Home Drilling Does Little to Lower Gas Prices

Mar 21, 2012, 5:36 pm EDT

With pump expenses on the rise, and anxiety building around fuel prices, it would be a relief to hear that America has a direct means of modulating the price of gasoline. However, it appears that ability may be more or less out of reach.

A new Associated Press release suggests that escalating domestic crude output ultimately has little impact on the price of American gasoline. The gist of the report outlines that the price of gasoline sold at home is defined by the vagaries of the global fuel economy. In light of the complications inherent to oil macroeconomics, an increase in domestic drilling doesn’t hand us the means to otherwise knock down the price of fuel sold on American soil.

Americans are naturally upset that the national average is inching closer to $4 per gallon. Unease around the spike in gasoline prices has been a lightning rod for commentary this election cycle, with many politicians using it as a starting point for rhetoric both controversial and banal. Presidential contender Newt Gingrich penned a 2008 book titled Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, and has made reducing gasoline prices a focal point of his election bid. Read 

After Illinois, GOP Game Over?

Mar 21, 2012, 8:25 am EDT
After Illinois, GOP Game Over?

Tuesday’s vote in Illinois was pretty emphatic: Mitt Romney: 47%; Rick Santorum: 35%; Ron Paul: 9%; Newt Gingrich: 8%.

Although Santorum and Gingich will soldier on to Louisiana this weekend, with polls showing Santorum enjoying a big lead (12 points) in the bayou, Romney’s win in Illinois last night effectively ended the hopes of his rivals in the GOP contest.

Santorum’s remarkable surge in January and February began to fizzle over the past couple of weeks as he continued to focus on social issues rather than economics. The commentariat may continue to hope for and speculate about a “brokered convention,” based on improbable scenarios, but the reality is Romney now has a clear and easy path to win the GOP nomination. Read 

Secret Code Names of Presidential Candidates Revealed

Mar 20, 2012, 6:14 pm EDT
Secret Code Names of Presidential Candidates Revealed

As the front-runners for the GOP’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have been given Secret Service protection. With that protection comes a Secret Service code name, used as a throwback to when Secret Service communications were not encrypted, and secrecy about the president’s travels was crucial.

But what code names did Romney and Santorum pick? What code names have other presidential candidates — and presidents — used? Here are some of the more interesting ones — allegedly. The Secret Service refuses to absolutely confirm any of the code names supposedly used. Javelin — Mitt Romney

Some have suggested this is a throwback to the AMC Javelin, a sports car manufactured by the company Mitt Romney’s father ran from 1954-1962, though the model wasn’t produced until five years after George Romney left American Motors Corporation. Read 

Ouch! Your Student Loan Interest Rate Is About to Double

Mar 20, 2012, 5:34 pm EDT

High school seniors and other college students preparing to borrow money to pay for their education may want to act fast. On July 1, student loans will become much more pricey.

As many as 8 million students will see their interest rates on federally subsidized student loans increase from 3.4% to 6.8%. The average Stafford loan borrower will pay back $2,800 more over a standard ten-year repayment plan with this increase. For students who borrow the maximum of $23,000 in federally subsidized student loans, this rate increase amounts to a $5,000 increase in the amount paid back over 10 years, and $11,000 if the payment plan stretches out over 20 years.

Democrats and Republicans have been sparring over the rate increase. Democrats want to keep the rates where they have been, at 3.4%, while Republicans favor a return to a 6.8% rate. The sides disagree about how much the 3.4% rate costs the United States: Democrats say it is $3 billion for the next year, while Republicans peg it at $7 billion. Read 

Political Battlefield Shifts to Sabine Pass

Mar 20, 2012, 9:02 am EDT
Political Battlefield Shifts to Sabine Pass

TransCanada’s (NYSE:TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline set off a fervor among both environmentalists and lobbyists alike. Originally planned to carry syncrude and diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands down towards refineries on the Gulf Coast, the project become mired in a deep political battle. It later was rejected by the Obama administration after Congress imposed a 60-day deadline on the approval process.

Overall, President Barack Obama’s reasoning for canceling the project was that the deadline for the decision had “prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact.” Ultimately, TransCanada plans on splitting up the pipeline into three parts and has begun construction on the third leg that will carry oil from storage facilities in Cushing, Okla., to the refineries on the Gulf Coast.

While splitting the Keystone into parts certainly alleviates much of TransCanada’s headaches, another potential political football game in the energy sector is brewing. Given the abundance of natural gas within our borders, this pending battle could change the energy landscape within the United States for the next 15 years. Read 

Company Sells Solar Panels to Itself, Taxpayers Pay

Mar 19, 2012, 6:13 pm EDT

At first, the story sounds too absurd to be true. How can a company receive millions of dollars of government subsidies, then get a loan guarantee to sell its product to itself?

Yet somehow, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLRmanaged to do just that.

How did the company pull off this feat? It started in 2010, when the Obama administration gave a $16.3 million grant to First Solar to expand a factory in Ohio. That same year, then-Gov. Ted Strickland announced $1 million in job training grants to First Solar. In addition, the Ohio Department of Development lent $5 million and the state’s Air Quality Development Authority lent $10 million to the company. Read 

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