Showing posts with label obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obama. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

HAMP adjustments may help struggling homeowners

The Obama administration on Friday announced adjustments to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program to assist homeowners struggling to meet their mortgage obligations.  The program adjustments target three groups: Unemployed homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments; underwater homeowners; and homeowners behind on their payments and seeking loan modifications.

Unemployed homeowners may qualify for three to six months of reduced payments while searching for new employment.  During this time, payments will be reduced to 31 percent of their current gross monthly income.  To qualify, borrowers must, among other things, be living in their homes, have loan balances less than $729,750, provide verification of unemployment benefits, and request assistance within 90 days of delinquency on the mortgage.

Underwater homeowners—those who owe more than their home currently is worth—may be eligible for a new FHA refinance option that will allow those who are current on their mortgage payments to refinance their mortgages into new FHA-insured loans equal to no more than 115 percent of their home’s current value.  The difference between the original loan balance and the new balance gradually will be forgiven if the homeowner remains current on payments for three years.

Homeowners seeking mortgage modifications under HAMP may be eligible for mortgage principal reductions.  Although lenders always have had the option to do so, many have chosen instead to reduce interest rates.  However, under the new guidelines, lenders reducing mortgage principal may receive higher financial incentives. The incentives will be paid jointly by the private sector and the federal government through a $50 billion allocation from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

The program changes are expected to go into effect in the fall.  However, a measure to offer larger incentives to lenders who facilitate short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, as well as assistance for unemployed homeowners, will be in place within a few weeks or months, according to the administration. 

More info


Federal tax credit update
Time is running out on the federal tax credits for first-time and repeat buyers. First-time buyers who enter a binding contract by April 30 and close escrow before July 1—and meet the income limits—are eligible for the full $8,000 credit (maximum, or 10 percent of the sales price, whichever is less) on their federal tax returns. The first-time home buyer credit applies to homes purchased for $800,000 or less, and does not require repayment if buyers live in the residence for three or more years. 

Existing homeowners may be eligible for a tax credit (10 percent of the purchase price, not to exceed $6,500).  To be eligible for this credit, homeowners must have lived in their current home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years and must enter a contract to purchase a new or existing home by April 30, 2010.  Existing homeowners do not need to sell their current home to qualify for this credit, but must close escrow before by June 30, 2010. For complete details on these credits, qualifications, income levels and income phase-outs, visit “Legal Q&As” at

Please note that “Tax Credits Set to Expire,” an article which appeared in the March/April “issue of California Real Estate magazine, is available in downloadable format at The article has been updated to correct misinformation that appeared in the print edition.

More info

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Waste-To-Energy System Could Mean Big Savings

IST Energy Corp. launched a waste-to-energy system into the consumer market that cleanly converts trash into electricity and gas heat.

The GEM3T120 can process up to three tons of paper, plastic, food, wood and agricultural materials daily into pellets. The resulting energy from these pellets is enough to power and heat a 200,000 square foot building housing more than 500 people. With no disposal costs for the waste it processes and the energy produced, IST estimates the GEM creates an annual energy cost savings of about $250,000.

"The GEM is the right product at the right time," said Stu Haber, president and CEO of IST Energy. "The GEM has created a value for every bag of trash we generate - first by eliminating the need for disposal and then by converting it into energy."

"This model can save businesses, institutions and municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars annually," Haber added. "Never have sustainability and environmental stewardship been more of a focal point for Americans, especially considering President Obama's goals for energy independence."

The GEM can save consumers big bucks, but the benefits of using the system are not only financial. The GEM is eco-friendly and carbon negative, diminishing greenhouse gases by 540 tons annually. In fact, the system powers itself with the clean energy it produces.

Venues that are ideal for the GEM include:

Amusement parks
Arenas and stadiums
Large apartment complexes
Office buildings and industrial plants
City transfer stations

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Most Important Barack Obama Appointee: EPA Administrator Short List

Written by Jennifer Lance

President-Elect Barack Obama will inherit a host of problems from outgoing President Bush. From an economy in recession to the Iraq War, cleaning up from eight years of the worst US president is a immense task. Obama has already selected many former rivals, such as Hilary Clinton, for his cabinet, but the most important appointee he will make is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although the EPA administrator is not a cabinet level position, this may change as Obama faces the crisis of climate change.

Under the Bush administration, the EPA has loss all credibility as an agency that protects Americans from air and water pollution.
According to the Washington Post,

“…over the past eight years, many career employees and rank-and-file scientists have clashed with Bush appointees over a number of those of issues, including whether the federal government should allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions from automobiles…”

Obama has vowed to bring integrity back to the agency by reversing Bush’s executive orders:

“I think the slow chipping away against clean air and clean water has been deeply disturbing. Much of it hasn’t gone through Congress. It was done by fiat. That is something that can be changed by an administration, in part by reinvigorating the EPA, which has been demoralized.”

The importance of who is selected to lead the EPA is so profound, Obama is considering elevating the position to cabinet-level status. In fact, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, believes,

“The most important challenge facing the new administration is making serious progress on global warming pollution. That includes specific steps such as regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.”
Who will Obama chose for this formidable task? The following is a shortlist of possible EPA candidates being discussed in the mainstream media:

Kathleen McGinty-Former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Head: McGinty served as a top environmental official under President Clinton, and she has promoted renewable energy legislation in Pennsylvania while working with utility companies.
Mary Nichols-California Air Resources Board Leader: Another former Clinton official, Nichols is working on the development of rules to limit heat-trapping emissions from power plants in California. Nichols is Senator Boxer’s top pick for the job.
Ian Bowles-Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Leader: Bowles worked with officials from other Northeast U.S. states to open the first American market for trading greenhouse gas permits.
Kathleen Sibelius-Kansas Governor: Sebelius vetoed the Kansas legislature’s attempt to overrule the denial of a permit to expand a coal-fired power plant.
Lisa Jackson-New Jersey Environmental Commissioner: Jackson is the current co-chair of Barack Obama’s environmental transition team. She has worked at the EPA for 15 years and has focused on hazardous waste clean up and enforcement in New Jersey.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.-Environmental Lawyer: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is probably the most well-known candidate on the shortlist:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River.

According to Stop Global Warming, Lisa Jackson is the leading candidate to head Obama’s EPA, but no matter who gets the job, the task of curbing the effects of climate change immediately is monumental. Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, explained, “During the last eight years, we have made precious little progress against air pollution and we’ve missed some opportunities.” We can’t afford to miss any more opportunities.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ID Theft

Notification Laws Doesn't Slow Identity Theft

In 2003, California's SB 1386 went into law. The law required businesses that suffered data breaches to disclose the breach to all those exposed. The idea was that notifying people would reduce identity theft. Over the last five years, 42 other states had enacted similar laws. But have these laws had an impact on the rates of identity theft?

According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University the answer is no. Researches could find not statistical link between the breach notification laws and rates of identity theft.

The conclusion matches what I would expect. Data breaches are not the same as data thefts. A data breach is most likely just an error and the data usually ends up in the trash. A data theft is the result of a deliberate act where the data is most likely being used for nefarious purposes.

Laws should allow some flexibility for a business to alert consumers when a real theft occurs but doesn't raise an undue scare for a lost tape that can only be read by a few machines.

Read More.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

AMERICANS WILL THROW OUT more than 12 million tons of electronic equipment next year according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., estimates. Without programs to recycle this electronic waste (e-waste), the old computers, televisions, cell phones, and other devices made of plastic, metal, glass and toxic chemicals will begin to choke the nation's landfills.

To prevent this problem, the EPA has conducted several electronics recycling (e-cycling) pilot programs in conjunction with local governments and retailers. The lessons learned from these pilots can aid in establishing permanent e-cycling programs nationwide.
The first EPA pilot tested the effectiveness of curbside collection and drop-off e-waste locations in Mid-Atlantic states between Oct. 1, 2001, and Dec. 30, 2002. Pilot participants included the EPA's Philadelphia office; environmental agencies from several states and the District of Columbia; local solid waste departments; electronics manufacturers; electronic recycling companies; and private waste management companies.

The participants shared the e-cycling program's $1.9 million price tag, with the largest share — $1.4 million — falling on state environmental agencies and local governments. “This was the first time we came up with a system of shared financial responsibilities to pay for, collect and deliver recyclable electronics,” says Claudette Reed, a scientist in the waste and chemicals management division of the EPA's Philadelphia office.

By sharing the burden of managing e-cycling programs, the EPA hopes the cost of hosting such programs will be viewed as reasonable by all groups involved.

According to the pilot's final report, the undertaking also yielded five lessons. First, aggressive advertising is critical to the success of an e-cycling program. In the pilot, local governments targeted advertisements at residents using television, newspapers, Web sites, flyers, posters and utility bill stuffers. During the 15-month pilot, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority alone spent $40,000 on advertising.

The pilot also taught the EPA that residents are generally willing to pay small end-of-life fees in the range of $2 to $5 to help pay for e-cycling.

The EPA also learned that permanent collection programs are more cost-effective than single-day collection events.

Additionally, a pilot program can serve as a catalyst for local governments to create permanent e-cycling programs. For example, the success of the pilot led officials in Lebanon County, Pa., to establish a permanent curbside electronics collection program. In Frederick County, Va., a successful drop-off event has led to plans for a series of e-cycling events.
Finally, the pilot confirmed that a high volume of residential and small-business electronic devices is available for collection and recycling.

Another EPA pilot begun in the Pacific Northwest now is operating nationally, thanks to Del Ray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) based in Palo Alto, Calif. In this pilot, Office Depot agreed to take back old electronics through its national store network. HP then joined the program to see how it might contribute to current company recycling efforts, which break down old products for reuse.

While results have not yet been reported for this pilot, Katharine Osdoba, product stewardship team leader for the EPA, notes two points of interest. To date, recyclers have not found ways to make e-cycling profitable. If manufacturers can receive the materials directly and reuse them to manufacture new products, the economics may work better, she says. The EPA also is hoping that manufacturers interested in recycled electronic materials will begin working on green product designs to reduce toxic materials and make recycling easier.

In a third pilot, the EPA is exploring whether retailers are practical collection points for e-cycling. The EPA, office product retailer Staples, based in Framingham, Mass., and the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute operated the program. In this pilot, consumers returned used electronics to Staples, which transported the materials to central warehouses for pickup by recyclers. “Finding ways to move materials to a point where recyclers can pick [them] up in bulk has been a problem,” Osdoba says. “We're waiting for data on the pilot to see whether this approach might work.”

In the meantime, California and Maine have decided not to wait for pilot results and passed legislation governing e-waste. The California legislation mirrors existing state legislation for recycling tires, batteries and other difficult-to-recycle products. In California, consumers purchasing electronics products will pay recycling fees to retailers at the point of purchase. The fees will go to state environmental regulatory agencies, which in turn fund recycling programs and enforcement.

Maine's legislation takes a different tack. It will begin as a traditional state-funded recycling program. However, within a few years, the program will be funded by manufacturers instead of the state. “This is consistent with programs in Europe and Japan,” says Kevin McCarthy, vice president of government affairs with Houston-based Waste Management Inc.

Today, the search for e-waste solutions is just a few years old. It began when the EPA formed the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) in 2001. Members include electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, and state and local governments.
NEPSI aims to develop ways to collect, reuse and recycle used electronics, and to suggest incentives to stimulate source-reduction, reuse, recycle, reduce toxicity and increase recycled content in product design. Additionally, the organization has attempted to discuss financing mechanisms for e-cycling, but this has been a contentious issue.

Nevertheless, NEPSI discussions and pilot programs similar to those conducted by the EPA are characteristic of the development of national regulatory programs, Osdoba says. As groups and pilot programs define options, states will draw on that information to develop legislation. After several states have weighed-in on the issue, the federal government likely will develop national legislation defining minimum e-cycling standards, using the most sensible state programs as a benchmark. With federal legislation in place, states then will be able to enforce or raise the minimum standards to suit their needs, she says.

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