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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

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 Archives

Repugnants for the people

STUDY: Average Obamacare Plans Are CHEAPER THAN Employer-Sponsored Ones

The study was done by Price Waterhouse Coopers - no 'liberal', Obama-loving organization. Where did I hear about this study? PBS News Hour?...No! ..... PBS's Nightly Business Report !!!! NO, REALLY!

[font size="3"]
Premiums for most health plans sold through Obamacare’s state and federal marketplaces are lower than those for the average employer-sponsored plan, according to a new analysis by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“In 2014 health insurance plans offered on the ACA’s 51 new exchanges are on average, comparable to, or lower priced than, similar employer-based plans,” wrote PwC. “In addition, most exchange shoppers have a wider variety of plans than the typical employer-based offering.”

CREDIT: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that Obamacare premiums would be 18 percent lower than originally expected. The PwC analysis puts that figure in concrete terms, finding that the median Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans sold through the marketplaces are anywhere from $61 to $1377 cheaper than the average employer plan. The cheapest mid-level Silver plan — the most popular option for Americans buying new policies — could be almost $2500 cheaper than an employer sponsored plan.

The main reason that Obamacare plans are more affordable on a month-to-month basis is that the health law extends tax credits to Americans who have incomes between the poverty level and four times the poverty level. Early numbers indicate that over 80 percent of Americans buying plans qualify for some sort of subsidy, with the poorest Americans paying less than $100 per month in premiums.[/font]

I suppose this is supposed to be a claim that corn ethanol is driving up food prices. Corn ~ 1.6%

of retail food prices. PEtroleum is about 5% - 6% of retail food prices. While demand for corn impacts corn prices the supply of ethanol reduces oil prices.


Oil Prices and Other Major Factors Drive up Food Prices

Fact Sheet

Oil Prices and Other Major Factors Drive up Food Prices

According to the U.S. Government, economists and other analysts, the following factors are responsible for most of the increase in world food prices: higher oil and gas prices leading to increased costs of fertilizer, harvest, and transportation; increased demand as developing countries grow and people improve their diets; two years of bad weather and drought leading to poor harvests in parts of the world; and export restrictions imposed by some countries.1 Other factors include commodity speculation,2 the decline in the value of the dollar, and the increase in biofuel production.

Overall Higher Energy Costs Are a Major Cause of Higher Food Prices

Record prices for diesel fuel, gasoline, natural gas, and other forms of energy increase costs throughout the food production and marketing chain. According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, “a 10% gain in energy prices could contribute 5.2% to retail food prices.”3 An April 2008 study by economists at Texas A&M University concluded, “The underlying force driving changes in the agricultural industry, along with the economy as a whole, is overall higher energy costs, evidence by $100 per barrel oil.”4 96% of Food Price Rise in 2008 Has Nothing to Do with Biofuels

According to the Department of Energy, during the first 4 months of 2008, the all food CPI increased by 4.8 percent, with increased ethanol and biodiesel consumption accounting for only about 4-5 percent of the total increase while other factors accounted for 95-96 percent of the increase. In 2007, 97% of food price increases had nothing to do with ethanol.5 Further, ethanol has contributed only 3% of the 45% increase in global food prices, according to the Department of Energy. In terms of increased costs in the supermarket, this amounts to an average $6 -$10 increase per household.

Commodity Speculation Helps Increase Corn Prices
Commodities industry expert Michael Masters told a Senate committee that explanations for higher food prices that “typically focus on the diversion of a significant portion of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol production” are incorrect. “What they overlook is the fact that Institutional Investors have purchased over 2 billion bushels of corn futures in the last five years. Right now, Index Speculators have stockpiled enough corn futures to potentially fuel the entire United States ethanol industry at full capacity for a year. That’s equivalent to producing 5.3 billion gallons of ethanol, which would make America the world’s largest ethanol producer.” Such commodity speculation has driven prices higher than they would be under current conditions.

While higher oil prices are a primary factor driving up the cost of food, ethanol is helping families save on the cost of gasoline.
Any marginal increase in spending on food resulting from increased biofuels production are being more than offset by savings at the gas pump resulting from increased ethanol blending. According to a June 2008 analysis led by Merrill Lynch Commodity Strategist Francisco Blanch, “retail gasoline prices would be $21/bbl higher [50 cents a gallon], on average, without the incremental biofuel supply.” This translates to a $526 a year savings on gasoline for the average family.6

1 USDA/DOE Letter to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, June 11, 2008.
2 Testimony of Michael W. Masters before the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, U.S. Senate, May 20, 2008.
3 “The Factors Behind Higher Food Prices,” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Main Street Economist, March 2008.
4 “The Effect of Ethanol on Texas Food and Feed,” David P. Anderson, Joe L. Outlaw, James W. Richardson, David P. Ernestes, J. Marc Raulston, J. Mark Welch, George M. Knapek, Brian K. Herbst, and Marc S. Allison; Agricultural Food and Policy Center, Texas A&M University, April 10, 2008.
5 USDA/DOE Letter to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, June 11, 2008.
6 “Biofuels driving global oil supply growth,” Merrill Lynch, June 6, 2008.1 USDA/DOE Letter to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, June 11, 2008.
2 Testimony of Michael W. Masters before the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, U.S. Senate, May 20, 2008.
3 “The Factors Behind Higher Food Prices,” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Main Street Economist, March 2008.
4 “The Effect of Ethanol on Texas Food and Feed,” David P. Anderson, Joe L. Outlaw, James W. Richardson, David P. Ernestes, J. Marc Raulston, J. Mark Welch, George M. Knapek, Brian K. Herbst, and Marc S. Allison; Agricultural Food and Policy Center, Texas A&M University, April 10, 2008.
5 USDA/DOE Letter to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, June 11, 2008.
6 “Biofuels driving global oil supply growth,” Merrill Lynch, June 6, 2008.>

Commercial quantities of fuel ethanol are being produced from wood waste & other vegetative matter


Commercial quantities of the alternative fuel ethanol are being produced from wood waste and other vegetative matter, a chemical company announced Wednesday. The milestone holds potential to curb the controversial practice of using corn kernels to brew the fuel that is commonly mixed with gasoline.


"The breakthrough would be that they are going to have the first commercial sale," Jim McMillan, a research engineer at the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., told NBC News.


INEOS Bio begins with wood waste and other vegetative matter and gasifies it — a cooking process that turns it into an energy-rich mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Bacteria then feast on the gas mix, fermenting it to ethanol for distillation.

Heat and other gases produced in the process are captured to generate power needed to run the facility; the excess is sold to the surrounding community. For a more detailed explanation, check out the video below from INEOS Bio.

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill


Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

Nutrition is also lost in the mix -- food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates.

Identifying Efficiency Losses in the U.S. Food System

This paper examines the inefficiencies in the U.S. food system from the farm to the fork to the landfill. By identifying food losses at every level of the food supply chain, this report provides the latest recommendations and examples of emerging solutions, such as making "baby carrots" out of carrots too bent (or "curvy" to meet retail standards. By increasing the efficiency of our food system, we can make better use of our natural resources, provide financial saving opportunities along the entire supply chain, and enhance our ability to meet food demand.

The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. This means there was once a time when we wasted far less, and we can get back there again. Doing so will ultimately require a suite of coordinated solutions, including changes in supply-chain operation, enhanced market incentives, increased public awareness and adjustments in consumer behavior.

click on image to go to the report in PDF:

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill - PDF

Don’t look now, but Obamacare might just hit a sign-up projection 3 million signed-up


Three million people have signed up for private insurance coverage through the health law marketplaces, according to Health and Human Services. That still leaves the Obama administration lagging behind its initial projections for overall health law enrollment--but also closer to hitting monthly sign-up expectations it set back in September.

Health and Human Services says that at least 800,000 people signed up for coverage through this week. So this new figure shouldn't be seen as representing overall January enrollment--that number will likely inch up a bit, when the Obama administration releases a monthly enrollment report in February. Back in September, the Obama administration had projected 1.1 million people would sign-up in the first month of 2014--and these new figures suggest that enrollment could easily hit that number.

Since the federal government implemented significant fixes to HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1, monthly enrollment totals have inched significantly closer to the targets. Instead of netting a quarter or third of the expected sign-ups, as the administration did in October and November, now the numbers are coming in much more in range of expectations.

That, at least, is one way to look at the data. Another is to look at cumulative health law enrollment, where the Obama administration does continue to fall behind projections, largely due to the dismal sign-up numbers last fall. Health and Human Services had expected that 4.3 million people would have signed up by the end of January. So the administration is running about 1.3 milli0n behind that projection, although with one week left in the month some of that gap is likely to close.

Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard & Why It Is Good 4 the Climate- Center for American Progress



According to a peer-reviewed study by Argonne National Laboratory, corn ethanol, on average, lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to conventional gasoline.* The study took into account corn ethanol’s full production lifecycle, including fertilizer production, diesel used for farming, the transport of corn to the ethanol plant, the energy used to produce ethanol at the plant, the transport of ethanol to the market, and land-use changes.


President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan calls for the increased use of biofuels as a means of building a 21st-century transportation sector and reducing carbon pollution. Responsible for nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the transportation sector is the second-largest contributor of carbon pollution, behind electricity production. More than 84 percent of transportation emissions are from fossil-fuel combustion in on-road vehicles, such as cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles. Therefore, slashing pollution from these vehicles is essential to meeting the 2020 goal of a 17 percent reduction of greenhouse gas pollution below 2005 levels.

The RFS is a valuable policy that is creating a market for cleaner-burning biofuels that will reduce carbon pollution in the transportation sector and help address the urgent threat of climate change. Although the transition to advanced biofuels has been slower than anyone anticipated, the industry is on the cusp of explosive growth.

The development of advanced biofuels will only continue with the market certainty provided by the RFS, which enables companies to invest in the development and commercialization of cellulosic and advanced biofuels that are half as dirty as conventional fuels. Without the RFS, the diversification of fuel sources, the investment in advanced biofuels, and the effectiveness of U.S. climate policy will be severely limited. Through the RFS and the development of much cleaner biofuels, the United States can continue to reduce petroleum use, enhance energy security, and effectively address climate change.

* note that the 34% GHG reduction assumes a fuel efficiency that is 65% of gasoline's. It is not necessary to be confined to using FFVs which are not optimized for high octane ethanol fuel. Fuel efficiencies of 15% and 30% greater than that of gasoline's are possible which would result in a GHG reduction of 63% and 66% respectively._Bill USA

Imagine my amazement when I thought Rand Paul won a Grammy! Then I realized Daffy Punk was a duo's

NAME. okay, Daft Punk .. but it's not as funny that way....http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/26/showbiz/music/grammys-2014/

New Study: Corn Ethanol Reduces GHG Emissions by 37-40% Compared to Fracking and Tar Sands

(emphases my own)

(January 15, 2014) WASHINGTON — A comprehensive new study (with appendix) conducted by Life Cycle Associates found that the carbon footprint of corn ethanol continues to shrink, while the carbon impacts associated with crude oil production continue to worsen as more marginal sources are introduced to the fuel supply. According to the report, “As the average carbon intensity of petroleum is gradually increasing, the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is declining. Corn ethanol producers are motivated by economics to reduce the energy inputs and improve product yields.”

The study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), found that average corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 32% compared to average petroleum in 2012. Importantly, this estimate includes prospective emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) for corn ethanol [font size="4" color="red"]*[/font].When compared to marginal petroleum sources like tight oil from fracking and oil sands, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37-40%.

As more unconventional crude oil sources enter the U.S. oil supply, and as corn ethanol production processes become even more efficient, the carbon impacts of ethanol and crude oil will continue to diverge. By 2022, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 43-60% compared to petroleum, the study found.

“The majority of unconventional fuel sources emit significantly more GHG emissions than both biofuels and conventional fossil fuel sources,” according to the study. “The biggest future impacts on the U.S. oil slate are expected to come from oil sands and fracking production.” In the absence of biofuels, “…significant quantities of marginal oil would be fed into U.S. refineries, generating corresponding emissions penalties that would be further aggravated in the absence of renewable fuel alternatives.”

[font color="red"]*[/font] [font color="blue"](note the inclusion of ILUC in the calculated GHG emissions reductions for corn based ethanol is for purposes of comparison to the Dept of Energy's calculated number for GHG reductions for Corn Ethanol which does include ILUCs. Note that there has not been any empirical evidence presented to support the hypothosis that the making of corn ethanol produces any Indirect Land use changes. In fact the deforestation of Brazilian rainforest - the area most cited by the Corn-Ethanol ILUC faithful - from 2004 to 2013 decreased about 80% - during which time Ethanol production has gone up almost fourfold_Bill USA)[/font]

North Carolina lawmakers try to quash subpoenas that seek details about voter ID law

crosspost from LBN:


North Carolina legislative leaders who led the crafting of the state’s new voter ID law have been very open about their support of the measure and other elections changes.

But voters and organizations challenging the wide-ranging amendments contend that those same lawmakers are being far too private about email and other correspondence they exchanged while transforming the state’s voting process.


In federal court filings this month, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. Justice Department and others who are suing the governor, state legislators and North Carolina election board members sought a court order for email and other correspondence.
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