In The Pipeline 7/13/11

It’s no wonder everyone in CA is on medical marijuana — have you looked at the books recently? CA businesses are leaving 5x faster than last year and if you think that’s fast, just wait until Lt. Gov. Newsom unveils his economic plan next week CNN Money (7/12/11) reports: Buffeted by high taxes, strict regulations and uncertain state budgets, a growing number of California companies are seeking friendlier business environments outside of the Golden State…And governors around the country, smelling blood in the water, have stepped up their courtship of California companies. Officials in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and Utah are telling California firms how business-friendly they are in comparison… Companies are “disinvesting” in California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago, said Joseph Vranich, a business relocation expert based in Irvine. This includes leaving altogether, establishing divisions elsewhere or opting not to set up shop in California…”There is a feeling that the state is not stable,” Vranich said. “Sacramento can’t get its act together…and that includes the governor, legislators and regulatory agencies that are running wild.”…The state has been ranked by Chief Executive magazine as the worst place to do business for seven years…”California, once a business friendly state, continues to conduct a war on its own economy,” the magazine wrote…That is about to change, at least if Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has anything to say about it. Newsom is developing a plan to address the state’s economic Achilles heels, and build on its strengths. It will be unveiled at the end of July.

The LA Times must be smoking medical marijuana too because they think Obama is ‘tipping the scale’ in favor of building the Keystone Pipeline Los Angeles Times (7/13/11) reports: At a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania in early April, President Obama was asked about a bitter fight between industry and environmentalists over a proposed $7-billion, 2,000-mile pipeline to ship crude from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries… Because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, a decision on a permit is pending at the State Department. Obama avowed neutrality: “If it looks like I’m putting my fingers on the scale before the science is done, then people may question the merits of the decision later on…But a 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa suggests the scale may have already been tipped…The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department’s then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having “alleviated” Canadian officials’ concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving “oil sands messaging,” including “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.”…Goldwyn now works on Canadian oil sands issues at Sutherland, a Washington lobbying firm, and recently testified before Congress in favor of building the 36-inch underground pipeline, Keystone XL…Environmentalists and industry experts say the cable is among several examples from unguarded moments and public documents that signal the administration’s willingness to push ahead with the controversial pipeline, even as its agencies conduct environmental and economic reviews.

Is Huntsman still working for Obama? Washington Examiner (7/12/11) reports: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman isn’t really serious about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. If he was, the last thing he would do is appoint Mark McIntosh as his top policy advisor…According to Politico Pro, McIntosh will “will split his time between Huntsman’s Orlando headquarters and the GOP policy world in Washington coordinating expert advice on a range of issues, from the economy to energy, health care and foreign policy.”…So who the heck is Mark McIntosh, you ask? You’ve probably never heard of him because he is not an elected official, nor has he ever held a highly visible appointed position in a presidential administration. McIntosh’s GOP credentials consists of serving as deputy general counsel to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality during President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House…Even so, MacIntosh is perhaps the Big Green environmental movement’s most powerful “Republican.” But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how Think Progress Green, a blog of the ultra-liberal Center for American Progress talk tank, describes Huntsman’s choice as his top policy advisor: “McIntosh has a long record of environmental activism, and is now an influential actor in the international movement to stop global warming.”

We have a $1 trillion budget deficit and the intelligentsia of DC are applauding a cut of a few billion for ethanol — we need to cut the whole Department of Energy National Journal (7/12/11) reports: When President Obama and congressional leaders finally get around to striking a deal to raise the debt ceiling, it will likely include measures repealing at least some ethanol subsidies and oil and gas tax breaks, according to a majority of National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders…Most insiders agree that renewable energy subsidies will get a reprieve this time around but will be front and center on the chopping block later this year. A whopping 70 percent said ethanol subsidies will be cut as part of a debt-ceiling deal. The experts cite two reasons: A 73-27 symbolic messaging Senate vote in June to repeal those subsidies and a deal announced last week by a trio of senators that puts most of the remaining ethanol subsidy to the deficit and keeps a sliver of it for biofuels and other renewable energy industries…“The recent Senate vote to eliminate ethanol tax subsidies shows that Congress is willing to consider eliminating subsidies previously considered sacrosanct if they have large revenue impacts and no legitimate public policy rationale, like ethanol policy,” one insider said…Essentially all energy subsidies except for oil and gas tax breaks ingrained in the tax code are set to expire at the end of this year anyway unless Congress renews them. Ethanol has triggered a political firestorm in the heat of the budget battles because of its hefty $5.4 billion to $6 billion annual price tag. Wind and solar subsidies, by contrast, have not garnered nearly the political opposition given the price tag is much smaller (about half the cost of ethanol subsidies, depending on what is included in the subsidy definition). That may bode well for the renewable industry now, but insiders warn those subsidies will probably not make it to 2012.

If you read this carefully, you’ll notice the subtle bias towards ‘green’ jobs — for example, ‘we know green jobs are important’ Time (7/12/11) reports: Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously said the phrase in 1964: “I know it when I see it.” It, in this case, was obscenity, and Stewart was making a point about the trickiness of properly defining the term. How do you have an argument about pornography if you can’t quite say what it is?…For the past several years, environmentalists have been having a version of the Stewart debate over the definition of a green job. We know green jobs are important, that they’re the key to a cleaner economy—and that they may be the best way to sell a sometimes skeptical American public on the pressing need for energy and climate legislation. But no one can agree on what a green job really is. A worker at a solar panel plant certainly qualifies—but what about a steel worker whose labor help makes wind turbines? A scientist working for an advanced biofuel startup definitely has a green job—but what about a roofer who sometimes works on green buildings? Without a meaningful reckoning of just how large the clean economy is, advocates on both sides of the issue can run wild—and for the average American, green jobs may seem more myth than reality… Good news—the numbers are in. The Brookings Institution—a progressive think tank in Washington—and the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice have collaborated on the first comprehensive accounting of the nation’s clean economy and green jobs on a city by city basis. They found that 2.7 million Americans are employed in the clean economy—more than the number who work in the fossil fuel industry and twice as many who work in biotech. And the clean energy sector in particular is growing very quickly: it grew by 8.3% between 2003 and 2010, nearly twice as fast as the overall economy during those years. “The pace of growth really is torrid in that sector,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Program and a co-author of the report. “This confirms the intuition that these exciting industries really are growing as fast as we think they are.”

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