04/18/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Updated: 04/18/2010 08:56:58 AM MDT

Wayne Snider, a former Grumman Areopspace executive, is now the Fowler town administrator. He’s standing in front of what used to be the Park Elementary school, built in 1905, which will soon house the city administration offices, the library and the police department and will be run by solar power and use geothermal exchange for heating and cooling. (Joe Amon | The Denver Post)

One source of renewable energy Fowler is planning is an anaerobic digester that will make methane from manure at the Rocky Ford feed yard. (Joe Amon | The Denver Post )

FOWLER — Like many a town on the Eastern Plains, this farming community has seen better days, but now it has a new plan. It is going to disappear — from the electric grid.

If all the town’s plans — and there are many — come to pass, Fowler will generate its own electricity, biofuel and manure-based gas; and an empty canning plant will turn into a new solar-panel factory.

At a time when a raft of public officials, including President Barack Obama and Gov. Bill Ritter, are calling green and renewable energy a key to rejuvenating the American economy, tiny Fowler is making itself a full-scale test case.

Read the entire article here.

Intel Plans $2 Billion Investment Fund

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FEBRUARY 23, 2010, 9:22 A.M. ET

By DON CLARK

Intel Corp. is working with venture-capital firms to establish a $2 billion fund that would invest solely in U.S. companies, people familiar with the chip maker’s plans said.

The move comes a year after Intel said it would invest $7 billion over two years to upgrade capabilities of its U.S. chip factories. That investment plan was announced during a speech in Washington D.C. by Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief executive officer.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

February 23rd, 2010 at 8:31 am

Chu: Energy Initiatives Could Bring Jobs to Colo.

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Sweet.Thanks, Dr. Chu, for forcing me to choose between my desire to work in the energy industry here in Colorado, and my fiscally conservative values. I’ll stay true to my values and maintain the confidence that I can get a job without massive government spending. And if I don’t get a job I can always eat those words…

US energy secretary: Renewables key to job creation but more investment needed

By SAMANTHA ABERNETHY Associated Press Writer
AURORA, Colo. February 19, 2010 (AP)
The Associated Press

Promoting Colorado’s renewable energy industry is key to generating jobs and easing dependence on foreign oil — but the U.S. is lagging behind China in its investment in renewables, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday.

“America has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution,” Chu said at an energy jobs summit in Aurora. But he warned that China’s investment of $9 billion per month to diversify energy sources away from coal far exceeds America’s spending.

Read the entire article here.