In the Pipeline: 5/3/11

What’s in a name? Greenies are shocked to learn that rare earth metals are rare and they are going to become much rarer with one million electric vehicles on the road New York Times(5/2/11) reports: Rare earth prices are reaching rarefied heights.World prices have doubled in the last four months for rare earths — metallic elements needed for many of the most sophisticated civilian and military technologies, whether smartphones or smart bombs… Toyota has been raising prices for the Prius, but has cited demand for the car and economic conditions. While acknowledging that rising prices for raw materials in general have affected the company’s overall financial results, Toyota has declined to provide a breakdown of the role of rare earths…And this year’s increases come atop price gains of as much as fourfold during 2010…The reason is basic economics: demand continues to outstrip efforts to expand supplies and break China’s chokehold on the market…Neodymium, a rare earth necessary for a range of products including headphones and hybrid electric cars, now fetches more than $283 a kilogram ($129 a pound) on the spot market. A year ago it sold for about $42 a kilogram ($19 a pound)…Samarium, crucial to the manufacture of missiles, has climbed to more than $146 a kilogram, up from $18.50 a year earlier…One exception is the Toyota Prius hybrid car, whose manufacture uses a kilogram of neodymium.

I wonder if Senator Levin realizes that gasoline fuels the cars that his state makes? The Hill(5/3/11) reports: A senior Senate Democrat who has pushed to repeal oil industry tax breaks believes the success of renewed efforts to strip the incentives rests on how much muscle the White House puts behind them…Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) sponsored the most recent plan to come up for a Senate vote – an amendment that failed 44-54 in early February. But Democrats plan to take another shot in coming weeks, even though they face an uphill battle…“It depends on whether the president really weighs in heavily. At least it depends in part on it,” Levin said in the Capitol Monday when asked whether there will be enough support to pass a repeal. He noted that President Obama favors ending the incentives…Obama and Senate Democrats who favor stripping the incentives have pounced on high gasoline prices and high profits reported by companies including Exxon and Shell to call for another vote – and try to politically tether Republicans to oil companies…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday named the issue among his priority items for the upcoming several weeks before the Memorial Day recess.

Energy states fall back on the ‘safety in numbers’ adage by forming a coalition to lobby Congress for offshore permits Houston Chronicle (5/2/11) reports: Governors from Alaska and states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are reaching out to their counterparts along the West and East Coast today in a bid to get them more involved in decisions about energy production offshore…The push for a new Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition is led by four governors who know a little something about oil and gas production offshore: Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Sean Parnell of Alaska…In an invitation to other coastal state governors, the foursome said they hoped the coalition would “foster an appropriate dialogue between the coastal states and the administration” about offshore drilling. The group would give the governors a vehicle to lobby for expanded drilling offshore…“All federal decisions regarding exploration and production must be made in consultation with affected states,” the four governors said. “In recent months, however, the federal government has taken sweeping actions regarding offshore oil

Good night and good luck: Germany swaps out nuclear for wind energy UPI (5/2/11) reports: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday inaugurated Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm…Wearing a shiny blue blazer, Merkel, flanked by a state senator and the head of German utility EnBW, pushed a button to officially launch Baltic 1, a 50-megawatt wind farm of 21 Siemens turbines that produce power for around 50,000 households…Located around 10 miles north of the Darss Peninsula in the Baltic Sea, the farm is operated by EnBW and is to be the first of many commercial wind farms off the German coastlines…”We’re in uncharted territory with the offshore technology, so let us learn together,” Merkel, who had flown over the farm in a helicopter, was quoted as saying by her spokesman Steffen Seibert…The head of the renewable energy unit at German technology giant Siemens, Rene Umlauft, called Baltic 1 a major milestone for Germany’s offshore wind power generation.

Odd article in Forbes this morning where the author needs reminding that money does not belong to the U.S. Treasury, but to the people Forbes (5/3/11) reports: Although the president hopes to eliminate eight specific tax breaks–which cost the Treasury $43.6 billion over 10 years–only three, accounting for $31.9 billion of that total, are particularly important. Conservatives have no business defending any of them…The largest tax break at issue is a tax credit passed in 2005, which is available to all U.S. manufacturers. Oil and gas companies qualify for that credit, so they will likely deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of $18.3 billion from their tax bill over the next 10 years. Note that this isn’t really an “oil subsidy”; it’s a manufacturing subsidy that oil and gas companies–along with many other companies–enjoy… ast week President Barack Obama responded to rising public anger over soaring gasoline prices by banging the drums for the elimination of various tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. Although House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, initially suggested that he might be open to President Obama’s proposal, the House GOP leadership chose to answer the president’s weekly radio address–which advocated elimination of those tax breaks–with freshman Tea Party Congressman James Lankford, R-Okla., who charged that the plan was about “hiking taxes by billions of dollars.”



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