Jim Hoffa and the Teamsters are poised to begin their sweep across Pennsylvania, hitting work sites and talking to workers across the state about how their votes in the upcoming Democratic primary will have a lasting impact on their jobs, and the national economy.
I’ve created a Google Map that provides the times and places for each stop. You can also see my previous blog for a bit more background.
General President Hoffa will also be meeting with local press and editorial boards, and fitting in national press calls whenever possible. Since news broke that Hillary Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn was double-dealing American workers -- having Hillary talk about saving jobs on one hand and then lobbying for the Colombians on the other -- Hoffa has called on Hillary to FIRE Penn, not just demote him.
The Teamsters endorsed Sen. Barack Obama and believe that he is the one candidate who will keep his word about keeping jobs in the U.S.
And that's a big issue for Pennsylvanians, just like it is for Ohioans. We need a president who will not only stop these job-killing trade deals, but also renegotiate them, so that they do not cheat our citizens out of decent jobs while enriching the corporate CEOs with fatter profits.
And that, in practical terms, will mean more boots on the ground for Obama in all of the remaining states. And Mark Penn is now dividing the Hillary camp with even stalwart supporters like Ed Rendell saying that Penn must be fired completely.
And as we close in on the last two weeks of this primary, it is time to start zeroing in on Pennsylvania so that we can connect our stands on the issues with the concerns of the local voters. All the organizing in the world will not help unless we can show people how an Obama administration will benefit them directly.
The district in recent years has closed 22 schools and eliminated hundreds of positions, many through attrition. But to put the district on solid financial footing for the long term, Mr. Berdnik proposed a 10 percent spending cut in 2009, another 10 percent cut in 2010 and 3 percent cuts in years after that.
"Part of our challenge continues to be to right-size district staff to enrollment," Mr. Berdnik said, meaning the district still has more employees than needed.
Mr. Berdnik also repeated an earlier warning that capital projects are straining the district coffers.
The latest alert comes as parents lobby for a renovation of Schenley High, which Superintendent Mark Roosevelt proposed closing at the end of the school year because he said the district could not afford $64 million in needed renovations to the Oakland building. Mr. Roosevelt said the remarks about capital projects were not directed at Schenley supporters but were intended to urge board members to be "cautious" about spending.
An Obama administration would dramatically increase funding for education so that administrators and school boards do not have to make painful choices about what schools to close, what personnel to lay off, or what programs to cut:
Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.
Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
John McCain makes false claim that it was Sadr who blinked:
Unlike McClatchy, who reports the opposite:
Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.
Sadr ordered the halt on Sunday, and his Mahdi Army militia heeded the order in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government announced it would lift a 24-hour curfew starting early Monday in most parts of the capital.
But fighting continued in the oil hub of Basra, where a six-day-old government offensive against Shiite militias has had only limited gains.
So far, 488 people have been killed and more than 900 wounded in the offensive, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.
The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.
The collapse of the housing market means that houses are on the block for much longer before they are sold. Also, houses that are foreclosed tend to happen in clusters, so this exacerbates the problem. Here is the Obama plan to protect homeowners:
Create a Universal Mortgage Credit: Owning a home is the culmination of the American dream that so many Americans work so hard for. The tax code is supposed to encourage home ownership with a mortgage interest deduction, but it goes only to people who itemize their tax deductions. Like so much in our tax code, this tilts the scales toward the well-off. The current mortgage interest deduction excludes nearly two-thirds of Americans who do not itemize their taxes. Barack Obama will ensure that anyone with a mortgage, not just the well-off, can take advantage of this tax incentive for homeownership by creating a universal mortgage credit. This 10 percent credit will benefit an additional 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year. Non-itemizers will be eligible for this refundable credit, which will provide the average recipient with approximately $500 per year in tax savings. This tax credit will also help homeowners deal with the uncertain state of the housing market today.
Combat Mortgage Fraud and Subprime Loans: There is a growing epidemic of mortgage fraud crimes in which sophisticated scam artists cheat homeowners out of their mortgages. Some have estimated that more than 2 million homeowners with subprime mortgages are at risk of losing their homes. Barack Obama believes we must establish stiff penalties to deter fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act, which would increase funding for federal law enforcement programs, create new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and require industry insiders to report suspicious activity. In March 2007, Obama urged Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to bring together lenders, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing agencies for a summit meeting on preserving home ownership. The bill also provides counseling to homeowners and tenants to avoid foreclosures. As president, Obama will continue to fight to ensure more Americans can achieve and protect the dream of home ownership.
Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures: In addition to taking important steps to prevent mortgage fraud from occurring in the future, Barack Obama will establish policies to help Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own. For instance, in communities where there are many foreclosures property values of innocent homeowners are often also negatively impacted, driving them toward foreclosure, too. Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners. The fund will also assist individuals who purchased homes that are simply too expensive for their income levels by helping to sell their homes. These steps will ensure that individuals who have to sell their homes will be able to quickly regain stable financial footing. The fund will be partially paid for by Obama's increased penalties on lenders who acted irresponsibly and committed fraud.
Mandate Accurate Loan Disclosure: Today's subprime mortgage problem stems in large part from the lack of easy-to-understand information that borrowers receive from mortgage brokers. As president, Barack Obama will enact laws to ensure that all prospective homebuyers have access to accurate and complete information about their mortgage options. Obama will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan. The HOME score would also help borrowers understand their long-term obligations and would be required to include mandatory taxes and insurance.
Close Bankruptcy Loophole for Mortgage Companies: Barack Obama strongly opposed the 2005 bankruptcy bill, which is expected to have serious effects on low and middle-income borrowers of subprime mortgages. As president, Obama will work to eliminate the federal bankruptcy law's Chapter 13 provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying an individual's mortgage payments. This forces individuals who seek bankruptcy protection to continue paying the full amount of their existing mortgage plans. This provision, which provides unique protection to the mortgage industry, places the interests of big lenders over than of low and middle-income Americans. Obama believes that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by outdated federal law.
Crocker, in an impossible political position -- give the correct answer and humiliate the Bush administration; give the administration's answer and look like a fool -- dodged as much as he could. Then Biden forced him down. Crocker: "I would therefore pick Al Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."
Exactly. If you strike for the heart, then there is no need to strike for the body. What Senator Joe Biden did today was force Ambassador Ryan Crocker to admit what Barack Obama has been saying all along -- Bin Laden was the man who attacked us on our soil. What that means is that he is our primary target, and what we did in Iraq was nothing more than a diversion.
When she left the room, the county’s Obama supporters took to the stage and Kennedy entered from a side door.
The seasoned campaigner did not disappoint, first chatting with his audience and then bringing the tired but happy crowd to their feet with his oratory.
"After we have had seven years of the politics of division, after we have had seven years of the politics of fear, after we have had seven years of the politics of special interests, are we going to have someone who can lift us up as a nation," said Kennedy. "We do and that person is Sen. Barack Obama.
Obama can best unite people, young and old alike, throughout the country, and have them work together to solve the problems "because we are Americans," said Kennedy.
Kennedy was his usual self in bringing the crowd to its feet with his oratory in this Philly suburb. Chelsea has already started to display the same kind of political savvy as her father; one trait that she has in common with him is that she likes to mingle with crowds and stay there until she has shaken everyone's hands.
Here's the transcript...
McCain: There are numerous threats to security in Iraq and the future of Iraq. Do you still view Al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
Petraeus: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
McCain: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shiites overall?
Petraeus: No, no sir.
McCain: Or Sunnis or anybody else then? Al Qaeda continues to try to assert themselves in Mosul, is that correct?
Petraeus: It is senator, as you saw on the chart. The area of operation of Al Qaeda has been greatly reduced in terms of controlling areas they controlled as little as a year and a half ago.
And this is the man who would be our next president?? John McCain is not knowledgeable about how many troops are needed to stabilize the situation. John McCain is not knowledgeable about the economy. John McCain is not knowledgeable about the cultural differences between the various ethnic and religious groups within Iraq. So, what else is John McCain not knowledgeable about?
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has done a whole series of investigative reports on how hundreds of local patients are getting expensive liver surgeries that they do not need. From the initial lead story, we learn the following:
Hundreds of patients each year undergo liver transplants when they don't need them, and possibly never will, a four-month Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigation found.
One in 10 of those patients dies when they could have lived longer without the transplant. The rest - all at the rock-bottom of waiting lists - must resign themselves to an early battle with the burdensome risks of anti-rejection drugs and complications that can follow: infections, cancers, kidney damage, and high blood sugar.
What's worse, a third of those patients get the worst available livers, organs sometimes rejected by surgeons for thousands of sicker patients across the country.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and three other centers head the list of hospitals doing such surgeries.
This undermines a lot of key Republican claims about our healthcare system. One of the main Republican objections to a universal system is the long waiting periods under the UK system. But the fact of the matter is that in our system right now, there are already long waiting periods for these kinds of surgeries. Another Republican claim is that we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. As proven by this report, that is not the case at all. I suggest that we are living in a system which is driven by drug companies' desire to maximize their profits, as evidenced by all of the drugs that are needed for these unnecessary surgeries. Hence, we have a clear case here where medical decisions are not being made in the best interest of the patient, but to maximize profit. Under a universal system, such as the one that is championed by Barack Obama, the interest of the patient comes first, rather than the maximization of profit.
See the Day 3 story:
"This is big money," said Dr. Claude Earl Fox, former head of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration from 1997 to 2001.
"You have medical ethics competing with medical economics," said Fox, who is now director of the Florida Public Health Institute. "A lot of transplant surgeons and centers out there are ethical but you've got economics on the other side that really weighs heavily on them. It's a real struggle over what they're going to do."
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.
Not only is John McCain too radical for this country, he does not have the temperament to be President. If we are in some kind of a national crisis, what will it be like when we have a President who does not have the composure to make critical decisions about our country?
GlaxoSmithKline confirmed Tuesday it has received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration related to Avandia, its diabetes treatment, and reporting requirements for approved medicines.
The FDA said the pharmaceutical giant failed to annually update the agency on more than 10 ongoing studies of Avandia, between 2001 and 2007, as required by federal regulations.
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) officials said the company "is committed to taking the appropriate steps to address the concerns raised by the FDA."
The warning letter follows a routine FDA inspection of GSK's reporting processes conducted last year.
GlaxoSmithKline said the observations from the inspection primarily relate to omissions from periodic reports to the FDA regarding Avandia, such as the start and progress of clinical trials, and summaries of final data from some clinical trials.
Paroxetine (Seroxat, Paxil) is an SSRI antidepressant released in 1992 by GlaxoSmithKline. In March 2004 the FDA ordered a black box warning placed on SSRI and other antidepressants, warning of the risk for potential suicidal thinking in children and adolescents. Since the FDA approved paroxetine in 1992, approximately 5,000 U.S. citizens have sued GSK. On January 29 2007, the BBC in the UK broadcast a fourth documentary in its 'Panorama' series about Seroxat. One clinical trial indicated that adolescents were six times more likely to become suicidal after taking it.
In November 2007, a United States Congressional committee released a report  describing intimidation of Dr John Buse (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) by GlaxoSmithKline over his concerns about the cardiovascular risks associated with the company's antidiabetes drug Rosiglitazone (Avandia).
In March 2006, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that "GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will pay $14 million to resolve allegations that state-government programs paid inflated prices for the firm’s anti-depressant drug Paxil because GSK engaged in patent fraud, antitrust violations and frivolous litigation to maintain a monopoly and block generic versions from entering the market."
At the AGM on 19 May 2003, GSK shareholders rejected a motion regarding a £22 million pay and benefits package for CEO, JP Garnier. This was the first time such a rebellion by shareholders against a major British company has occurred, but was regarded as a possible turning point against other so-called "fat cat" deals within executive pay structure.
The company and its shareholders have been targeted by animal rights activists because it is a customer of the controversial animal-testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). HLS has been the subject since 1999 of an international campaign by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ever since footage shot covertly by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which was shown on British television, showed staff punching, kicking, screaming and laughing at the animals in their care. On September 7, 2005, the ALF detonated a bomb containing two litres of fuel and four pounds of explosives on the doorstop of the Buckinghamshire home of Paul Blackburn, GSK's corporate controller, causing minor damage.
In November 2005, AIDS Healthcare Foundation accused the company of boosting its short-term monopoly profit by not increasing production of the anti-AIDS drug AZT despite a surge in demand, hence creating a shortage that affected many AIDS patients in Africa. GSK announced that it had halted clinical trials of the CCR5 entry inhibitor, aplaviroc (GW873140), in HIV-infected, treatment-naive patients because of concerns about severe hepatotoxicity. In June of 2006 GSK said it was further cutting, by about 30%, the not-for-profit prices it charges for some of these medicines in the world's poorest countries.
Lowering Costs by Increasing Competition in the Insurance and Drug Markets: The insurance business today is dominated by a small group of large companies that has been gobbling up their rivals. There have been over 400 health care mergers in the last 10 years, and just two companies dominate a full third of the national market. These changes were supposed to make the industry more efficient, but instead premiums have skyrocketed by over 87 percent.
Barack Obama will prevent companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases. His plan will force insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profits and administration. His new National Health Exchange will help increase competition by insurers.
Lower prescription drug costs.
The second-fastest growing type of health expenses is prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price. Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion.
Finally, Obama will work to increase the use of generic drugs in Medicare, Medicaid, and FEHBP and prohibit big name drug companies from keeping generics out of markets.
Charleston Headquarters Grand Opening:
Saturday, April 12th, 2008
Obama for America Charleston Headquarters
1021 Quarrier St
Charleston, WV 25301
Many in the community don't trust medical authorities because of a legacy of mistreatment, he said. One such example is the infamous "Tuskegee Study," from 1932 to 1972, in which 399 black men were tricked into leaving their syphilis untreated for years while the U.S. Public Health Service studied the effects of the disease on their bodies.
Thomas said some black people who have had organ transplants do not feel comfortable discussing their experience, so that takes away opportunities for others to learn that people of their race benefit from organ donation.
"Far too few African-Americans knew that people who look like them actually are benefiting (from organ donation)," he said.
Tuskegee undermines the Republican argument that our healthcare system is the best in the world and therefore does not need changing. But the fact that we are short of organ donors is a direct result of racism in this country. And not only that, it is widely believed in this country that the government planted AIDS as well as a result of the Tuskegee Experiments. Without racial healing in this country, we will not be able to deliver an effective universal healthcare system because not enough people will trust the medical system enough to donate their organs. And that is what Barack Obama can offer to this country that John McCain cannot -- he offers racial healing, while John McCain has a basic ignorance of our racial wounds.
County Sheriff Pat Hedges has instituted a new policy barring county Animal Services volunteers from making public statements criticizing the shelter or its operations.
The policy comes months after a county employee union complained that derogatory statements about workers were being made within Animal Services, according to Undersheriff Steve Bolts.
Bolts would not elaborate on that incident because it’s a personnel issue. Animal Services is a division of the Sheriff’s Department.
But he said: "It was deemed that it needed to be made clear to volunteers that disparaging remarks about fellow employees were inappropriate and had the potential of creating a hostile work environment."
The new policy also comes after volunteers have stepped up their public complaints to county leaders about what some allege is poor management at Animal Services.
Those complaints led the county Board of Supervisors to spend nearly $23,000 to have the Humane Society of the United States evaluate the agency’s operations.
The society is expected to submit a final report in late June or early July, according to county Administrative Analyst Leslie Brown.
Chief among the 13-page volunteer policy adopted by the Sheriff’s Department last week is a provision that forbids volunteers from making public statements that "criticize, ridicule, or otherwise disparage the (Animal Services) division, its employees, volunteers, or policies."
Under the new policy, volunteers are barred from "addressing any public gathering, appearing on a radio or TV program, writing articles or manuscripts for publication, making Internet postings or any other public or publicly accessible representations as a representative of the division."
A number of longtime volunteers The Tribune tried to reach did not return calls seeking comment.
And this is what John McCain would do on the national level, only he would do it to people, rather than just animals. He would appoint people like Fred Malek in charge of our system; he's the same guy who roasted dogs just for the fun of it. This sort of naked cruelty should be rejected for what it is. The cruelty of people like Malek and the racism of people like the racist George Allen is directly related.
While people like John McCain try to whitewash our slavery history and people like Fred Malek and George Allen perpetuate it, people like Katrina Browne are true American heroes because of their active efforts to come to terms with their own family history and our country's past. This Philadelphia resident, descended from the biggest slave trader in US history, embarks on a journey to reconcile her past.
Her ancestor, James DeWolf, lived at the time of the Revolution and shortly afterward. DeWolf, a slave trader and US Senator, saw Blacks as nothing but subhumans and fodder. For instance, he would throw a diseased slave overboard in order to keep the rest of the crew from getting diseased and thus diminishing their profit. This is what the drug companies of today and people like DeWolf have in common -- they put profits over people. The leadership of the Republican Party is filled with people like Malek who perpetuate this spirit of cruelty that DeWolf brought to this country as well as people like Glaxo who operate with an eerie detachment from the realities of human suffering. And then there are people like John McCain who whitewash everything and act as though everything is OK.
Browne made a movie and wrote a book out of her journey and makes some provocative arguments:
Traces of the Trade follows Browne and nine of her relatives from Bristol to Ghana, where sugar that had been processed into molasses or rum was traded for slaves, and thence to the family plantations in Cuba, where slaves harvested sugar to be sent back to the States. Originally scheduled to screen as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival, Traces' screening has been moved to April 24 to avoid conflict with the Clinton/Obama debate.
Retracing their family's steps, the DeWolf descendents grapple not only with their historical ties to the slave trade, but the present-day legacy of slavery, and what, if any, responsibility they might bear.
Although the movie tells a fascinating and largely unknown story, its most gripping moments are those in which the DeWolfs grapple with their family legacy. In Ghana, in Cuba and back home in Bristol, they hash out their own understanding of what it means to owe part of their current lives to the greatest inhumanity in U.S. history. In one discussion, Jim DeWolf Perry V, a retired Foreign Service officer, bristles at the notion that his family roots might have helped him get into Harvard. But a quick survey reveals that all but one of the 10 DeWolf descendents at the table attended an Ivy League school. (Browne herself is fourth-generation Princeton.)
The DeWolfs benefited directly, but Traces argues that the U.S. owes its very existence to the profits of slave labor. Historian Ronald Bailey says that, without slavery, there might have been no United States of America, quoting John Adams: "I know not why we should blush to confess that molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence." Without molasses, and the slave labor that produced it, the colonies lacked the economic strength to break free of Britain. Adams, a lifelong opponent of slavery, allowed Thomas Jefferson's condemnation of slavery to be cut from the Declaration of Independence in order to assure its passage, and the budding nation further compromised on abolishing the slave trade at the Constitutional Convention, delaying it 20 years. Officially, 2008 marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the American slave trade, although DeWolf and his heirs continued their business long after it was declared illegal.
The institution of slavery allowed us to break away from British rule, yet it is now an institution that continues to haunt us almost 150 years after it was abolished. Somehow, any path to racial healing must involve some sort of coming to terms with our past.
Child marriage affects the health of girls. Child marriage increases a girl's risk of maternal death, infant death, and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Child brides are more likely to suffer childbirth injuries like obstetric fistula, where a mother will constantly leak urine and feces.
Child marriage affects girls' opportunities for education. Girls are often pulled out of grade school to marry.
Child marriage has has economic costs. Child brides are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to get out of poverty.
Girls who marry before the age of eighteen are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence than their peers.
Addressing child marriage will make existing foreign aid projects more effective, reduce maternal and infant deaths, and create healthier, better-educated families.
Yesterday was World Health Day, and persuading our Senators and Congressmen to move this bill forward would help address global health problems worldwide. Obama supporter Jesse Jackson Junior is one of the co-sponsors; here is the list of Congresspeople who have signed on:
Rep. Betty McCollum [D-MN] (sponsor)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin [D-WI]
Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA]
Rep. Lois Capps [D-CA]
Rep. Michael Capuano [D-MA]
Rep. Yvette Clarke [D-NY]
Rep. Joseph Crowley [D-NY]
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT]
Rep. Keith Ellison [D-MN]
Rep. Al Green [D-TX]
Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-AZ]
Rep. Alcee Hastings [D-FL]
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa [D-TX]
Rep. Michael Honda [D-CA]
Rep. Jesse Jackson [D-IL]
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee [D-TX]
Rep. Eddie Johnson [D-TX]
Rep. James McGovern [D-MA]
Rep. Michael McNulty [D-NY]
Rep. Michael Michaud [D-ME]
Rep. Dennis Moore [D-KS]
Rep. James Moran [D-VA]
Rep. Edward Pastor [D-AZ]
Rep. Donald Payne [D-NJ]
Rep. Janice Schakowsky [D-IL]
Rep. Albio Sires [D-NJ]
Rep. Louise Slaughter [D-NY]
Rep. Hilda Solis [D-CA]
Rep. Fortney Stark [D-CA]
Rep. Lee Terry [R-NE]
Rep. Diane Watson [D-CA]
Rep. Henry Waxman [D-CA]
Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D-CA]
In 2006, Pennsylvania’s biodiesel industry looked like it was going to blossom into a strong renewable energy sector. Two years later, the industry is fighting for its survival. During Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s (PFB) Legislative Day at the capitol Wednesday, biodiesel producers and farmers called for change.
One plant facing the risk of closure is Keystone Biofuels in Cumberland County. When the plant started biodiesel production, it was under great fanfare and touted by elected officials as the start of Pennsylvania’s biofuel industry. This week, the plant is only operating at 5 percent of its production capacity.
Ben Wootton, president of Keystone Biofuels, announced 80 percent of the company’s employees have been laid off this past year. In 2006, 23 companies announced they were going to break ground on biodiesel plants. Since then, only three have been built.
"Our biodiesel industry is in serious jeopardy," said PFB President Carl Shaffer.
Rep. David Kessler (D-130) of the House Agriculture Committee said incentive programs of other states have had a negative impact on Pennsylvania’s biodiesel industry. Pennsylvania plants can’t remain viable because of the competitive edge out-of-state plants have.
Wootton said that fluctuating feed prices because of commodity speculation and distribution are other challenges limiting the industry. Consumers are interested in biodiesel, he said, but are unable to find the fuel.
Support Next Generation Biofuels
Deploy Cellulosic Ethanol: Obama will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013.
Expand Locally-Owned Biofuel Refineries: Less than 10 percent of new ethanol production today is from farmer-owned refineries. New ethanol refineries help jumpstart rural economies. Obama will create a number of incentives for local communities to invest in their biofuels refineries.
Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Barack Obama will establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard to speed the introduction of low-carbon non-petroleum fuels. The standard requires fuels suppliers to reduce the carbon their fuel emits by ten percent by 2020.
Increase Renewable Fuel Standard: Obama will require 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be included in the fuel supply by 2022 and will increase that to at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030.