5:29 PM, Apr 20, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The original corn laws put tariffs on imported grain in an effort to help domestic producers. That was nearly two centuries ago, in England, and the experiment is taught as an example of bad economic policy. But people never learn and in this country, today, we have the renewable fuel mandates which have been a boon to corn farmers in Iowa (among other states) where presidential candidates are obliged to speak in favor of a policy that is a drag just about everywhere else in the country. The ill effects include higher gas prices, poor engine performance in automobiles, and damage to smaller engines found in chain saws, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers.
So, as Amy Harder at the Wall Street Journal writes,
In a report published Thursday, Harvard University professor Jim Stock, who served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2013 and 2014, proposes several reforms to the biofuels mandate, known as the renewable fuel standard, including some requiring congressional approval.
Just as policy, how bad is the current scheme?
Under the law, which was expanded in 2007, the standards require refineries to blend an increasingly large amount of biofuels into gasoline to reach 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. No more than 15 billion gallons of that total can come from corn, which today is within one billion gallons of that limit.
The additional 21 billion gallons by 2022 are supposed to come from advanced biofuels made from non-corn products, but that sector is falling far short of producing what Congress had envisioned. The industry produced 1.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2014, with 1.7 billion gallons coming from biodiesel and 180 million gallons from other alternative fuels—far less than the 3.75 billion gallons the 2007 law had initially required for the year.
The EPA is almost two years behind issuing the requirements for 2014 and at least six months late with the 2015 requirements, partly a recognition that the biofuels market has not performed as the law assumed. Bound by a legal agreement announced last week, the agency is planning to propose the levels for 2014-2016 by June 1.
Other than that ...
9:07 AM, Mar 17, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
When President Obama attended the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia last November, the entire delegation required over 5,000 room nights at five different hotels over the cours
Victorino Matus, useless intellectFeb 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 23 • By VICTORINO MATUS
According to my mechanic, that burning smell emanating from my car’s vents was caused by an oil leak near the camshaft synchronizing sensor underneath the right side of the engine. Unfortunately I had no idea what he was talking about. He lost me at camshaft.
Feb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"More than 13 years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in a world still menaced by terrorists and in a city at risk of attack as few others, how is it possible that basic radio communications used by the District’s first responders could fail in an emergency?” asked the Washington Post editorial board. “How could the District’s transit system be unprepared to ventilate smoke from a subway tunnel? What other lapses in preparedness will the region’s residents discover, and will it take an emergency to discover them?”
4:26 PM, May 23, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It has been days now (at least two of them) since General Motors has issued a recall on any of its cars. But then, the law of diminishing returns applies here. After the first 15 million, there aren’t that many GM vehicles left out there for recalling.
1:21 PM, May 21, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The bailout of GM – at a final cost to the Treasury of $10 billion and change – was a landmark event in evolution state capitalism, American-style. The company was saved, certain creditors were stiffed, the unions were protected, and the corporate culture, it seems, was not altered in any fundamental way.
1:34 PM, Apr 16, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Nobody loved Shai Agassi and his company, Better Place, more than Tom Friedman. Friedman dedicated two slobbering, wide-eyed, wet-kiss columns to Agassi's Better Place in 2008.
8:42 AM, Apr 9, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The administration’s enthusiasm for GM extended to its electric car, the Chevy Volt. President Obama once said he’d like to drive one when he leaves office and no reason he couldn’t. There’s lots of inventory lying around.
10:14 AM, Apr 2, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The new CEO of the new General Motors testified yesterday before Congress and said that she is “deeply sorry” about the company’s negligence in selling cars that came standard with a flaw that could kill you. The company knew. A government regulatory agency knew. And if the administration of President Obama did not know, then one is inclined to wonder why not and go to the only possible explanation, which is incompetence. The administration rescued the company from bankruptcy, after all, using billions of taxpayer dollars. Should it not have taken a careful look at what the money was buying?
11:22 AM, Mar 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The script is familiar. General Motors’ top executive heading down to Washington to be grilled by Congress. As Joseph B. White of Market Watch reports, fifty years after the Corvair controversy that made Ralph Nader a household name:
12:01 PM, Mar 30, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
His promising career in politics having come to an inglorious – and no doubt temporary – end, Anthony Weiner has turned to punditry.
9:26 AM, Jan 18, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Thursday and reminisced about the state of the industry before
12:12 PM, Jan 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden thanked the executive chairman of Ford at today's North American International Auto Show for "saving our ass." The event took place in Detroit.
Via the pool report:
Vice President Joe Biden toured the North American International Auto Show for more than 30 minutes after making remarks in Detroit. The show remained open to invited people with tickets -- but it doesn't open to the general public until Saturday.