Monday Roundup: Coal Protest Continues

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A sit-in by 14 people protesting coal strip mining continued in the Kentucky governor’s office today. Outside, those protesting “mountaintop removal” mining gathered Sunday and today.

UPDATE: The 14 protesters left the governor’s office late Monday morning. Gov. Steve Beshear said he would not change his position supporting mountaintop removal mining.

The protestors, including Kentucky author Wendell Berry, moved into the office of Kentucky Gov. Steve Besear on Friday. The demonstration has been peaceful. Beshear has said the protesters can stay as long as they like. The group has been overwhelmed with food. One supporter in Florida ordered in half a dozen pizzas. El Ranchero, a Mexican restaurant in Lexington, donated dinner.

Beshear has filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The EPA has denied mining permits to several companies planning mountaintop removal mines.

• Several rural and livestock groups are promoting a call-in this week to support the marketing rules proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. You can find instructions here for calling or writing the White House.

• Dan Piller reports in the Des Moines paper that fertilizer prices have risen — and that they are likely to remain high.

Piller writes that, yes, fertilizer prices jumped in 2008, as natural gas prices increased, and then dropped as gas prices declined. This year, however, fertilizer prices have increased despite natural gas prices being at half their 2008 rates.

The differences is that this time prices are being driven up by competition for fertilizer from farmers in China, India and South America. One result is that hog manure is much in demand these days. 

Suicides among National Guard and Reserve troops jumped last year, and suicides among active-duty soldiers dropped a small amount but the totals remained high, according to an Associated Press report. 

The number of guard and reserve troops who killed themselves while not on active duty rose from 80 in 2009 to 145 in 2010. Active-dury suicides dropped from 162 in 2009 to 156 in 2010. The Texas Guard has lost more people to suicide than to war.

Rural residents are disproportionately represented in the military. 

• The Rapid City Journal reports that farmer and rancher Pat Trask hasn’t given up the fight to stop the planting of genetically-engineered alfalfa seed. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier decided that GE Roundup Ready Alfalfa should be allowed for planting this year. Trask, however, is trying to stop spring planting. 

• Dean Foods anti-trust problems don’t appear to be over. Dairy farmers in Kentucky and Southern Indiana are preparing a lawsuit against Dean, claiming the giant milk producer is engaged in a conspiracy to pay farmers less for milk. 

• A wildfire destroyed 18 homes on the Yakima Indian Reservation in White Swan, Washington. Residents took refuge in the tribe’s long house and high school as the fire swept through. 

• Keeping roads and bridges repaired is important, people say. It’s just that we don’t want to pay for the work.

 

 

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