December 12, 2012 archive

Dec 12

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Our regular featured content-

And this featured article-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Dec 12

Temporary Halt to Keystone XL South

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Temporarily Halted in Texas

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins, Business Week

December 11, 2012

Michael Bishop, who granted TransCanada an easement across his property in Nacogdoches County, obtained a temporary restraining order from Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz on Dec. 7. The order blocks the company from working on Bishop’s property for two weeks while allowing work on other sections of the pipeline to proceed.



Bishop, a 64-year-old chemist who owns a biofuels company, claims the Keystone pipeline is only permitted to carry crude oil that is liquid under normal atmospheric temperatures and pressure. Bitumen is “solid at atmospheric temperature and pressure and must be diluted for transport via pipeline,” he said in his complaint.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service ruled last year that crude oil isn’t the same as tar sands, and that “tar sands oil” isn’t subject to the U.S. excise tax on petroleum, Bishop said in his complaint. He said TransCanada has “intentionally misled and misrepresented” the nature of its product to regulators, landowners and the public in order to obtain permits and eminent domain rights to push its project through.

“It is also a fact that the firm used coercion and intimidating tactics to obtain the property in question and that acting on the validity of their claim, I settled under duress,” Bishop said in an affidavit filed with his request for a restraining order.

Bishop said in a phone interview today that TransCanada didn’t try to negotiate with him before survey crews trespassed on his 20-acre property near Nacogdoches, located about 100 miles northeast (161 kilometers) of Houston, a year ago.

Judge temporarily halts Keystone XL pipeline in Texas

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

December 11, 2012, 11:38 a.m.

The decision came after Michael Bishop, 64, a retired paramedic and chemist in East Texas, filed a lawsuit arguing that TransCanada lied to him and other landowners, promising that the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil, not tar sands oil.

“What they’re calling tar sands oil is not oil by anyone’s definition,” Bishop told The Times, adding that he’s worried the pipeline’s proposed contents might contaminate his land. “I’m very concerned about a leak. They need to pull the permit, go back and re-register this on the federal level as a hazardous-material pipeline and see if they can get it permitted then.”



Environmentalists have converged on East Texas to protest the pipeline’s construction, arguing that if it leaks or spills, tar sands oil could cause dangerous contamination. Groups such as Tar Sands Blockade have protested at construction sites and highlighted the cases of landowners, including Bishop and Eleanor Fairchild, an East Texas great-grandmother arrested after a protest with actress Daryl Hannah on her property in October.



President Obama encouraged construction of a portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, but rejected a presidential permit for construction earlier this year, suggesting that the company reroute the pipeline to avoid areas in Nebraska that environmentalists argue should be protected. Howard said the company has proposed a new route for that portion of the pipeline and was awaiting approval from state officials.



Bishop, a libertarian former Marine, initially fought the company’s attempt to condemn his land — 20 acres in the town of Douglass, about 160 miles north of Houston — but eventually settled with the company a month ago because he could not afford the hefty lawyers’ fees of more than $10,000.

He said he contacted environmental groups, but no one would help him bring a lawsuit against the company. So he bought a law book and decided to proceed by himself, filing suit in Austin against the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that oversees pipelines. He argued that it failed to properly investigate the Keystone XL pipeline and protect groundwater, public health and safety.

Dec 12

Cartnoon

Originally posted September 13, 2011.

Case of the Missing Hare

Dec 12

On This Day In History December 12

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 12 is the 346th day of the year (347th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 19 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1787, Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the Constitution, by a vote of 46 to 23. Pennsylvania was the first large state to ratify, as well as the first state to endure a serious Anti-Federalist challenge to ratification.

Pennsylvania drafted the most radical of the state constitutions during the War for Independence. By excluding Quakers and all other pacifists unwilling to take oaths of allegiance to the Revolutionary cause, a fervently anti-British and anti-Indian Scots-Irish faction had seized power for the first time in the remarkably diverse state. Only when pacifists were again able to exercise the franchise in peacetime was it conceivable that the more conservative U.S. Constitution might pass in Pennsylvania. Large states had the most to lose by joining a strengthened union. James Wilson’s genius in describing the nature of layered sovereignty in a federal republic, using the solar system as an analogy, was invaluable in convincing Pennsylvanians to ratify. Anti-Federalists found themselves in the hypocritical position of criticizing the federal Constitution for failing to codify the freedom of religious practice they had actively denied their fellow citizens during the War for Independence.

Dec 12

Hey, Pig Man, Why Not Use Your Pig Stink For Growing Tomatoes Or Baseload Energy

I am a NC Pork Producer and we produce renewable energy from our swine waste

I am also interested in a small solar farm.

http://www.renewableenergyworl…

I guess it’s to be expected that a pig farmer would want to join his pigs at the trough to chow down on huge subsidies for the worst dilettante of renewable energy but mightn’t stinkless pig farming producing abundant baseload [always on] energy and/or fertilizer have some attraction even without the government trough?

See Pig city – zero emission and odour-free pig production Project

http://agrotech.dk/en/projects…

The last time I had looked in on Pig City it was a small experimental venture utilizing air filters to screen out ammonia, the primary cause of stench in all livestock farming.  The ammonia was then used for growing tomatoes but can be burned for generating electricity as well.

Pigs are not bearcats, you know.  

Bearcats’ butts are said to smell like buttered popcorn though admittedly I never smelled a bearcat’s butt and have no idea if their shit smells the same.  What I do know about all too well is the stench of pig shit.  It is the worst.

I also have no knowledge of any government subsidies for Pig City but it is surely a more worthwhile venture than another dubious solar farm.

Best,  Terry

Dec 12

The Debt Ceiling Myth & the Platinum Coin

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

US Mint Platinum CoinOnce again the Republicans in Congress are threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling in order to get concessions from the Obama administration. Those concessions would involve severe cuts and changes to the social safety net that our most vulnerable citizens rely on to stay out of poverty but would not solve the so-called problem of the US debt obligations and deficit spending. We’ve been down this road before and it resulted in the extension of the Bush tax cuts and an increase in the deficit.

This could all be rendered irrelevant quite easily and very legally by the minting of one or more platinum coins in denominations determined by the Treasury Secretary. Here’s the law, 31 USC § 5112 – Denominations, specifications, and design of coins:

§ 5112. Denominations, specifications, and design of coins

(a) The Secretary of the Treasury may mint and issue only the following coins: [..]

(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

Those coins would be deposited with the Federal Reserve and used to make good on the obligated debt of the United States.  This is a legitimate option  for President Barack Obama and the argument has been made that it may be his duty to order the minting of Trillion Dollar Platinum Coins  to protect the US from failing to pay its obligations. Here is the explanation of what a trillion dollar coin does from blogger letsgetitdone at Correntewire:

If the Mint coins money in denominations appropriate for commonplace retail transactions than the coins involved can be exchanged among parties as needed. But what happens if the Mint coins platinum money with face values in the trillions of dollars? Then that money can’t be used for exchange as a practical matter, because there are no buyers who will accept the trillion dollar coins in exchange. So, if the Treasury wants to use such coins to fill the public purse with money it can later spend on debt repayment or Congressional deficit appropriations, it must transform high face value coins into divisible money; i.e. reserves in its Fed spending account. [..]

In the case of $One Trillion proof platinum coin, the profits are its face value minus a few thousand dollars. So that amount would be “swept” into the Treasury General Account (TGA), which is the account used by Treasury to perform Government spending.

A very good way to look at high value platinum coins is that they are legal instruments for the Treasury to use the unlimited “out of thin air” reserve creation authority of the Fed to fill the public spending purse, the TGA, for public purposes. In effect, platinum coin seigniorage involves the Treasury commandeering the power of the Fed to create reserves and place them in the TGA, perhaps, depending on what the Treasury chooses to do, in the many Trillions of dollars.

The coin’s value is not limited to one trillion dollars, according to the law, the Treasury Secretary sets the value. Letsgetitdone makes the argument for a $60 trillion coin that would be a political game changer:

{..} because it institutionalizes the idea that there is a distinction between appropriations, the Congressional mandate to spend particular amounts on particular goods and services, and the capability to spend the mandated accounts by having the funds (electronic credits) in the public purse (the TGA). In a fiat currency system, the capability always exists if the legislature provides for it under the Constitution, as it has under current platinum coin seigniorage legislation.

But the value of the $60 T coin, and the profits derived from it, is that it is a concrete reminder of the Government’s continuing ability to buy whatever it needs to meet public purposes, and its continuing ability to harness the authority of the Central Bank to create reserves to support the needs of fiscal policy. It demonstrates very clearly that the Government cannot run out of money, and that the claim that it can is not a valid reason for rejecting spending that is in accordance with public purpose.

So, please keep in mind the distinction between the capability to spend more than government collects in taxes, and the appropriations that mandate such spending. The capability is what’s in the public purse, and it is unlimited as long as the Government doesn’t constrain itself from creating credits in its own accounts. With coin seigniorage its capability could be and should be publicly demonstrated by minting the $60 T coin, and getting the profits from depositing it at the Fed transferred to the Treasury General Account (TGA).

On the other hand, Congressional appropriations, not the size or contents of the purse, but whether the purse strings are open or not, determines what will be spent, and what will simply sit in the purse for use at a later time. So there is a very important distinction between the purse and the purse strings. The President can legally use coin seigniorage to fill the purse, but only Congress can open the purse strings through its appropriations.

Is there anything congress could do to stop the president from issuing a coin like that? No, there isn’t. Could they impeach him? Well they could try, but I doubt they would get 67 votes in the Democratic held Senate. Nor would impeachment of a president who rescued the economy be very popular with the public.

Last year during the last budget hostage situation, Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School, wrote this:

Like Congress, the president is bound by Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that “(t)he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned.” Section 4 was passed after the Civil War because the framers worried that former Southern rebels returning to Congress would hold the federal debt hostage to extract political concessions on Reconstruction. Section 5 gives Congress the power to enforce the 14th Amendment’s provisions. This does not mean, however, that these provisions do not apply to the president; otherwise, he could violate the 14th Amendment at will.

Section 4 requires the president not to put the validity of the public debt into question. If the debt ceiling is not raised in time, there will not be enough incoming revenues to pay for all of the government’s bills as they come due. Therefore he has a constitutional obligation to prioritize incoming revenues to pay the public debt: interest on government bonds and any other “vested” obligations. [..]

An angry Congress may respond by impeaching the president. However, if the president’s actions end the government shutdown, stabilize the markets and prevent an economic catastrophe, this reduces the chances that he will be impeached by the House. (After all, he saved the country.) Perhaps more important, the chances that he will be convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which has a Democratic majority, are virtually zero.

Since Pres. Obama is no longer faced with reelection and the Republicans in the House are again threatening to default on its obligations without deep cuts to the social safety net and protect the 1% from tax hikes, there is no reason for the President not to mint that coin.

These are the articles by letgetitdone that were referenced and are all well worth reading:

Coin Seigniorage: A Legal Alternative and Maybe the President’s Duty

Beyond Debt/Deficit Politics: The $60 Trillion Plan for Ending Federal Borrowing and Paying Off the National Debt

Origin and Early History of Platinum Coin Seigniorage In the Blogosphere

What Does The Trillion Dollar Coin Do?

The Trillion Dollar Coin Is A Conservative Meme

Dec 12

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Our regular featured content-

And this featured article-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette