Wednesday is Whitmer’s 180-day deadline for Enbridge to halt operations at the Straits of Mackinac, though the Calgary, Alberta-based petroleum transport giant has said it won’t comply unless ordered by a federal judge or its regulators, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
In mid-November, Whitmer revoked the 68-year-old easement agreement that has given Enbridge and its predecessors the right to operate the 4-mile underwater pipelines on the bed of Lake Michigan since the Eisenhower administration.
On Tuesday, Whitmer sent an Enbridge executive a letter warning that if the state is to prevail in court that it would consider any continued operation of Line 5 beyond Wednesday a form of trespassing on state land. The governor said the state would then seek to be compensated from Enbridge’s daily profits for operating the pipeline without a legal easement agreement in place.
The Democratic governor and environmental groups have long argued Enbridge’s aging pipelines are an ecological threat to the Great Lakes in the event there were ever an oil spill. Line 5 itself has never had a rupture or leak of oil at the Straits of Mackinac.
The coalition of chambers argued Wednesday that shutting down Line 5 without a viable plan alternative plan for transporting its light sweet crude oil and natural gas liquids to refineries in Detroit, Toledo, Sarnia, Ontario, and as far east as Montreal would be disastrous for energy markets.
“The Chambers expect that if the segment of Line 5 is shut down as proposed, the interstate and international effects will be substantial,” the group wrote in its amicus brief. “Their members will face at best, significant strains on their businesses due to inflated energy prices, and will almost certainly face energy emergencies for propane, gasoline, jet fuel, and other products on which they depend and that flow and are processed across state lines and the international boundary with Canada.”
In their fight to shut down Line 5, the Whitmer administration and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel have not laid out a plan for how to get Line 5’s oil and natural gas liquids to refineries.
Energy industry and business groups have long said it would require thousands of oil tanker trucks crossing the Mackinac Bridge daily to replicate the volume of petroleum products that flow through Line 5 each day.
In a Wednesday morning news conference on Zoom with executives from the other chambers of commerce, Michigan Chamber CEO Rich Studley said using barges to transport oil on the Great Lakes would be an “insanely bad idea.”
Using railroads to transport the oil would require “mile and miles and miles of railroad cars,” Studley said.
“Oil transported by rail is 4.5 times more likely to encounter a spill, where as a product transported by tanker trunk is 10 times more likely (to spill),” said Aaron Henry, senior director of natural resources and sustainable growth for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The National Propane Gas Association says 55 percent of Michigan’s annual propane supply comes from Line 5’s natural gas liquids that are fractionated by Plains Midstream Canada in Sarnia and the Upper Peninsula town of Rapid River. About three-quarters of Michigan’s propane is used for residential heating, according to ICF International.
Michigan propane wholesalers also get natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and Gulf Coast pipelines that lead to Chicago, according to industry officials.
“Michigan uses more propane than any state in the country and depends heavily not just on in-state propane production facilities,” the coalition of chambers wrote in the legal brief.
About 18 percent of Michigan’s petroleum products are refined at the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit, the state’s lone refinery. The rest comes from other states, including Ohio refineries that are supplied by Enbridge’s Line 5, which runs through the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, according to the chambers’ legal brief.
Oil extracted from northern Lower Peninsula wells is added into Line 5 in the northern Lower Peninsula town of Lewiston.
PBF Energy’s refinery in Toledo has said it relies on Line 5 to produce jet fuel for Detroit Metropolitan Airport and airports in Toledo, Akron, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind.; Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh.
Both the BP-Husky PBF Energy refineries in Toledo will shut down and lay off 3,000 workers if oil stops flowing in Line 5 through Michigan, said Andrew Doehrel, president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
“The impact it would have across the country would be enormous,” Doehrel said.
The 5 Best Digital Marketing Strategies to Empower Your Business
4 min read
How digital marketing can change the game
Digital marketing is cost-effective and easily measured. With analytics, you can see near real-time results. You can also employ A/B testing and experiment until you find what works best for your particular business. Digital marketing allows you to move more rapidly than ever before. Plus, you’re able to forge more personal relationships with potential customers.
1. Create a killer content strategy
80% of shoppers say they prefer to receive company information via articles over advertisements. That means they’d prefer to gather information about your brand organically rather than through ads. What’s more, educating buyers has been proven to help convert sales. So take time to study your analytics and your competition. Make a list of topics that relate to your business and your target audience. Then, create content that aims to provide value to your customers. Whether you share the content on your blog or social media, be sure to track how it does and adjust your content plan as you go. Pay close attention to shares and tags – this type of organic spreading is key.
2. Make the most of your email list
Email marketing can have an ROI as high as $44 for every $1 spent. There’s huge potential there. So focus on building your email list – offer a discount or free download in exchange for emails. Host contests and giveaways, and shamelessly plug your newsletter. As you plan your email marketing strategy, keep subject lines short and make emails interactive with gifs and polls. With emails, short and sweet is the name of the game. Include personalized details and make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Finally, make sure you have a strong landing page for any click throughs, so you can close the sale.
3. Use social media to create relationships
Most people under the age of 65 are on at least one social media platform. Social media is an excellent place to share content and build a reputation. Customers use social media to inform their purchasing decisions as well: 54% of people on social media use it to research before purchasing. 71% say social media referrals make them more likely to purchase. So don’t miss out on the free advertising you get from having social media profiles. While you’re there, study the analytics and demographics to ensure you’re sharing the right content for your target audience.
4. Step up for a social cause
If you’re not sure what to share on your blog or social media, share about any social causes you stand for. Maybe you donate a portion of sales to a certain charity. Maybe you have a monthly volunteer day for your employees. Perhaps you’re going plastic-free with your packaging – whatever it is, share content that relates to the cause. Share why you care and how your audience can get involved. Most importantly, share how you’ll continue to support in the future and the impact of your support.
5. Use remarketing/retargeting
Have you ever googled something and then seen ads for it everywhere afterward? That’s because of remarketing, also known as retargeting. Using this tactic makes site visitors 70% more likely to buy. It works by displaying ads on other sites to people who have already visited your webpage, urging them to head back and buy that item they were looking at. It’s an effective way to ensure you don’t miss out on potential sales.
Digital marketing is a powerful tool that you should should keep in your repertoire. There are several areas to focus on, so try not to get overwhelmed, especially if you own a small business. Start with one and work your way out. Most importantly, track your progress by studying analytics and be open to adjusting your plan as need be. When you share content that your customer base wants to see, the results will follow. What can you do to up your digital marketing game today?
5 Digital Marketing Trends For Your Business In 2021
6 min read
In the 21st century, technology has revolutionized our lives and is undergoing a process of continual development and acceleration. The landscape of the Internet, in particular, is constantly evolving and changing. For your business to continue to experience growth and expansion, it is crucial that you adapt and adjust your digital marketing strategies accordingly.
Digital marketing in 2021 will require a multi-faceted and diverse approach, incorporating some of the tried-and-tested trends of previous years whilst also capitalizing on the opportunities provided by innovative and emerging trends. In this article, we’re going to be discussing five digital marketing trends that every business should keep an eye on in 2021 so that you can begin strategically developing and structuring your plans to give your business a competitive edge.
1. The (continued) rise of social media
Inevitably, social media will continue to serve a pivotal role in digital marketing strategies in 2021. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter may have been created as a means for interpersonal communication, but they have since become pivotal marketing tools. Through social media, businesses have the perfect platform through which they can easily create and publish content, market their products and/or services as well as interact with their target audiences.
What’s more, these platforms are increasingly accommodating the entire marketing process – from the moment of discovery to actually making a purchase without ever having to leave the platform. Social media commerce is only going to grow in 2021.
2. Using social media advertising features
Alongside publishing content on your actual social media pages, social media platforms are increasingly providing specialized advertising and marketing services to businesses as well. One such example is Facebook, which has revolutionized how businesses market via social media. Businesses can use Facebook for online advertisements, which are created, published and distributed through the social media platform.
Facebook Ads are directed towards specific target audiences, which means that advertisements are only displayed to those users who have been selected according to Facebook’s targeting software. With more than two billion active users, Facebook Ads is an invaluable marketing tool for businesses because of the reach, visibility and personalization it provides.
3. Email marketing is as effective as ever
Compared to other forms of digital marketing, email marketing has been around for a long time. Due to its age, there may be some questions surrounding its relevance, but the truth is that email marketing is as relevant in 2021 as it was a decade ago. The automated distribution of time or action-triggered emails to email lists and subscribers with relevant information still generates incredible amounts of engagement.
Email automation is a powerful marketing tactic, and automating an email campaign allows businesses to generate leads, sales and revenues whenever the opportunity arises. Examples of email automation include a triggered workflow designed to interest customers, seasonal or birthday greetings, as well as automated blog updates. It is one of the most effective methods of communicating with potential customers and sustaining the interest of existing customers.
4. Segmenting your customers for optimum retention
With the prevalence of digital technologies, customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to personalized online experiences tailored to their behaviors, preferences, interests and demographics. It’s important that businesses continually collect and analyze data regarding their potential and existing customers and then change their digital marketing strategies accordingly.
Segmenting customers is an incredibly effective way to reach out to as broad an audience as possible whilst simultaneously providing them with a bespoke experience of your business. By identifying which group of customers should receive selected content based on the data your business has collected, you can more effectively allocate your marketing resources by ensuring that the content you distribute reaches those most likely to respond positively.
5. Interact directly with your customers
The Internet has effectively removed the various geographical, language and time barriers which once separated a business from its customers. Whilst in the past, a customer would have had to write an email or call a number to interact with a particular business, in the 21st century, it is as simple as leaving a comment under a post or sending a private message in a matter of minutes. Everyone is always accessible online, and the expectation that customers should be able to interact with a business has extended even beyond the realms of social media.
In a digital era, it is more important than ever that businesses ensure they are available to interact with potential and existing customers in the event of a query, review, or even a complaint. Interacting with customers in a timely and professional manner will be a critical part of digital marketing in 2021 because it will demonstrate a business’ commitment to satisfying and listening to its customers.
Customer experience is everything, and by ensuring a positive customer experience, a business is more like to see repeat purchases, glowing reviews as well as recommendations to family and friends.
Digital marketing is a multi-faceted and complex endeavor that requires a comprehensive and strategic approach. The 5 digital marketing trends described above are just some of the strategies you can incorporate into your digital marketing initiatives. This article provides a useful and informative starting point. You can decide which strategies you would like to prioritize depending on your business’s purpose, objectives, and scope.
Email marketing, for example, may be one of the oldest digital marketing strategies around, but it continues to be one of the most effective with regards to the traffic it generates and its high conversion rates. The business features provided by social media platforms have just been introduced, but considering that millions of users per month visit these platforms, the scope for reaching out to a larger audience is immense. Digital marketing in 2021 consists of a combination of traditional strategies and innovative methods through which you can propel your business forwards into the year ahead.
Biden’s Tax Plan: Latest Likely Changes, How To Cope | Investor’s Business Daily
President Joe Biden’s tax plan is really several tax plans. The bottom line for all of his tax proposals: Tax rules for individuals are in flux. Some are heading up, others down.
Some changes have already been enacted, while others await House and Senate approval.
All could dramatically impact your tax return. So here’s a score card to help you keep track, figure out if your taxes will be cut or increased, and plot ways to cope.
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Biden’s Tax Plan: Back To A Higher Top Rate
One of the most widely expected changes in Biden’s tax plan is an increase in the top individual rate to 39.6% from today’s 37%.
The top individual rate has been 37% since 2018. It was 39.6% from 2013 through 2017. In addition, Uncle Sam levies a 3.8% Medicare surtax — the net investment income tax — on individuals’ incomes above $200,000 and on married joint filers pulling down more than $250,000.
The new 39.6% rate likely would hit people earning more than $400,000. But it might apply to married joint filers whose combined income is above that threshold but whose individual income is well below that, says Tom Wheelwright, CEO of WealthAbility.
Higher Top Rate Could Apply to Several Tax Brackets
Also, there’s a chance that Biden’s tax plan could lead to consolidation of two or more top tax brackets. Some in Congress have called for that. So the 35% bracket and even the 32% bracket might become part of a new 39.6% bracket as well, says Wheelwright, who contributed to Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Success Stories” book.
If any such higher rate does not take effect until next year, to cut the tax impact you should consider accelerating income whose timing you control into 2021 and delaying deductions into 2022. “Only change the timing of income and deductions that you can afford to move into a different year,” said Tim Speiss, partner in EisnerAmper’s Personal Wealth Advisory Group.
How To Cope With A Higher Top Tax Rate
In addition, you could try defensive steps against estate tax changes in Biden’s tax plan.
Consider taking deductions whose timing can be flexible, Wheelwright says. “Rental real estate has huge deductions for depreciation that effectively creates losses without cutting your cash flow,” he said. “Direct investments in oil and gas wells, not stock, open deductions. You do this through an advisor or developer. Invest in a commercial solar project. You get to deduct any equipment that is purchased upfront, but not land.”
Also, remember that you can claim a 26% tax credit for installation of gear like solar panels on your home. “Biden has talked about raising that to 30%,” Wheelwright said.
And if you own a small business, equipment purchases like computers are deductible.
Further, real estate investors or self-employed people such as business owners, freelancers and contractors who use a home office as their principal place of business can claim the home office deduction, Wheelwright says.
Biden’s Tax Plan Calls For Beefing Up Social Security
Biden’s tax plan could beef up Social Security. Currently, workers and employers both pay a 6.2% tax on income of up to $142,800. The self-employed pay 12.4%.
Biden has talked about creating a tax doughnut, so to speak. Income from $142,800 up to $400,000 would be exempt from Social Security tax. But the tax would resume on income above $400,000.
Dramatic Change In Estate Tax?
The estate tax exemption is in play. Today, estates and gifts cumulatively worth more than $11.7 million get socked with a 40% tax. Same for gifts to any one recipient exceeding $15,000 in a year.
Biden’s tax plan would slash the size of the lifetime exemption. Estates up to only $1 million would be exempt from estate tax. But amounts exceeding that would be subject to capital gains tax. (Wheelwright knows of no proposal to change the $15,000 annual gift allowance.)
“The only way most people could afford the tax would be by selling the business,” Wheelwright said. “This means that everybody who owns a business or farm or anything else would have to sell when they die. This would effectively end multigenerational businesses in the U.S. And it would be a massive favor for big companies, which would buy up little companies at fire-sale prices.”
Still, the likely political opposition to such a proposal makes it far from a sure bet to reach enactment, Wheelwright says.
Student-Loan Relief In Biden’s Tax Plan
Biden’s tax plan has already led a half step toward providing relief to the U.S.’ legion of debt-burdened college grads. So far, the federal government has not forgiven college loans outright. But the Covid-19 relief bill includes a provision that says if the debt is forgiven, then it will not be treated as taxable income, Wheelwright says.
Two separate credits have been increased. The Child and Dependent Tax Credit entitles a parent to as much as 50% for up to $8,000 of child care and similar expenses for a child younger than 13. It also applies to expenses for a spouse or parent who can’t take care of themselves. And it applies to expenses for another dependent, so that you can work and earn a living.
The cap on expenses is $16,000 if you have two or more dependents.
Those caps are up from the $3,000 maximum expenses ($6,000 for two or more dependents) for which you could get a credit of 20% to 35% in 2020.
And for 2021, unlike 2020, the credit is refundable. That means it can cut your tax bill to zero. You get a refund for 2021 if the reduction pushes your tax bill below zero.
Tighter Eligibility For Child Tax Credit
Through the Covid-19 relief bill, Biden lowered the income eligibility cap for the Child Tax Credit. Despite similarity in names, this is a separate tax credit from the Child and Dependent Tax Credit. Unlike the other credit, parents don’t actually have to spend anything to get this second credit. You get it simply by being a parent, Wheelwright says.
It’s a “refundable” credit of up to $3,600 per eligible child under age 6 and $3,000 per child between age 6 and 18.
You were eligible for the credit in 2020 if your modified adjusted gross income was under $400,000 for marrieds filing jointly and $200,000 for anyone else.
In 2021, single filers are eligible if their MAGI is less than $75,000. For married joint filers the MAGI threshold is $150,000. It’s $112,500 for a head of household. The old credit of up to $2,000 still applies to the old, higher income limits.
Want to know the difference between taxable income, adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)? See this other IBD report.
Follow Paul Katzeff on Twitter at @IBD_PKatzeff for tips about retirement planning and active mutual fund managers who consistently outperform the market.
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