In the Pipeline: 4/3/13

I don’t always go to protests, but when I do, I make sure to bring my harmonica. Denver Post (4/1/13) reports: “Longmont and Fort Collins have banned the practice. Hickenlooper said Monday that past court rulings suggest cities can’t do that because mineral rights owners have to have reasonable access to recover the minerals for which they own the rights… Three hecklers were ejected from the debate. One left playing a harmonica.”


Times have changed. It’s not like the Old Days, when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Vito Nicastri had all the windmills and solar panels, then he must share them, or let others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all… we are not Communists. Washington Post (4/3/13) reports: “Italian police have seized a record €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) in cash and property from a single person, a Sicilian alternative energy entrepreneur alleged to have close ties to the Mafia… Italy’s anti-Mafia investigators said in a statement Wednesday that Vito Nicastri, a 57-year-old native of Alcamo, near Trapani, was placed under surveillance and must remain in Alcamo for three years. He is accused of declaring for tax purposes a fraction of the value of his businesses.”


With Bloomberg vs. Buffet as their surrogates, the Sierra Club and BNSF square off over coal exports. Oregon Live (4/2/13) reports: “At the railroad berm that divides Horsethief Lake from the Columbia River, you can stick your hand between the rocks and come up with fistfuls of crumbly coal-black pebbles and dust… For the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, such spots are Exhibit A in their case against coal export from Northwest ports… Today, five environmental groups filed their biggest legal blast so far, warning BNSF Railway and six coal companies that they plan to sue them in 60 days in federal court for violating the Clean Water Act. If successful, the challenge would require coal trains to have water-pollution permits for the first time.”


Volts aren’t exactly blowing out the door… AutoBlog (4/2/13) reports: “On the plug-in hybrid side of the first-two-to-market ledger, the Chevrolet Volt had another solid sales month, but nothing earth shattering. Chevy sold 1,478 Volts last month, down a bit from February (1,626) but up from February (1,140). In March 2012, Chevy sold 2,289 Volts, which was a record at the time.”


Really, Jeff? The big problem with EPA is that they don’t have enough money? Apparently, Frank needs to do a much, much better job on messaging. E&ENews (4/2/13) reports: “But the air office routinely blows deadlines that are set by law, drawing scowls from friends and foes alike. Industry groups, environmental organizations and government watchdogs complain that the office responds only to legal action by outside groups. Those who track the office attribute its delays, in part, to a perennial lack of funds and personnel… ‘Funding is a chronic problem at EPA,’ said Jeff Holmstead, who led the air office during the George W. Bush administration. ‘They just don’t have enough people to meet all those statutory deadlines.’”


Three of the top six are oil and gas companies.  They pay more in taxes than Jimmy Buffett, or Warren Buffett, or WalMart (and their ideological masters at EDF).  Remember this the next time some corrupt, thieving politicians talks about oil and gas “subsidies”. USA Today (3/17/13) reports: “To identify the companies that pay the most taxes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed corporate tax payments for the top 150 companies by revenue. Included in our analysis were company financials, including income, employee count and earnings before taxes. These were either provided by Capital IQ, or obtained by 24/7 Wall St. reviews of SEC filings or financial statements. All data, including taxes paid, are for 2012, or the most recent complete fiscal year.”


It’s a wonder you don’t see more of these out there when the government makes them practically free. Then again, you could find an old horse buggy, dial up internet modem, and typewriter for free somewhere, but you don’t see a lot of those around either. Slate (4/2/13) reports: “One way to get a car is to buy one. Another way is to lease one. But a variety of tax credit programs exist to encourage people to buy electric cars, which is why Tesla Motors has now devised a “revolutionary new finance product” that will let you lease a Model S while reaping the tax benefits of buying one… The way the program works is that you “buy” your Model S with a loan from US Bank or Wells Fargo, putting 10% down (Tesla helpfully notes that “[t]he 10% down payment is covered or more than covered by US Federal and state tax credits ranging from $7,500 to $15,000”), and then after 36 months you have the right to “sell” the Model S back to Tesla “for the same residual value percentage as the iconic Mercedes S Class”. Get it? It’s not a lease. It’s an agreement to buy the car on credit and then sell it back later to the seller at a prearranged depreciation level.”

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