September 27, 2006
Recent reduction in gas futures a result of hedge fund "rebalancing?"
could be says: deconsumption. Basically Goldman Sachs rebalanced thier commodity index and lowered the dollar weighting of unleaded gas from 8.45% to 2.30%. That means all the hedgies who track that index were forced to sell 75% of their gas positions in Oct/Sept. Exactly now. This money will be coming back in after the election. Another data point on this being a temporary lull.
September 26, 2006
Ted Turner on how to save world trade talks: biofuels
How to save Doha with soybeans
I want to vote for Ted Turner for president ... of the world. Turner gave a speech at the World Trade Organization's Public Forum this morning in Geneva that is equal parts inspiring and enlightening, and cuts right to the core of what this blog cares about. It is, in short, a program for making the world work.
The purpose of the speech is to call for the resuscitation of the Doha trade talks -- the so-called development round. Turner, who says he's been a "free trader" since high school, rightly pins the blame for the trade round's failure on the resistance of the U.S. and E.U. to cut agricultural subsidies. The intractable problem, he says, is that the developed world produces too much agricultural product, which depresses prices, which means that farmers in the developed world can't make a profit without subsidies, and farmers in the developing world can't make a profit, period. But politicians in the developed world will not end subsidies, because they would quickly find their own terms in office ended by disgruntled farmers.
Turner offers a solution: biofuels. If the problem with agricultural production as it stands now is that there is not enough demand to match supply, then the problem with biofuels is the exact opposite: not enough supply to match demand. And that, says Turner, "is what I would call a business opportunity." Turner proposes that the current system of agricultural subsidies be phased out and replaced by incentives for biofuel production.
"This gives developed countries a chance to end the stalemate over agricultural subsidies by giving farmers incentives to grow biofuels and by giving consumers incentives to use them. If -- over the next ten years -- WTO nations adopt policies that support an entirely new market in bio-based energy -- and if production expands to provide 15 to 20 percent of global fuel needs, the market in global agriculture could double or triple in value. In this market of unmet demand, the effect of government incentives for biofuel production will be totally different from normal crop subsidies. The unmet demand for transportation fuel is almost endless. This guarantees that support for domestic production will not displace foreign competitors or reduce the prices paid abroad. Farmers will be getting their income from the market, not from the government."
Biofuel's potential to address energy needs has come under sustained criticism from the left -- there are worries that the rain forest will be replaced by soybean or palm oil plantations, or that the whole push is being orchestrated by American agribusiness companies looking for new ways to exploit the world's poor farmers. But perhaps no critique is as emotionally charged as the argument that crops for fuel will displace crops for food, thus even further imperiling the livelihoods of the world's poorest. But Turner, whose entire speech is hinged on the moral imperative of improving the lot of the developing world, has no patience for this alleged quid pro quo.
"By investing in biofuels, developing countries can start solving these problems. They can produce their own domestic transportation fuels, cut their energy costs, improve public health, create new jobs in the rural economy, and ultimately, build export markets. By converting part of their output of food and fiber to fuel, they will be entering a market with higher prices and rising demand, and are more likely to attract the kind of foreign investment that can modernize their agricultural practices -- and increase their food production as well."
"This is a critical point, because there should be no food vs. fuel debate. We can absolutely produce both -- all that's required is investment. Economic growth, especially in rural areas, will help developing countries meet their food needs more easily. The answer to hunger is not more food, it is less poverty.
Turner's speech is passionate, smart and, above all, dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone. Read it.
-- Andrew Leonard
New NASA study notes climate change is on the brink
This is a timely study as tonight I am hosting a fundraiser in support of I-937 in Washington which would require 20% renewable energy in this state. Just say no to Coal.
Noting that “that this critical ocean region [Western Pacific], and probably the planet as a whole, is approximately as warm now as at the Holocene maximum and within. ~1�C of the maximum temperature of the past million years,” they conclude that additional global warming of more than 1� C relative to 2000 “will constitute dangerous climate change as judged from likely effects on sea level and extermination of species.”
In LA friday for tonight Show
This Friday, Jessica Simpson and Bill O'Reilly will be on: NBC.com > The Tonight Show with Jay Leno > Guests. I will be in the audience. Look for me in the front row. Jay is a big supporter of biodiesel and I am meeting him earlier in the day at his shop to have a look at some diesel projects he has. We also sent down some of our biodiesel for him to run in his Turbine motorcycle. I hope it worked!
September 25, 2006
Honda announces clean diesel drivetrain
They know the Europeans are coming to get them on the hybrids and they are going to have to compete on diesel.
Honda unveils ultra-clean diesel system
Some work is still needed before the system could be made available in the U.S.
September 24 2006: 10:54 PM EDT
HAGA-GUN, Japan (Reuters) -- Japan's Honda Motor Co. has done it again.
The car maker that floored the world in the 1970s with the first gasoline engine to meet U.S. clean air guidelines without a catalytic converter said it has developed a new and simple diesel powertrain that is as clean as gasoline-fuelled cars.
The technology marks a big step forward for Honda at a time when rivals are racing to come up with ways to clear the world's strictest emissions regulations, called Tier II Bin 5, that the United States will usher in next year.
Diesel engines, which now power half of Europe's new cars, are slowly gaining traction with fuel-conscious consumers around the world since they typically get 30 percent better mileage than gasoline cars. Their weakness has been the higher exhaust levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx), a greenhouse gas.
Honda said on Monday its new diesel drivetrain features a unique method that generates and stores ammonia within a two-layer catalytic converter to turn nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen.
Honda engineers said the technology is superior to a process pioneered by Germany's DaimlerChrylser AG because the latter requires a complex system and heavy add-ons to generate ammonia from urea-based additives.
Some technical hurdles remain.
The system would need fine-tuning for the wide-ranging types of diesel fuel found in the United States. Honda also needs to develop technology to measure emissions levels according to U.S. On-Board Diagnostic System requirements.
But Japan's third-biggest auto maker said it planned to roll out the advanced diesel engine in the United States within three years. DaimlerChrysler, which along with VolkswagenAG already sells diesel cars in the world's biggest auto market, is preparing its next-generation diesel car for a 2008 launch.
"Just as we paved the way for cleaner gasoline engines, we will take the leadership in the progress of diesel engines," Honda Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told a news conference at the auto maker's R&D center north of Tokyo.
Fukui said Honda would be "open to considering" the licensing of its new diesel technology once it was perfected.
Honda has long been at the forefront of green powertrain technology, perhaps most famously with the development in 1973 of the CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine which gave the popular Civic its name.
Earlier this year, it became the first in the world to announce voluntary global carbon dioxide reduction targets for its products and production processes.
Fuel cells, flex fuel
In a demonstration of other new power plant technologies, Honda also showed off a prototype of its next-generation fuel cell vehicle which runs on a newly developed compact and more powerful fuel cell stack.
The new stack is designed to allow the hydrogen and water formed during electricity generation to flow vertically instead of horizontally, making the component 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the previous version.
Honda's new FCX fuel-cell car now has a driving range of 570 km (354 miles) -- a 30 percent improvement from the 2005 model -- a maximum speed of 160 km (100 miles) per hour and can be driven in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 F).
Honda plans to begin marketing the car in limited numbers in 2008 in Japan and the United States.
Honda said it also developed a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) system that can operate on any ethanol-to-gasoline ratio between 20 percent and 100 percent. That car will be sold in Brazil, the biggest market for ethanol-based vehicles, later this year.
"Way out in the future, the ultimate green car will be fuel cell vehicles," Fukui said. "But in the meantime, you need a wide range of green technology to meet varying local needs and fuel supply."
September 20, 2006
don't believe the build in oil inventories will lead to a sustained drop in prices
Demand continues apace. In the first two weeks of Sept, diesel grew at a normalized rate of 5.5%. This time of year inventories always build for home heating oil. Take this opportunity in the overcorrection in stocks related to refining and ethanol to buy on the dip. The fundamentals continue to be driven by demand which is not abating.
This from the FBR analyst on refineries today
Normalized Consumption Data Show Demand Growth Still Above Average
According to the DOE, gasoline consumption over the past four weeks is up an average of 2.4% above comparable year-ago levels. It is important to note, however, that Hurricane Katrina’s impact on 2005 refined product demand may skew the year-over-year comparison to the positive.
In an attempt to correct for any potential demand overstatement and arrive at a cleaner consumption growth indicator, we “normalized” 2005 gasoline and diesel consumption levels, assuming that last year’s growth was in line with the historical five-year averages.
This analysis suggests that, for the first two weeks of September, gasoline and diesel consumption is 2.0% and 5.5%, respectively (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Gasoline and Diesel Consumption Growth Remain Above Average
DaimlerChrysler promotes more US diesel
This from them this week:
Loren Beard, Senior Manager of Fuels for DaimlerChrysler, said that, "Diesel will be good for America, and biodiesel makes diesel better."
He said that diesel engines provide 30 per cent better fuel economy and 20 per cent less CO2 emissions. He also pointed out that biodiesel would use 20 per cent plant based fuel that had been grown in the USA, not imported from the Middle East.
According to the American government's own figures, if diesel had a 33 per cent share of cars and pick-ups, the U.S. would reduce its oil consumption by up to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day.
That would mean it could stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia altogether.
They are pomoting it because they have a strong pipeline of clean diesels coming to the US. I expect next year to be the beginning of a battle royale for the hearts and minds of US consumers between Japanese hybrids and European clean diesels.
September 16, 2006
An afternoon with Karl Rove
After the week's massive hoopla about my co-sponsoring a Rove/Reichert event, I was almost expecting the event to be anti-climactic. Fortunately Rove the man and the rest of the people involved in the Reichert campaign put on a very high intellectual power event focused on the facts and the hard realities facing our nation. Every time I go see politicians and senior administration officials in person I am struck by the level of candor, intellect, personal passion for our country and high character displayed all in stark difference to how these people are played in the media. This is one reason I attend these events, with people from both sides of the aisle, to see and hear for myself without the polarizing lens of the media distorting my view. You see, it is the job of the professional media to sell headlines. They have learned that the headlines that sell the best are the ones dealing with something dirty, scandalous, bad, or a fight of some kind. When people agree, there is no headline. When there isn't a bad guy to be the boogeyman, there is no headline. There are few media outlets that actually focus on providing high intellectual content reporting so voters can make independent decisions (the Economist comes to mind). So, unfortunately, I have to pay extra money to hear these people directly in order to make up my own mind. America would have a much more effective democracy if more people had direct access to their government and politicians.
1. Karl Rove is a high intellect, very smart guy.
2. He spent over 23 hours in front of the grand jury 5 times for a 5 minute call with Novak and came out 100% clean. He had a Democrat lawyer. He did nothing wrong relative to the Valery Plame leak, and more important he never contradicted his story. Most grand jury indictments are not around any of the facts they are investigating, but rather around catching someone in an inconsistency of their story leading to a "lying to the jury" indictment. Rove is guilty of neither. Let the guy get on with his life. There is no conspiracy here, move on folks.
3. He is a very personable, self deprecating, humorous guy in person. The stories he told about working with President for over 30 years and the level of professionalism in the white house were both endearing and reassuring.
4. Here is the President's day. Get up around 5:30, be in the office (:45 commute) by 6:00 or 6:30. The first thing on the desk, the same desk every president since 1880 has sat behind, is the overnight threat assessment. This document lays out all the things people want to do bad to this country in gory details. "The stuff of nightmares" according to Rove. Next is the CIA briefing (which Clinton never did), then a secure communications link with either the commanders in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other overseas forces or allies. Then into the staff meeting at 8:00. Then meetings all day of 15-30 minutes with people from all over the world. When he goes to dinner around 6:30 (to lobby someone usually), he takes a 75 page briefing book of what is coming the next day and has to have it digested and ready by the morning. That does not sound like a fun job to me. That sounds like work. That sounds like the weight of the world on his shoulders. The fact that this country gets private citizens to leave their private lives and spend their extensive energies trying to make this country and the world a better place is a great testament to the American spirit and the power of American Democracy.
5. Rove has a strategy to keep a Republican majority. It is built on get out the vote efforts, the basic blocking and tackling of politics. It is not based on smear campaigns, underhanded deals, messing with polling places, or any of the vast conspiracies that the left has dreamed up in their dying hours. In a country where less than half the people vote and those who do vote are split fairly evenly, getting out people who agree with your party is key. There is nothing unAmerican about that. If the Democrats could organize themselves behind a cohesive plan and get out their votes, maybe they could win elections too. Instead they defeat their Vice Presidential nominee in his primary election for the Senate. Lack of a Democrat strategy or organization is not proof of a Republican conspiracy. It is simply bad politicking.
6. This country must keep the Terrorist surveillance Program, the Patriot Act and the military tribunals. Over the last 6 years these programs have led to intelligence that has stopped attacks on this country. See the speech below for details on how these programs have saved American lives and brought terrorists to justice. We can tap a drug dealer's phone, why not a terrorist?
7. Rove recognizes and appreciates the leadership on a national level that we have received from Reichert. He has been given a significant amount of responsibility (jumped the seniority line on Homeland Security Committee) in the Administration and Washington benefits from that. I want this state to have the best, most influential representation it can for our citizens. I want Reichert to go back there.
8. I asked Rove about the administration commitment to renewable fuels and how they were going to rebut the attacks against the Administration as "a bunch of oil men from texas". He explained a couple of meetings he has had with the best minds and national labs on different energy sources including solar, wind, fuel cell, ethanol, biodiesel and others. He knows that fuel cells are at the basic R&D phase and not ready any time soon. He also knows that ethanol and biodiesel are ready to go now and assured me that there are a number of things in the works (Energy Bill) to help scale these businesses. Rove is a pragmatist. He, like me, wants alternatives that can make a difference IMMEDIATELY. That includes Biodiesel and he is very supportive.
Summary: Rove is a high intellect pragmatist. He is not an ideologue or demigod. Reichert is a good man well representing this state's interest. He has been target by an out of state smear campaign by the national 527 organizations. Will Washington voters stand for that? What kind of representative do you want in Washington. Lets focus on the politics of uniting, not the politics of polarization.
From the President's Sept. 6 Speech on Military commissions:
After he recovered, Zubaydah was defiant and evasive. He declared his hatred of America. During questioning, he at first disclosed what he thought was nominal information -- and then stopped all cooperation. Well, in fact, the "nominal" information he gave us turned out to be quite important. For example, Zubaydah disclosed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- or KSM -- was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, and used the alias "Muktar." This was a vital piece of the puzzle that helped our intelligence community pursue KSM. Abu Zubaydah also provided information that helped stop a terrorist attack being planned for inside the United States -- an attack about which we had no previous information. Zubaydah told us that al Qaeda operatives were planning to launch an attack in the U.S., and provided physical descriptions of the operatives and information on their general location. Based on the information he provided, the operatives were detained -- one while traveling to the United States.
We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used -- I think you understand why -- if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.
Zubaydah was questioned using these procedures, and soon he began to provide information on key al Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th. For example, Zubaydah identified one of KSM's accomplices in the 9/11 attacks -- a terrorist named Ramzi bin al Shibh. The information Zubaydah provided helped lead to the capture of bin al Shibh. And together these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Once in our custody, KSM was questioned by the CIA using these procedures, and he soon provided information that helped us stop another planned attack on the United States. During questioning, KSM told us about another al Qaeda operative he knew was in CIA custody -- a terrorist named Majid Khan. KSM revealed that Khan had been told to deliver $50,000 to individuals working for a suspected terrorist leader named Hambali, the leader of al Qaeda's Southeast Asian affiliate known as "J-I". CIA officers confronted Khan with this information. Khan confirmed that the money had been delivered to an operative named Zubair, and provided both a physical description and contact number for this operative.
Based on that information, Zubair was captured in June of 2003, and he soon provided information that helped lead to the capture of Hambali. After Hambali's arrest, KSM was questioned again. He identified Hambali's brother as the leader of a "J-I" cell, and Hambali's conduit for communications with al Qaeda. Hambali's brother was soon captured in Pakistan, and, in turn, led us to a cell of 17 Southeast Asian "J-I" operatives. When confronted with the news that his terror cell had been broken up, Hambali admitted that the operatives were being groomed at KSM's request for attacks inside the United States -- probably [sic] using airplanes.
During questioning, KSM also provided many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans. For example, he described the design of planned attacks on buildings inside the United States, and how operatives were directed to carry them out. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure that the explosives went off at a point that was high enough to prevent the people trapped above from escaping out the windows.
KSM also provided vital information on al Qaeda's efforts to obtain biological weapons. During questioning, KSM admitted that he had met three individuals involved in al Qaeda's efforts to produce anthrax, a deadly biological agent -- and he identified one of the individuals as a terrorist named Yazid. KSM apparently believed we already had this information, because Yazid had been captured and taken into foreign custody before KSM's arrest. In fact, we did not know about Yazid's role in al Qaeda's anthrax program. Information from Yazid then helped lead to the capture of his two principal assistants in the anthrax program. Without the information provided by KSM and Yazid, we might not have uncovered this al Qaeda biological weapons program, or stopped this al Qaeda cell from developing anthrax for attacks against the United States.
Another e-mail exchange
From: Bill Pope Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 6:44 PMTo: 'Martin Tobias'Subject: RE: You a fan of Rove?
From the Washington Post:
"Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said. "The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.
I hope you dont countenance this type of campaign, but thats Roves speciality. I also think its going to happen to Darcy Burner. Do you believe that the ends justify these means?
Not at all. The politics of division are is the most destructive thing to happen in America. The politics of division I believe threaten the very fabric of this country and the concept of one nation. I am hopeful that both sides can keep the level of rancor and debate to the facts and not simply to polarizing soundbites. Polarized people on either side give up, disengage, and start looking for other ways to get their point across like running through the streets and smashing windows and burning cars(WTO protestors).
I actually asked Karl about these tactics personally and he described the GOP tactics as much more blocking and tackling get out the grass roots votes. In fact in the Bruner/Reichert race on the east side, the 527s from out of state are the first ones on the air with negative ads this week. I dont believe the ends justify the means, but I do believe people have the right to defend themselves and point out differences. Unfortunately in todays climate, if you are attacked by a negative campaign, you need to respond and point out you are not the only one with faults.
I do not impugn the personal motivations of anyone willing to run for public office. Service to your country is a rare privilege and should be a goal for our best and brightest. Unfortunately you also open up yourself to deep personal scrutiny and attack at the level no individual should have to endure. My problem is that the process we have today is so invasive, so negative, so divisive and polarizing that many of our best and brightest dont even step forward to join the fray. The real question is how does a body politic go about choosing the best representatives for their government. I am not sure our current process achieves that end.
September 15, 2006
My mother win's a photo contest
My mother is an outdoor writer. She just finished a travel book on walks in Florida. Last week she was in the keys at a conference that also had a photo contest with it. Very cool shots of Key West! FOWA Photo Contest 06
September 13, 2006
Read this book to understand the history of Crude and our esposure to it.
A VERY fact based book, intensly footnoted. A very compelling read. Not such a conspiracy laden narrative as some of the other books on crude, but compelling none the less. She does not shy away from calling a spad a spade though. I recommend this book to anyone who wants “just the facts” on what is going on with crude. Here are some choice tidbits:
“For each barrel of tar-sands oil (in canada), no less than two tons of sand and clay must be mined…extracting oil from the sands sucks up two-thirds of the energy they ultimately render…Producing a single barrel of oil from the tar sands emits no less than six times more carbon dioxide than producing a barrel of conventional oil.:
“Burning over 2 million barrels of oil every week, the U.S. forces crushed the Hussein regime within weeks.”
“Because methane sucks up so much more heat than carbon dioxide, if even small amounts leak into the air – unburned – they could intenify global warming by twenty-three times more than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. As Jeremey Leggett points out, “just a 3 percent leakage of gas from the production, transportation, distribution, and use of gas and you would lose the advantages its lower carbon intensity with respect to oil.”
“By 2010, the International Energy Agency predicted, the amount of methane wafting out of the oil and gas industry’s leaky pipelines would be as effective at warming the plante, over a century’s time, as the burning of over 3.8 billion barrels of oil.”
natural gas is bad.
The bulldozers are going in Gray's Harbor
Imperium Renewables is working away grading land for the largest biodiesel refinery in the country.
September 12, 2006
My house on HGTV
He look ma, my house on TV: Shows A - Z : What's With That House : House of Squares and More : Home & Garden Television (it is "Industrial Loft House").
I agree with FBR
The market is over-reacting to short term inventories in gasoline. There may be a problem for Ethanol companies as ethanol prices track unleaded very closely. But look at the Diesel demand!!! up 7.7%! Demand on diesel keeps rising and with winter approaching, more diesel is going to be made into home heating oil, further reducing diesel supply and supporting price there. If there were public biodiesel companies they would be a good buy now.
Here is what Jacques Rousseau, CFA from FBR said about the Refinery (and ethanol) companies last week:
Refinery Rundown: Gasoline Inventories Build, Stocks Oversold.
Wednesday's DOE petroleum inventories report (for the week ended September 1) was negative for refiners due to an unexpected rise in gasoline inventories and a greater-than-expected increase to distillate stocks. The data show that the gains were driven by increased production and a high level of imports but that demand trends remain positive for gasoline (+1.4% above year-ago levels over the past four weeks) and diesel (+7.7%). We are concerned that refined product inventories have risen over the past month (+8% versus the same calendar week of 2005), but we view demand as the most important indicator, since supply changes from week to week, and with the decline in margins, we expect imports to moderate over the coming weeks. We maintain our Overweight rating on the sector and recommend investors buy on the recent pullback on the stocks. Outperform-rated Holly (HOC) and Valero Energy (VLO) are our top recommendations.
Blackberry finally adds a camera
Finally: BlackBerry's sexy Pearl made me a convert - MarketWatch. NOw if they just put one in the 8700 size. I can't stand Suretype.
Another dot Com survivor gets a payday
I started Loudeye Technologies just a couple months before Mika Salmi started Atom Films up here in Seattle. In 2001 he combined with Shockwave.com and has since created the leading short form entertainment and game site on the web. Last month they sold to MTV for $200M: Press Room - release 08.09.06. Mika is now in Europe enjoying himself. Well deserved.
Create a Bush Conspiracy
These days it seems like ever ill of the world is laid on Bush's shoulders. Check out the The George W. Bush Conspiracy Generator to generate your own. Check the co-conspirators and victims or choose random. Hours of fun!
Ah a new Audi Q7 V12
Forget the V10 Toureg. Here comes the new Audi V12 Twelve Cylinders for the new Audi Q7 TDI. 500 HP and 1000 Nm of torque. Gotta get my order in!
September 3, 2006
America needs more diesel cars and trucks. So the other day when I saw this AutoTrader.com listing for a diesel GMC Denali I immediately called the dealer. My hopes were dashed. This is a mis-print. It is a gas engine gets 11mpg and GMC doesn't plan on making it in diesel. Bummer..