Ethanol industry eyes Big Oil as the villain

This week’s conspiracy theory … Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “An Obama administration plan to lower the target for biofuels in the nation’s gasoline supply is causing a rift with leading Minnesota lawmakers over a vital state industry that recently opened its first gas station offering a 15 percent ethanol blend. The proposal comes as corn-based ethanol, once seen as a green alternative to imported oil, is increasingly under attack by a host of detractors, from oil companies to environmentalists worried about land conservation. ‘It’s a huge threat,’ said Jerry Demmer, a Clarks Grove, Minn., corn grower and chairman of the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council. ‘They smell blood in the water.’ Farmers in Minnesota, which ranks fifth nationally in ethanol production, are casting the proposal as a win for Big Oil, which considers the ethanol standard an unwanted intrusion in the gasoline market. Their Minnesota backers in Congress agree.”

Rachel Slavik of WCCO-TV reports: “For the first time, the mother of two of the children involved in a deadly accident in a St. Louis Park retention pond is speaking out. Shaniece Thompson is the mother of 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie and 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie. They were among the five children inside the car that was submerged for at least 25 minutes on Thursday morning. … As she welcomes a new baby after premature labor, she also can’t help but think about two of her other children. ‘I don’t know. I’m just trying to breathe through out every second that I walk through this hospital, and I just know. I look at pictures in my phone and I’m just like, ‘This really cannot be happening right now,’, she said. … Five-year-old Zenavia, the last to be pulled from the freezing water, left this world without her mother by her side. ‘I didn’t get to see her wake up that morning. I wasn’t there. I didn’t even get to say, really, goodbye,’ she said. ‘She was gone when I made it to her.’ ”

I was not aware … that you have to pay to get your mugshot off the Internet. Abby Simons of the Strib reports: “The unflattering crime mug shot, taken in the starkest light at someone’s lowest moment, has become big business. Dozens of websites that comb through law enforcement releases of booking photos or mug shots of those arrested have developed a brutally efficient business model: If you want your photo removed, be prepared to pay up. Some are polished, touting themselves as virtuous anti-crime crusaders, alerting the public to the danger among them. Others appear sloppily dashed together, exhorting users to tag images under categories like ‘loser.’ In Minnesota, a company that calls itself Citizens Information Repository runs Minneapolismugshots.org, where removing a mug shot and getting a 24-hour scrub from Google will set an arrestee back $100.” If you don’t have $100, at least remember a comb.

Another prize for Ms. Erdrich … The AP story says: “Louise Erdrich’s novel “The Round House” is among the winners this year of an American Book Award, which celebrates the diversity of the country’s literature. Others among the 34 honored at a ceremony this weekend at the Miami Book Fair International included Philip P. Choy’s ‘San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide To Its History & Architecture’ and Judy Grahn’s ‘A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet.’ Critic Greil Marcus won for lifetime achievement. Natalie Diaz’s poetry collection ‘When My Brother Was an Aztec’ and Will Alexander’s book of essays ‘Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat’ also won prizes.”

Did you catch the business about the imported steel for the new Vikings stadium? Brian Bakst of the AP reported: “Backers of the controversial $1 billion Vikings stadium regularly hold the project up as an economic driver that will boost the state construction industry and rely heavily on Minnesota-derived materials. Construction planners demonstrated last week that those goals are easier stated than achieved. Take the steel that will make up the stadium skeleton and hold up the translucent roof. Mortenson Construction executive John Wood told the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that some high-grade steel to hold up the transparent roof will be imported from Europe. He says officials are ordering from a Luxembourg manufacturer that’s a global provider of the extra-strength steel. … Former state House member Tom Rukavina says he’s annoyed that the new Vikings stadium requires ore from overseas. ‘That, to me, is sinful is what it is,’ Rukavina said. ‘Looking outside the country is disturbing to me,’ he told the AP.”

The GleanBefore they get to the “un-session” there’s some cleaning up to do from the last one. Jennifer Brooks of the Strib says: “Workers who received money from their employers to help offset adoption expenses will now face a state tax bill for that help. Adoptive parents used to be able to write off up to $12,970 in employer assistance. Congress made those tax breaks permanent. Minnesota did not. It was one of dozens of federal tax breaks that no longer exist in Minnesota, after the Legislature opted against bringing the state tax code into full compliance with Washington. The result are a series of small gaps between state and federal tax returns that could hit everyone from homeowners going through foreclosures to workers who got college tuition assistance from their employers. Signing off on every single one of Congress’s recent tax breaks and extensions would have cost Minnesota $300 million over the next two years. But Gov. Mark Dayton and many lawmakers say there may be enough money in the budget to restore some of the tax breaks.”

Oh, great … Raya Zimmerman of the PiPress says: “A University of Minnesota student reported she was sexually assaulted after she accepted a ride from a man claiming to be a cop early Sunday. About 2:15 a.m., the woman was walking alone near 15th Avenue Southeast and Eighth Street Southeast in Minneapolis — a few short blocks from the University of Minnesota campus — when a man driving a black SUV slowed down and talked to her, according to University of Minnesota police. He told her he was a police officer and cautioned her about walking alone. He then offered to give her a ride. Once she complied and was in his vehicle, he locked the doors, drove to a remote location and sexually assaulted her, police said.”

The face is sort of familiar … The Appleton Post-Crescent story by Keith Uhlig says: “Jay Leggett, a Tomahawk native who was an actor, writer and comedian living in Los Angeles, collapsed and died Saturday after a day of hunting, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has reported. … Witnesses told police that Leggett had returned … from a deer stand on an all-terrain vehicle just before he collapsed. ‘He was doing what he loved,’ said Mary Schlag, 57, of Tomahawk, the manager of the Tomahawk Cinema, where Leggett’s documentary ode to hunting, ‘To The Hunt,’ premiered in 2011. … Leggett used his Tomahawk upbringing and his love for northern Wisconsin culture —which tends to not take itself too seriously — as a foundation for his humor and to build a career as an actor, writer and producer in Hollywood.”

Meanwhile … . Cassandra Colson of the Jackson County Chronicle in Wisconsin reports: “A Wisconsin Rapids man will spend six years in prison instead of serving probation for his 13th offense of drunken driving. Herman F. Decorah received the new sentence Nov. 5 because officials discovered his military service was misrepresented during previous court proceedings. … Judge Thomas Lister in August ordered Decorah to seven years probation and apply to participate in the Jackson County Treatment Court program because a pre-sentence investigation indicated the 60-year-old suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in Vietnam. However, Lister called for the new sentencing hearing after learning Decorah did not serve overseas during the war but rather in the U.S. … Decorah was arrested for his 13th OWI when he was found passed out behind the wheel after sliding into a ditch while driving on Mission Road in the town of Komensky last March. A subsequent blood draw indicated a blood alcohol concentration of .31.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by rolf westgard on 11/25/2013 - 01:58 pm.

    ethanol villains

    The only villain for ethanol is its own inefficiency. By the time you use all the fossil fuel to grow, nurture, harvest and dry the corn crop, there is little net gain. Then there is all that surplus fertilizer draining into the soil and the Mississippi river. And all those conservation lands put into production. Time to pull the plug.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/25/2013 - 02:09 pm.

    Adoption tax credits and exemptions

    have been of more benefit to the adoption industry than to adoptive families as a whole. They have served only to increase competition for available healthy newborns and to increase the amount the market will bear for those children.

    The credits and examptions were sold as a means of increasing adoptions from foster care. However, those upfront costs are reltively low and, where the child has special needs, often comes with post-adoption subsidies.

    The industry recently succeeded in making the federal credits and exemptions permanent, after a long campaign. In part, the campaign was based on the premise that the credit helps make sure that every infant has a home. That, however, hasn’t been a problem for decades in the U.S., where prospective adoptive parents battle it out to be first in line to adopt children not yet born.

    The credits and exemptions also apply to international adoptions.

    The industry is now turning its attention to the states. It will also seek to make the federal credit fully refundable, meaning that in those cases in which the cost of an adoption is less than the income taxes owed, the family will receive a cash payment for the balance.

    In 2010, there were more than 50,000 domestic and international adoptions, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of more than $500 million.

    In my view, credits and exemptions should be reserved for foster care adoptions, while other adoptions should be granted a deduction on terms similar to those available for medical expenses incurred in the birth of a child.

    (I am an adoptive father.)

  3. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/25/2013 - 02:11 pm.

    I think the issue…

    is bigger then ethonal. It’s about all biofuels. Economies of scale must be reached before something can be determined to be unsuccessful. I would seriously questions whether that has happened with biofuels I think the judgment just feeds the food threat myth of the nature of biofuels. One also has to wonder what role big at plays in this poor EPA decision.

  4. Submitted by Richard Steuland on 11/25/2013 - 10:11 pm.

    Billions of undernourished people

    Why waste corn on ethanol when billions worldwide lack affordable food? Seems to be a choice made with little consequence of hunger world wide. Moral thing is to feed people .

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