Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Energy - E.P.A. and the Economy - #3638 - Who is Hurt Most by Rising Energy Costs - Hot Air (2) Gas Prices to Spike 60 cents or more by May - U.S.A. Today (3) Home Ownership Rates Fall to 66% as Downturn Nears Bottom- U.S.A. Today (4) Unemployment Disaster: 1.2 Million Driven Out of the Workforce in a Single Month - Human Events

We’ve been sounding the alarm since early last year about the risks associated with various EPA regulatory maneuvers, particularly the latest Utility MACT and cross state emissions rules. We are even now seeing the loss of significant energy generation on the grid, and an effective war on coal which reduces energy supply leading to the inevitable rise in prices. Not only are gas prices spiking in a trend which is expected to continue through the year, but home heating and utility costs are reflecting the fallout from these policies as well. But who bears the brunt of the increased costs? According to a new study, the hardest hit are precisely who you would expect. The poor and the elderly are having the biggest bite taken out of their checkbooks. Energy costs for U.S. households will almost double this year from 2001, consuming a fifth of the annual income for half of American homes, according to a study by a utility group that opposes limits on coal use..........
.........EPA regulations drive up electricity prices. Virtually all of the residential electricity price increases over the past two decades have occurred since 2000. These increases are due in part to additional capital, operating and maintenance costs associated with meeting clean air and other environmental standards.
........Electricity is the bargain among all consumer energy products. This is due, in part, to the utility industry’s reliance on affordable coal. Electricity prices have increased by 51 percent in nominal dollars since 1990, while the nominal prices of residential natural gas and gasoline have nearly doubled and tripled, respectively. Read more......

Gas Prices  to Spike 60 Cents or More by May - USA Today - Get ready for another round of pain at the pump: $4 (or higher) gasoline.  After rising 19 cents a gallon in the past four weeks, regular unleaded gasoline now averages $3.48 a gallon, vs. $3.12 a year ago and $2.67 in February 2010.  Prices could spike another 60 cents or more by May. "I think it's going to be a chaotic spring, with huge price increases in some places," says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. Kloza expects average prices to peak at $4.05, although he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.  Rising prices are an annual spring ritual, largely because of seasonal demand.  Refiners also switch from winter formulations to more expensive seasonal formulations to meet stringent environmental standards, which can tack on 15 cents a gallon, says Brian Milne of energy tracker Televent DTN.  Read more.........

Homeownership Rates Fall to 66% as Downturn Nears Bottom - USA Today - Fewer Americans own homes and many of them are continuing to see values decline. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the nation's homeownership rate fell to 66% in the fourth quarter, continuing a seven-year drop from a fourth-quarter peak of 69.2% in 2004.  At the same time, U.S. home prices fell 1.3% in November from October and were 3.7% below 2010 levels, the Standard &  Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index indicates. Falling homeownership — and prices — reflect the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression. And while there are signs that the housing industry's downturn may at least be nearing a bottom, the impact of the collapse will be evident for years to come, economists say.  As of November, average U.S. home prices were back to mid-2003 levels, S& P says.  Read more........

Unemployment Disaster: 1.2 Million Driven out of the Workforce in a Single Month - Human Events - It’s the headline that a President facing re-election with a dismal economic record didn’t want to see: 1.2 million people driven out of the workforce in a single month!  A frantic White House exploded into damage-control mode, as a deeply shaken President Obama retreated into his chambers. Nervous spokesmen fanned across the airwaves to stammer apologies, search for silver linings among the storm clouds, offer campaign boilerplate about “hope and change,” and desperately search for some way to blame George Bush for an absolute unemployment disaster that occurred over three years after he left office  What’s that, you say? You didn’t see that headline? Well, of course not, silly. All you’re seeing in the headlines is good news, because the official, heavily-massaged U-3 unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent. Fewer people in the workforce means the percentage of unemployed people in the workforce drops.  Read more......

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