Thursday Roundup: Grebes Crash in Walmart Parking Lot

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Hey, it’s not every day you hear a song about center pivot irrigation systems. But Agriculture.com pointed us to this ditty (above) by New Jersey indie singer Sarah Donner — The Center Pivot Irrigation Song. 

It comes with illustration. What we can’t figure out is why Sarah is wearing her seat belt.

• The Pennsylvania legislature is considering laws that “would in their current form sharply limit a community’s right to control where gas companies can operate on private property,” reports Sabrina Tavernise in the New York Times

Tavernise reports on widespread conflicts between local governments and gas and oil drillers. She describes the problem:

Local governments argue that drilling is an industrial activity, just like that of a gas station or a cement factory, that should be subject to zoning. Dozens of towns, cities and counties across the country have enacted rules on drilling noise, lighting and the distance from homes and, in some cases, outright bans. In New York State alone, there have been at least 70 such actions.

Companies say the rush to regulate has produced an overly burdensome set of demands that is denting their potential when the economy desperately needs a lift.

“It’s like having to get a different driver’s license in every town,” said Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources, a Texas drilling company that is active here (in Pennsylvania). 

• The Washington Post catches us up on the latest on the Keystone pipeline, the plan to pipe oil sands oil 1,700 miles from Canada to the Gulf Coast. 

Republicans are saying the Obama administration should allow the Keystone pipeline to continue while Nebraska reviews the route through that state. The pipeline is now tied up with a proposal to extend a payroll tax cut. 

• Another reason to worry about Walmart stores: Thousands of migratory birds flying south to Mexico mistook a Walmart parking lot for water and crashed into the pavement, killing 1,500 birds. 

The flock of eared grebes, an aquatic bird, was flying over Utah when they tried to land on the dark parking lot. Some 3,000 birds were rescued — the grebe is not built to walk on land and can’t take off from pavement — and taken to a lake.

• California is trying to convince drivers that you don’t have to change oil every 3,000 miles. Manufacturers say 7,500 to 10,000 miles is plenty

• A developer wants to build a wind farm in North Carolina, but no utility will buy the power. The utilities are more enamored with natural gas. 

Iberdrola Renewables has been planning a 31-square mile wind farm off the Carolina coast for the last three years, reports the Charlotte Observer. It would cost $600 million and have 150 turbines. But the company says it won’t start construction until it has contracts to sell the power. Right now, utilities are building new generators that use natural gas. 

• An annual survey finds that Iowa farmland has increased 32.5 percent in value over the last year, to an average of $6,708 an acre. Home prices in Iowa in the same period fell slightly. 

• West Virginia is seeing an increase in deer poaching. “Right now, there’s so much activity we’re having trouble keeping up with it,” said DNR Police officer D.W. Hylton, who is stationed in trophy-rich Wyoming County. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201112140200

• House lawmakers are preparing legislation that would cut funding for the EPA and the Energy Department. The bill would block funding for implementing new light bulb standards. 

• Protests in rural China continue. The government says it will investigate land grabs from local farmers, but residents are buying it. Here’s a flavor of what’s going on, from an AP story

“It’s all a pretense. That’s only a small part of the problem,” said Huang Hancan, a fisherman who is one of the village’s representatives in the land dispute, referring to the mayor’s promises of an investigation and a freeze of the development deal.

“The bigger problem is that we want to get our land back. We want to re-elect our village officials because the current corrupt officials were not elected … and we want those detained to be released,” Huang said by phone.

Locals like Huang have essentially taken over the village after officials either fled from earlier protests, absconded with the money from land sales or were fired, according to various accounts from villagers and Chinese media.

 

 

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