Good Intentions Leading to Bad Policy – The Ethanol Quagmire

The American Petroleum Institute this week filed suit against EPA, seeking to overturn the agency’s renewable fuel standards that require 10% of gasoline to be blended with biofuel or ethanol, made from grass, wood chips, corn and other plant materials.  This is one of those requirements DCF 1.0with many detractors and odd bedfellows, that is opposed by not only oil and gas, but by conservative and environmental groups as well.  As John Upton over at Grist points out, only the ethanol lobby seems to like it.  While environmental groups oppose it on environmental grounds, CEI and Cato have long argued that federal subsidies for ethanol should be phased out, as ethanol harms fuel and food prices.  And there simply isn’t enough of it to provide a steady cost-effective supply to blenders.  The blended ethanol fuels, e.g., E10, are also causing havoc with drivers, whose engines may not tolerate the ethanol.  AAA has cautioned drivers about the potential for damage to vehicles and voided warranties. Continue reading

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Some Environmentalists Think and Behave Like Animals

This is where I think so many environmentalists go so terribly wrong.  David Roberts over at Grist, who I think is a fairly smart fellow, couldn’t be more wrong in the way he views and discusses environmental problems, such as climate change.  In an article titled, We are Consigning Hundreds of Coastal Cities to Destruction. Who Cares?,  David laments:

Humanity’s difficulties dealing with climate change trace back to a simple fact: We are animals. Our cognitive and limbic systems were shaped by evolution to heed threats and rewards close by, involving faces and teeth. That’s how we survived. Those systems were not shaped to heed, much less emotionally respond to, faceless threats distant in time and space — like, say, climate change. No evil genius could design a problem less likely to grab our attention.

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The Farm Bill – Perhaps a Moment for Liberals and Conservatives to Hold Hands

Seems no one except special interest is happy with the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill passed today and which establishes U.S. Agricultural Policy over the next decade at the tune of nearly one trillion dollars.  Folks over at Grist are fuming about the Senate’s version while other unnamed “environmental groups” in the NYT are saying it does some good, but not enough.  The current bill cuts $24B from current spending and does a better job at saving jobs and helping the starving poor in this country, while cutting conservation by $3.5B.  Some conservatives, like Senator Ted Cruz, are unhappy, arguing the Bill does more harm than good, spreading the love among politicians and special interests while perpetuating entitlements unrelated to agricultural policy – nothing new there.  Unclear how this will be resolved in reconciliation, but given the Houses’s more aggressive cuts, more cuts are inevitable [Update:  On June 20, in a 195-234 vote, the House rejected a five-year Farm Bill, with 62 GOP Members voting against the legislation in favor of a smaller more conservative bill].

Nathanael Johnson, over at Grist, refers to the Senate’s passage as “late and lame”: Continue reading

Does Green Labeling Influence One’s Willingness to Buy – Survey Says . . .

Apparently so, if you’re a political moderate or conservative.  A new study from the National Academy of Sciences confirms that moderates and conservatives are less inclined to purchase energy-efficient products, when the product is linked to climate change.  light bulb(The study can be purchased here in its entirety)   Just goes to show how polarizing the topic of climate change has become.  According to the authors Dena Gromet and Howard Kunreuther (from U. Penn’s Wharton School) and Richard Larrick (from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business),

This research investigated whether relying on environmental concern to promote energy-efficient technology may, in fact, present an additional roadblock to increasing demand by deterring otherwise interested consumers from purchasing these products because of the message’s (unwanted) value connotations.

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Keystone Protesters – the New Town Criers?

I experienced one of those out-of-body moments this week, finding myself in agreement with WaPo’s editorial staff on environmental matters.  It’s such a rare, earth-moving event that, when it happens, I figure it’s worth taking stock to understand the intersection of liberal-conservative agreement.  In response to the outcry by imagesCAYDF8NCenvironmentalists to the State Department’s issuance of the draft supplemental EIS for the Keystone XL oil pipeline here, the WaPo Editors argue that environmentalists are picking the wrong fight with POTUS in waging their eco-War against the Keystone pipeline.  Continue reading