The expanding use of ethanol in U.S. oil production, prompted by government mandates that require the use of biofuel in gasoline, is escalating the price of corn while plaguing poor countries with rising food prices. Critics worldwide are now questioning the federal government’s ethanol mandates, as the use of American-produced corn for biofuel has added more than $6.5 billion to the food import bills of developing countries, particularly in North Africa and Central America.
A financially strapped Massachusetts-based firm that manufactures batteries for electric cars, which reaped some $240 million in federal stimulus money, is being rescued by a Chinese manufacturing behemoth, owned by renowned Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu. A123 Systems, which was awarded a $241.1-million grant from the Obama administration and more than $125 million in state of Michigan tax credits, was once touted for its purported commitment to create thousands of jobs, while helping curb the use of conventional gas-powered vehicles and transitioning to a more “green” energy environment.
But according to a company press release, the lithium battery maker is handing its operational reins over to Wanxiang Group Corporation, China’s largest automotive components manufacturer and one of the country’s largest non-government-owned firms.
Gasoline prices in California have escalated to record highs, spiking 50 cents a gallon in a week and prompting Governor Jerry Brown to advocate laxer smog rules so oil refineries can boost supplies of less expensive fuel blends. Regular gasoline in the state has soared to an average of $4.67 a gallon, a staggering 22 percent higher than the national average, according to AAA’s nationwide fuel price survey.
The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 continue to claim lives more than a year and a half later, not from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, but from forced evacuations in areas that received insignificant amounts of radiation.
Shareholders of Canadian oil firm Nexen voted Thursday to favor a $15.1-billion takeover that would place the company into the hands of the Chinese state-owned CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation), although the merger still requires approval by the Canadian government. In a 99-percent assenting vote, shareholders approved the $27.50 per-share offer, bestowing China with its largest overseas energy acquisition ever.