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A Different Kind of Ethanol Plant
This week I visited Appomattox Bio Fuel in Hopewell, VA, a first-of-its-kind ethanol facility that uses barley instead of corn. Unlike corn, winter barley is typically planted on fields that would lie fallow during the winter. This has benefits for both the farmer and the environment. The barley is a new crop to sell, and it soaks up nutrients over the winter preventing nitrogen from entering waterways. Reduced nitrogen runoff would help clean up and restore life to the Chesapeake Bay. There has been some discussion about bringing a barley ethanol facility to Lancaster County. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I'm looking into how federal law affects ethanol production.

Bipartisan Burma Sanctions Renewal Passes the House
This week, the House passed legislation to renew sanctions against the Brutal military dictators in Burma. The regime's human rights violations are horrific. The military junta has destroyed approximately 3,300 ethnic villages, retains the largest army of child soldiers in the world, and relies heavily on forced labor. Over 1 million refugees and 500,000 internally displaced peoples have been forced to flee their homes. I was a primary cosponsor of this bill that was introduced by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY).

Stimulus Jobs Claim Doesn't Hold Up
The President's Council of Economic Advisors issued a report this week claiming that stimulus funding created more than 3 million jobs. Unfortunately, the claim is not supported by the government's own data and outside economic analysis. The Recovery.gov website, which had problems earlier in the year with overestimating jobs, says that only 680,000 jobs were created by the bill. The number of jobs was calculated by assuming that each dollar of government spending would create $2.50 of economic growth. However, Harvard economist Richard Barro finds that each dollar actually creates a maximum of $0.70 of economic growth.

House Votes to Eliminate Wasteful Road Signs
This week the House voted on a Republican motion to prevent further funds for road signs promoting the stimulus act. Over $20 million has already been allocated for signs stating that certain road projects have been funded with stimulus dollars. These temporary signs could ultimately costs nearly $100 million. I think we should be spending money on infrastructure projects, not signs that will have no use once a project is completed. The motion was defeated, but with the support of every Republican Member of 11 Democrats.

Op-ed of the Week: A Plan for Jobs
This week the President's Council of Economic Advisors released a report claiming that the 2009 Stimulus Act had created or "saved" 3 million jobs. They further stated that the Act would be responsible for 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year. Coincidentally, this is the exact number of jobs predicted by the Council when the bill was passed.


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