Great Achievements in Central Planning: Cellulosic Biofuel

Over the years, we’ve ridiculed Congress’s cellulosic biofuel mandates and associated penalties (for example, here and here) which were enacted as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007. Cellulosic biofuel is mostly ethanol sourced not from corn but from switchgrass, wood pellets and other non-food sources. Refiners who missed mandated targets of cellulosic biofuel were required to purchase credits to cover their shortfall. Effectively, it was a fine.

Problem was, cellulosic technology was slow to make it out of the lab and into commercial plants. As the Energy Information Administration has noted, biofuel production costs are higher than fossil fuels and market resistance is the same as ethanol from other sources. Back in 2010, when the EPA started levying its penalties, cellulosic ethanol was unavailable because no plants were producing it.

A court decision in early 2013 found the EPA mandate-setting process “did not take neutral aim at accuracy” and “was an unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.” Forced by the court, the EPA reduced the 2013 target to 6 million gallons from the original 1.0 billion gallons. Just this week, the EPA retroactively reduced the 2013 mandates to the amount actually produced (810,185 gallons), effectively negating the penalty.

(For those keeping score, actual production for 2013 was a whopping 0.08% of the original goal. Or to put another perspective on 810,185 gallons, the U.S. consumes that volume of beer roughly every hour.)

The picture is even more ridiculous for 2014 (see chart). The original mandate called for production/consumption of 1.75 billion gallons. Since the court decision, the target has been cut to a still-quite-ridiculous 17 million gallons. Through the first quarter, actual production has been just 75,000 gallons; a neutral observer might agree that we have a way to go.

The target volume for 2022 is 16 billion gallons.

Cellulosic biofuel is a case of the Congress thinking it could create a market presence for a product by sheer force of will and legislation. Bad idea.


The post Great Achievements in Central Planning: Cellulosic Biofuel appeared first on RedState.

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Via: Red State Energy


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Oklahoma botched execution: Is this the best we can do?

When Clayton Lockett, a vicious killer who buried a woman alive, was executed in Oklahoma Tuesday, his tortured death exposed the sinfulness of the death penalty and the amoral reasoning of those who support it.

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Via: Fox Opines


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Man Cannot Live on Soylent Alone

Rob Rhinehart has created a beverage that is “nutritionally complete”: in other words, if you want to, the only substance you will ever have to consume—for the rest of your life—is “Soylent,” his chalky-colored liquid concoction. In his Atlantic piece “The Man Who Would Make Food Obsolete,” Roc Morin interviewed Rhinehart, and asked him about the genesis and motivation of the Soylent project. The interview revealed some interesting insights into Rhinehart’s understanding of the “natural,” and his rather Hobbesian understanding of the created world. He told Morin:

Mostly I think there’s just an emotional attachment to culture and tradition. People have this belief that just because something is natural it’s good. The natural state of man is ignorant, and starving, and cold. We have technology that makes our lives better. It doesn’t make sense that you would keep technology out of this very important part of life.

His line about the “natural state of man” can’t help but call to mind Thomas Hobbes’ similar definition: that in the state of nature, man’s life is “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” According to Rhinehart’s point of view, food is a basic and practical function that we employ to stay alive. The natural hearkens back to a time of frightening aggression in the created order, and technology is supposed to save us from this natural order of things.

But what of those who believe that “natural” is better? That biting into a fresh, ripe tomato is, in fact, the best thing you can do for both your body and soul? Rhinehart argues that our understanding of such things is skewed by cultural and social precedent. In actuality, he argues, plants are not our friends:

I mean, honestly, nutritionally speaking, canned vegetables are better than fresh ones because fresh ones are decaying. They’re out in the air being oxidized. Bacteria are feasting on them. But if you can them, you seal them at the peak of freshness and the nutrients stay intact. So, it seems kind of backwards I think, actually, to go for fresh. Why are these foods seen as healthy? Looking at all of these hundreds of different plant metabolites, that’s kind of missing the point because a lot of those things that have been tested are harmful. It’s just intuitive on principle, these plants are not on our side. These plants did not evolve to feed us. If they could kill us, they probably would. It’s competition.

This point of view negates two important viewpoints: first, the perspective of Christians and other religious people who believe in an intelligent and ordered creation. Second, it undermines the perspective of evolutionists who believe that nature has evolved to work in conjunction as well as in competition. Food commentator Michael Pollan argues that our social traditions regarding food aren’t bad—in fact, they have historically kept us healthy: before the days of nutrition experts and diet websites, “We relied on culture, which is another way of saying: on the accumulated wisdom of the …read more

Via: American Conservative


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Holy Frappucino! SEIU Chapter Made Members Vote For Officers At…Starbucks?!?

SEIU - Starbucks

A lesson in how to suppress votes….union style.

As a union member, would you find it odd that you were being asked to vote for your union’s officers while waiting for your Venti Caramel Machiatto and Vegetable & Fontiago Breakfast Sandwich at the local Starbucks?

If you answered ‘yes,’ and do think voting for union officers at a Starbucks does sound a bit odd, you wouldn’t be alone.

Apparently, in San Diego County, when SEIU County Chapter 221 members were told by their union bosses to vote for new union bosses by showing up at several local Starbucks locations, it didn’t appeal to them either because the vast majority of them never voted in last December’s officer election.

When it came time to hold officer elections for the 5,000+ member SEIU chapter, entrenched union bosses apparently did all they could to ensure few members actually voted, including refusing to send out mail ballots and making members go to several area Starbucks to vote, according to the Reform 221 website:


The County Chapter will be holding an election for new officers on Monday, December 9, 2013.
Voting will take place at the following polling locations:


11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Starbucks – 126 Knoll Road, San Marcos


11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Starbucks – 124 W. Main Street, El Cajon


11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Starbucks – 595 H Street, Chula Vista


7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

SEIU Local 221 – 4004 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego

Not surprisingly, the blog Stern Burger With Fries reports, only 41 of the SEIU’s 5,000+ members cast ballots.

After the SEIU international ordered a rerun election (which was held last week and of which the results are still unknown), SEIU bosses continued with their election shenanigans.

Prior to the votes even being counted, the Reform 221 group declared on its website that it is also protesting the re-run election:

Win or lose, we want to go on record as officially protesting this election. It is yet another proof of SEIU officials’ unwillingness to take seriously even the most minimal safeguards of fair elections. We demand a new election. We demand a complete do-over of the CountyChapter elections of December 2013 and April 2014.

We are filing this Election Protest before any ballots are counted tomorrow. We want to make it crystal clear that the protest is not about how many votes we got; not about making moves to undo any unfavorable vote tally. This is about basic rights of union members (here and everywhere).

In this election we have seen the censorship of candidate’s statements, the absence of published election rules, the refusal (again) to use mail ballots, and the disparate impact of placing polling stations at only 22 work sites out of more than 200 County work sites. [Emphasis added.]

  • Read the litany of allegations about the SEIU’s misconduct here.

With the SEIU running its internal elections in this manner, as well as other elections, it is little wonder why the public-at-large is …read more

Via: Red State Labor Union Report


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John Kerry Walks Up to the Truth

A Washington gaffe, as Michael Kinsley once observed, occurs when a politician states an obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say. John Kerry’s closed door remark before a Trilateral Commission (an elite establishment group) gathering, where he said that without a two-state solution, Israel will become an apartheid state, reaches the important gaffe category. The remark is largely true (though it would have truer if he had said that Israel already subjects most Palestinians in the territories it controls to apartheid conditions); it concerns a matter of great importance to American foreign policy, as Israel colors our relationships with the entire Arab and much of the Muslim world; and it breaches a dam on American internal discourse which the Israel lobby has fought hard to construct and defend.

Israel plays an extraordinary role in the American political system. Its leaders flood the important Sunday talk shows when any Mideast topic arises; Israelis lobbied hard for an American war against Iraq, as they do now for an American war against Iran. Americans, by and large, receive them with deference and rapt attention. They also honor Israel by subsidizing it: Americans give more foreign aid to Israel, a rich country, than to all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. So for Kerry to suggest, even with a heavy heart, that Israel is headed for apartheid in the absence of a two state solution is to tread into Emperor’s New Clothes territory. It may be true, indeed of course it’s true. But for a high ranking American politician to actually say so falls somewhere between lese majeste and blasphemy.

Kerry was rapidly denounced by Israel lobbyists in their multiple guises. Commentary called the comments a “calumny” against Israel. One of Bill Kristol’s groups, the Emergency Committee for Israel, called for Obama to fire Kerry, and for Hillary Clinton to repudiate his remarks. AIPAC called the remarks “offensive” and “inappropriate,” comments echoed by the ADL and the American Jewish Committee. The National Jewish Democratic Committee, a major arm of Democratic Party fundraising, expressed its “deep disappointment” with the remarks, rejecting the idea that racially based governance “in any way describes Israel.” Kerry was asked to apologize.

He didn’t—he clarified. Kerry stated that if he could “rewind the tape” he wouldn’t use the A word, while reminding everyone that current Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livini, and former prime ministers Olmert and Barak had explicitly claimed Israel was headed towards apartheid if it didn’t come to an agreement with the Palestinians. Some saw this statement as a grovel, but it could as easily be read as a non-apologetic “explanation.”

The facts under discussion are clear enough. In his Commentary article, Peter Wehner–laid out some standard talking points: Palestinians within the 1967 borders benefit from the full range of citizenship rights. One can quibble with this , as Israel has many laws and customs which limit real civic participation to Jews, but it is largely true that Israel’s million or so Palestinian Arabs possess civil rights. The over the …read more

Via: American Conservative


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