Drax plans early 2013 start on wood pellet plant in Gloster

 

Drax Biomass International Inc. plans to build a 450,000 metric ton per year wood pellet production facility in Gloster, in southwest Mississippi’s Amite County.

The facility, to be known as Amite BioEnergy, represents a substantial multi-million dollar investment by the company and will create 45 direct jobs, as well as additional indirect jobs during construction and in the transportation and forestry sectors once the plant is operational, state economic development officials say.

Drax Biomass is a development and operating company focused on manufacturing wood pellets for renewable, low-carbon power generation from sustainable biomass. The company is a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Drax Grou p plc, a major electricity generator in the United Kingdom with a commitment to producing renewable power.

Drax Biomass CEOr Chuck Davis said Drax plans to start constriction the first part of 2013. “Drax Biomass is focused on building and operating a clean, safe manufacturing facility that will support the local economy, create long-term jobs and interface with the local forest industry,” he said in a press statement.

 

Big Banks Flunk Office of Comptroller of Currency Risk Tests

Te Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently graded the 19 largest national banks on five factors designed to gauge how well they are being run.

 

The results are startling, BankInvestmentConsultant.com reports.

 

Not a single bank met the OCC’s requirements for internal auditing, risk management or succession planning. Only two of the 19 banks met the regulator’s requirements for defining the company’s appetite for risk-taking and communicating it across the company. Only two banks were judged to have boards of directors willing to stand up to their CEOs.

Read the story.

Bill Crawford: Gov. Bryant suggests a frugal budget for state

Bill Crawford

Gov. Phil Bryant has recommended a frugal, balanced budget to the Legislature, saying, “We must take a balanced approach and spend only the money we have.”

Highlights of his recommendation include:

>> $24 million in new spending to improve education outcomes;

>> $8.5 million in new spending to expand and upgrade the Mississippi Highway Patrol;

>> Tax reform to benefit small businesses;

>> Reducing the state’s bonded indebtedness;

>> Level funding for schools, colleges, and universities; and

>> 1.5 percent cuts for most other agencies.

“As Mississippi continues to recover from several consecutive years of stifled growth,” he said, “we must make necessary adjustments and strive to do more with less.”

Unlike his predecessor’s last two budget proposals, however, Bryant’s proposal recommends no bold steps to restructure or shrink the size of state government. There was no recommendation to combine agencies, such as the State Forestry Commission with the Department of Agriculture and Commerce; no recommendation for government entities to merge and share back office operations; no recommendation to reduce school districts to one per county; no recommendation to shift the Department of Transportation Enforcement Division to Department of Public Safety; no recommendation to temporarily lift State Personnel Board oversight to allow agency heads to rightsize staffing; and, so on.

Rather than cut and prune state government, Bryant apparently prefers to squeeze non-priority agencies for needed money.

One of those budget components he wants to squeeze is debt service. “We are spending $376 million of general funds on debt service,” he said. He proposes to cap the state’s bonded indebtedness by issuing no more bonds than retire each year. Then, he plans to reduce overall debt by moving some items to a pay-as-you-go basis.

The governor also wants to halt the process of using one-time funds to pay for ongoing expenses, calling that “an unsustainable practice.”

“We must commit ourselves to reaching our goals through prioritizing spending, avoiding undue regulation and taxation and adhering to sustainable budgeting practices,” said Bryant.

For years Bryant has touted performance-based budgeting. “A performance-based budgeting system will make government more efficient and effective by funding agencies based on performance, not politics,” he said.

During his time as lieutenant governor, the Legislature failed to implement Bryant’s performance-based budgeting system. His new budget includes $250,000 for the state auditor to measure state spending against stated agency performance standards as a step towards a new system.

“When we tie our spending to results, we stop spending money on things that do not work, and tax dollars are put to use where they make the most impact.”

While Bryant can recommend, only the Legislature can enact a budget. How much of this the Legislature will agree to remains to be seen.

>> Bill Crawford (crawford@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

Award for worst national news flub of year goes to…

Remember the morning of the “Individual Mandate” fiasco back in July?

News producers at CNN and Fox News certainly do. Now it’s time for them to wince anew. The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank and training center, has given the two news networks “error of the year” distinction for reports that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Had reporters for either of the news outlets read further into the court’s ruling before rushing onto the air, they would have found the court had indeed upheld the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance coverage.

Poynter notes that CNN showed professionalism by admitting its mistake, correcting the record and apologizing for the flub. Fox News, on the other hand, pouted that it “reported the facts.”

Only problem with that excuse is that “facts” as reported by Fox were bogus.

Here’s the Poynter report.