The farm lobby has been pushing hard to increase the amount of ethanol allowed to be mixed into gasoline. And it seems like the Obama Administration is obliging.
The vast majority of today's ethanol comes from corn. The alcohol is mixed in gasoline to make it burn more cleanly.
Right now, the standard is 10% (a 10% ethanol, and 90% gasoline mix is most likely in your gas tank right now).
The EPA increased the allowed amount of ethanol to a 15% mix last fall for cars made after 2007.
Now, the Associated Press reports the EPA is poised to allow the 15% mix for more cars. From the AP:
Two people familiar with the decision said late Thursday the agency is expected to announce on Friday that 15 percent ethanol in gasoline is safe for cars manufactured between 2001 and 2006. Both officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the decision.
Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped steadily throughout 2010. But there are still 555,000 people in Michigan who are out of work and looking for jobs. Half of them have been looking for six months or more.
There was little new hiring last month. The number of people who simply stopped looking for work is the biggest reason for the decline in the jobless rate. The state Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth says the number of people who say they are available to work fell by 37,000.
When people who are looking for jobs, those who’ve quit looking, and part-time workers who’d like to be full-time are rolled together, Michigan’s rate of unemployment and under-employment is 21 percent.
Michigan’s unemployment rate in 2010 was 13.6 percent. That’s a drop of half a percentage point from the 2009 average.
But the Republican governor says he’s come up with a way to make the bridge a reality.
Transportation Director Kirk Steudle and I have secured a unique agreement with the federal Highway Administration to use this $550 million investment in our infrastructure towards the matching funds required for all federally funded highway projects across our state.
The bridge still faces opposition. The owners of the Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge have waged a long fight against a new bridge built and operated by anyone other than them.
It sends a message to the world when a company like P& G chooses a state like Michigan to do a collaboration like this.
Weinert says the state of Michigan will benefit because of the ripple effects of business investment. The program will eventually expand to other Michigan universities. Procter & Gamble has a similar research corridor in Ohio.
There’s more than one kind of hybrid vehicle. But most people only know about electric hybrids that use batteries.
The U.S. Department of Energy has poured several billion dollars into helping companies develop advanced lithium-ion batteries. But to hear Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne describe the effort, that's tantamount to picking a technology winner, before the race is finished.
The big problem with advanced batteries, says Marchionne, is they're really expensive. A big battery can increase the cost of a vehicle by a third.
"And I don’t think we should prejudice the discussion by saying electrics are the answer," Marchionne said at a press event held at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor. "They may be part of the answer."
Enter hydraulic hybrids. They tap into energy stored in high pressure canisters filled with fluid and nitrogen. They’re cheaper than electric hybrids, and already used in some big rigs and garbage trucks.
Now, using technology developed by the U.S. EPA., Chrysler will build and test a set of hydraulic hybrid minivans. The company hopes to see the same improvement in fuel efficiency as battery hybrids - about 30 to 35% - but at a much lower cost.
Attendance Monday was 64,520, up from 61,112 from the same day last year, said NAIAS spokesman Sam Locricchio. On opening day Saturday, 86,622 attended the show, compared with 83,715 on the opening Saturday last year, he said. Sunday's attendance was 99,111 -- up from 96,623 for the opening Sunday in 2010, he said.
The show, at Detroit's Cobo Center, is open until Sunday.
Members of the United Auto Workers union will be on Capitol Hill today in Washington, D.C.. Some 1,000 union members will be there for a four-day legislative meeting. As the Associate Press reports:
They'll be hearing from UAW President Bob King on Monday on the start of the four-day conference. The Detroit News says King plans to talk about efforts to persuade non-U.S. automakers to make it easier to unionize their U.S. plants.
In a statement, the UAW said, those at the meeting will:
...discuss the union's legislative and political priorities for the coming year, meet with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of working families and prepare for the union's 2012 electoral campaign.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to speak at the conference.
La Shish Restaurants were once famous in Michigan for good middle eastern cuisine. But the restaurants closed when La Shish's owner got into legal trouble and fled the country.
Now, Jeff Karoub reports for the Associated Press that the La Shish name will come back to Dearborn:
Restaurateur Carmel Halloun said Friday that he's acquired the rights to use the La Shish name and plans to open a restaurant in March in the former chain's first location in Dearborn.
The name doesn't come without baggage. The La Shish chain of restaurants closed when the former owner, Talal Chahine, fled the U.S. Karoub writes that in 2005 Chahine "was charged with multiple counts of tax evasion and citizenship fraud."
The new owner of the La Shish name says he thinks enough time has passed. From Karoub's article:
Halloun said he knows people loved the food and is willing to take a chance. He said he wouldn't reopen at La Shish's first location without the restaurant's original name. "I want people to come back," he said.
Last year the number of passengers traveling through Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids went up more than 20%. The airport served more than 2.1 million passengers in 2010; a new record for Michigan’s second largest airport.
Bruce Schedlbauer is a spokesman for Ford Airport. He thanks a combination of factors. Foremost, he says a more stable economy helped boost the numbers.
It seems everyone has been on a death watch for the bookseller.
Today, Julie Bosman writes in the New York Times Borders may be close to a financing deal that might help the company reorganize. From the article:
Borders executives told publishers that they were close to securing refinancing from GE Capital and other lenders, these people said, speaking only on condition of anonymity, and that the company intended to reduce costs, improve liquidity and expand marketing efforts, as well as sell some assets.
Earlier this month, we posted on a Reuters report that said Borders was working with publishers to work out a deal. Borders is in debt to the publishers for past shipments and the company reportedly wants to restructure that debt as a loan.
Meanwhile, the company is cutting costs. The Detroit News reported yesterday that Borders is closing a big distribution center in Tennessee:
Borders will consolidate the processing and delivery of books, movies, music and other products to two distribution centers in Carlisle, Pa., and Mira Loma, Calif. It is part of a long-term effort to cut costs and make the distribution of products to bookstores more efficient, Borders Group said in a statement.
So will borders survive? What would your future headline say?
At the Detroit International Auto Show, domestic automakers are celebrating a comeback of their industry. GM and Ford both saw profits last year, and the car makers are expecting a good year this year.
As more proof of the comeback, Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley report in the New York Times about profit-sharing checks that are expected to go to GM and Ford workers:
The two big Detroit carmakers will announce profit-sharing checks this month for their hourly workers, perhaps the largest in a decade, company officials and industry analysts say.
The checks are expected to top out at $5,000 at Ford, less at GM.
They report these checks "would be the biggest payout since the $8,000 checks that Ford handed out in 2000." Chrysler, the report says, is not expected to issue bonus checks this year.
2010 was the worst year in a decade for home foreclosures in Michigan, according to new data out today. And 2011 is expected to be worse.
One in 33. That’s how many Michigan homes received a foreclosure notice in 2010.
Realty Trac ranks Michigan as having the 7th worst home foreclosure rate in the nation last year. Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says Michigan’s foreclosure numbers should be worse this year.
The former NBA great toured Cobo Center... checking out the latest offerings from companies including General Motors and Ford. He says a comeback for automakers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler is positive for the city and the state.
Bing is just one of many politicians who have visited the show over the past few days. Governor Rick Snyder visited the show yesterday and members of Michigan's Congressional delegation, including Democratic Representatives John Dingell, Sander Levin and Gary Peters, have also visited Cobo Center this week.
Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday. He sat in a Chevy Volt, stopped by the Ford and Prius pavilions, and visited with Fiat-Chryser CEO Sergio Marccione. Rick Pluta was at the show and filed this report:
Governor Snyder cheered the rebound in the auto industry from where it was at this time last year. Snyder says he does not want to play favorites when it comes to economic development -- that Michigan should make all entrepreneurs feel equally welcome. But the governor also says he recognizes how big the car business still looms in the state’s economy. Snyder said:
The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.
The governor says he will call for lower taxes and less regulation and will reveal more details of his economic plan next week when he delivers his first State of the State address
The show opened for media previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.
The head of President Obama’s Auto Task Force paid a visit to the North American International Auto show. Ron Bloom is also the President’s top advisor on manufacturing policy. Bloom and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow toured Detroit automakers’ exhibits at the auto show. Bloom says the Obama administration is “cautiously optimistic” about the U.S. auto industry’s recovery. He says automakers’ profits are “better than expected," but admits that job growth is slower than he’d like. Still, he’s optimistic.
General Motors is stepping up its advertising budget for major sporting events. GM says it has reached a deal with NBC to be the exclusive domestic automotive advertiser during the 2012 London Olympics.
General Motors invested heavily in Olympic advertising in the past, but that spending dipped as the automaker has struggled in recent years. That reduced spending also included the Super Bowl.
The 2011 North American International Auto Show is in a decidedly upbeat mood.
After two years of somber shows, automakers are rolling out new products and showcasing an unusual level of variety and innovation. And they're bullish about how consumers will respond to all those new choices.
Chrysler might be the poster child for the resurgent feeling at this year’s show.
Last year, the automaker barely had a presence, and Chrysler Brand President Olivier Francois remembered how that felt.
Today president of GM North America, Mark Reuss spoke with Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.
The Chevy Volt won the "Car of the Year Award" at the Detroit Auto Show. White asked Reuss why the auto company has put so much into the development of the Volt.
"If you look at the electric and hybrid car piece of the industry, it's been steadily gaining in popularity as time goes on. But what does it take to go beyond hybrid? To go beyond the traditional electric car and produce something that really has an exteded range with the gasoline and the battery on board, so you don't have to worry about an electric engine on board?"
Reuss said they accomplished that with the development of the Volt, and that GM remained focused on the Volt through some rough times.
When asked about the prospects for the new car market, Reuss was upbeat because he says there are a lot of people driving older cars, so there's "pent up demand" for new cars:
"And the reason why I say this is because if you look at the cost to operate some of the newer vehicles from a fuel efficiency standpoint, they're much, much lower than some of the vehicles these people are forced to hang onto."
Reuss said, in the past, the company has been good at engineering and building trucks and some of the "truck variants," but today they're re-focusing their efforts on smaller cars:
"We have refocused with the launch of things like the Volt, and the Sonic for Chevrolet, and then the Verano for Buick. We've really refocused our efforts into excellence in the small and compact car markets. And you're going to see those as really good alternatives in the market as we go forward."
Reuss was asked how he views the automotive industry today. Here's his response: