Written by Chip Knappenberger, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The Washington Post has an article today on the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline. There is a sense of urgency on both sides as the decision on the project is expected to be fast approaching.
The Post features arguments from pipeline proponents that the project will provide an economic boost to the state of Nebraska, and from pipeline opponents that the oil carried though it will lead to more carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought, thus upping the impact on global warming and climate change.
But the numbers being tossed about don’t tell the whole story.
First, a look at the new economic claims. An analysis from the Consumer Energy Alliance concludes that during the two year construction phase of the pipeline, the economic activity in Nebraska will increase by a bit more than $400 million per year—generating directly or indirectly, about 5,500 new jobs. Sounds impressive, but this boost is short-lived. After that, for the next 15 years, the economic input drops down to about $67 million/yr, supporting about 300 jobs. A net positive, but not as much as many proponents claim.
The Food and Drug Administration may be setting its sights on caffeine. The regulatory agency has announced a plan that could limit the sale of beverages containing caffeine — including coffee and energy drinks — to consumers who are 21-years-old and up:
A few European countries have moved toward regulation — in Sweden, for example, many grocery stores do not sell energy drinks to people under 15. The United States is not likely to lead the charge into federal regulation tomorrow or next year, but when Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, was asked last week, “Is it possible that FDA would set age restrictions for purchase?” he responded:
We have to be practical; enforcing age restrictions would be challenging. For me, the more fundamental questions are whether it is appropriate to use foods that may be inherently attractive and accessible to children as the vehicles to deliver the stimulant caffeine, and whether we should place limits on the amount of caffeine in certain products.
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rankings can be very useful tools, assuming the methodology is reasonable and the authors use robust data. I’ve cited many of them.
Despite Obama’s nearly 5-point advantage in Pennsylvania, which a Republican hasn’t won since 1988, Mitt Romney’s campaign has purchased ad time in the state, hoping to pick its 20 electoral votes off on Tuesday:
Mitt Romney will soon run campaign advertisements on Pennsylvania television, a Republican source told CNN on Tuesday. The Romney campaign later released an energy-themed ad which specifically mentions Pennsylvania. Romney’s campaign plans to go up next week in Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday - Election Day, the source said, adding that the buy could be expanded.
The Philadelphia suburbs are key counties and could determine who wins the state. They are home to middle-income and affluent voters who are conservative on fiscal issues but liberal on social issues, including abortion and gun control.
The ad, which can be viewed below, opens with footage from 2008 of then-candidate Obama explaining his views on coal, which is a big industry in Pennsylvania. Obama said, “If someboday wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” A narrator explains that Obama “kept that promise, and Pennsylvania coal paid the price,” as graphic flashes on the screen noting that 22 coal plants in the state will either close or be forced to convert.
The ad then turns to debate footage featuring Romney and Obama, who is looking down, as the Republican nominee explains that “people in the coal industry feel like its getting crushed by your policies”:
Last night, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went toe-to-toe over issues concerning undecided voters at the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. After a dismal performance in the first debate nearly two weeks ago, Obama needed to get his campaign back on track by shifting the momentum gained by Romney.
While he may not have had a blowout last night, Obama did score a win on style. He was better prepared and clearly more comfortable in this setting than in the previous debate. Romney started strong, hitting points on Obama’s failed economic record and turning a question about energy and gas prices into a contentious back and forth that probably scored him some points. Romney was convincing and passionate when it came to the economy, and polls reflected that he won on that issue.
That’s not to say that he didn’t overstep on some of his rhetoric; particularly when it came to China and saying Obama doubled the national debt (he’s certainly increased it rapidly and significantly, but not doubled it).
Obama repeated frequently used familiar class warfare themes frequently during the debate, once again saying that a so-called “balanced approach” was needed to deal with the debt. However, Obama’s balanced approach isn’t so balanced when one looks at the math. Obama also quipped that “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.” That sort of rhetoric may play well at times, even though it’s annoyingly wrong, but it didn’t seem to work all that well last night.
Yesterday, I noted that President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to target so-called “oil speculators” with regulations and increased fines is yet just another way for him to cast blame instead of working towards policies that would increase supply, which is what most analysts say is causing uncertainity and thereby higher gas prices. It’s another gimmick, for sure, but the rhetoric may be effective since most voters don’t understand the basic economics of how the market works.
But the Washington Post is criticizing Obama’s “crackdown,” noting that his latest gimmick will do absolutely nothing to lower gas prices, leaving Americans with more empty promises and more failed leadership:
The White House insisted Tuesday that high volume and volatility in oil markets suggest that regulators need more tools to monitor and control them. But a senior administration official deflected questions about whether regulators have detected any hint of manipulation and would not give an example of the sort of rigging the president suspected regulators might find with more resources. The official instead repeatedly pointed to Enron — a scandal involving electricity, not oil, markets. So the argument boils down to: “Maybe the CFTC will find something, we don’t really know what.”
I attended the Human Achievement Hour at the Competitive Enterprise Institute over the weekend, a several hour party and networking event. Designed to be the counter to Earth Hour—you know, that time when hippies everywhere turn off their lights for an hour to supposedly show solidarity with Mother Nature—it involves lots of lights, food, drink, and even had a streaming video of it. (In case you saw me on there, I apologize. I never wanted to hurt people with my ugliness.)
But even uglier than me were some of the comments on the event’s Facebook page. Many called it “stupid,” even “evil,” and one person who said “I wasn’t going to turn my lights off, but now I will.” To which I ask these people, why?
There seems to be a misconception that somehow, free market capitalism and individual liberty are in direct opposition to saving the environment. This is not at all the case. Looking at history, what places have the best environments, the best air quality, the most protected wildlife refuges? It’s not in places like Eastern Europe, swamped in smog, or places like India or China or South America. They’re in places that have well defined property rights and a free market system. It all goes back to the Lorax and the Tragedy of the Commons: if you put private property rights in something, people will care about it.
While Barack Obama says that his administration is concerned about rising energy costs and has an “all of the above” energy plan, the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed new carbon emissions regulations new coal plants:
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
Industry officials and environmentalists said in interviews that the rule, which comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year, dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls.
As you know, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) dropped his budget for FY 2013 on Tuesday. And unsurprisingly, the White House and Democrats are whining about the proposed spending cuts and reform measures. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took it a step further yesterday by hurling insults Ryan’s way because he is proposing cuts to President Barack Obama’s pet energy programs:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn’t pull any punches in his attack on Paul Ryan’s budget, as he declared that supporters of the budget — and by extension, Ryan himself — are “aggressively and deliberately ignorant” about the need for green energy and other programs slated for cuts.
“You have to be aggressively and deliberately ignorant of the world economy not to know and understand that clean energy technologies are going to play a huge role in the 21st century,” Carney said after decrying the clean energy spending cuts in Ryan’s plan. “You have to have severely diminished capacity to understand what drives economic growth in industrialized countries in this century if you do not understand that education is the key that unlocks the door to prosperity,” he added.
Carney concluded that “the budget proposed by Chairman Ryan and supported overwhelmingly already by Republicans suggests that those problems” — aggressive ignorance and diminished comprehension — “exist in the minds of the supporters of that plan.”
Well, that’s classy.