In the Pipeline: 2/25/11

You can’t make this up. Soros taps Cathy “I Directed NREL to Attack the Calzada Spanish Green Jobs Study/I Shepherded DOE Cash to My Husbands Company” Zoi to run his green energy hedge fund. Where is the outrage mainstream media? Washington Examiner (2/24/11) reports: So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds — like Center for American Progress — will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing…But this story gets better…The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC’s NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it,..Zoi was Barack Obama’s “Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama’s point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she’s going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech…If you remember Zoi’s name, it’s because of another green-tech conflict of interest: Zoi’s husband is an executive at a window company, Serious Windows, which the White House regularly held up as a “poster child of green industry.”

Cha-Ching! Rent seekers in CA rejoice with new green energy law coming out of Sacramento Los Angeles Times (2/24/11) reports: The state Senate acted Thursday to require California utilities to boost their use of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to a third of total supply by the year 2020…California law already requires utilities to get a fifth of their power from renewable energy. If this measure becomes law, utilities will be forced to lean even more heavily on green power — improving air quality and helping the economy in the process, supporters said. “Right now we can begin to create the jobs that this state so desperately needs, ” said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill’s author…The measure passed 26 to 11. The vote split largely along party lines but with a few crossovers…Opponents said it would drive up electricity bills for homeowners and manufacturers. The additional costs would convince California companies, which already pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation, to move their jobs out of state, said Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).

Them’s fightin’ words — President Bill Clinton takes on big corn by saying ethanol increases the price of food Wall Street Journal (2/25/11) reports: America’s political addiction to ethanol has consequences, from raising the price of food to lining the pockets of companies like Archer Daniels Midland. So we’re delighted to see another prominent booster—Bill Clinton—see the fright… “We have to become energy independent” but “we don’t want to do it at the expense of food riots,” the former President told an agriculture conference Thursday. He urged farmers to consider the needs of developing countries—the implication being that the diversion of corn to ethanol production limits food supplies and artificially raises prices…No kidding. At the same gathering, Department of Agriculture chief economist Joseph Glauber did the math. Despite a forecasted 4% increase in corn planting, Mr. Glauber expects corn used for ethanol to hit a record five billion bushels in 2011-12, or more than one-third of total U.S. production, thanks to renewable fuel mandates and tax incentives. Corn prices recently hit two-and-a-half-year highs…That means the forced U.S. ramp-up in ethanol production is commandeering corn that could otherwise go for food and contributing to higher food prices here and in much of the world. Meanwhile, India is seeing protests, China is imposing price controls, and Indonesia is stockpiling rice. Don’t forget the inflationary impact of the Federal Reserve’s easy money policies, which are pushing up prices across the globe more generally.

The paradox of becoming energy independent is that we become more dependent on foreign oil Investors (2/24/11) reports: President Obama talks much of moving to sustainable energy. But as he blocks domestic drilling, the reality is he’s outsourced U.S. oil needs to mad-dog dictators like Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. That’s even less sustainable…Oil prices hit $100 a barrel Wednesday as thousands of Libyans marched in Tripoli. The crazed Gadhafi vowed to fight to “the last bullet, ” denouncing his own countrymen as “greasy rats” and turning his weapons of war on 1,000 of them…He also threatened to incinerate his nation’s oil wells as he goes down, an unsubtle suggestion to Big Oil companies operating in his country that they should act to save his regime…As a result, oil is soaring because markets worry that a string of petro-tyrants will go down like Gadhafi and energy may soon become scarce.

Why does Ken Salazar think he’s above the law? Only Steven Segal is Above the Law. Wall Street Journal (Feb. 24. 2011) reports: Remember the BP oil spill and its aftermath? Folks remember it on the Gulf Coast, where late last week a federal judge ruled that the Obama Administration is imposing a de facto ban on deep water drilling that is “unreasonable, unacceptable, and unjustified.” Federal Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to act on five pending deep water permit applications within 30 days. The case was brought by Ensco, an offshore driller whose permits have been under review for as long as nine months. Since finally lifting its blanket ban in October, the Administration has failed to issue a single permit, blaming strained resources and new regulations. Ensco believes, as Judge Feldman wrote, that the “government’s continuous delays are intentional,” part of an effort to use last year’s BP oil spill as an excuse to limit fossil fuel extraction.

When the Fed say they’ll implement “quantitative easing,” it’s just a fancy way to say, “You’ll be paying higher prices at the pump.” Wall Street Journal (Feb. 24. 2011) reports: Our question is: What took so long? We’re referring to the latest oil market panic, as prices for U.S. crude hit $100 a barrel yesterday (European crude hit $111) and gasoline nears $4 a gallon in parts of California. This oil trouble has been building for some time, and there’s much more at work here than turmoil in the Middle East. . . . The run-up to that price territory began in earnest last year after the Federal Reserve embarked on its QE2 strategy of further monetary easing. The Fed absolves itself of any responsibility for rising oil prices, attributing them to rising demand from a recovering global economy. Demand has been rising, but not enough to explain what has been a nearly across-the-board spike in prices for dollar-traded commodities. (Natural gas is the big exception, thanks to a boom in domestic exploration.) A spike in one or two commodities can be explained by a change in relative demand. A uniform price spike suggests at least in part a monetary explanation. The Fed will use the Libya turmoil as another alibi, but there’s no doubt in our mind that oil prices include a substantial Ben Bernanke premium.

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