Energy & Environment: Markey Wants Answers on Rare Earths
• Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., "is pressing the Obama administration for information about alleged Chinese restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals used in defense and energy technologies, warning of threats to U.S. interests," The Hill reports.
• "Three months after BP capped its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico, the state of Louisiana is still building a chain of sand berms off its coast to block and capture oil even as federal officials and many scientists argue that the effort will prove pointless," the New York Times reports.
• An Idaho couple has "sued the state to stop the shipments by Imperial Oil and ConocoPhillips" to an oil sands site in Canada, "arguing that the" truck loads delivered there "would threaten the integrity of Idaho's historic portion of U.S. 12, as well as the safety of communities that depend on it as the main road in and out of the area," the Times also reports. "National environmental groups and climate change activists are supporting their efforts, seeing a broader opportunity to stall development of Canada's oil sands, which they denounce as a dirty source of energy. "
• "Combating climate change has long taken a back seat to coal production in West Virginia, but in the hard-fought House race in this state's 1st district, global warming hasn't even made it onto the bus," The Hill reports. "In interviews on Thursday, both the Democratic and Republican nominees for Congress voiced skepticism of the science behind global warming, and the Republican, David McKinley, flatly called concerns about climate change 'an attack on coal.'"
Biography provided by participant
Joel Velasco is Chief Representative in North America of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). UNICA is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil and represents nearly two-thirds of all sugarcane production and processing in the country. Due to an elaborate system of subsidies and trade barriers erected by the U.S. Congress, including a 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol and a 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol with gasoline, sugarcane ethanol is effectively unavailable in the United States. This current policy expires December 31, 2010.
Based in Washington, DC, Mr. Velasco oversees UNICA's efforts to expand the North American ethanol and sugar markets. Previously, he was Managing Director of Stonebridge International, an advisory firm. Prior to that, he served as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Velasco served as a personal aide for Vice President Al Gore.
A dual-national of Brazil and the United States and fluent in both languages, he has worked a broad spectrum of issues ranging from trade to regional security. Educated both in Brazilian and American schools, Mr. Velasco received a masters degree at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, focusing his studies on the political-economy of the Southern Cone.