Monday, August 08, 2005

Bush Gives $50-60 Million Dollars to Whiskey-selling Convenience Stores

So this is an interesting story:

One for my baby and one more for the road
The federal highway bill, signed last week, is a 1,700-page monster with a huge price tag of $286 billion. Besides funding bridges and roads, it includes an obscure provision that will repeal an alcohol tax.

Go to the site to listen to the whole story.

It turns out there is a tax that has its origins in trying to pay for The Civil War. In true Republican fashion, despite the deficit, and despite the highway bill having nothing to do with this tax, the highway bill is going to get rid of that tax. That increases the cost of the bill by $60 million or so.

Earlier today NPR ran a story on the energy bill including $250,000 for a particular constituent to do "cold cracking," a process involving using radioactive material to refine oil. However, none of the Congressmen who worked on the bill could explain it or even knew what it was, and the Congressman who introduced the provision had trouble explaining it during his introduction. When NPR asked other experts in the nuclear and oil industry, they too had no clue about this process. There are lots of other little Christmas-tree items on this energy bill (which is also a huge monster, just like the highway bill). Apparently this is the new way to legislate. 25 years ago a bill over 100 pages was very rare. Now it's common, and it's very easy to tuck little pork-barrel spending in in tiny little places where no one really will notice nor care. (after all, $250,000 is pretty cheap on the scale of the multi-billion dollar energy bill)


~ange said...

Ha- Crack Spread...
I was curious about the cold cracking and tried looking it up.
I don't know if this is the correct referral as it relates mostly to finance, but:
Crack Spreads Revisited
By breaking down crude oil molecules, through a process known as cracking, oil is refined into petroleum products, including heating oil and gasoline. The spread, or profit margin, that can be garnered through this process is called the crack spread. In the summer, when gasoline is in peak
demand, the gasoline crack spread widens, while the heating oil crack
spread falls. In the winter, when heating oil is in peak demand, the heating oil crack spread increases, while the gasoline crack spread falls.

There's also a welding process to repair pipelines made of ferritic weldable steels from this devastating effect that can take place w/in 48 hrs of the weld. Also one can protect large oil coated pieces of somewhat fragile material (like a canoe) from cold cracking (where the hull separates from the trim) by coating it with "protectant 303" which I think is in reference to hexagon 303- but I'm just guessing bout that.
There's also a process called cold cranking- but, oh nevermind, I need some coffee..

Theo said...

"Cracking" refers to a refining process that turns oil into things we actually use. That first link uses the right term.

But it's not the "cracking" that's in question. It's the "cold cracking." "Cold cracking" is a new type of refining process that does the same thing as cracking, but it uses a radioactive material in order to do it. There are (in theory) some benefits to this new process. The outcome of the process is the same -- heating oil and gasoline. However, there is supposedly less waste or something like that. It's the "COLD cracking" that's the big question-mark.

I think "cracking" is a pretty common term in oil. You're right that "cold cracking" may be a common term in other things, but we need a "cold cracking" where the "cracking" refers to the oil refining process. I can't find any such links...

It might be nice to actually read the section of the bill referring to this. I'm not going to do that, but I think that might give some insight on what the heck is going on... Though I have a feeling that it's going to be near to impossible to find a good web page on it.