American Elephants

Huge Deposits of Rare Earth Minerals Found in Pacific. by The Elephant's Child

Dysprosium, gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, neodymium, xenotime, cerium and lanthanum are the names of just some of the rare earth minerals that most of us have never heard of, yet are suddenly extremely important.  Rare earths are vital for making a range of high-technology electronics, magnets and batteries.  China accounts for 97 percent of global rare earth supplies and has been tightening the trade in strategic metals and causing an explosion in prices.

Introduction to economics—supply and demand.  When there’s lots of demand and one source controls the supply— they can charge whatever they want.  Conversely — high prices send others looking for more supply.

Unexpectedly — Vast deposits of rare earth minerals have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said last week.

“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths.  Just one square kilometer (o.4 square mile for Americans) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.

The team led by Kato and researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology found minerals in sea mud extracted from depths of 3,500 to 6,000 meters (11,500-20,000 feet) below the ocean surface at 78 locations.  One-third of the sites yielded rich contents of rare earths and the metal yttrium. The deposits are in international waters in an area stretching east and west of Hawaii, as well as east of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Kato estimated rare earths contained in the deposits amounted to 80 to 100 billion tonnes, compared to global reserves currently confirmed by the US Geological survey of just 110 million tonnes that have been found mainly in China,Russia and other former Soviet countries and the United States.

Japan accounts for a third of global demand, and  has been looking to diversify their supply sources, particularly of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium used in magnets. “Sea mud can be pumped up from the ocean floor to ships and we can extract rare earths right there using simple acid leaching, and the process is fast,” Kato said.

The sea mud is especially rich in gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium which are used to manufacture flat-screen TVs, LED valves, and hybrid cars.   Here is a visual guide to some rare earth elements that shows how they are used, and what they look like.

I know only slightly more than I did before I heard of these elements, but if I hear someone in conversation mentioning gadolinium, I can smile brightly and say,”Oh yes, rare earths. Used in my flat-screen TV,” That will impress them.

Truckers Will Pay $138.7 Billion for Fuel This Year, But It Will Really Cost Consumers! by The Elephant's Child

Are you noticing the rising prices in the grocery store? Manufacturers try to hide the increases by making packages smaller, yet raising the cost per ounce.  Sugar used to come in 5 lb. packages, now it comes in 4 lb. packages.  Ice cream is now sold in a 1½ pint carton instead of 1 quart.  Some cereal boxes have become thinner.

A new study from the Consumer Energy Alliance blames the lack of a national energy policy for America’s economic troubles.  Higher prices are costing jobs, and higher prices are putting a strain on struggling families. 3.7 million jobs have been lost because of high energy prices.

Higher energy costs means that costs of anything that is transported go up, and jobs are lost. Industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and transportation are strained as well by endless regulation and red tape including restricted access to energy. Truckers spent $163.4 billion for fuel in 20089.

The offshore energy potential of the United States is estimated conservatively at 45 billion barrels of oil and 183 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to power 60 million vehicles for 25 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 57 years.  Although demand is increasing, but we only explore in about 15 percent of the nation’s offshore areas.

Offshore energy production would bring in billions for the U.S. Treasury.  The decline in production in the Gulf of Mexico from the government refusal to issue permits could cost the federal government more than $1 billion in revenue this year.  President Obama has gone for window dressing like releasing 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which is designed to be there for emergencies.  The emergency seems to be the effect of the rising price of gas on Obama’s reelection hopes.  The Obama administration is denying Americans access to domestic oil — in spite of Obama’s oft-stated claim that we have to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

  • Production in the western Gulf of Mexico has dropped nearly one-third of a million barrels per day since last April.
  • Increased production in 2010 is the result of increased horizontal drilling in North Dakota.
  • We cannot drill off the Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast or the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
  • The US Environmental Appeals Board has withheld air quality permits preventing Shell from moving forward to develop 27 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Alaska.
  • Because of the decline in allowed production in Alaska, the oil pipeline may have to be shut down, leaving it unavailable for future drilling.

CEA’s report also estimates the economic cost for other industries, including the benefits of new nuclear power plants.  Their 52-stage study is available here.

No one in the federal government seems able to understand how high energy prices play out through the economy. Refuse to issue drilling permits, and those who were working on offshore rigs are out of work, workers who supply offshore rigs are out of work, restaurants and stores who serve oil field workers and their suppliers lay off people or go out of business.  Revenue to the treasury from production does not go to the treasury. Lack of revenue to the treasury means that the President wants to raise taxes to get more revenue so he can spend more on subsidizing green energy.  Green energy requires generous subsidies to stay in business.  If the subsidies are not forthcoming, they lay off their workers.  The higher costs of energy raise the cost of everything, costing more jobs throughout the economy. And so it goes.

There is plenty of evidence for all these effects, but liberals are singularly uninterested in evidence.  All these cascading effects of their policies occur so — unexpectedly!

Careless Mistakes Can Have Big Consequences! by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday on American Independence Day, British Prime Minister David Cameron found himself addressing U.S. Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.  July 4 is an odd moment for British leaders, as Americans are celebrating an historic military and political defeat for Britain.

The Daily Telegraph took up the story:

“Maybe if one of my predecessors hadn’t screwed up so badly, we’d all be one army,” Mr. Cameron said.

Graciously done sir.

Lord North has a lot to answer for, but we’re grateful.

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