Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is it fair for the FDA to fine me for not using unicorn-horn derived magic dust in my coffee creamer?

‘Of course not,’ you say ‘there is no such thing.’

‘So what? Fork over that money.'

So sayeth another arm of the regulatory Leviathan, the EPA, if this story from NYT is accurate:

Sanka freeze-dried version, as a set of easy to follow directions (accompanied by occasional inserts from the story):

1. Write a regulation requiring fuel refiners/providers use of a certain amount of plant waste derived ‘bio-fuels’ in their fuel mixtures for cars and the like.

2. Be sure to do so when such bio-fuels are still in the research phase, or being produced at very low levels, if at all.

Michael J. McAdams, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Association, said the state of the technology for turning biological material like wood chips or nonfood plants straight into hydrocarbons — instead of relying on conversion by nature over millions of years, which is how crude oil originates — was advancing but was not yet ready for commercial introduction.


One possible early source is the energy company Poet, a large producer of ethanol from corn kernels. The company is doing early work now on a site in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that is supposed to produce up to 25 million gallons a year of fuel alcohol beginning in 2013 from corn cobs.

From the Department of Understatement:

Even advocates of renewable fuel acknowledge that the refiners are at least partly correct in complaining about the penalties.

“From a taxpayer/consumer standpoint, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense that we would require blenders to pay fines or fees or whatever for stuff that literally isn’t available,” said Dennis V. McGinn, a retired vice admiral who serves on the American Council on Renewable Energy.

Yeah. No kidding. And I’m sure from the provider’s standpoint it’s making about as much sense as one o’ them Jacks Derrida books in the English Dept.

3. Fine said fuel providers for not meeting the quota. Be sure to tailor the fines so that they are not too onerous so as to provoke legal response.

4. Judiciously increase the quota the next year, reap the increased revenue.

5. Deny the patent unfairness of the whole thing with some deflective, obscurantist pseudo-econ doublespeak.

But Cathy Milbourn, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, said that her agency still believed that the 8.65-million-gallon quota for cellulosic ethanol for 2012 was “reasonably attainable.” By setting a quota, she added, “we avoid a situation where real cellulosic biofuel production exceeds the mandated volume,” which would weaken demand.


6. Have your folks( or surrogates or critics) claim it’s for the good of Gaia and vital to National Security.

Mr. McGinn of the council on renewable energy, defends the overall energy statute. Even if the standards for 2011 and 2012 are not met, he said, “I am absolutely convinced from a national security perspective and an economic perspective that the renewable fuel standard, writ large, is the right thing to do.” With oil insecurity and climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions as worrisome as ever, advocates say, there is strong reason to press forward.

7.Rinse and repeat.

8. Hope the press doesn’t get wind of it. *Oops*

Further questions for pondering:

A. If these processes can actually take plant materials, and turn them into useable hydrocarbons, and these hydrocarbons are supposed to substitute for similar materials produced over millions of years by natural processes (oil and gas), how exactly is this supposed to allay the fears of those that believe burning hydrocarbons poses a climatic threat due to released carbon dioxide? Isn’t it the case that any and all burning hydrocarbons (regardless of origins, be it natural or artificial) release CO2? How’s this helping things?

B. When all is said and done, if we’re gonna be a-burnin hydrocarbons anyway, wouldn’t it be cheaper to use them sources in the U.S. and Canada that Big Oil has been a-belly-achin’ about? And we wouldn’t be a-waitin’ around so long for the end product.

Mr. Drevna of the refiners association argued that in contrast to 2007, when Congress passed the law, “all of a sudden we’re starting to find tremendous resources of our own, oil and natural gas, here in the United States, because of fracking,” referring to a drilling process that involves injecting chemicals and water into underground rock to release gas and oil.

What is more, the industry expects the 1,700-mile Keystone Pipeline, which would run from oil sands deposits in Canada to the Gulf Coast, to provide more fuel for refineries, he said.

Guess there isn’t lucre in movin' that-a-way, although we could write up some regs on fracking and pipelines....yeah. That's the ticket.