News

Nafta May Be on Track for an Unhappy New Year

Source: By Andrew Mayeda, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

The U.S., Mexico and Canada are heading into 2018 with no clear plan for saving the North American Free Trade Agreement. Negotiators  wrapped up their latest round of talks last week in Washington without closing any new chapters of a revamped accord. While officials made headway on issues such as telecommunications and e-commerce this week, according to people familiar with the talks, the parties haven’t finalized agreements on even minor issues since October. The lack of progress makes the goal of reaching a deal by March seem increasingly unrealistic.

Air Pollution Contributes to More Than 20,000 Deaths a Year

Source: By NICHOLAS BAKALAR, New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Researchers found that for each day-to-day increase of 10 micrograms per square meter in fine pariculate matter (PM 2.5), the small particles of soot that easily enter the lungs and bloodstream, there was a 1.05 percent increase in deaths. For each 10 parts per billion increase in ozone, a main component of smog, there was a 0.51 percent increase. The effect was greater for low-income people, African-Americans, women and those over 70, and the risk remained significant even at levels below what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

U.S. oil production booms as new year begins

Source: By Thomas Heath, Washington Post • Posted: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

The United States is so awash in oil that petroleum-rich Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil and natural gas company is reportedly interested in investing in the fertile Texas Permian Basin shale oil region, according to a report last month. That is a far cry from the days when U.S. production was on what was thought to be an irreversible downward path.

Iowa’s ethanol production sets a record in ’17

Source: By Mike Bell, Council Bluffs Nonpareil • Posted: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Iowa’s ethanol industry celebrated a record-breaking year in 2017 as 43 plants produced 4.2 billion gallons, an increase from 2016. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association reported the increase is largely due to several plant expansions, increased demand of exports and higher blends, like E-15 fuel.

Ex-Industry Lobbyists Win Top Jobs in Agencies They Once Fought

Source: By Jennifer A Dlouhy and Jesse Hamilton, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Less well known — and potentially more impactful — are the former industry advocates who are now shaping policy behind the scenes in lower levels of the federal government. Trump has placed them in regulatory roles across the bureaucracy, often in charge of the very same policies they sought to influence for previous clients and employers, according to a review by Bloomberg News. There’s a former mining executive in charge of mine safety, a chemical industry representative writing chemical safety rules and a career banker whose prior company was sanctioned by the agency he has now taken over: the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The Near Future of Electric Cars: Many Models, Few Buyers

Source: By Keith Naughton, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Automakers with ambitious plans to roll out more than a hundred new battery-powered models in the next five years appear to be forgetting one little thing: Drivers aren’t yet buzzed about the new technology. Electric cars—which today comprise only 1 percent of auto sales worldwide, and even less in the U.S.—will account for just 2.4 percent of U.S. demand and less than 10 percent globally by 2025, according to researcher LMC Automotive

France bans fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories

Source: By Agence France-Presse • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

France’s parliament has passed into law a ban on producing oil and gas by 2040, a largely symbolic gesture as the country is 99% dependent on hydrocarbon imports. In Tuesday’s vote by show of hands, only the rightwing Republicans party opposed, while leftwing lawmakers abstained. No new permits will be granted to extract fossil fuels and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.

America’s Corn Syrup Habit Could Fill New Jersey

Source: By Kevin Varley, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Imagine riding a train through America’s most densely populated region. The cities and suburbs are gone, and instead you see nothing but corn. That’s the vastness of U.S. corn harvest, estimated at 83.1 million acres this year, government data show. Transplanting the Corn Belt to the Northeast would cover the combined area of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C.—every state connected by the so-called Acela corridor favored by business-class train commuters along the Eastern Seaboard.

A Holiday Christmas Present!

Source: By Anthony Adragna, Politico • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Sen. Chuck Grassley had made no secret that he wanted to convert the biodiesel blenders’ credit, which goes to companies that mix biodiesel into petroleum diesel (think truck stops), into a producers credit, which would go to the folks who make the biofuel. He didn’t get it. The Finance Committee simply extended the expired blenders’ credit and made it retroactive.

U.S. renewable fuel credits pressured by biodiesel tax credit optimism

Source: By Michael Hirtzer, Reuters • Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

U.S. renewable fuel credits remained under pressure on Thursday as expectations mounted that lawmakers may soon renew a $1-per-gallon rebate for biodiesel blenders that could curb worries over tight supplies in the thinly-traded market. Prices of the biomass-based diesel (D4) Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits traded at 80 cents apiece on Thursday and as low as 78 cents on Wednesday. That is down from 83.5 cents earlier this week, traders said. Without the $1 rebate, the government-issued credits would likely rise.