Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

Bill USA

Bill USA's Journal
Bill USA's Journal
November 30, 2013

New Tax Return Shows Karl Rove’s Group Spent Even More On Politics Than It Said


On its 2012 tax return, GOP strategist Karl Rove’s dark money behemoth Crossroads GPS justified its status as a tax-exempt social welfare group in part by citing its grants of $35 million to other similarly aligned nonprofits. (Here’s the tax return itself, which we detailed last week.)

The return, signed under penalty of perjury, specified that the grants would be used for social welfare purposes, “and not for political expenditures, consistent with the organization’s tax-exempt mission.”


New tax documents, made public last Tuesday, indicate that at least $11.2 million of the grant money given to the group Americans for Tax Reform was spent on political activities expressly advocating for or against candidates. This means Crossroads spent at least $85.7 million on political activities in 2012, not the $74.5 million reported to the Internal Revenue Service. That’s about 45 percent of its total expenditures.

The transaction also provides a window into one way social welfare nonprofits work around the tax code’s dictate that their primary purpose cannot be influencing elections. Grants sent from one nonprofit to another may be earmarked for social welfare purposes, but sometimes end up being used to slam or praise candidates running for office.
November 30, 2013

FTC to investigate claims that Big Oil has been blocking access of independent retailers to E15

[div style="border: 1px solid #000000;" class="excerpt"]

Two US senators have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to find out if Big Oil is pulling strings to block gas stations from accessing gasoline blended with extra ethanol – or 15 percent ethanol (E15). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D – MN) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA) said they've received reports of oil companies pushing independent gas stations to sell premium gasoline along with regular gasoline. Since most US fuel stations are built with two large storage tanks, pressure to bring in premium grade gas, E15 wouldn't make it to these gas stations. The senators would like to find out from the FTC if the oil companies' actions were a possible antitrust violation. The FTC said in a letter that it would look into the issue.

[font size="3"] THere is absolutely zero chance that anything will come of this. Big Oil stopped installation of E85 tanks by independent gas retailers for the last decade with no hint of interest on the part of the Government re anti-competitive practices. ... don't expect any interest now. [/font]

[div style="border: 1px solid #000000;" class="excerpt"]
Big Oil's War on Ethanol

CFA Consumer Federation America Food vs Fuel : The Consumer Federation of America, a consumer watchdog group, says big oil companies are trying to stop the growth of the ethanol industry… and Big Oil is using its monopolistic power to prevent competition in the fuels industry.

In a report entitled “Big Oil vs. Ethanol: The Consumer Stake in Expanding the Production of Liquid Fuels", CFA charges that:

"major oil companies have now declared war on a key policy that can help alleviate the shortage – the expanded production of alternative transportation fuels, particularly biofuels, like ethanol."

The report goes on to say that the oil companies have systematically used their power to prevent ethanol from becoming successful:

Keeping the refining sector tight is not the only way Big Oil battles against ethanol. The oil companies have substantial market power over the distribution of alternative fuels, as a Wall Street Journal headline pointed out: “Fill Up With Ethanol? One Big Obstacle is Big Oil.”

Yet so far, only a tiny fraction of U.S. service stations let a driver fill up with ethanol. There are a number of reasons, but one big one is resistance from oil companies…

Oil companies lose sales every time a driver chooses E85, and they employ a variety of tactics that keep the fuel out of stations that bear the company name. For instance, franchises sometimes are required to purchase all the fuel they sell from the oil company…

Contract sometimes limit advertising of E85 and restrict the use of credit cards to apply for it. Some require that any E85 pump be on a separate island, not under the main canopy.

The report concludes that supporting increased competition in the automobile fuels market will help discipline a market dominated by a handful of multinational oil companies that are extracting monopoly profits from US gasoline consumers.

Big Oil's War on Ethanol - Consumer Federation of America [div style="border: 1px solid #000000;" class="excerpt"]


The reaction of Big Oil to public policies to promote increased biofuel production and use
clearly indicates that the oil companies do not want competition to undercut the tight market
they have helped to create and maintain in the U.S. gasoline market. An examination of the
key market structural characteristics of the refining sector suggests that this is very much the


"Big Oil has reacted aggressively against the expansion of ethanol production,
suggesting that it perceives the growth of biofuels as an independent, competitive threat to its
market power in refining and gasoline marketing. This paper explored the market
fundamentals that underlay Big Oil’s reaction to policies to expand ethanol production. We
find that, at the critical margins of spare capacity, the expansion of ethanol capacity could
pose a real threat to the tight market situation that Big Oil has created by steadily underinvesting
in refining capacity."

Despite the considerable efforts of the big oil producers to restrict supply and fight availability of E85 pumps, the Government has shown little interest in investigating these anticompetitive practices of Big Oil. (the oil and gas industry is one of the most consistent large contributors to the political campaigns of many Legislators. While they have given to members of both parties the Oil and Gas industry has generally given about 70%-80% of their largess to Republicans.

And from Bloomberg/Business Week: Big Oil's Big Stall On Ethanol[div style="border: 1px solid #000000;" class="excerpt"]

One prong in the oil industry's strategy is an anti-ethanol information campaign. In June the API released a study it commissioned from research firm Global Insight Inc. The report concludes that consumers will be "losers" in the runup to Congress' target of 35 billion gallons of biofuel by 2017 because, it forecasts, they'll pay $12 billion-plus a year more for food as corn prices rise to meet ethanol demand. The conclusions are far from universally accepted, but they have been picked up and promoted by anti-ethanol groups like the Coalition for Balanced Food & Fuel Policy, made up of the major beef, dairy, and poultry lobbies. Global Insight spokesman Jim Dorsey says the funding didn't influence the findings: "We don't have a dog in this hunt."

Academia plays a role as well. There is perhaps no one more hostile to ethanol than Tad W. Patzek, a geo-engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley. A former Shell petroleum engineer, Patzek co-founded the UC Oil Consortium, which studies engineering methods for getting oil out of the ground. It counts BP (BP), Chevron USA, (CVX) Mobil USA, and Shell (RDS) among its funders. A widely cited 2005 paper by Patzek and Cornell University professor David Pimentel concluded that ethanol takes 29% more energy to produce than it supplies—the most severe indictment of the biofuel. Michael Wang, vehicle and fuel-systems analyst at the Energy Dept.'s Argonne National Laboratory, says among several flaws in the study is the use of old data and the overestimation of corn farm energy use by 34%. Pimentel defends the study. In a recent update, he and Patzek hiked the estimate of ethanol's energy deficit to 43%. {A meta-analysis by Farrell et al, Univ. of California, Berkeley, Science 2006, concluded the Net Energy Balance of corn based Ethanol was positive and that some of the data and assumptions of Pimentel and Patzek's studies were so poorly documented that it was not possible to evaluate their quality._Bill USA}


.. and perhaps the best, most detailed examination of Big Oil's various techniques of keeping E85 out of stations selling their respective petroleum products (The problem is the independent stations. The company owned stations are no problem. They are controlled by the corporation, so no E85 pumps will be found on their premises) - is presented in the Wall Street Journal article published back in April, 2007:

Fill Up With Ethanol? One Obstacle Is Big Oil[div style="border: 1px solid #000000;" class="excerpt"]
{this is a fairly long, detailed article and excerpting four paragraphs really does not do the article justice. Anybody who is really interested in learning something re how Big Oil has successfully restricted ethanol availability should read the original article_Bill USA}


Oil companies lose sales every time a driver chooses E85, and they employ a variety of tactics that help keep the fuel out of stations that bear the company name. For instance, franchises sometimes are required to purchase all the fuel they sell from the oil company. Since oil companies generally don't sell E85, the stations can't either, unless the company grants an exception and lets them buy from another supplier.

Contracts sometimes limit advertising of E85 and restrict the use of credit cards to pay for it. Some require that any E85 pump be on a separate island, not under the main canopy.


A ConocoPhillips cop +0.25% memo to franchisees says the company doesn't allow E85 sales on the primary island, under the covered canopy where gasoline is sold. Stations must find another spot. As a result, it isn't quite as simple for a driver to decide on the spur of the moment to fill up with E85. ConocoPhillips declines to comment.


More Expensive

Another Chevron recommendation makes it much more expensive for a station to offer E85 at all. Stations usually have three tanks, for the three gasoline grades, regular, mid-grade and premium. The easiest way to offer E85 in addition to these three is to convert the mid-grade tank to E85. Such a station can still offer mid-grade gasoline, because a "blender pump" can mix some regular with some premium, and mid-grade will come out of the hose.

November 29, 2013

Raizen breaks ground on Iogen cellulosic ethanol facility in Brazil


Iogen Corp. announced Nov. 28 that Brazilian ethanol giant Raízen Energia Participacoes S/A, has started construction of a commercial biomass-to-ethanol facility using Iogen Energy`s (a joint venture between Raízen and Iogen Corporation) advanced cellulosic biofuel technology.

The $100 million plant, to be located adjacent to Raízen’s Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo, will produce 40 million liters (10 MMgy) of cellulosic ethanol a year from sugarcane bagasse and straw. Plant start-up is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Iogen will provide cellulosic ethanol related process technology, process designs and start-up and operational services to Raizen through their jointly owned Iogen Energy affiliate. Iogen Energy, the original owner of the technology, has granted comprehensive licenses to both Raizen and Iogen Corp.

“This announcement is just the beginning of our partnership with Iogen,” says Vasco Dias, CEO of Raízen. “We believe Iogen has the most robust, well proven, and competitive technology platform in the cellulosic ethanol business and, after this first facility is complete, we plan to combine Iogen’s cellulosic ethanol with seven more of our sugar cane production operations. We see tremendous potential for this technology in meeting the world’s growing demand for cleaner and more sustainable fuels, and we anticipate a long and profitable future.”

Iogen signs deal to build biomass-to-ethanol plant in Brazil


The company announced Thursday that Raízen Energia Participacoes S/A has signed a deal to license its world leading biomass-to-ethanol technology, which converts biomass-waste like corn stalk and straw into ethanol that can used to fuel vehicles. The technology will be used in a $100-million plant which is already under construction adjacent to Raízen’s Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo.


“We believe Iogen has the most robust, well proven, and competitive technology platform in the cellulosic ethanol business and, after this first facility is complete, we plan to combine Iogen’s cellulosic ethanol with seven more of our sugar cane production operations,” said Vasco Dias, CEO of Raízen. “We see tremendous potential for this technology in meeting the world’s growing demand for cleaner and more sustainable fuels, and we anticipate a long and profitable future.”


The company secured a $10-million loan in 1999 from Technology Partnerships Canada, thanks to keen interest in clean energy from the Government of Canada. The federal government has traditionally been the largest purchaser of Iogen’s ethanol. The government uses the locally produced fuel to fill the tanks of its vehicles, some of which run on mixtures as high as 85 per cent ethanol.

Iogen has also received investments from Royal Dutch Shell, which first gave funds to the firm in 2002 and agreed to help the company commercialize its technology. Other investors include Goldman Sachs & Co., which invested $30 million in 2006, Volkswagen, which poured $10 million into the company in 2007 and Petro-Canada which has invested more than $15.8 million in the firm since 1997.
November 26, 2013

Wonkbook: Is Obamacare turning the corner? Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas


A spin through HealthCare.Gov this morning went smoothly. The site loaded quickly. The process progressed easily. There were no error messages or endless hangs. I didn't complete the final step of purchasing insurance but, until then, the site worked -- or at least appeared to work -- exactly as intended.

My experience isn't rare. There are increasing reports that HealthCare.Gov is working better -- perhaps much better -- for consumers than it was a few short weeks ago. "Consumer advocates say it is becoming easier for people to sign up for coverage," report Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Goldstein in the Washington Post. "The truth is, the system is getting stronger as it recovers from its disastrous launch," writes Sam Baker in the National Journal. Applying "was no problem at all, with no delays," says Paul Krugman.

Reports from inside the health care bureaucracy are also turning towards optimism. People who knew the Web site was going to be a mess on Oct. 1st are, for the first time, beginning to think HealthCare.Gov might work. Data backs them up: By mid-November, the pace of enrollment in the federal exchanges had doubled from what it was in October.

The Obama administration is certainly acting like they believe the site has turned the corner. Somashekhar and Goldstein report that they're "moving on to the outreach phase, which had taken a back seat as they grappled with the faulty Web site. Next week, the White House will host an insurance-oriented 'youth summit' aimed at people ages 18 to 35, an age group whose participation in the health-care law will be critical to its success."

November 26, 2013

John Boehner’s Socialism: Taxpayers Pay 75% of His Premiums and His Wife is On Medicare


“Next year Mrs. Boehner will be on Medicare.” This news was brought to you by Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times, in the midst of his fact-checking of John Boehner’s claims to be paying tons more money post-ObamaCare (shockingly a lie).

Also, “Boehner’s premiums are partially covered by his employer, the federal government, which pays up to 75% of employee premiums, up to a cap of $426.14 a month (for 2014).” This is confirmed by Factcheck.Org, which finds that the government pays on average 72% and up to 75%.

Not only do we, the taxpayers, fund 75% of Boehner’s premiums, but his wife is going on Medicare.


Republicans call public servants like teachers “thugs” for any perks they get, but have no problem with getting 75% of their own premiums paid for.
November 25, 2013

Bloomberg picks Joule Unlimited (the only biorefinery company) as 1 of 10 '2013 New Energy Pioneers'

I'm a little slow in posting this, but better late than never!

Bloomberg Announces 2013 New Energy Pioneers From Around The World


Bloomberg’s sixth annual New Energy Finance Summit in New York City recognizes 10 leading companies out of more than 200 from around the world from energy sectors including bioenergy, energy efficiency, digital energy and solar and water, based on their innovation, momentum and potential global scale. Suffice to say companies on Bloomberg’s list have passed many screens and are the best of the best. Here are this year’s winners:

Joule Unlimited – Liquid Fuel From The Sun

Joule is a pioneer in “Helioculture Platforms” that convert sunlight and waste CO2 into renewables, fuels and chemicals. This is a unique company so a video is helpful.


Joule is developing a revolutionary platform for renewable fuel and chemical production that is expected to eclipse the scalability, productivities and cost efficiency of any known alternative to fossil fuel today.

Unlike fuels produced from agricultural or algal biomass, Joule produces fuels directly and continuously from sunlight and waste CO2 in a novel, Gas-to-Liquid conversion process. The company's engineered biocatalysts directly produce and secrete targeted fuels and chemicals, avoiding the need for biomass feedstocks and complex downstream processing.

The entire process takes place in a novel SolarConverter® system, from photon capture to product creation and initial separation, with no requirement for arable land, fresh water or crops. Furthermore, this uniquely modular system can achieve replicable productivity whether installed across 250 or 25,000 acres - demonstrating Joule's capability without the scale-up costs and risks that have hindered biofuels for years.

Joule's highly efficient process, lack of feedstock constraints and readily scalable system will allow the company to deliver unprecedented volumes of renewable fuel at highly competitive costs. Upon full-scale commercialization, the company ultimately targets 25,000 gallons of Joule Sunflow™-E and 15,000 gallons of Joule Sunflow™-D per acre annually, for as little as $1.28/gallon and $50/barrel respectively (excluding subsidies). These products will directly address the global markets for ethanol and diesel fuel without the economic or environmental consequences of their biomass- or fossil-derived counterparts.

November 23, 2013

As Budget Fight Looms, Democrats getting frustrated with Obama


[font size="3"]They say Mr. Obama has been too passive and ceded momentum to Republicans.[/font] Their grievances are sometimes contradictory; some grouse that he takes on causes he cannot win, while others say he does not fight hard enough for principled positions. The failure to enact tightened gun control laws and the Republican hold on immigration legislation have left liberals little to celebrate this year.

“If you read the papers, you almost think the Republicans are in control,” said Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and vigorously opposed Mr. Summers until he withdrew from consideration. “They’re constantly on the offensive. Democrats are on the defensive.”
November 21, 2013

Senate goes 'nuclear,' Democrats approve changes to filibuster rules - NBCNews.com


The Senate has voted to change one of the chamber's most fundamental rules, invoking the so-called 'nuclear option' for executive branch and non-Supreme Court judicial nominations.

Fifty-two Democrats voted for the measure, an unprecedented change previously threatened but not invoked until Thursday. Three Democrats -- Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas -- voted with Republicans against the change.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid speaks following the Senate's vote to instate a simple majority to approve executive branch and judicial nominees except for Supreme Court picks, saying "Washington has been in gridlock, gridlock, gridlock" and "we're sick of it."

The vote overturned an existing rule that required a 60-vote majority for the approval of presidential nominees. Now, just a simple majority will be required for executive branch and judicial nominees except for Supreme Court picks.

Speaking after the vote, President Barack Obama said he supports the Senate's action.

"The vote today, I think, is an indication that a majority of senators believe as I believe that enough is enough," Obama said. "The American people’s business is far too important to keep falling prey day after day to Washington politics."

November 20, 2013

Report: Rise in health care spending - since passage of ACA - lowest on record

Cross-Post from LBN:


Health care spending since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act has risen by 1.3% a year, the lowest rate ever recorded, and health care inflation is the lowest it has been in 50 years, a report released Wednesday by the White House shows.

An economy hobbled by the recession and 2008 economic crisis played a role in some of the reduced spending growth, officials said, but the report cited "structural change" caused, in part, by the law.
(more at link)

This should not be all that surprising. In September the Wall Street Journal (no really, the WSJ) reported

Medical-Price Inflation Is at Slowest Pace in 50 Years

[font size="3"]What's really funny is to hear some say "well, it's because of the great recession. People are putting off getting things done (yeah, like heart surgery - UH-huh). BUT WHETHER PEOPLE ARE PUTTING MEDICAL PROCEDURES OFF OR NOT DOES NOT AFFECT THE RATES HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS CHARGE. THat's what these articles are referring to.[/font]

November 18, 2013

IRS Manipulated the Data to Benefit Issa’s Investigation


Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 by Doug Marquardt

Just two days ago, former Nixon aide Monica Crowley called the IRS controversy “the most dangerous scandal in U.S. history.” It turns out she was right, but not for the reason she thinks. This scandal is much more like THE most dangerous scandal in U.S. history – the Bush administration fabricating intelligence to start an illegal war.

The entire IRS “scandal” was supposed to be a case of the IRS, allegedly under the direction of the Obama administration, targeting conservative groups for unfair scrutiny in order to deny or delay their tax-exempt applications. We learned, little by little, that the IRS was also targeting progressive groups and that, in fact, the only groups denied tax-exempt status were progressive and liberal groups. But the House Overreach Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa, worked furiously to downplay the facts and was selectively leaking “fabricated intelligence”, so-to-speak, to fuel their anti-Obama agenda, which Issa did again this morning.

Today, Sam Stein at HuffPo reveals that the IRS Treasury Inspector General’s report that initiated the cries of “scandal” and investigations held by Darrell Issa and his right-wing cronies was a phony report created by the IRS, presumably to help Republicans. J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), had information all-along on the progressive groups that were also targeted by the IRS and he chose to hold back that information from the TIGTA report that started the “scandal”. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Issa and the Republicans obstructed the President’s agenda in the first term and have now made it their mission to demonize and impeach the President in his second term. Their goal is to prevent the President from getting the credit he deserves for saving the economy from the damage caused by greedy Republican bankers and Wall Street speculators and paint Obama as an illegitimate tenant in the White House. Its my belief that George saw the opportunity to create a huge scandal but his people at the IRS weren’t playing ball. George’s own investigator reviewed 5,500 emails and concluded that there was no political motivation. Six IRS officials who said they were “Republican” or “conservative” said there was no political motivation. And Dems located a 2010 IRS Powerpoint presentation that said “progressive” and “tea party” groups needed additional scrutiny of their tax-exempt applications. So, the IRS Treasury Inspector General held-back information that progressive groups were targeted along with tea party groups, and the only information provided was a one-sided report that fit perfectly with Issa’s investigations and the GOP’s impeachment agenda. THAT’S POLITICALLY MOTIVATED!

Now, will the investigative journalists in the mainstream media seek the truth or will they be directed by their corporate bosses to cover this up? Democrats need to push for a Justice Department investigation of George’s fabricated report and any connections to Darrell Issa and Republicans. I want to see an examination of George’s bank account and his foreign assets. We should know if he’s been paid-off and by which wealthy, Republican donors. Issa’s the richest man in Congress. And given Issa’s criminal past, nothing would surprise me. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Bill USA

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»Bill USA's Journal