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Republican Energy Bill Blocked Over MTBE Lawsuits

By felixrayman in Op-Ed
Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:57:46 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The Republican-crafted energy bill was blocked from coming to a vote Friday in the United States Senate. One of the main issues that led to the bill being blocked was a series of provisions shielding corporations from product liability lawsuits over groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE. These provisions of the bill bring into sharp focus some of the more disagreeable themes of the Bush administration.


The energy bill was blocked by Democratic opposition led by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y, joined by a few Republicans from northeast states where groundwater contamination has become a major political issue. The Republicans have vowed to bring the legislation up for another vote as early as Monday. Provisions shielding makers of MTBE from product liability lawsuits were one of the main reasons the bill was blocked.

MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) is a gasoline additive that reduces air pollution and smog and increases the level of octane in gasoline, and does so more cheaply than some of the alternatives such as ethanol. Leaks of the chemical have contaminated drinking water in at least 28 states. The EPA says low levels of the chemical are not harmful, although the agency sets no national standard for what constitutes a safe level of the chemical. According to the EPA the additive is a "potential human carcinogen at high doses". The agency states 20 to 40 ppb is probably safe although it admits, "It is possible your water would taste and/or smell like turpentine" at or above those levels. Levels of as high as 610 ppb have been found in the water supplies of some cities, leading to lawsuits against the producers of the product. MTBE contamination can be cleaned up but it is, again according to the EPA, "difficult and time consuming" to do so.

There are large sums of money at stake here. The city of Santa Monica, CA had two of its major sources of drinking water rendered unusable by MTBE contamination. The corporations responsible settled on Friday with the city and agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up the contamination. The passage of the energy bill would prevent cities such as Santa Monica from proceeding with product liability lawsuits against the corporations responsible for MTBE contamination if it was found they acted irresponsibly, as it has in fact been found in other court cases.

For example, in the recent South Tahoe case, corporations were found to have lied about the ability of MTBE to contaminate groundwater. The companies were found by the court to have acted with malice. After the jury returned those findings, the energy companies settled for 28 million dollars rather than face the damages phase of the trial. The energy bill would block such lawsuits. The law would also be applied retroactively, which would reverse some of the recent decisions against the makers of MTBE, many of whom are located in Texas.

Protection from liability for their actions is not the only benefit MTBE producers would receive under the bill in question. 2 billion dollars would be provided to producers of MTBE to facilitate their move to other products before a nationwide ban on MTBE becomes effective in 2014 (some states already ban the chemical from being used as a fuel additive). They would be able to continue to market the chemical in the interim, while being protected from liability for their actions even if they are found to have acted with malice.

The energy bill that contained the liability protection clause was written behind closed doors by a solely Republican committee. This continues the administration's policy of secrecy and lies regarding its energy policy. The bill is 1000 pages of bigger government that will cost 31 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The MTBE provisions of the bill draw into sharp focus a few of the attributes that have defined this administration.

Over and over again, the Republican administration has advocated policies that socialize risks and costs while privatizing corresponding profits. The energy bill would leave homeowners and local governments to bear the costs of pollution that is caused by corporations that act with incompetence or malice, while allowing energy companies to profit from those actions. In addition it would socialize the costs of developing new products for those companies. The companies will keep the profits from those new products, of course.

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Republican Energy Bill Blocked Over MTBE Lawsuits | 191 comments (180 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
My MTBE experience (2.90 / 21) (#2)
by Blarney on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 04:56:45 PM EST

I personally dislike methyl t-butyl ether. I have no problem with diethyl ether - I work with it all the time. Sure, ethyl ether is an anaesthetic, but you get a tolerance to the effects and by wearing gloves and working in a proper fume hood, you'll be able to prevent exposure. If you breathe too much ethyl ether, you'll get woozy - and I understand that ingestion of small amounts orally was a popular "high" among Victorian English people and among prohibition-era Americans - but if that sort of buzz isn't your thing you can avoid ingesting or breathing it fairly easily. Ethyl ether doesn't go out of its way to fuck you up.

MTBE, on the other hand, hates people. It is a misanthropic chemical. I once spilled a few milliliters of it on a rubber laboratory glove, and the damned shit went right through the glove! It felt cold where it entered - I removed the glove, washed my hands thoroughly - but the cold feeling spread up my arm and throughout my body. I felt woozy, drugged, and unhappy. I got myself outside and breathed deeply for a few minutes until the MTBE had all vaporized out of my system - so everything turned out okay - but ever since then I've been extremely careful with the stuff.

An anaesthetic, like ethyl ether, but it absorbs through the skin and travels through the bloodstream. It feels creepy, very scary stuff, and I don't think it has any place in consumer products like gasoline. I hate MTBE.

1% of LD50 (2.80 / 5) (#3)
by Blarney on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 04:59:55 PM EST

By the way, the amount of MTBE I absorbed was approximately 1% of the amount which kills half the rats - 4000 mg/kg. Still, it was enough to feel it.

[ Parent ]
4000 mg/kg (none / 1) (#6)
by Daelin on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 05:51:30 PM EST

In other words, 4 µg/kg, or 4 ppt (parts per trillion?)

[ Parent ]
No, (none / 2) (#7)
by Blarney on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 06:00:33 PM EST

4000 mg/kg is 4 grams/kg, or 4 parts per thousand, or 0.4% if you like that better. It's not that incredibly, I mean if it killed in parts per trillion I'd be dead rather than writing to tell you guys about my poisoning experienge.

To be honest, I'm sceptical of any claims that a substance is toxic or carcinogenic in parts per trillion. We've heard it about dioxin, but it really is hard to believe. And I don't buy the line that if a milligram kills 1 percent of those exposed, a microgram will kill 10 per million - common sense and everyday experience, as always, is something that theories must be filtered through.

[ Parent ]

I'm not so sceptical (none / 1) (#18)
by brain in a jar on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 03:18:28 AM EST

about there being a subpopulation of people who are much more sensitive.

After all, Bruce Lee was killed by an adverse reaction to a normal dose of a common painkiller.

On the subject of LD50, did anyone else ever look up the LD50 for saccharin, I was surprised to find 7200mg/Kg causes death by respiratory failure...Sweet Oblivion.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

That's a lot of saccharin (none / 1) (#81)
by bigbird on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:20:07 PM EST

7200 mg/kg for an 80 kg person is 576 grams - over a pound for you 'murrikens out there. Good luck choking down even a fraction of that without vomiting profusely.

[ Parent ]
No (1.50 / 2) (#9)
by jxg on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 06:01:38 PM EST

4000 mg/kg is equivalent to 4 grams per kilogram, or 4 parts per thousand.

[ Parent ]
whoops (none / 0) (#10)
by Daelin on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 06:19:03 PM EST

hard to believe I did that

[ Parent ]
His exposure was "1% of LD50" (none / 2) (#122)
by proletariat on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 03:38:25 PM EST

or 40 mg/kg or 40 parts per million. If his weight were 72kg he would have absorbed 2.9 grams or about 4 milliliters.

I worked in an MTBE plant for eleven years and have plenty of experience with MTBE. It is not creepy or scary stuff at all. It's like many other light solvents. It feels cool because of the evaporation. It does not get absorbed through the skin very fast. I can't imagine how he could have gotten 4 milliliters through his skin. You'd really have to soak in it for quite awhile for that to happen.

I've never felt any effects from exposure to MTBE and I've gotten it on my skin lots of times. I find his description totally bizarre. I'm guessing it's a psychosomatic reaction. I've seen so many stories like this about MTBE's properties. People attribute almost mystical qualities to it. There's really a lot of bad information about MTBE in the media. I've been pretty impressed with many of the messages here, though.

[ Parent ]

they need a word for this (none / 2) (#109)
by pdrap on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 06:15:16 AM EST

I'm not a person with phobias, usually. But I discovered what my personal phobia was when I took organic chemistry as a college freshman.

Inorganic chemistry didn't bother me at all. Strong sulphuric acid - no problem. But organic chemistry scared the shit out of me. Part of it was the time pressure. When you're working with something under a  hood that can kill you, and you're going quickly because of some stupid end-of-the-period time limit, it can rattle you.

I never got to the point where I was having nightmares about inhaling something by accident and drowning in my own body fluids, but I was happy to get out of that lab every day.

Your little story just brought that awful feeling back to me. When it comes to organic chemistry, I'd rather just read about it, and let others actually do it.


[ Parent ]

Blame Canada (2.33 / 9) (#4)
by sinexoverx on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 05:04:10 PM EST

NAFTA Suit: Blame Canada:
An international tribunal has begun considering a claim that the United States must pay a foreign investor almost $1 billion because of a California measure to prevent water contamination.

The Canadian challenger, Methanex Corporation, has argued that a plan to remove the toxic chemical MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) from California's gasoline violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).



Pot.. (2.25 / 4) (#20)
by Kwil on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:00:29 AM EST

..meet kettle

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Interesting, but not the same (none / 1) (#37)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:19:36 PM EST

AT first reading the top paragraph, I thought it was going to be some interesting thing of the US getting upset at Canada for not being able to import a banned additive. However, that wasn't the case.

The panel of three judges, one even Canadian, all said it was a clear violation of NAFTA trade rules. The difference is that in the US, MTBE is banned so a domestic producer cannot make and sell gas with it nor can it be imported. However, that Canada case the law was drafted to only make it illegal to import MMT tainted gas, but a domestic refinery could make and sell MMT gasoline.

This difference was the key deciding point. The judges all said that if the law was drafted to ban the substance outright from all gas, domestic or not, then everything would be fine, but Canada tried to keep the door open to domestic sources, and that was what was considered illegal.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

our fault, eh? (none / 1) (#36)
by danharan on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:14:57 PM EST

This is a fscking troll, but I'll bite.

Canada tried to ban MTBE, but because of NAFTA, we got sued. Now that California came to its senses (I wonder if Ah-nold will maintain that decision), they want to ban it too. Result? A Canadian company is suing California, again under NAFTA.

So you can't blame CANADA but you can blame a CANADIAN COMPANY, and most of all you can blame NAFTA and the morons at the helm of both our countries at the time the damned deal was passed.

[ Parent ]

Canada tried to ban MTBE? (none / 1) (#40)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:30:37 PM EST

Can you show me some link for that? Canada tried to ban the importation of MMT, another gasoline additive, but they didn't ban it. That was the problem. The Canadian legislation only banned its importation but left the door open for a domestic refintery to use MMT (although none at the time did). The 3 judge panel (that included a Canadian judge) all agreed that Canada could have avoided the issue if they just banned the additive all together instead of trying to take this middle road that left domestic and American refineries operating under different laws.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
bulshit. (none / 0) (#44)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:27:59 PM EST

Come on jjayson, you know full well that regardless of whether Canada banned imports, or the additive completely, it wouldn't had made a lick of difference as far as the NAFTA pannel was concerned.

Either way, Canada would have been violating NAFTA.

Canada could have avoided the issue if they just banned the additive all together instead of trying to take this middle road that left domestic and American refineries operating under different laws

Um, considering that (as you admit) said "domestic refineries" didn't exist, I'm not sure why Canada would be required to regulate them.

That is what you would call a cop out.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

The panel was clear (none / 0) (#56)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:59:21 PM EST

Come on jjayson, you know full well that regardless of whether Canada banned imports, or the additive completely, it wouldn't had made a lick of difference as far as the NAFTA pannel was concerned.

Either way, Canada would have been violating NAFTA.

No. Even the Canadian panelist was absolutely clear on this. If Canada had just put in place a nation-wide ban instead of just an import ban, there wouldn't have been an issue. Or maybe you are trying to claim that the Canadian panelist was bought off. The panel is setup to allow each interest to put forward somebody to ajudicate the dispute.

Um, considering that (as you admit) said "domestic refineries" didn't exist, I'm not sure why Canada would be required to regulate them.
First ask the question why not make a real nation-wide ban? Because Canada was clearly trying to provide an edge to their domestic businesses by not banning its use but only banning its imports. It is immensely hard to say that they didn't even think of a proper ban. It seems like it would have been acceptable to Canada if an MMT-additive refinery was opened in Canada, they wouldn't have had a problem with it. It was a clearly protectionist measure and was properly labeled as much by even the Canadian representative.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Do you listen to yourself? (none / 0) (#63)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:37:06 PM EST

If Canada had just put in place a nation-wide ban instead of just an import ban, there wouldn't have been an issue

If this was the case then the original poster would have nothing to blame Canada about (regarding California's problems). NAFTA's Chapter 11, although perhaps not needed to be fully enfrorced due to some poorly worded legistlation in the Canada/MMT case, would have prevailed at any rate, regardless of what some panel says.

Because Canada was clearly trying to provide an edge to their domestic businesses by not banning its use but only banning its imports.

What edge? There IS NO DOMESTIC MARKET! It would be a political no brainer to ban MMT outright. There are no Canadian manufacturers, and it's dangerous. The reason they don't do it is because they are fully aware that they would lose the immediate Chapter 11 challenge hands down.

You can argue semantics all you want by yourself. We both know what corporations are entitled to under NAFTA, stop trying to dance around the obvious.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Reread my last paragraph (none / 0) (#66)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:56:01 PM EST

The reason they don't do it is because they are fully aware that they would lose the immediate Chapter 11 challenge hands down.
The judging panel clearly said things would have been fine if the ban was outright. Stop abd think for a second (I know this can be hard for types like you). If NAFTA's Chapter 11 is so egregious as to prevent banning environmentally harmful chemicals, then how would switching from a nation-wide ban to an import ban side step it? It wouldn't. If Chapter 11 was so terrible it would have made no difference what form the ban took, however an import ban opens them up to even more possible attacks against the policy. There was no reason to only ban imports and not domestically.

What edge? There IS NO DOMESTIC MARKET!
It answers your question. Here, I'll even paste it for you:
First ask the question why not make a real nation-wide ban? Because Canada was clearly trying to provide an edge to their domestic businesses by not banning its use but only banning its imports. It is immensely hard to say that they didn't even think of a proper ban. It seems like it would have been acceptable to Canada if an MMT-additive refinery was opened in Canada, they wouldn't have had a problem with it. It was a clearly protectionist measure and was properly labeled as much by even the Canadian representative.

It creates a distortion because the import ban was equivalent to an invitation to move to Canada so an MMT refinery could get different legal treatment.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Not a troll (none / 1) (#49)
by sinexoverx on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:41:03 PM EST

I just quoted a story in the press. It has some bearing on the issue so I threw it in the ring. Nothing I posted is even my words. The whole thing is a quote from an article. If you would bother to read it, then you would see that.

[ Parent ]
And they knew... (2.70 / 10) (#5)
by cameldrv on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 05:11:46 PM EST

The worst part about this is that I remember reading an article years ago, like back in '97 or so, about California deciding whether to use MTBE.  The environmentalists said that it was a terrible idea for exactly this reason -- that it would get into the ground water.  Of course, the oil industry went ahead and did it anyways, and the predicted result has occured.  Now of course, they don't want to accept responsibility for the predictable consequences of their actions.


Not their actions, that's why (3.00 / 11) (#93)
by bigbird on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 01:17:38 AM EST

they don't want to accept responsibility for the predictable consequences of their actions
I work with groundwater contamination caused by downstream petroleum distribution and dispensing pretty much every day. The producers themselves generally do not cause groundwater contamination, it happens in the distribution chain.

What? You don't believe me? Well, that's because the media doesn't understand the issue, and partly because few people have any understanding of contaminant origin or migration. People like to blame the big corporations, and lawyers like to sue those with "deep pockets", no matter how tenuous the link between the producer and the contamination.

MTBE contamination occurs at the end of a long chain of steps. I'll outline some of the key ones for you below:

  1. Various environmentalist groups clamour for reduced air pollution, and elimination of lead back in the 1970's and early 80's. This is good.
  2. Government gives them what they ask for. This is also good. Industry has to meet the challenge of providing unleaded fuels which will run in cars designed for leaded gasoline, with reduced emissions and no lead (think antiknock properties, described using the octane rating). Oh yeah, and it should be economical too, lest consumers whine even more at the pumps. Gasoline is insanely cheap, and synthetic additives are not. Thus for anything that needs to be added at concentrations in the percent range, it had better be inexpensive.
  3. MTBE is a good oxygenate, and readily produced from existing isobutene feedstocks. That means it is cheap. Unlike grain produced ethanol, which is quite expensive, and is of dubious environmental value. Sure, burning gasoline is not great for the environment. But given that around a gallon of diesel fuel is required to grow a gallon of grain-derived ethanol, please explain why ethanol is good for anyone other than the oversubsidized farmers in america's midwest?
  4. California, being California, decided that if a little MTBE is good for smog reduction, than a lot would be better. Most of the US added 3% MTBE, compared with approximately 11% in California. Guess which state has the worst MTBE problems?
  5. Producers ramp up MTBE production, consumers notice little or no difference in gasoline price or performance, and everyone drives off happily into the sunset.
  6. Or not. Gasoline is stored at gas stations in underground storage tanks. They rust, they leak, they get overfilled, and they are sometimes operated by people with a fourth grade education who sign their name with an "X".
  7. MTBE is quite soluble in water. After a petroleum release, the soluble components such as MTBE dissolve quickly into the groundwater. The insoluble hydrocarbon compounds float on the surface and are called non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL), or free product. A hydrocarbon NAPL plume does not move fast, and is often quite stable. MTBE positively flies in comparison, and will move at the same rate as groundwater (often in the range of 2m to 500m per year). MTBE also has low biodegradation rates, so it goes a long ways before breaking down. And of course, NAPL floats on water, and will not impact a deep well very badly. MTBE faces no such restrictions.
  8. So, if an MTBE producer sells their product to a refinery, who then sells MTBE containing gasoline to a marketing firm, who then sells it to Buddy's gas station down in the bayou, who then is responsible for a product release from Buddy's leaking tank? I would say that Buddy is entirely, 100%, absolutely responsible for the release of product from his leaking tanks.
  9. Unfortunately, no-one is really responsible for their actions in this enlightened North American society. So, after calculating that the legal fees alone would bankrupt Buddy, the scumbag lawyers pursuing dubious claims of injury chase after the deep pockets. Kind of like Boies and SCO chasing IBM.
I have seen very few bulk plant or service station sites which have NAPL or dissolved phase petroleum hydrocarbon plumes extending more than 50m to 100m from the source. This is supported by most research I have seen. A plume will spread to a certain distance, at which point natural biodegradation processes pretty much keep it in a steady state. It is a related rates problem, and once you remove the source, natural attenuation will eventually get rid of the hydrocarbons.

The problem is not really MTBE. Sure, MTBE tastes bad, and is far from healthy to ingest. The media likes to blame things on chemicals, and on the chemical industry. Typical journalists are not bright enough to actually understand or research the root cause of a problem, are afraid of chemicals, do not understand science, and instead seek a villian such as MTBE. Leaks and releases to the environment (you can introduce a lot of MTBE to surface water from your speedboat or jet ski) are the real problem. MTBE is not really that much worse than whatever will replace it, and is not any worse than the other stuff in gasoline. Getting rid of MTBE will not eliminate leaking underground storage tanks and careless operating practices by people like Buddy, above.

I think of MTBE as a canary. It tells you that there is a problem - a leaking tank. Fix the right problem (or the root problem - your choice). Don't ban MTBE. Require double walled underground storage tanks, double walled lines, dispenser sumps, continuous tank level monitoring, and leak detectors at every point in an UST system. Make the person storing and dispensing the gasoline responsible for the leak - after all, they control the substance when it escapes.

But politicians want a quick fix. They understand only "MTBE bad", without seeing the good, or understanding that the problems lie with gasoline handling, dispensing, and use.

Rant's over. I disagree with most of the rest of your comments, as you lack a factual basis for most of your assertions (for starters, MTBE was introduced in 1979, and added in greater quantities to improve air quality in 1988). However, I need to be up early tomorrow. Try looking around at the above links, and also at the US EPA. This guy's risk assessment appears pretty good.



[ Parent ]
You missed a step (none / 1) (#96)
by felixrayman on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 01:57:13 AM EST

So, if an MTBE producer sells their product to a refinery, who then sells MTBE containing gasoline to a marketing firm, who then sells it to Buddy's gas station down in the bayou, who then is responsible for a product release from Buddy's leaking tank? I would say that Buddy is entirely, 100%, absolutely responsible for the release of product from his leaking tanks.

The part you are missing here is where the producer lies about the possibility of MTBE contaminating water supplies and is found by a jury to have acted with malice in doing so. If the producer sold a defective product, while lying about its defects, they need to be held liable. That's what the suits are about. Read the links in the article, that's exactly what was found to have happened.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Not relevant (none / 2) (#110)
by bigbird on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 09:51:47 AM EST

To restate the obvious, gasoline is also a product which can contaminate water

I'll leave the appalling quality of jury verdicts in the USA up to you. I am quite confident that the prosecution ensured that not a single jury member understood a single technical issue, and that the case was likely decided on emotional merits. However, lacking a link to the full text of the jury verdict, I cannot confirm this.



[ Parent ]
There was a defense as well as a prosecution (none / 1) (#111)
by felixrayman on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 10:32:24 AM EST

I am quite confident that the prosecution ensured that not a single jury member understood a single technical issue

If the companies being sued were all able to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars for the settlements, I'm pretty sure they were able to afford a legal team at least as decent as the one the cities suing them had. A legal team that would surely be able to explain those technical issues.

If the companies didn't like the decision, they of course had the right to appeal it.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Buried Tanks (none / 0) (#181)
by Lagged2Death on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 09:17:43 PM EST

Require double walled underground storage tanks, double walled lines, dispenser sumps, continuous tank level monitoring, and leak detectors at every point in an UST system. Make the person storing and dispensing the gasoline responsible for the leak - after all, they control the substance when it escapes.

Preventing the filling station tanks from leaking sounds entirely sensible to me.

You sound like you might be able to answer a question I've always had about filling station leaks.

I've always wondered why they bury the tanks. I would guess that inspecting, cleaning, repairing, or otherwise maintaining a buried tank would be basically impossible, from a financial standpoint. So it's not surprising that so many (all?) of them end up leaking, leading to the complicated environmental problems we're discussing here. Why aren't the stations designed with tanks above ground - maybe perched over the ubiquitous filling-station canopy - where leaks could be detected immediately, where the tanks could be painted and patched, and where worn-out tanks could be replaced relatively simply?

And hey, you'd even gain the ability to dispense fuel (via gravity) during a power blackout, too.



Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
Buried tanks have advantages (2.75 / 4) (#182)
by bigbird on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 12:24:16 AM EST

There are a lot of reasons to use buried tanks. I personally prefer buried tanks, because above ground storage tanks (ASTs) share most of the same problems as underground storage tanks (USTs), along with having some additional problems. I'll just dump my thoughts on the subject into a list:
  • Fire, vandalism, and collision with vehicles are only problems for ASTs. And they face the same problems of overfilling as a UST.
  • Heating. Warm fuel gives off more vapours through the vent pipes. Fuel in a UST stays at a fairly constant 12C or so year round, which limits the amount of vapour loss. Not a big problem, unless your fuel is on site for a week or so.
  • Gas stations store a lot of fuel. While your canopy idea is cool, it would be quite expensive - the average new station where I live is installing three or four 60,000 litre tanks. Add in the weight of the tanks, and you're looking at 200-300 tonnes. That would add a large chunk of change to your gas station construction costs. Also, when the power is out, there would still be no way to meter or pay for the fuel when you gravity drop anyway. And, there are benefits to having to pump fuel. If you have a failure or damage to the system, the fuel could still keep dropping. The consequences of a failure are a lot lower with pumps and USTs. Imagine an earthquake in California if gas stations stored product on their roofs.
  • Most ASTs are in a corner of the gas station. They take up space which could be better utilized for parking, retail, or more dispenser islands. They also still have piping running underground to get to the dispensers.
  • USTs leak. But piping and dispensers also leak, at least as often. Customers spill and drip fuel all of the time. I've pulled 30 year old tanks from the ground in perfect condition, and still spent tons of (other peoples) money cleaning up the contamination caused by piping or dispenser leaks. On one site I sampled, we found a 20 year old leak under the dispensers (the fuel was leaded). On a whim, I had the owner open the dispensers up, and got some nice pictures of a slow leak from inside the dispenser (which was only installed a year before). Lets assume one drop every 15 seconds. That becomes 10 mL/hour. 240 mL/day. Almost 100 L/year. That'll mess up a fair amount of soil. The poor guy has since had a few heart attacks, and is unable to sell his property. I would never buy a gas station. Let an oil company do it, they have the knowledge and cash to do it right, and the resources to pay for clean ups.
  • You have to pump up into ASTs. With USTs, tankers can gravity drop the product using a 75-100mm line.
  • Modern tank systems are really good. Problem is, they cost more money, and (not sure about the USA) people are not required to upgrade old systems, and are still permitted to install single-walled tanks and piping. As far as I'm concerned, it's criminally negligent to install a single walled tank, and to cheap out on your monitoring and leak detection systems.
  • Several types of underground tanks are available. There are double walled fibreglass (ZCL used to offer a 10 year environmental warranty for properly installed USTs), composite steel and fibreglasss USTs (best of both worlds? Durable steel inner tank, rust resistant fibreglass outer tank), double walled steel, and likely more. The cool thing about double walled tanks or piping is the monitoring. Double-walled fibreglass USTs can be filled with brine. It is easy to tell if you have a leak in the outher tank, as the brine level will drop in the interstitial space. With a leak in the inner wall, you will get a drop in the brine level, a brine layer under your fuel, and / or a sheen on your brine layer. Vacuum monitoring is also an option. The interstitial space on double walled piping can be pressure tested, and the line can be removed from service if it fails.
  • Never trust visual inspection alone. I have more faith in pressure tests and continuous leak detectors than a visual check. The rate of loss required to cause significant contamination is so low that you might miss it just nosing around. Also, as above ground systems are generally steel, you could get leaks only at certain temperatures or pressures (ie, piping joints), which might not be present at the time of a visual inspection.


[ Parent ]
Wow (none / 0) (#186)
by Lagged2Death on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 01:49:11 PM EST

Thank you for an interesting reply that obviously took some time. I guess I should have known that there were clever monitoring systems for USTs that I'd never heard of.

I'd guess that your point about difficulties with filling-station real estate apply at least as much to the US as to anywhere else. Here, it is very rare to see an old filling station site used for anything other than a new filling station, and I've heard that it's because cleaning up the old site is difficult and expensive.



Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
How To Have A Jacked Up Environmental Policy (2.00 / 12) (#12)
by thelizman on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 07:15:17 PM EST

  1. Require MTBE to be added to gasoline during certain times of the year.
  2. Don't protect companies from lawsuits for using MTBE as required by law.
Yeah, this makes sense.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Let them lie, then make excuses for them? (3.00 / 11) (#15)
by felixrayman on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 07:47:45 PM EST

MTBE has been used in gasoline since the 1970s, long before any requirements to use it were in effect. The companies that are the targets of lawsuits are not companies "using" the additive, they are the companies who manufacture it, and who have been found, in jury trials, to have lied about the likelihood of it contaminating groundwater and who have been found to have acted with malice in doing so.

It can be assumed that the additive would have been far less likely to have been required ( which it was in 10 urban areas ) if the truth had been known about its potential for contamination of water supplies. That, in part, is what the lawsuits are about.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Not quite (3.00 / 11) (#17)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 03:14:08 AM EST

1. There never existed an MTBE requirement. There was an oxygenate requirement, which could be met with MTBE, a number of similar ethers, or ethanol.
2. Reformulated gasoline, particularly RFG using MTBE, was actually the suggestion of the oil companies.
3. Waivers existed such that if demand could not be met, the EPA Administrator would be able to waive the oxygenate requirement due to insufficient supply. This, in combination with the fact that the oil companies were aware of the potential negative effects of MTBE and supressed this information even before they began their lobbying efforts on behalf of MTBE, indicates that there was willful action on the part of the manufacturers to promote the use of a defective product.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]
Check Again (none / 0) (#65)
by thelizman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:55:56 PM EST

MTBE is specifically required in a number of states, such as Arizona.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
I checked again, and... I'm still right. (none / 2) (#82)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:27:15 PM EST

Why don't you provide a source?

I'll save you a little time, though. Arizona contains an "Arizona CBG area," which essentially allows the use of either Federal RFG or California CBG... You can read the State of Arizona's report on MTBE, if you like; you'll notice that there is no mention of an MTBE requirement. As a matter of fact, no such requirement exists anywhere in the US. The closest thing to it is a lack of an RVP waiver for ethanol in some boutique fuel areas (Texas comes to mind).

Trust me on this one... I know my RFG and boutique fuel areas better than anyone ever should.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

Classic Wookie Defense (none / 3) (#87)
by thelizman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:53:22 PM EST

you'll notice that there is no mention of an MTBE requirement
...and since noone 'mentions' it, then we can simply assume there's no requirement. Pid Zhun Hole.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Again, provide a source. (none / 1) (#98)
by RaveX on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 02:35:50 AM EST

Since it's impossible to prove a negative, the burden of proof is on you. What do you want me to do, offer you the archive of all data on MTBE requirements ever created? Even then, it would be theoretically possible that I had omitted something. I've shown you a document that pretty thoroughly covers MTBE use in Arizona and at every step talks about how both ethanol and MTBE were used as oxygenates. In response, you've provided a glib comment. I'd say you could do better than that, but you can't this time, because you're dead wrong.

If it helps, I've certainly read every relevant SIP for NAAQS (ozone) non-attainment, and I can certainly tell you that not a single case exists where MTBE is required (although there are cases, as I mentioned in my previous post, where it is heavily favored). But, if you want to continue arguing... all you have to do is provide a source to back up your statement.

Cheers!
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

I think he's right (none / 0) (#160)
by rhino1302 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 05:59:37 PM EST

In the summer, Phoenix gas stations are required to sell only "Phoenix Blend Gasoline", which contains MTBE. In the winter they switch to ethanol as a an oxygenate. That was a big factor in the price spike this summer in Phoenix. It dosen't make any sense to me, but here are some supporting articles: East Valley Tribune Arizona cleanfuels.com Arizona Republic

It's pretty sucky to be forced to do something by the government, and then be legaly liable for doing so.

[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 1) (#163)
by RaveX on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 07:48:03 PM EST

This point is being beaten to death, so I think I'll make this my last comment on this unless someone comes up with something really interesting.

Anyway, they're not required to use MTBE, they're required to meet a certain oxygen content (the Arizona cleanfuels link you provided has that wrong-- if you follow my link below, you can read what the actual requirements are-- the Maricopa County SIP has no MTBE requirement, it simply tends to include MTBE and is difficult to replace with ethanol blends for a technical reason that I'll not explain here unless you really want me to). That oxygen content is typically met with either ethanol or MTBE. In this case, the refiners usually made the choice to use MTBE (if you follow the link in one of my previous posts, you can see how often they used MTBE versus ethanol).

If you check out the SIP (state implementation plan) for the Arizona non-attainment areas (here's a link to the EPA resource, the old SIP is at the bottom), you'll see that there is no MTBE requirement. In fact, for there to be an MTBE requirement in Arizona, it would have to be a state or local law-- it could not fall under implementation of the federal law. There exists no such law.

It's annoying, because the whole oxygenate requirement should (and will be) scrapped anyway, but in the meantime, MTBE will continue to dominate a number of different markets, to the point where it may seem that there is in fact an MTBE requirement, when the only requirements are the RFG standard and sometimes SIPs.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

Good article. (2.50 / 12) (#21)
by brain in a jar on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:03:04 AM EST

Its nicely written, and raises an important issue, submit it and you get +1FP from me.

If you want some extra background (maybe you already know this)you can include why MTBE was put in gasoline.

MTBE is put into gasoline for a couple of reasons. Firstly it increases the octane value of the fuel. There are other ways of doing this, e.g. adding more aromatics, or ethanol but these have their own problems (aromatics are polluting too) ethanol is costly in dollars and energy but otherwise it is environmentally sound. The second reason that MTBE is used, is as a fuel oxygenate. MTBE molecules contain oxygen, and as such help gasoline burn more cleanly and can help to reduce smog (as part of a car-reduced transport system). Though again, ethanol could be used here, at extra cost, but without the environmental hazard. Essentially there are alternatives to MTBE, it just happens to be that MTBE is the cheapest and easiest for the industry so it is the one they went for. It was certainly known in advance that MTBE has a major potential for contaminating groundwater (this is relatively obvious from its chemical structure). So the industry knew the risks and went ahead, now they should bear some responsibility for the decision. Gas stations that fail to maintain their tanks, or fail to notice leaks also bear a good deal of responsibility. Your average gas station can't afford the cleanup costs, but then perhaps they should be made to carry insurance against environmental liability, just as drivers must have insurance against accidents.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Forgot a link (2.75 / 4) (#22)
by brain in a jar on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:05:08 AM EST

The EPA website carries a good deal of information on MTBE for anyone who is curious about this.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Done editing. (none / 3) (#24)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:40:20 AM EST

Thanks for the input, I included a few words about ethanol as an alternative in the second paragraph. As for now, I'm sending it to vote. I was hoping the grammar nazis would take a shot at helping me to clean it up but they are nowhere to be found. Thanks for your help!

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
(3); I tried, but found no major errors. (none / 2) (#32)
by aphasia on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:15:35 AM EST


"You have *huge* brass balls. Tex would be jealous." --ti dave
[ Parent ]

No environmental impact of ethanol? (none / 2) (#50)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:44:32 PM EST

Ethanol effects the attenuation of BTEX and increases the rate of spread and overall size of benzene plumes when it leaks from underground storage tanks. The effect of this is more-widespread, more persistent benzene (a known carcinogen) in our groundwater. Additionally, the use of ethanol in gasoline has been known to increase levels of aldehydes emitted.

Also, as an aside, while the use of oxygenates reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds emitted, it can also increase the amount of NOx emitted, meaning that it can (and has) under some circumstances contributed to a net increase in smog.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

grammre nzai again striked! (none / 0) (#58)
by yami on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:21:35 PM EST

effect = to bring about or execute
affect = to influence

I assume you don't mean to say that ethanol catalyzes the degradation of BTEX compounds, thereby increasing the spread of benzene plumes - or then again, maybe there's some wild byproduct party happening to spread the benzene? My O-chem is rotten to nonexistent so I'm genuinely uncertain.

___
blah blah lbha
[ Parent ]

Dear Grammar Nazi: (2.50 / 4) (#79)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 10:27:49 PM EST

I am truly, honestly ashamed of my oversight earlier today. You have caught one of the very few grammatical mistakes that I have made in a long time, and I must now lower my head and walk a little less proudly (until I forget about my error). I am aware of the difference between the two words, and I do not know what caused me to make such an error (This really isn't as sarcastic as it might sound).

No, the problem is due to preferential degradation... essentially, bacteria like ethanol more than BTEX. Also, the fact that ethanol is miscible in water allows it to enhance the transport of BTEX compounds in groundwater. It's a fairly complex set of interactions that is not fully understood, and my own understanding of it is probably on the same level as yours. I've just read a lot of studies on the interaction for some research I've been doing.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

Were you drunk? (none / 0) (#88)
by yami on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:56:04 PM EST

If you weren't drunk, perhaps you should have been. It's a good way to research the costs and benefits of ethanol.

___
blah blah lbha
[ Parent ]
What he meant (none / 2) (#95)
by bigbird on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 01:36:02 AM EST

With regular gasoline, the solubility of benzene in water is low. The presence of ethanol in gasoline increases the solubility of the benzene. Think of it this way:
  • when you float gasoline on water, the benzene is on it's own. The benzene is less hydrophobic than the rest of the compounds in gasoline, and dissolves in the water up to its solubility limit.
  • when you float gasoline containing ethanol on water, the ethanol dissolves into the water (ethanol is miscible with water). The ethanol then invites it's buddy benzene to join in the fun, and with the presence of the ethanol, the benzene finds the water to be a much more welcoming place, and more benzene dissolves in the water.
On re-reading the second bullet, it sounded like chemistry soft porn. A bit more technical discussion of this from the EPA is in the following powerpoint file (google html version).

[ Parent ]
I'll take his word for it, but thanks (none / 0) (#97)
by yami on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 02:14:11 AM EST

Presenting bacterial degradation as the primary (i.e. "sexiest" not "most important") thing happening fits in a little better with RaveX's use of "attenuation" in the original post.

___
blah blah lbha
[ Parent ]
Two processes at work (none / 0) (#132)
by bigbird on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 10:22:47 PM EST

Ethanol is preferentially degraded by bacteria, delaying the breakdown of benzene and other monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (BTEX compounds).

At the same time, ethanol increases the solubility of benzene, which contributes to the increased "rate of spread and overall size of benzene plumes", as noted by the original poster. Assessing the actual contribution of each factor takes a lot of effort, at a higher level than I can complete.

[ Parent ]

Ethanol is defective product (none / 2) (#145)
by proletariat on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 08:57:18 AM EST

and ethanol manufacturers should be sued for producing it! Unless Congress gives them liability protection. I'm sure the ethanol producers are acting with malice also.

[ Parent ]
Oxygenated gasoline (none / 0) (#53)
by I8TheWorm on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 03:35:52 PM EST

Having worked in the Oil and Gas industry, there's something else I learned about oxygenated gasoline... it lowers the fuel economy of cars and aids in burning out valves much quicker than without it. I don't have to touch on lower fuel economy... that's obvious. But burned valves account for much of the oil burned in older cars, and is a horrible pollutant.

[ Parent ]
A profit Motive? (none / 0) (#123)
by davefish on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 04:08:18 PM EST

I have not heard in this or other discussions on the MTBE issue any comments relating to the amount of MTBE that was used in the blends. In particular, in CA, the blending percentages went well beyond the 10-15% needed for oxygenate reasons (I had heard). I had also heard that they blended the higher percentages because this improved the margin on the gasoline sold. Is there any truth to this? If so - it would make the oil companies so much less the burdened party that it would seem when you hear them talk about the clean air act provisions that "forced" them into MTBE.


... A screaming comes across the sky ...
[ Parent ]

MTBE provision maybe dropped (2.71 / 7) (#25)
by gokul on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:56:47 AM EST

It looks like GOP is considering dropping the MTBE provision.

I've said it many, many times before... (2.10 / 10) (#27)
by gordonjcp on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 07:01:07 AM EST

Get rid of unleaded, get rid of catalytic converters, improve the quality of petrol. The only reason cars have them is to allow oil companies to sell absolute shit and call it petrol.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Get rid of unleaded???? (none / 1) (#54)
by cestmoi on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:33:00 PM EST

And do what, let cars burn leaded gas again? That sounds wonderful! Let's poison people with lead just like the good old days.

Your post has got to be a troll but it is sometimes hard to tell on k5.

[ Parent ]

As opposed to... (none / 0) (#101)
by gordonjcp on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 03:58:31 AM EST

... poisoning them with Hydrogen Sulphide, Benzine, and a whole host of other nasties present in exhaust emissions from unleaded fuel? Incidentally, car exhaust contains *no* metallic lead whatsoever. The lead deposits out on the insides of the exhaust pipe and on the valve seats. Any lead that does come out is in the form of inorganic salts that aren't absorbed by the human body. In the 10 years since unleaded fuel has been available in the UK, the amount of lead in people's bodies has stayed more-or-less constant - probably due to lead water pipes still used in cities.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Good point ruined (none / 1) (#68)
by michaelp on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 06:45:29 PM EST

by bad information:

Get rid of unleaded,

Lead was added to gasoline to make "regular", the lead was added to gas to lubricate the valves b/c they were made of soft metal.

"Unleaded" is just gas made without adding lead.

The rest of your point is sound, if the fuel companies finished refining their product it would burn very much cleaner. Instead, they pocket the savings and sell us a dirty product, then some other folks sell us something to clean it up.

& the environmentalists play along because it is easier to stick it to the little guy than to make the oil companys do the right thing.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]

more bad information! (none / 1) (#107)
by Polverone on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 05:22:04 AM EST

Tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline after it was discovered that it enhanced the ability of gasoline to burn non-explosively in an internal combustion engine. I'm more familiar with chemistry than cars, but I believe this equates to reduced knocking/increased "octane" rating of the gasoline. Depositing metallic lead on the internals of the engine is just a side effect, albeit one that manufacturers may have counted on during the era of leaded gas.

Tetraethyl lead was responsible for a high number of industrial poisoning accidents, relative to other chemicals, though the inorganic forms of lead that came out a car's tailpipe were relatively inert.

Fuels with excellent performance and no lead or toxic additives are already available. Toluene is one such example. At all but very high concentrations, it harmlessly transforms in the body to benzoic acid (used as a food preservative). It's been used as the main fuel component in high-performance racing engines. However, it's also considerably more expensive than gasonline. I imagine that all premium fuels will carry a premium price.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

What I ask (of) you, at the end of the day (none / 0) (#192)
by tetsuwan on Sun Dec 07, 2003 at 10:24:16 PM EST

How do you combine leaded fuel with a catalyst? The catalyst itself is half the reason why most modern big cities have breathable air.Špš About Ša href="http://www.env.go.jp/earth/coop/coop/materials/01-apctme/contents.html"šai r polutionŠ/aš, a Japanese government compilation.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

So... do we hate chemical companies... (2.12 / 8) (#29)
by RyoCokey on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:42:19 AM EST

...and love lawyers today, or is it the other way round?



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
Day to day (none / 1) (#62)
by Amesha Spentas on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:31:19 PM EST

Issue to Issue.
Lawyers are like any other group of people. Generalize about them and you will be proven wrong. The only thing lawyers have in common is their practice of law.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

Yet another example... (2.83 / 12) (#30)
by Burning Straw Man on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:47:47 AM EST

Why in the world would our Congress spend so much time debating product liability, and spend so much time crafting laws which embed shielding for specific companies and practices? This reminds me of the shielding pharma companies received through a clause in the so-called "Patriot" act. Why would Congress, supposedly debating our sources of "energy" in the coming decades, be so concerned about specific companies and lawsuits against them for pollution?

Oh yeah, I forgot. Congress is in the pockets of these massive corporations, and pass the bills which they are told to pass.

I say, fire them all, and get some people in there who won't pass bills which say "company X can't be sued for dumping chemical Z into the groundwater". Citizens of states where the supporters of this bill are elected should take steps to remove them from office.
--
your straw man is on fire...

I'd say Amen (2.20 / 5) (#31)
by jd on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 10:42:49 AM EST

But that would violate the seperation of church and state. :)

Seriously, the function of Government is not to make special interest groups or relatives rich. It is to ensure the long-term stability and survivability of the country.

IMHO, voting for a bill that demonstrably and provably damages long-term survivability of the nation should be regarded as treason. Such a bill is an attack on America, on national security, on the citizens of the nation and more specifically on those whom the voter claims to represent, purely for personal gain. I can't think of a better word to describe such an act than treason.

The free market is a powerful force, precicely because there are checks and balances. There are ways to oppose anything that is deemed harmful, without further intervention. But when all opposition is prohibited, when all accountability is removed, then you don't have a free market. You have a group of totalitarian states, where power is in the CEOs of the largest corporate giants.

[ Parent ]

Get the hell in there (2.50 / 4) (#34)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:51:18 AM EST

*You're* probably one of those people you talk about - the one that can't be drawn from his principles by the simple promise of more funding.  Start researching now - get to know the ins and outs of your state (provincial, for me) politics.  Then when you're ready, run for office.  If a bad Austrian actor is qualified, you know you are.

[ Parent ]
too late (none / 2) (#38)
by Burning Straw Man on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:24:44 PM EST

The US government is hopelessly, irrevocably intertwined with the big corporations. The power center is already established. Right now, they are beginning to really flex a bit of that power. If people began to protest or work against it, I fear for the reputation and livelihoods of those who would soon be trampled by it. It will take outright revolution to reverse the decades-long erosion of what should have been the United States of America, and to be perfectly honest, I have just comfortable enough of a life not to participate in revolution just yet.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Not so sure (none / 1) (#43)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:20:33 PM EST

It's definitely a lot harder to get to office without corporate backing.  But look at Dean's success - he's been campaigning with (I believe) exclusively private donations.  Don't be so quick to give up.  You don't have to outwardly antagonize big business.  Just pay them lip service and do what you want.  It's what today's politicians have been doing to the voters for years now.

Ah well - if things get too bad over there, get together about a hundred thousand friends, move to a state and vote to join Canada instead.  We'd accept you with open arms.

[ Parent ]

we're just as bad... (none / 0) (#46)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:33:33 PM EST

Our government is even worse... we're the doorknobs that keep begging for more foreign investment, while we don't even own our own natural resources anymore.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
so special? (none / 0) (#92)
by cronian on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 01:01:00 AM EST

What is so special about Dean? He has gotten lots of contributions, but he is hardly anything other than a professional politician. Do you really think he is going to seriously change the United States or the world if he gets elected? Even if he gets elected, and tries to make major he'll get pushed into a scandal.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
The special part is... (none / 0) (#113)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 11:22:24 AM EST

...that because he doesn't rely on corporate cash to collect money, he's not as trapped by corporate interests as many of his colleagues.  I wasn't making any judegement on his value as a politician (although in this case, I believe he's the *far* lesser of two evils).

I honestly don't think the US is in any quagmire so deep that they can't get out.  But the people who are concerned have to get involved, not throw up their hands in disgust.  Whether it's as low as city councillor or even school trustee, if enough good people start now, at least a few may find themselves in the governor's office in the next ten years.

[ Parent ]

"The Administration"? (1.23 / 13) (#35)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:05:55 PM EST

Sorry, but "the Administration" has little to do with the energy bill, and President Bush has serious issues with large sections of the bill. However, it is a Republican creation so Bush cannot veto it.

The reason why the bill is failing has little to do overall with the MTBE provision. It is a Democratic rouse intended to blame the Republican for the bill's failure and still get their share of bacon too. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the farm belt Dem who got greasy with the ethanol provisions, and other key Democratic figures are even pushing the bill. This leaves everybody in an interesting position. The Dems voting against the bill cannot blame farm-called-energy subsidies because that would be attacking one of their own, just like how Bush cannot veto the bill for similar reasons. That means the Dems need to find a provision written and pushed by Republicans. Daschle and the other Dems have pointed as Majority Leader Tom Delay, effectively saying that all their grease was fine but his pork was going too far.

The bill is failing because a small bipartisan group (basically McCain, some Dems, and a few New England Repubs) is standing up against it on principle, but the legislation is also in danger if dying because a group of Dems feel that they didn't get their fair share of kickbacks and preferences. The word is that they are getting closer to passage by just bribing off the few that are left. I've seen people refer to "Republican arm-twisting" to get this bill thought. Nothing could be further from the truth. If they were arm-twisting they would be preventing more provision from going into other bills to get passage of this one, however, they are doing the oppisite and applying so much grease that the Senate will smell like bacon for the entire next year.

_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

the administration (none / 2) (#39)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:28:21 PM EST

Not a great argument considering the New England Republicans you cite have gone on record specifically against the provisions. For example John Sununu said, "A safe harbor for manufacturers of MTBE is unacceptable". He is from New Hampshire where the state government is pursuing MTBE lawsuits.

Several senators have gone on record saying they would allow the bill to come to a vote if the MTBE provisions were removed, and it would only take 2 additional votes to allow that to happen. It would be a simple matter for the Republicans in favor of the bill to call their opponents' bluff and remove the MTBE provisions if the opponents of the bill were lying about their motives.

As far as the idea that the "Dems need to find a provision written and pushed by Republicans", that is ridiculous - the whole bill was written by Republicans behind closed doors.

Finally, I find it amusing that you find Bush so unprincipled that he could not veto a Republican bill if he did not agree with its contents. I thought the buck stopped on the president's desk.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
They have to publically oppose MTBE (none / 0) (#41)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 12:46:55 PM EST

The Democratic senators have to opposed the MTBE provision if they are going to oppose the bill. Minority Leader Daschle is out railing against the MTBE provision because the ethanol provisions, the other big section that nobody likes, are his for his corn-producing state. The Dems are in a position that they cannot oppose the ethanol provision because that would mean opposing their leader.

If the MTBE provision is removed that represents a win by the Dems. They get all their pork and prevent the Repubs from getting their share. That doesn't mean that the MTBE provision is even important outside of Congress, just that it is important to politicking. MTBE is used as a red herring. In the grand scheme, these lawsuits are not important. They will not cause any major shifts in how companies operate or change the way business is done. All the energy subsidies are far more harmful.

Those Dems that oppose the bill because of the the MTBE provisions, but are all too happy with their own wasteful subsidies, are just being hypocritical.

Bush has threatened to veto some bills, but he really cannot veto a Republican sponsorsed bill. No President can veto bills entire written by their party and they don't.

Regardless, your use of "the Administration" is entirely wrong as "the Administration" has had little to do with this bill and been against sections of it from the start. Maybe you should learn to place your blame more appropriately.

I noticed that you took the partisan line, going after the MTBE stuff but conveniently leaving out a number of Democratic sponsored subsidies.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

but (none / 1) (#45)
by Politburo on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:30:56 PM EST

Those Dems that oppose the bill because of the the MTBE provisions, but are all too happy with their own wasteful subsidies, are just being hypocritical.

(Mostly afaik based on news articles and senate debate)

While it can certainly be argued that both the MTBE and ethanol provisions are both pro-business measures, i don't think it is hypocritical to oppose the MTBE provisions and not oppose the other provisions of the bill. The main reason I believe this is because of the nature of the provisions. The MTBE provision disallows any liability lawsuits to be brought against the industry. The other provisions provide money to different industries for varying reasons (ethanol as a fuel additive and alternative fuel, solar/wind/alternative tax breaks, nuclear reactors, as well as other tax breaks to 'traditional' energy sources (gas oil coal)). One type of provision gives money to industry, the other type prevents money being taken from industry. Both pro-business, but fundamentally different.

Futhermore, there is absolutely no reason that an MTBE lawsuit prohibition could not be passed at a later date, after more hearings, except that the GOP has a nice habit lately of shoving things into huge legislation (in conference and in secret), so that people are forced to vote for it (as is the case here).

Another issue, of course, is the separation of powers. By outright banning lawsuits against the industry, the Congress (and the President, if he signs this bill with an MTBE provision) is seeking to limit the powers of the Judiciary. If any cases were brought against the industry, it is, of course, the judiciary's job to decide whether the industry is liable under law for its actions (in some jurisdictions these may be jury trials). (Granted, the counter argument to this is because the judiciary is deciding whether the party is liable under law, the congress has the power to change the law and declare anyone non-liable. While I agree with the legality of such actions, I disagree with the thinking behind them and feel that it runs counter to the separation of powers doctrine.) This issue is not present with traditional industry subsidies.

In the grand scheme, these lawsuits are not important. They will not cause any major shifts in how companies operate or change the way business is done. All the energy subsidies are far more harmful.

I would imagine that the communities and people affected by MTBE have a differing opinion. While I agree (possibly for different reasons) that the energy subsidies are more harmful overall, I don't think that means the MTBE provision isn't important.

[ Parent ]
eh... (none / 1) (#48)
by Danse on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:37:34 PM EST

I noticed that you took the partisan line, going after the MTBE stuff but conveniently leaving out a number of Democratic sponsored subsidies.

Feel free to attack the subsidies as well. Nobody says there has to be only one reason this bill should get shot down. But the MTBE provisions are heinous in the extreme, so it's no wonder they get a lot of attention, even from Republicans. Bush can veto any damn thing he likes if he has the nutsack to do it, so that isn't an argument. Seems to me that there are plenty of reasons this bill should die. Obviously the Republicans must have a much bigger stake in the outcome to be trying to keep it alive, despite the subsidies and such that are in it.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
What you need to learn (none / 0) (#60)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:23:58 PM EST

You need to learn the difference between technical possibility and political reality. No, President Bush cannot veto bills drafted and supported by Republicans. Yes, he got some of what he wanted in the bill, but he also got a number of things he didn't want.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
you're dodging... (none / 0) (#69)
by Danse on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 06:49:56 PM EST

The point is that if the Republicans weren't getting something big from this, then they wouldn't be trying to keep it alive. The MTBE provisions could be dropped if they really want it to pass. In fact they could probably get some concessions in return for dropping them. Oh, and for all the bitching that we hear from Congress about judges legislating from the bench, we still get them pulling crap like this. Bunch of hypocrites. Taking something that should rightfully be decided by a judge and jury and attempted to legislate away people's only avenue of redress.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Let me recap (none / 0) (#73)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 08:37:40 PM EST

It should be abundantly clear that nobody is dodging, just that Republicans are being held to a different standard than the Dems in this story and many of the comments:


Story - The Repubs are bad because of the MTBE privision in the bill.

Me - Both sides have a share of blame. Bush cannot veto a Repub crafted bill.

You - "the MTBE provisions are heinous in the extreme" and Repubs are worse. "Bush can veto any damn thing he likes"

Me - While techincally Bush can veto anything, a Pres politically cannot veto a bill so pushed by his own party.

You - "you're dodging." Repubs are bad.

Do you notice any dodging I'm doing in this recap? Of course not because it doesn't exist. You seem to think I'm trying to excuse the Repubs on Congress. My most recent diary ("This Congress is Out of Control"), places blame on the Repuhs in Congress. I'm not nearly as partisan as many seem to think on this site. People should just realize that getting the Repubs off of Capitol Hill would make little difference as many Dems are very happy to pick up the subsidization and protectionist slack.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

let me clarify... (none / 0) (#84)
by Danse on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:43:50 PM EST

Me - Both sides have a share of blame. Bush cannot veto a Repub crafted bill.

Repubs crafted the bill, repubs are trying to keep it alive, dems are trying to kill it and a repub pres will sign it. How again are the dems at fault for this particular bill? Just because they tacked some of their own crap on to it? Not good enough. I'll gladly bash the dems when they do something stupid or unjust (which they do all the time), but I'm not just seeing it in this case.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
"Dems are trying to kill it" (none / 0) (#94)
by jjayson on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 01:28:32 AM EST

Not really. They are trying to kill the MTBE privision. Senate Minority Leader Daschle, and a number of others fed in the bill, voted for it. The MTBE fuss by many Dems is a fuss to score political points while sidstepping the really nasty parts of the bill.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
nasty parts... (none / 0) (#100)
by Danse on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 03:10:21 AM EST

While I agree that there are other nasty parts, the MTBE part is by far the nastiest IMO. Congress has no business playing judge and jury in that situation.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
They could oppose any of the 1000+ pages (none / 2) (#51)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:53:28 PM EST

The Democratic senators have to opposed the MTBE provision if they are going to oppose the bill.

A non-point. The bill is over 1000 pages long. They are plenty of things the Democrats could have used to oppose the bill without opposing ethanol subsidies.

If the MTBE provision is removed that represents a win by the Dems

If the MTBE provision is removed it represents a win for everyone. Period. If there are other provisions of the bill you don't like, write it up and tell people why.

Regardless, your use of "the Administration" is entirely wrong as "the Administration" has had little to do with this bill and been against sections of it from the start.

Bush has called the bill a top priority and the bill is described in the press as legislation that "grew out of an energy policy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney during Bush's first year in office". Presidents don't often veto legislation written by their party because they usually have a hand in writing it. According to the Financial Times "(t)he disappointment for Republican leaders came despite a last-minute appeal from Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and Spencer Abraham, energy secretary". This bill is the administration's energy policy and they were fighting for its passage.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
hardly (none / 0) (#59)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:21:48 PM EST

A non-point. The bill is over 1000 pages long. They are plenty of things the Democrats could have used to oppose the bill without opposing ethanol subsidies.
Hardly. Part of the deviousness of the bill is that it is like Chinese water torture, single drops that add up. Many of large provisions have some Democractic backing and from powerful Dems. The other big thing are the ethanol provisions that are directly for Sen. Minority Leader Daschle (and other farm state senators). Are you saying that a Dem would chose to attack the ethanol subsidies instead of going after a Republican MTBE provision? That isn't going to happen.

If the MTBE provision is removed it represents a win for everyone. Period. If there are other provisions of the bill you don't like, write it up and tell people why.
Not really. If the MTBE privision prevens the bill from passing that is a good thing. If the MTBE privision is pulled, allowing the bill to pass, the country loses. Your myopic view of Dem v. Repub doesn't allow you to see the larger problem that this bill is basically just an attempt to buy everybody off. From what I've heard, some senators are their bacon in the Omnibus bill too for voted on this energy bill. RaveX had a good observation that this is less about Dem vs. Repub, but more about those being bought off vs. those not being bought off. The strategy to win the passage of this bill is just to buy more people off from both sides.

Bush has called the bill a top priority and the bill is described in the press as legislation that "grew out of an energy policy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney during Bush's first year in office".
I'll give you one example, although there are a few more too. President Bush was against the loans, incentives, and price supports in the energy bill for the Artic gas pipeline. He said that he would rather let the free market handle it.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Farmers! (none / 3) (#47)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:35:08 PM EST

Not a great argument considering the New England Republicans you cite have gone on record specifically against the provisions. For example John Sununu said, "A safe harbor for manufacturers of MTBE is unacceptable". He is from New Hampshire where the state government is pursuing MTBE lawsuits.

This is exactly the problem I have with this story. This is not a Republican v. Democrat issue so much as a farm state/oil state v. East/West coast issue... which is why you'll find New England Republicans fighting the bill, and the Democratic leader in the Senate supporting it.

Additionally, I'd suggest that you consider that the MTBE provisions aren't the only ones troubling many of these Senators. The "renewable fuel content" requirement, better known as the "ethanol mandate," is essentially a gas tax that will subsidize corn farmers at the expense of everyone who drives-- a maddening proposition for anyone not from a farm state (and for some who are from farm states).

And as far as Bush being unprincipled because he'd be unwilling to veto one of the most important bills his party has put through... I really don't care for Bush, but let's be realistic. This isn't an issue of his principles, this is a simple matter of political calculation: if Bush screws all those parties out of their pork, his reelection chances will have just dropped significantly. Maybe Truman would have done differently, but we haven't seen anyone quite like Truman in a while, have we?
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

Are you accusing the Dems only? (none / 2) (#42)
by theR on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 01:09:54 PM EST

Read this. It's great to see the fiscally responsible party in power and that they won't succomb to such low acts as offering kickbacks and other pork in their bills. If it wasn't for those evil Democratic palms having to be greased, everything would be hunky-dory.



[ Parent ]
Clearly not (none / 0) (#57)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:10:43 PM EST

There is blame all though Congress. The point was that you cannot simply blame the Republicans for the MTBE clauses. There is plenty wrong with the bill and some provisions that will deal more economic and ecological damage than the MTBE lawsuit protection.

Most Dems publically don't seem to care about the rest of the energy bill, but that isn't necessarily the case. They can most easily show public outrage over MTBE because that is a purely Republican created plank. Many other sections of the bill enjoy Dem backing because they are payoffs. When the Senate Minority leader signs off on a pork-ladel bill like this, but then attacks the Repubs for the MTBE provision is it pure hypocracy, just as the Repubs who are claiming to support small government, but willing to pass this crap.

The only point was to draw people's attention off the partisan nature and off the MTBE provision. There are much better things to get upset about, such as teh Artic gas pipeline and the ethanol subsidies.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Pretty strange arguments (none / 0) (#61)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:28:29 PM EST

The point was that you cannot simply blame the Republicans for the MTBE clauses.

Yes, you can. They wrote them. In addition, they can not become law without being passed by the majority Republican House, the majority Republican Senate, and signed by the Republican president. It is incredible that you think the Republicans can not be blamed for legislation they write and pass into law.

Most Dems publically don't seem to care about the rest of the energy bill, but that isn't necessarily the case. They can most easily show public outrage over MTBE because that is a purely Republican created plank. Many other sections of the bill enjoy Dem backing because they are payoffs.

Soooo.....the Democrats attacked the parts of the bill they didn't like and didn't attack the parts they did like. Hypocrisy! Outrage! Of all the nerve! How can a legislature be run this way?!? And wait a second here. A purely Republican created plank? So the MTBE legislation is a purely Republican created plank but one "cannot simply blame the Republicans for the MTBE clauses"?

When the Senate Minority leader signs off on a pork-ladel bill like this, but then attacks the Repubs for the MTBE provision is it pure hypocracy

The criticism of the MTBE provisions go farther than mere criticism of pork-barrel politics. You can reread the submission and the articles it links to if you need some more details about what those criticisms might be.



Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
You still fail to undersand the issues. (none / 0) (#64)
by jjayson on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:49:33 PM EST

Quite unsurprising for you.

You quote my post: "The point was that you cannot simply blame the Republicans for the MTBE clauses." And then you write, "Yes, you can. They wrote them."

That wasn't the point. Here was the entire paragraph. It makes much more sense with the context:

There is blame all though Congress. The point was that you cannot simply blame the Republicans for the MTBE clauses. There is plenty wrong with the bill and some provisions that will deal more economic and ecological damage than the MTBE lawsuit protection.
The point was that you cannot blame the energy bill on the Republicans because of just the MTBE clause. The Dems have their hands all over the bill too in monstorous subsidies and various other corners, like ethanol. The blame for the energy bill goes to all of Congress of which the  MTBE plank is just a small piece. Many of the Dems, especially the leadership, are being just as bad. Bipartisan usually means that Americans are being DPed by both parties.

Soooo.....the Democrats attacked the parts of the bill they didn't like and didn't attack the parts they did like. Hypocrisy! Outrage!
The hypocracy is in their support for the rest of the bill.

The criticism of the MTBE provisions go farther than mere criticism of pork-barrel politics. You can reread the submission and the articles it links to if you need some more details about what those criticisms might be.
Yet again, you fail to look at the Dem's reasons for attacking the MTBE legal protections. Their are no other major provisions that give them as much partisan punch. The Dem's against the bill cannot attack the other major provisions such as the ethanol provisions because their leader is pushing those. It would be suicidal for their legislation in the future. They have no other major targets so they aim at MTBE. What else do you expect? There are a few Repubs (namely McCain) and Dems that have some pride in serving, but far more are just upset because they didn't get what they wanted.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
issues (none / 0) (#70)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 06:50:31 PM EST

The point was that you cannot blame the energy bill on the Republicans because of just the MTBE clause. The Dems have their hands all over the bill too in monstorous subsidies and various other corners, like ethanol. The blame for the energy bill goes to all of Congress

Again, the Democrats did not write the bill, it was written in closed-door committee meetings by Republicans. Most of the Democrats had not even seen the bill until a few days before they were supposed to vote on it. Did the Republicans toss in ethanol to try to get some Democratic support? Sure, but that wasn't the only reason, 6 out of 10 of the biggest ethanol producing states voted for Bush in 2000.

The interesting question is not why some Democrats and a few Republican senators dislike the MTBE provisions, the real question is why the architects of the bill did not take their own advisor's advice . Environmental issues are one area where Republicans are extremely weak, and they know it.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Don't be so sure about anything in DC (none / 1) (#85)
by pyramid termite on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:50:35 PM EST

Again, the Democrats did not write the bill, it was written in closed-door committee meetings by Republicans.

Sure and NOT ONE of those Republicans ever conferred with a Democrat and asked, "So what would make this bill a little easier for you guys to swallow? What kind of trade off do you want for, mmm, not voting for it, but maybe being a little less strident on the floor about it. I understand people in your district like pork ..."

I think jjayson's got a better handle on this than you do. All sorts of intricate, complex deals are done all the time - for all we know, the Republicans left the MTBE stuff in so the Democrats could hoot and holler about it, it would be removed, and then the bill would go through with other bad things, whatever they might be, untouched while the Democrats could save a little face and claim "we tried to stop it and look we got this part of it stopped".

Bizarre? Conspiratorial? Possibly - but stranger things have happened in Congress.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
No conspiracy, just a bad law (none / 1) (#89)
by felixrayman on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:15:54 AM EST

Sure and NOT ONE of those Republicans ever conferred with a Democrat and asked, "So what would make this bill a little easier for you guys to swallow?

And you don't think the Democrat would have said, "Well, you could take out the MTBE clauses..."?

There is nothing "intricate" or "complex" about this deal. This bill grew out of Cheney's energy task force which conducted it's business in secret behind closed doors. The actual text of the bill was written by Republicans in secret behind closed doors. Did they add provisions they thought would get them the minimal Democratic support they needed to get it passed? Of course they did, I said so in the parent post.

Bizarre? Conspiratorial?

Simply wrong. This bill is a major priority of the Bush administration, a claim that jjayson quite bizzarely denies. It was shot down due to a provision that, if removed, would have guaranteed its passage. And now, as I posted elsewhere in the thread, the Republicans are saying the bill is dead for the year.

So this bill died due to the refusal of the Republicans to remove a quite obnoxious provision that went far beyond pork. The provision would have done exactly what my article said it would have done - it would have socialized risks and costs while privatizing profits. And that is the point here. You take the risk, you pay the bills when something goes wrong, that part is all socialized. Someone else collects the check if there are profits.

I think that's wrong. I think it's much more wrong than simple pork-barrel politics. And that's why I wrote the article.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Yes, they're both rotten. But. (none / 0) (#127)
by cburke on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 09:23:06 PM EST

There is blame all though Congress. Agreed. There are much better things to get upset about, such as teh Artic gas pipeline and the ethanol subsidies. Disagreed. Subsidies are bad policy. Shielding companies from liability for knowingly causing harm is letting them get away with murder. Pork and dirty politics piss me off no matter who they come from. Indimnifying polluters from being sued is in a separate class of pissing me off.

[ Parent ]
SOooo Basically (1.06 / 16) (#52)
by n8f8 on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 02:02:14 PM EST

Tree huggers made the fuel producers jump through hoops to make cleaner burning fuels.. Then the tree huggers got CLinton to shut down all the old gasstations overnight, effectivly bankrupting them and now the tree huggers want fuel suppliers to foot the bill to clean up the old gas-stations with leaking Undergrould Srotage Containers? Ain't that water sweet?  

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
ummm..... (none / 0) (#78)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:06:43 PM EST

MTBE is still used today.

[ Parent ]
Texas Liability Limits - Proposition 12 (2.85 / 7) (#55)
by Trevasel on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 04:46:01 PM EST

Recently the incredibly brilliant voters in Texas passed proposition 12, another of the seemingly endless amendments to the Texas constitution. In the guise of insurance reform, this limits non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of companionship, punitive damages, etc.) to $250,000. Blatantly pandering, though is section c) which removes the medical damages restriction, and allows the legislature to set non-economic damage limits on any lawsuit, including environmental ones starting Jan 1, 2005. Coincidentally, Haliburton and many other companies are facing just such lawsuits which will be adjudicated after this deadline.

Full text of proposition: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/tlo/textframe.cmd?LEG=78&SESS=R&C HAMBER=H&BILLTYPE=JR&BILLSUFFIX=00003&VERSION=5&TYPE=B

Typical lawsuits from http://www.facworld.com/FACworld.nsf/doc/Polllitrev0502:
On May 9, 2002, it was reported that Enron operated about 27 pipelines in Texas and that contamination from these pipelines could cost $15 million to cleanup. The full scope of the contamination is not yet known. Enron sold the pipelines while retaining the environmental liability then transferred the liability to a corporation called TerraCorp., which has no assets. The Texas Railroad Commission has stated that the contamination occurred when Enron owned the pipelines. Associated Press 5/9/02

On may 3, 2002, it was reported that a Texas jury ordered construction and engineering firm Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of oil services provider Haliburton, to pay the family of a lung cancer victim $5.5 million. The jury found the defendant grossly negligent in causing the deceased plaintiff's cancer by failing to provide a safe workplace. The suit alleged that occupational exposure to asbestos while working as a pipefitter, boilermaker and welder from 1965 to 1986 caused his lung cancer. While the jury found the victim's smoking was a contributing factor, they awarded the plaintiff's family $5.5 million - all in punitive damages. This is the largest known asbestos verdict against Kellogg, Brown & Root to date. Harris Martin Columns: Asbestos 5/3/002

   
11 Nov 2003 - Oil services firm sees a 33% increase in asbestos personal injury claims over the past 9 months
Haliburton, the oil services firm has seen a significant increase in asbestos personal injury claims filed since December 2002. The company is now facing 435,000 claims versus 328,000 claims in December 2002. The company has reached an agreement with attorneys for asbestos victims that will cap the cash payment Haliburton would make to an asbestos trust fund at $2.8 billion. Under the plan, the company would also put about $1.433 billion in stocks into then trust. The agreement must be agreed to by 75% of the asbestos claimants. Houston Chronicle on 11/07/2003
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild

well, good for the voters (none / 0) (#77)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:05:50 PM EST

apparently most people in Texas don't care, so why should you? unless you live in Texas and voted against that proposal.

[ Parent ]
I like this. (none / 0) (#112)
by Richard Henry Lee on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 11:10:55 AM EST

Let's just all give up and let the corruption run rampant. Corrupt state government, corrupt federal government, corrupt corporate leadership. When will the average citizen get their chance to be corrupt? When will people get their chance to screw YOU? And why should anyone care if they do?


Let this happy day give birth to an American republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to reestablish the reign of peace and of law. - June 7, 1776

[ Parent ]
dude (none / 0) (#115)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 11:44:22 AM EST

THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS voted on this.

so I guess the PEOPLE are corrupt. like I said, the PEOPLE decided tehy wanted that cap, not some legislative body.

[ Parent ]

You Optimist (none / 1) (#136)
by teece on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 01:38:02 AM EST

You have a point, but allow me to present an alternative interpretation.

Some legislative body was lobbied for lawsuit shielding. Said legislative body has said lobbyist write the law that they want. The legislators look it over, spruce it up, maybe throw in some pork or a section that is palatable to the public.

Next, the legislators launch a marketing campaign about insurance reform. Cue up some small town doctor sued out of business by an ingrateful patient filing a malpractice suit. Add in a small mom & pop business sued out of existance by an equal employment lawsuit. Mind you, these two cases need not actually exist, and indeed they probably don't. But they will drive the commercials. Remember, this is a marketing campaign, complete with all the usual deceit and appeal to emotion that marketing is prone to. There is no effort to give the public information, and allow them to make an informed decision.

Next, the legislators make sure they mobilize the party faithful, whether they are 'D's or 'R's. Let them know that a 'No' vote is equivalent to baby-rape.

Lastly, sit back and watch the electorate vote for a law that is absolutely not in their favor. Most people are not very sophisticated voters.

If you think this is far-fetched, I say you don't follow American politics. I have watched this happen in Colorado before.

So, yeah, the people voted for it. But that does not mean it is not corruption. In a certain sense, it makes it more corrupt. These snake-oil salesman were actually able to dupe their victims in to screwing themselves.

But again, that is just my pessismistic interpretation. Maybe your optimistic one is correct.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

You have such a poor view of people. (none / 0) (#137)
by jjayson on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:13:27 AM EST

Lastly, sit back and watch the electorate vote for a law that is absolutely not in their favor. Most people are not very sophisticated voters.
Example please? I can thing of plenty of times that the electorate hasn't been fooled in a referrendum, but not one where they were fooled. Take Alabama's tax legislation this summer. Firmly rejected. Or how about California's old Prop 13 lowering propery taxes. Approved, however the follow-on bill to reduce them even further was rejected.

These snake-oil salesman were actually able to dupe their victims in to screwing themselves.
I would say, "Has never happened," but I'll relax it to, "I have never heard of this happening."

The electorate is very wise.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Colorado Homosexual Bill (none / 0) (#139)
by teece on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:30:49 AM EST

I don't remeber the number anymore. It was some fashion of bill making it against the state constitiution to ever grant homosexuals minority status. Ever. It seems like there was something more pernicious in there, too.

It was worded as a family-values and anti-special treatment bill. It passed. In the national outrage that ensued, many Coloradans expressed concern that they thought the bill was actually helpful for gays, and had thus voted for it. (It was eventually ruled unconstituional).

But again, maybe I am just being a pessismist.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

slightly different (none / 0) (#140)
by jjayson on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 03:43:47 AM EST

Your initial example was an economic issue. Can you think of an example economic related? It is difficult, but not impossible, to quantify "harm" on morlaity issues. How did this harm the electorate?

These rights issues are difficult to pick apart. People don't vote for absolutes, they vote to show preference. The populace didn't vote to strip rights away from gays and approve of discrimination. It voted that Colorado would be better if these types of laws were not on the books. There is a huge difference. There are labor laws that have similar issues and are often abused or misapplied. It is as silly to say that removing homosexuals as a protected group is equivalent to condeming homosexuality as it is to say that removing laws against sodomy is equivalent to supporting it.

I really don't see the "harm" the electorate did to itself.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Economic impact (none / 0) (#149)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 10:59:31 AM EST

The purpose of punitive damages is to make externalizing certain costs less attractive.

Completely made up example: Manufacturer of a steering wheel has found a defect that will result in 1/1000 drivers breaking their left pinky while making a sharp turn. A broken left pinky is not a huge economic problem for most people, so the economic damages won't be large. A broken left pinky isn't going to cost all that much to treat, and for most jobs, it won't keep you off work more than a day or two. Let's say $5000 economic damage - doctor bills plus time lost - per incident. Fixing the defect would be expensive. More than $5.00 per steering wheel. Manufacturer markets to car companies, not individuals, and the name is not well known to the general public, so reputation isn't a big issue. If lawsuits are limited to economic damage only, the duty of the company to it's shareholders requires them to break a lot of fingers. But if there is the possiblity of big punitive or pain and suffering damages, the company has an excuse to do the right thing.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

read this (none / 0) (#141)
by jjayson on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 03:59:49 AM EST

Here is an interesting article on the problems with allowing special protection for certain groups. It is concering some Canadian legislation that adds homosexuality to a list of protected groups and how that interacts with other laws to create an awkward position. It's a great example of how being allowed to creep into special protection for various groups can become dangerous.

Canadians advance bill that chills speech about homosexuality

Somebody doesn't have to hire me because I have brown hair. It isn't fair and it sucks, but there is nothing I can do about it.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

ok (none / 0) (#157)
by Politburo on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:55:23 PM EST

Hate crimes and hate speech is a dumb idea. However, that doesn't mean that other protections against discrimination aren't good.

Somebody doesn't have to hire me because I have brown hair.

And someone doesn't have to hire a person if they're black, either (at least around here). They just can't 'not hire' them, or fire them, based solely on that fact. Granted, this is difficult to prove, and that is probably the biggest problem with anti-discrimination protections. Again, I don't think this means that no discrimination protections should exist, but I do feel that many protections currently go too far, or are, at best, mis-guided.

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 1) (#158)
by jjayson on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 03:51:01 PM EST

The the fact that hate crime and hate speach legislation does exist in Colorado plays a significant factor in the electoral decision. Like I said before, votes show perference and not absolutes. The electorate decided that legislation that added homosexuality to a list of protected groups was dangerous so it cut it off at the pass. That isn't to say that they would make the same decision if there were no hate crime, hate speech laws, and a desire to add homosexuality to that protected list. All of these things contributed to a confluences of events that affected the voter body.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
nyc (none / 0) (#156)
by Politburo on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:46:38 PM EST

New York City residents voted 2:1 NO on question 3, which would have enacted non-partisian elections in the city in 2009 (after Bloomberg's second term (which he won't be elected to, but the original proposal was for 2005, and everyone accused him of submitting the referendum for his own gain)). The system would setup non-partisan elections with party identification still on the ballot. If no one person recieved a majority of votes, a 2nd election would be held between the top 2 vote-getters. Both democrats and republicans were against the measure, saying it would give rich people a huge advantage. Bloomberg, of course, is already a billionaire, and ran as a republican, although he is mostly a democrat.

[ Parent ]
huh? (none / 0) (#159)
by jjayson on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 05:22:08 PM EST

Can you give me the simple version of that again, maybe without the nested parentheses. Maybe a link could describe it better?
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
I did vote against it. (none / 0) (#119)
by Trevasel on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:48:29 PM EST

The public here is stupid (as, I suspect, it is everywhere else.)
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
The dems have really gone too far on this one! (1.10 / 10) (#67)
by sellison on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 06:35:04 PM EST

Now our nation will be at greater risk to terrorism for the delay and dilution of this bill!

The dems really need to decide whether they are with us Americans or the terrorists in this fight!

Especially with this block of this important legislation over tiny, harmless amounts of a  chemical that has never been shown to cause cancer in human beings!

The poor business men who have invested their life savings in this harmless chemical certainly should be compesated for the liberals suddenly making their businesses worthless on a panic over a few dead rats.

Where is the scientific evidence that MTBE ever killed a human being? Depsite their tendancy to grovel before nuts, even dems are not RATS! We know the terrorists have killed thousands, we should deal with the immediate threat rather than some hypothetical threat based on unproven chemistry no one understands.

Least of all the dems who are just using this issue to hurt our President, sure they don't care whether there is MTBE in California Gas any more than the rest of us do!


"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

I don't know about you, but (none / 1) (#76)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:04:17 PM EST

I don't want a fuel additive in my drinking water no matter how inert it is.

[ Parent ]
uhhhh... YHBT. (nt) (none / 0) (#90)
by coderlemming on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:31:17 AM EST




--
Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]
Nice one, (none / 0) (#106)
by o reor on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 05:19:02 AM EST

not quite the level of Rush Limbaugh Eats Everything, but I had a good laugh anyway. Keep it up !

[ Parent ]
Saw the web page.... (none / 0) (#148)
by Dan the Control Guy on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 10:42:05 AM EST

and it explains everything... You, sir, are what we politely refer to as a "Wack-Job"

[ Parent ]
Inside your safe little liberal lan (none / 3) (#155)
by sellison on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:41:48 PM EST

I'm sure it must seem that way, since you just talk to those you 'trust' to agree with you.

However out here in the real WAN, most of us think that stem cell research is an abomination that must be stopped.

And that the press is extremly liberally biased and needs to be firewalled for the security of the nation.

But go ahead and vote for Coward Dean, or better yet Ralphie Vader, and then you'll be free to whine on your little indymedia sites about how the computers were hacked or you would'a won.

Meanwhile, the adults elected in the coming Republican landslide will take care of the real world for you.


"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Poor businessmen? (none / 0) (#185)
by error 404 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 11:12:09 AM EST

Any businessman who has invested so much of his life savings in MBTE (or any other single product) that not being exempted from liability will crush him is a fool.

That's why there are things like corporations (to spread the investment, so nobody has to have all their monty tied up in one thing) and insurance (to pay for the liability in a controlled fashion). If you can't afford the insurance to cover the liability for a product you sell, your product is, sadly, not commercially viable. That's life. I hope you had other investments. There are lots of things that would be nice, things that people have invested time and money in, that turn out not to be commercialy viable. That's capitalism for you, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Best system there is, overall, but it doesn't mean that you always get a great return on every investment. Risks and rewards. Having the govornment say you can have the profits without the risks is communism approached from behind, not capitalism.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 2) (#71)
by TheModerate on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 06:54:43 PM EST

Anyone have a guess on how much more expensive using something else than MTBE to fulfil the oxygenate requirements will make gasoline?

Or maybe I'm not understanding this stuff.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer

hmmm...well (none / 1) (#75)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 09:02:40 PM EST

I use a 10% ethanol mix. it has _NO_ MTBE in it becasue the ethanol is an oxygenate. it costs the same as the gas across the street which has MTBE.

Basicly, there is no reason to use MTBE over ethanol, but there are LOTS of reasons to use ethanol over MTBE.

[ Parent ]

But. . . (none / 1) (#80)
by minerboy on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:01:03 PM EST

the Ethanol is made competitive with MTBE because there is a huge Government subsidy, also the supply of ethanol is limited based on the amount of Corn grown, etc. Ethanol also reduces the octane rating, so there's less gidiyap go in you veeeehicle. Environmentalists in california were screaming for MTBE years ago, Still, a Druken undergrad chem major should have guessed that it would get into the water supply rather easily. So should ethanol (get into the water supply easily) by the way, but many think that would be a good thing



[ Parent ]
Drunken undergrad chem major says: (none / 0) (#91)
by PowerPimp on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:37:49 AM EST

The ethanol made from corn is industrial ethanol and contains no small amount of methanol and ethyl ether(probably), plus traces of all sorts of other nasty organic polar solvents most likely, ethanol would damage drinking water too. Unfortunately, this particular drunken undergrad chem major is too lazy to look up MTBE and see what it stands for to compare.


You'd better take care of me God; otherwise, you'll have me on your hands...
[ Parent ]
MTBE Stands for (none / 0) (#102)
by techwolf on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 04:26:01 AM EST

methyl tertiary-butyl ether.


"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

corn ethanol not industrial (none / 2) (#108)
by Polverone on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 05:35:36 AM EST

It's made via fermentation, like alcoholic beverages, and initially contains a few higher alcohols (the components of "fusel oil") but not much else apart from ethanol. If it's to be used in a non-beverage capacity it must be denatured with chemicals that make it unfit to drink, so that it is not taxed as a beverage. In this case, the ethanol is mixed with an unpalatable brew of hydrocarbons (all the other stuff in the gasoline). If you just dumped a bunch of corn-derived ethanol into the ground it would be pretty benign.

Ethanol can also be made on a large scale by the hydration of petroleum-derived ethylene. I suspect that this is more energy-efficient and cheaper, in the absence of subsidies, but I can't directly compare it to corn-derived ethanol from what little I've found in a quick web search.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Silght problem with that.. (none / 0) (#104)
by ajduk on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 05:03:34 AM EST

When you use ethanol, try calculating the amount of fossil fuels used to grow the corn in the first place. (Fertilisers, Pesticides, Tractor fuel, transport, processing, etc, etc..).

In terms of total acute pollution (i.e. Pesticide residues, fertiliser runoff, particulate emissions) AND chronic pollution (i.e. Greenhouse gasses), it is worse to use ethanol than nothing at all.

[ Parent ]

actualy, try calculating the Carbon (none / 0) (#114)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 11:39:44 AM EST

the carbon used to grow the corn is from the air. so the carbon in teh ethanol is not adding to the polution since wehn the corn died and decomposed, it would have been released back into the air.

I would much rather drive my car on 100 ethanol than gasoline because of the closed carbon cycle.

[ Parent ]

But.. (none / 0) (#116)
by ajduk on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:08:42 PM EST

If the amount of fossil fuels burnt to make the ethanol is greater than the amount saved by using ethanol, the overall impact is actually worse.

The cycle is something like:

Tractor fuel(Diesel, relaeasing CO2) + Fertilisers (Made from Natural gas, releasing CO2, poisioning lakes, etc) + Pesticides (Made from Oil, releasing CO2 on breakdown or accumulating in the food chain) + Sunlight = Ethanol.

[ Parent ]

if you use Ethanol to make ethanol (none / 0) (#118)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:26:00 PM EST

you get a positive production.

[ Parent ]
...you run out of energy (none / 0) (#121)
by dwhitman on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 02:34:08 PM EST

You can't "use ethanol to make ethanol". The thermodynamics just don't work. You need more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you can get from an gallon of ethanol.

[ Parent ]
this is not a closed system (none / 0) (#125)
by Flippant Chicken on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 06:15:17 PM EST

You are misapplying the laws of thermodynamics.  

Nearly all of the energy stored in the corn is coming from the sun, not from the fuel used for farming.

The fuel costs and processing costs certainly play into the economic viability of ethanol as a fuel, but not on the level of thermodynamics.

If someone was suggesting that one use ethanol to power generators to power lights to grow corn, you would have a point.

From a physics standpoint, ethanol is not that different from oil.  Both are basically chemical storage of solar energy.

[ Parent ]

ethanol costs more energy than it produces (none / 0) (#126)
by proletariat on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 08:38:18 PM EST

There were two studies done that show that it takes more energy to make a gallon of ethanol than you can get back out of the ethanol when it's used as fuel. These studies were cited in a very good paper coauthored by RaveX (see comment #86). Look on page 23 of the pdf last paragraph. The studies were done by groups at Berkely and Cornell.

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately.. (none / 0) (#143)
by ajduk on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 04:32:42 AM EST

Nearly all of the energy stored in the corn is coming from the sun, not from the fuel used for farming.

That's only true if you use organic-farmed corn using horses to plough the soil, humans to harvest it, horse drawn wagons to take it away, charcoal-based forges to make the equipment, and natural rainfall to water it, instead of irrigation pumps. Which would cut your yields in the range 30-90%, depending where you are farming.

Modern agriculture has been accurately described as a process for turning fossil fuels into food. A calorie of food on a supermarket shelf requires around 10 calories of fossil energy to produce.

Ethanol from massively subsidised corn is probably the worst offender in this regard; biodiesiel from vegtable oil appears to have a net energy gain of around 20-30% (i.e. you use 7-8 barrels to produce 10 barrels). Tree coppocing (sp?) seems to offer a net retuen for electric generation but not liquids generation.

From a physics standpoint, ethanol is not that different from oil. Both are basically chemical storage of solar energy.

True, but the oil source rocks typically represent 1-2 million year's worth of concentrated algal blooms each..

[ Parent ]

Not quite (none / 0) (#153)
by Flippant Chicken on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 01:50:31 PM EST

That's only true if you use organic-farmed corn

No, it is always true. The energy expended in production is not stored in the corn. Otherwise, ethanol produced in an inefficient way would somehow, magically, contain more energy than ethanol produced by a more efficient process. The economic problems with ethanol stem from the fact that the energy spent is not stored in the corn.

You could argue that the energy is invested in the corn, but it is certainly not stored there. It is sort of an "investment" like Social Security, and that is sort your point.<g>

I wasn't making an argument for the economic viability of ethanol as a fuel. I was simply arguing for the use of correct physics.

Perhaps, I just read too much into the statement "the thermodynamics just don't work". Or perhaps, we are just looking at this in different scopes. But to me, using thermodynamics to argue against ethanol as a fuel is at best misguided, at worst dishonest.

The argument hinges on the assumption at the cost of ethanol production is fixed; that we are somehow trapped into using this inefficient process. I don't see why that is the case.

The laws of physics govern the processes involved in ethanol production, but the do not define them. We are free to find and employ different processes. I think appealing to thermodynamics to make an economic/political argument is invalid.

I haven't read the bill, but does "ethanol requirement" == "corn subsidies"? Or does it simply mean increased demand for ethanol? If the latter, than shouldn't the free market work to provide increasingly efficient means of production?

You and others clearly know more about this issue than I do. However, it seems to me that investments in alternative fuel sources need to be made for a number of reasons. Ethanol is getting support because it has a strong lobby and because it works within the current infrastructure. It makes more sense to me than allowing companies to spray diesel on coal and get a tax break for creating "synthetic fuel".

[ Parent ]

Efficiency.. (none / 0) (#166)
by ajduk on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 04:53:42 AM EST

I wasn't making an argument for the economic viability of ethanol as a fuel. I was simply arguing for the use of correct physics.

But this is the problem; you have to calculate the energy expendature involved in ethanol production vs. the energy contained in the end product.

For ethanol from corn, this IS negative according to current farming practices and processing. Reducing the energy used to make the corn could be done, but at the expense of yield - at which point you no longer have enough corn to both eat and make into ethanol. If a more efficient way existed to process the corn after harvest, it would already be done.

This is then, the problem; ethanol is not an alternative fuel source. More Carbon Dioxide ends up in the atmosphere under these regulations than before; never minding the environmental costs of corn production.

[ Parent ]

then by your economics (none / 0) (#128)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 09:38:51 PM EST

you should not be able to make Gas from Gas.

so why bother.

[ Parent ]

You don't. (none / 0) (#168)
by ajduk on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 08:51:12 AM EST

You make Gasoline from oil, which you pump out of the ground. The overall energy cost varies from 1-2% (New onshore Giant field) through >100% (End stage stripper well).

[ Parent ]

Good Question, Moot Point (none / 2) (#86)
by RaveX on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:51:50 PM EST

Anyone have a guess on how much more expensive using something else than MTBE to fulfil the oxygenate requirements will make gasoline?

I have more than a guess as to how this legislation will affect the price of gasoline...

The oxygen content requirement is being removed, at the recommendation of the EPA Blue Ribbon Panel for Reviewing Use of MTBE. However, doing this requires that the legislature buy off the corn lobby, since a large portion of the oxygenate requirement functions as a subsidy to corn farmers.

So... gasoline would be less expensive, due to the lack of any (Federal) oxygenate requirement, but instead it will be several cents per gallon more expensive due to the "renewable fuel content" requirements (ethanol mandate). If you're interested in reading more about this, I'll now shamelessly plug a paper I recently co-authored on this exact topic.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]

interesting paper. (none / 0) (#103)
by techwolf on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 04:29:23 AM EST

and yes i spent the time to read it.


"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

ridiculous (none / 1) (#154)
by Politburo on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:21:16 PM EST

Overall, a pretty good paper. I have a few nits..

In 2001, on-road mobile sources emitted 4.87 million tons of VOCs. Comparing that emission level with the 130 billion gallons of gasoline burned annually suggests an average emission rate of 0.037 tons of VOCs per gallon of gasoline.

What about diesel sources? If the emission #s include diesel sources (as it sounds like they do), your (tons pollutant)/(gal gas) will be skewed on the high side (conservative, for the purposes of the paper, since a higher pollutant/gas ratio will result in a greater percieved benefit when gas use is reduced through ethanol substitution). I tried to visit the source for this data, but was unable to find it (Footnote 36 is ibid to this).

Also, you use NOx credits and their market price as an indicator of possible savings or benefit. I'm just not following the logic there (third paragraph, page 20 (pdf numbering)). However, this reasoning is very, very, conservative (imo), and was probably the only metric available.

There is a clear error in the last para of PDF page 21: the reduction in SO2 as 6.46 million gallons (3.23 billion gallons x 0.002 tons/gallon) This should be in tons (there are 2 or 3 similar errors in that paragraph).

Overall, you do take many conservative measures in the calculations, such as not increasing the demand for fuel, which of course will (barring a major shift in transportation policy) continue to rise. I understand that there were several authors of the paper and that some of my points may not relate to what you worked on.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#176)
by RaveX on Sat Nov 29, 2003 at 01:37:18 PM EST

While you're right that all your points don't directly relate to my work, it's still useful (and much appreciated) feedback, and you raise some important points. I'll pass your comments on to the other two.
---
The Reconstruction
[ Parent ]
systemic cost (none / 2) (#147)
by pyro9 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 10:14:00 AM EST

The important metric is the systemic (internalized) cost. To fairly evaluate the economy of MTBE, you have to include the cost of groundwater cleanup, and the cost of bottled water for households where the cleanup is either not done, or is ineffective. It doesn't take much MTBE to make water taste like turpentine (that is, useless for drinking or cooking).

Naturally, the oil companies are in favor of MTBE because it's cheaper up front, and they hope with this bill to successfully externalize the follow on costs. (In other words, to distort the free market in order to create a localized advantage for a generally uneconomic decision). The manufacturers of MTBE have an obvious interest in continuing to sell their product with the liabilities externalized through political favoritism.

This class of issue is exactly why I maintain that the U.S. does NOT have a capitalist economy. A true capitalist would endevor to internalize all costs so that a truly economic market decision could be reached. Externalities cause malinvestment.

Effective and fair internalization of costs would produce a net economic gain for most everyone since we would cease to squander economic resources through malinvestment. The only losers in that would be those who have been unfairly sticking the general public with their bills for all these years. By definition, any internalization scheme that produces a net loss in standard of living is imperfect.

On a side note, a savvy environmentalist would strongly support the internalization process. Envoronmental damage (and it's consequences and costs) is one of the larger forms of externality in our economy.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Thanks, but (none / 0) (#161)
by TheModerate on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 06:56:49 PM EST

I meant the price of gas at the pump or per gallon.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

I did realize that (none / 1) (#162)
by pyro9 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 07:15:08 PM EST

I was pointing out that if you end up paying $100 a year more for gas it won't matter much if you save $200 a year in extra taxes and bottled water. Until all externalities are internalized, retail price is useless as a metric for an economic decision unless it is so high that the product is unaffordable.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
I wonder (none / 0) (#173)
by TheModerate on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 11:45:44 PM EST

Does this stuff filter out of the water with maybe one of them deals you put on your faucet? If it can, then they could probably put a bigger one on at the water plant.

Just grasping at straws here.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

Filter (none / 0) (#174)
by pyro9 on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 07:43:21 AM EST

I THINK carbon or clay filtration can do it. Of course you'll pay for that through either higher taxes or a higher water bill.

More likely, county comissions will decide to stick each individual with the reletively higher cost of individual units so they can claim to be keeping taxes down and most citizens won't realize that the low taxes are actually costing them money.

That, of course, creates the ultimate externality where the people who don't even own a car get to help pay for everyone else's gas.

A few counties have (rightly) attempted to offset the costs (or if you prefer, internalize the cost) by sueing those responsable for the contamination. Of course, that will depend on Congress not forcing them to give the settlements back as a form of welfare for the rich.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
all plants (none / 3) (#72)
by auraslip on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 07:06:03 PM EST

even bush's can't grow on a polluted planet.
___-___
Last I heard.... (none / 3) (#74)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 08:55:45 PM EST

Last I heard, Frist was saying that he is willing to remove the MTBE lawsuit clause in order to get a vote on it, however, the Republicans in the House, especialy the ones from Lousiana (where lots of MTBE is made) say they vow to keep it in.

I don't think this will get a vote in the next year.

Conflicting accounts all day (none / 0) (#83)
by felixrayman on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 11:40:02 PM EST

The story has been changing all day. The latest, reported in the NY Times tonight, is quoting Frist's aide as saying the bill is dead for the year, even after the White House "launched an intensive push to revive the bill". Apparently they negotiated with the Republicans in the House to try to get the MTBE clause dropped, Congressman Billy Tauzin, a Republican from Louisiana, was willing to drop the clause, Majority Leader Delay was not.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Ralph Nadar... (1.40 / 5) (#99)
by weave on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 03:00:17 AM EST

Everytime I read something like this that turns my stomach, I have to think of ole Ralph Nadar. The guy that claimed that Gore and Bush were really identical, so it wouldn't hurt to vote for him.

It's a pretty well accepted fact that Nadar took away votes from Gore, not Bush, and had enough votes in some states to swing their vote. And we all know it would have only taken one state to change the election results.

I still get ill. I'm not dumping on anyone who voted for Nadar. Your intentions were noble and honest. The two-party crap we currently have really sucks. But I really think it's better to change at the local level and move up the chain than running a sure-lose campaign at the top. I just get a bit fearful because Nadar has talked about running again and I personally don't want to see Bush re-elected.

3rd parties are for real (none / 1) (#105)
by bolson on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 05:03:40 AM EST

The "race" metaphor is popular around political campaigns. In a real race, the 3rd place contestant can move to 2nd place, and 2nd place can move to 1st place. That is all you need to believe for 3rd party candidates to be viable and real and winnable. The only problem is the mental lock-in we have going on in America. So, change the rules. Advanced voting methods are fair for any number of candidates and reward you for voting your conscience.
Making Democracy Safe for the World (change the voting system)
[ Parent ]
except (none / 0) (#165)
by puppet10 on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 12:34:36 AM EST

those voting methods weren't and arent in place in the election system at the moment, or liekly anytime soon, though promoting them is good. However until the methods are adopted, voting for your first choice if your second and third choice are likely to have the majority of the vote possibly lets your third place canidate play you for a patsy to promote your least favored viewpoint.

[ Parent ]
It's "Nader" [n/t] (none / 0) (#117)
by Juppon Gatana on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:12:53 PM EST



- Juppon Gatana
能ある鷹は爪を隠す。
(Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
[ Parent ]
you're retarded. (none / 0) (#120)
by cicero on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 02:02:47 PM EST

I'm not dumping on anyone who voted for Nadar sic

that's exactly what you're doing. You're saying, "you should have sacrificed your morals and voted like I voted because, while my candidate wasn't as good as your candidate, he was better than the candidate that got in".

and that, my friend, is retarded. That's not the point of voting. You (I at least) vote for the *best* person for the job. Nader running had nothing to do with Gore losing (or Bush winning, depending on how you define the word). My Aibo has more charisma than Al Gore. His inability to relate to anyone but princeton graduates, as well as the 11 foot poll he kept between himself and his very successful boss, Bill Clinton, had everything to do with Gore losing.

I just get a bit fearful because Nadar has talked about running again and I personally don't want to see Bush re-elected.

and what, because nader is running, bush is going to win? Vote for who you think is the best person for the job and deal with it if they don't. It makes me sick to think that so many Americans are like you, they would compromise their morals and values as you describe.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]

The road to hell is paved with good intentions (none / 1) (#130)
by Eater on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 10:02:04 PM EST

Sorry for resorting to a cliche in a title.
Unlike some people, I believe the original poster values the well-being of his country over some sort of moral "obligation" to vote for the "better candidate". If you vote for Nader over the more popular non-republican candidate, especially once we've seen what Bush is capable of, you really are sacraficing the good of your country for the right to say that you didn't "compromise [your] morals and values". Not to mention that Nader would show a rather selfish side of his own party by running again in the next election, if he does.
Sure, I don't like the fact that this a 2-party system either, but getting a republican in office isn't going to change that.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
no apologies required. (none / 2) (#131)
by cicero on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 10:17:44 PM EST

Sure, I don't like the fact that this a 2-party system either, but getting a republican in office isn't going to change that. I had to quickly get a towel to wipe the beer from my keyboard when I read this.

I'm going to restate it in hopes that you can find it as humorous as I did:

Sure, I don't like the fact that this is a 2-party system either, and somehow, getting the other member of the two-party system into power is going to change this two-party thing we've become used to.

make sense?

but i'm getting ahead of myself. you seem to feel that change can only happen if it's handed to us from up on high. fuck that.

I say again, for emphasis, fuck that.

change is not spoon-fed to you by those who can.

and you do have a moral obligation to vote for who you feel is the better candidate. Ignoring that moral obligation brings us to this mexican standoff we have today; one half-witted candidate from each of the two equal big-money loving, lobiest penis sucking, parties playing "who am I today?" or "we're different, I promise".

ok, I sort of went off there, but that's a bit of a pet peeve of mine. people who have the audacity to blame folks who actually fucking voted for the candidate they believed in. go fucking figure. Instead of asking yourself, "what would gore have done? goddamn that nader!", why not say, "what would nader have done? goddamn that bush!". Seems to make a lot more sense to me.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]

Agree (sort of) (none / 1) (#138)
by teece on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 02:16:33 AM EST

I agree that we have to be our own catalyst for change. But the Green party has gone about it the wrong way.

We didn't need a Green party. We needed the Democratic party reformed. There was once a time when conservative Christians didn't feel particularly well represented in our two party system. They did not, however, form a Christian Democrats group. Instead, they chose to join the Republican party, and try to reform that one to their liking from the inside.

As much as I disagree with their politics, their tactics and strategy have been much more effective at getting their agenda onto the national stage.

If you really think that more parties are needed, well OK. But I think the mechanics of how an agenda is forwarded is much less important than the actual agenda. And there is a huge amount of inertia in the American two party system (not to mention many dirty tricks by the 'D's and 'R's to make it very hard for other parties to compete).

I would rather see reformed Democrats. (Or hell, even reformed Republicans, but that is even more unlikely.)

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

You misunderstand (none / 0) (#164)
by Eater on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 12:17:53 AM EST

Sorry about your keyboard, I hope you had another beer handy.
The point I was making is not that a dem would reform the 2-party system - that's irrelevant, because you're not electing a dem, you're electing a republican. That's ALL you're doing by voting for the Green party. That, any you're encouraging a political strategy for that party that amounts to little more than banging theirs heads against a brick wall. It seems you are the one that expects change from up high - from a Green president in office. Well, I've got news for you - no matter how many times you vote republican, you're not getting a Green in office. It's just not going to happen - even if every liberal "votes with his heart", Nader is still not going to get into the White House. But Bush, and Bush III, and Bush IV, are. And in the end, a democrat is not as dangerous for this country as a republican, no matter how similar they are.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
It's a no win situation (none / 1) (#167)
by weave on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 06:33:06 AM EST

Because the voting rules are bent so far to favor a two-party election, throwing in a third candidate as a spoiler will not accomplish a thing.

Why try to affect change from the top when there is no hope of a success? Why can't a viable third (or more) party start by running in local races, get enough people in to change the voting rules, work their way up. Get people in the Congress that can keep a reign on a lousy President until those voting laws can be changed.

You can keep throwing out sacrificial third party Presidential candidates to prove a point and keep the Republicans in power, or work from within to change the system and actually give yourself a better chance to change the current two party biased voting laws.

If Louisiana can do this (their voting laws called for a run off election in a congressional race since no candidate got more than 50%), then I'm sure the other states can move to this fairer voting procedure. In the meantime, an anti-Republican third party voter is Bush's best friend. Reality sucks, and that's the truth.

[ Parent ]

Excuse me (none / 0) (#169)
by TheModerate on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 01:38:45 PM EST

"and you do have a moral obligation to vote for who you feel is the better candidate."

I choose my moral obligations. They shall not be thrust upon me.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

thrust upon you? (none / 0) (#170)
by cicero on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 05:08:51 PM EST

this is an obligation that you have based upon your locality and society you live in/under. I'm not doing any of the thrusting.

was there anything else about my comment that got your goat, or was your righteous indignation only spurned by that one sentence?


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]

I was about to say the same thing actually (none / 0) (#171)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 10:05:00 PM EST

Using different words of course.

If you can't back up a supposed "moral obligation" with reason, then you can't expect people to take you seriously.

E.g.
"It is a moral obligation to stop an assault in progress, if you have the means".
That can be backed up by reasoning.  I won't get into the nitty-gritty of philosophy, but basically society as a whole would benefit from your action, and there is no appreciable downside for society for this action.

"It is a moral obligation to use orange garbage bags within a week of Hallowe'en".
You'd have a hard time backing this one up.

So I guess what I'm saying is - what reasoning are you using to assert that this is a moral obligation?  I'll admit society would be better off if everyone did it.  But the downside is that unless a large number of people vote like this (and they don't), then your vote is wasted.  You had no say in who got in.

I agree with the others - if Green-voters had voted Gore instead, Bush wouldn't be in.  If you believe (as I do) that the US would be a much better place if Gore had gotten in, then one could argue that you had a moral obligation to vote for him, knowing that you could get him in.

As for escaping the two-party system - look to the local level first.  If the green party can make significant inroads in state-level politics, federal will naturally follow.

[ Parent ]

Nader spoilers (none / 1) (#175)
by thejeff on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 11:50:41 AM EST

With hindsight Green voters in Florida may regret their choice, but can you really say that they knew ahead of time that their votes would have swung the election the other way? Were there any other states that Bush won by less than the number of Nader votes? Is it a moral obligation to vote for the lesser of two evils when there's no good reason to think that your preferred candidate will get enough votes to throw the election?

I voted for Nader and my state went solidly for Gore anyway. Knowing that it would, made my decision a lot easier. People in swing states had a much tougher call to make.

There was no chance Nader would win in 2000, but if he had gotten 5% of the vote it would have made a huge difference in later local races. Allowing easier ballot access, etc. Many people believed there was a good chance of that happening. There's less chance of 5% in 2004 and I don't think Nader should run. I'd rather see a home-grown Green candidate who won't get as many votes, but also won't trigger the spoiler reflex as much.

As importantly, the Green party is still working on the local level, winning more offices in this year's elections. Mostly on the city level, not even the state, but it's a start.

[ Parent ]

Voting #= stopping an assault in progress (none / 1) (#184)
by error 404 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 10:40:10 AM EST

OK, I just invented '#=' as a notation for moral equivalence.

And I do see it as the same thing - a govornment not held accountable is an almost guaranteed large scale disaster, and I mean that in a literal sense in terms of people killed and wounded.

I'm not one of these "taxation is theft" people, I recognize the necessity (or at least inevitability) of govornment and even see some of it as positive. But govornment if it gets out of control is a huge slow assault. Participation in the process is what stops the assault.

If there is a moral obligation to stop an assault in progress - that is, if a moral obligation can be imposed by circumstances - then there is a moral obligation thrust upon one who finds himself in a representative republic to at the very least participate in elections. I'd say "vote", but there is a reasonable case that sometimes refusing to vote is a kind of vote. Boycotting an election is participation. Blowing it off is not. I do think there is a moral obligation to engage in political thought and to act on that thought. Another reason I didn't say "vote" is that ineligibility to vote is not an excuse not to participate in other ways.

But I would not presume to tell you that one voting pattern or another is an imposed moral obligation. Except in very extreme circumstances, where it probably doesn't matter anyway. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel. But which way you go is up to you.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Maybe I was a little offended (none / 0) (#172)
by TheModerate on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 11:40:29 PM EST

"this is an obligation that you have based upon your locality and society you live in/under. I'm not doing any of the thrusting.

I interpret you as part of my society. I don't see how you wouldn't be. How you wrote it, could be interpreted either as a command, e.g. "You shall be obligated," or as a statement of fact, e.g. "It is the case that you are obligated." Either way you put it, it doesn't sound right.

And, yeah, it was just that one sentence. Sorry for upsetting you.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

Lesser of three evils (none / 1) (#146)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 09:56:05 AM EST

I didn't vote for Nader.

The point of voting for Nader was to avoid a "lesser of two evils" vote. While I think Nader would have done better than either Bush or Gore (hell, I could walk down the block and find at least a half dozen better candidates by knocking on doors. One side of the street, not turning any corners. And I live in a well-spaced semi-suburban neighborhood without muti-family housing.) he is far from being an excellent choice for President.

I saw no point in voting for the lesser of three evils when that vote would be to the benefit of the worst of the three. If there were a candidate I actually felt good about, I would have cast a positive vote for him/her. My vote for Nader would still have been a negative vote, and if you have to game the system, game it as effectively as possible.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

hello? (none / 0) (#151)
by Politburo on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 12:54:40 PM EST

Nader running had nothing to do with Gore losing (or Bush winning, depending on how you define the word). My Aibo has more charisma than Al Gore. His inability to relate to anyone but princeton graduates, as well as the 11 foot poll he kept between himself and his very successful boss, Bill Clinton, had everything to do with Gore losing.

You make it sound like nobody liked Gore. That isn't true. In fact, more people voted for Gore than voted for Bush. While I don't place the failure of 2000 directly on Nader, he certainly played a factor, along with some of the things you mention above, and some other things, such as Gore's inability to win his home state. When an election is as close as it was in 2000, everything's a factor.

[ Parent ]
re: Ralph Nadar (none / 0) (#134)
by seraph93 on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 12:31:18 AM EST

I believe it's *Nader*, not Nadar.

"Nadar" is the uncanny ability to tell if someone's a Ralph Nader fan just by looking.
--
Ph-nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
[ Parent ]
Nadar (none / 0) (#179)
by fenix down on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 07:35:19 PM EST

Isn't Nadar that elephant that's like a Maharajah or something? I think he hung around with a monkey. He always seemed more like a Republican than a Green.

[ Parent ]
Aren't polluters already protected? (none / 0) (#124)
by JamesThiele on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 04:51:49 PM EST

I thought that the free market meant that companies could do anything they wanted without anyone being able to do anything about it. Why should they be held responsible for their actions? Certainly by the end of Bush's term they won't have to deal with any lawsuits by people they 'might' have harmed.

What I don't get... (none / 0) (#133)
by Eccles on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 10:41:22 PM EST

Where does Congress get the power to interfere in private lawsuits like this, anyway? Some bizarre outgrowth of the commerce clause?

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#150)
by Politburo on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 12:50:33 PM EST

There's nothing in the constitution that makes ignoring your product's potential damages illegal. Liability law was established by the legislature. As such, the legislature is free to change it at any time.

[ Parent ]
Interesting. (none / 1) (#135)
by riddermark on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 12:56:52 AM EST

I've always thought it interesting how many double standards there are for this supposed free market we live in. The bill is full of give-aways for big companies. The US doesn't advance free-market theory. Unless (as Chomsky once said) it means protection by the nanny state for big corporations and free markets for everyone else.
"Entrepreneurs compete on level playing fields and the public benefits. The chasm between such fantasies and reality is acute and growing wider. Megamergers and monopolies are limiting competition. Fewer than 10 corporations control most of the global media. The existing free market depends heavily on taxpayer subsidies and bailouts. Corporate welfare far exceeds that which goes to the poor. Economic policy is based on the dictum, Takes from the needy, and gives to the greedy."
-Noam Chomsky


Say (none / 1) (#142)
by brain in a jar on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 04:09:01 AM EST

How many environmental scientists/chemists do we have here?

Thanks for the info folks, I hadn't considered the co-solvent effect and the competition for electron acceptors.

To add a couple of extra points, MTBE degrades rather poorly because of its structure, and although as other have pointed out it is not playing in the major leagues when it comes to toxicity (unlike benzene) it does do a really good job of making huge amounts of groundwater taste so bad that no-one will drink it. Which of course leads to huge costs for water supply utilities, not to mention all the people who get stuck with shitty tasting water because they are in areas where the water utility doesn't consider the problem bad enough to deal with.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Yeah, I know (none / 1) (#144)
by brain in a jar on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 04:32:45 AM EST

and I'm sure table salt has a much lower LD50, I just thought it was an interesting statistic.

I pity the poor bastard who had to feed all those rats all that saccharine.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

MTBE stinks (none / 0) (#152)
by SaintPort on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 01:33:12 PM EST

and is dangerous and unnessary.

Get thy refinery an...
Naphtha Platformer.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

Remember this (none / 0) (#177)
by Quila on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 02:29:13 PM EST

The next time the government pushes some technology or chemical to fix some problem. The solution is often worse than what it's meant to fix, and we all pay in the end with health and tax dollars.

Leaking gas tanks (none / 0) (#178)
by proletariat on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 03:30:30 PM EST

If gas station tanks didn't leak (as they should NOT) we would not even be talking about MTBE and it would still be in use as a great, octane boosting, clean burning gasoline additive that is safer than the gasoline it goes into.

[ Parent ]
Is it the tanks that cause this? (none / 0) (#180)
by Norkakn on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 09:16:03 PM EST

My understanding (it may be wrong) is that the quantities involved in contaminating water are so low that runnoffs from a few accidents could do it.

Perhaps a better solution would be to fix the tanks and use less fuel to begin with?

[ Parent ]

Not great even if safe (none / 0) (#183)
by error 404 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 10:00:33 AM EST

The stuff STINKS!

Smells bad when you pump it, makes your exhaust smell even worse.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

no worse than gasoline (none / 0) (#188)
by proletariat on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 02:12:00 PM EST

Gasoline STINKS! Let's ban gasoline too!

[ Parent ]
MBTE smess worse (none / 0) (#189)
by error 404 on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 02:53:40 PM EST

Gasoline isn't exactly perfume, but MBTE mix smells even worse.

Not saying the smell is a huge issue, but when MBTE and ethanol mixes were in competition here in Milwaukee a few years back, most people I know went with the ethanol because the smell was far less vile. And the difference when sitting in a traffic jam is quite noticable.

The sticking point is a provision that amounts to a subsidy (making it so they don't have to buy insurance) for the MBTE producers. There is no ban proposed in the legislation under discussion. There is no ban implied in the opposition. The opposition is to the govornment changing the rules to allow producers of MBTE to take the profit while externalizing the liability.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

gasoline smells worse to me (none / 0) (#190)
by proletariat on Wed Dec 03, 2003 at 09:54:32 AM EST

But if you consider that you should not be inhaling gasoline vapors to begin with you could look at MTBE as an early warning that you're being exposed to harmful vapors from the other components of gasoline. Just as oderants are added to natural gas, MTBE could be used to warn people that a gas station's vapor recovery system is not working. And since MTBE lowers the concentration of carcinogenic compounds such as benzene in exhaust, MTBE is safer to have than not. I would consider that if people don't like the smell then that's a good thing.

[ Parent ]
Good enough to subsidize? (none / 0) (#191)
by error 404 on Thu Dec 04, 2003 at 10:06:02 AM EST

Is it a good enough thing that it should be paid for outside the standard market process?

That's really what the question comes down to. The legislation proposes externalizing the liability cost. In effect, forcing somebody else to pay part of the cost of doing business in order to make MBTE more profitable. Liability issues get into all kinds of emotional stuff about responsibility, but once you throw in an insurance company, it boils down to a business proposition of who pays the premiums. All the legislation in question does is shift an insurance bill from one company to another or possibly to the public at large. A sneaky redistribution of wealth that a real conservative would object to in no uncertain terms. In a free market, the company that stands to profit is the company responsible for the costs - including insurance premiums.

I doubt the value of MBTE as a marker oderant. Whether in a gas station or sitting in traffic, I know I'm being exposed to bad stuff whether I smell it or not. Where the marker oderant is valuable is in situations where there is a presumption that the gas isn't present (my kitchen with the stove presumably off, for example) and when the gas being marked is odorless or nearly so. Gasoline is fairly stinky to begin with, and if there is a reason why one wouldn't smell that (sense organ damage or masking by a stronger odor) it would probably block the MBTE as well - it isn't a lot stinkier, just a little.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Ethonal (none / 0) (#187)
by furyg3 on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 02:36:24 AM EST

I overheard a Republican Senator talking about this bill on the radio the other day.  He was urging Democrats and the few Republicans who are against the bill (due to MTBE polluting water in their states) to vote for the bill.

He cited that while there are problems with the bill, it allows ethanol production to be stepped up enormously.  This is *good news* for the agricultural states and states that want a cleaner alternative.  He said without the MTBE provision congress would never pass a bill that allowed that kind of raised ethanol production. He failed to explain why.

I apologize for being vague and not including direct quotes or names, I just couldn't remember them.

My question is: Why is this the case?  Aren't the major oil companies already in the process of getting rid of MTBE?  Won't the market fix itself after gigantic law suits and settlements?

I presume he's talking about a portion of the law that will FORCE companies to use ethanol, which is good for agricultural states, and that big oil states (like texas) wouldn't let that law go through due to their own interests, just as congresmen and senators from states where MTBE contamination is high won't let this bill pass.

If this *is* the case, I'm very surprised.  I know our politicians can be bought and sold to a point, but it's clear who's right and who's wrong in a debate between senators from the SAME PARTY, one group who's trying to save billion-dollar-companies-asses and one who's trying to un-ass-rape their state.

Republican Energy Bill Blocked Over MTBE Lawsuits | 191 comments (180 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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