Monday AM March 3rd, 2008

Congressman Nick Lampson’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment holds field hearing at Rice University…Houston firm receives money from Emerging Technology Fund…Treasury Secretary would like to see the penny disappear…


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Congressman LampsonHouston will play a vital roll in addressing energy challenges, according to Congressman Nick Lampson. He held a field hearing at Rice University to explore how the energy industry and cities like Houston are approaching energy supply and security, global climate change and rapid economic growth.

“This is our chance to take our show on the road and to hear from local leaders and experts who just happen to be the international authorities in their fields. And then, to get these important perspectives on the congressional record for the benefit of Congress, as we continue what will be an endless effort to craft good energy policies.”

Congressman Ralph Hall says we shouldn’t be shy about pursuing new reserves and cutting-edge technologies.

“There’s a war on energy today. It’s in vogue to knock energy. It’s in vogue to knock fossil fuels. It’s a shame because we have to rely on fossil fuels for a long, long time. It makes sense to, and if we don’t wise up pretty soon and start drilling Anwar and start drilling offshore and pay attention to the ultradeep legislation that Nick helped pass and know that we have to rely on fossil fuels for a while. Of course we have to keep seeking technology. Because of that water, China is allowed to be off the coast of Florida with the help of Cuba, and we can’t drill there. There’s just something wrong with that.”

Congressman Gene Green says the challenge includes obtaining energy from a variety of sources, with enhanced efficiency and the use of technology.

“I’ve always believed that a balanced energy policy must have three basic points: energy conservation and efficiency, research and development and new clean energy technologies and environmentally-responsible domestic energy production. First, the simplest, most effective way to reduce our need for energy is to consume energy and use it more efficiently. With new technologies, conservation does not necessarily mean doing without.”

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland says indicators have been around for some time that dwindling global energy supplies threaten economic stability.

“The International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration issued a recent report showing that oil production worldwide has been flat for at least the last 30 months. During those 30 months, oil went up to $100 a barrel. I say that we shouldn’t be here today talking about this because we have now blown 28 years when we should have been anticipating this and doing something about it.”

The field hearing was a meeting of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, chaired by Congressman Lampson.

A Texas Emerging Technology investment of $750,000 has been earmarked for Houston-based OrthoAccel Technologies to further develop and commercialize an orthodontic device. The removable device cuts treatment time for braces in half by applying cyclic forces to move teeth faster through accelerated bone remodeling, and is only worn 20 minutes per day.

Kroger opened its new signature store in Spring over the weekend. The new facility on Rayford has 81,000 square feet, and features a health and beauty department. It has a sushi bar, an organic food department and a pharmacy. A wine steward helps with wine selections. Kroger’s southwest division operates 213 stores in Texas and Louisiana.

Koll Development of Dallas plans a $50 million industrial project on Texas Highway 3 across from Ellington Field, with construction beginning in April. Completion of the first phase is set for December. AmREIT is acquiring Shadow Creek Ranch Town Center in Pearland. And BHP Billiton Petroleum is increasing the space it leases in the Galleria area by 30 percent. It will also occupy space in the BHP Tower and Central Tower on Post Oak.

Dell executives say it’s too early to judge the success of their latest push into the consumer PC market. But the computer maker’s latest financial results show that the company still has a long way to go to restore its once golden image on Wall Street. Dell is the world’s number two PC maker. But it’s promising an aggressive cost-cutting campaign. That means more layoffs on top of the 3,200 jobs already eliminated in the past year. And it is counting on growth in emerging markets to offset softness in the United States, where customers such as financial-services firms are reining in technology spending. The company said that its fourth-quarter profit dropped 6.4 percent, to $679 million.

Shares of Dean Foods slipped to a yearlong low after the dairy processor announced it would sell new stock. That move would dilute the value of current shares. Dallas-based Dean says it will sell about 18.7 million shares in a public offering that is expected to close Wednesday. The offering will increase the number of shares outstanding by about 13 percent. The company also reiterated its earnings forecast for the first quarter and all of this year. It said the stock offering would have only a “modest impact” on profit for the year. Dean says it will use proceeds from the stock offering to pay off debt and for general corporate purposes, including future investments or acquisitions.

If he had his way, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the penny would be history. Paulson tells Chicago radio station WGN that the coin is the “worth less than any other currency” and that it would make sense to eliminate it. Still, Paulson says he’s not planning on tackling the penny anytime soon. He says he doesn’t think it’s “politically doable,” and adds that he has enough challenges to take on in the final year of the Bush administration. When asked about Paulson’s comments, a treasury spokeswoman says the department hasn’t taken any steps to get rid of the coin, but is considering changing its metal content to cut production costs. The spokeswoman says treasury is looking to make the change because of the growing cost of making pennies.

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