Thursday Roundup: Selling the P.O.

The fires that keep on burning • Pipeline regulations never get out of the pipeline • Sen. Rockefeller reintroduces coal mine safety bill • 'Meatless Monday' at USDA causes a stir among Republicans

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Thousands of miles of new oil pipelines, including the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, will likely be built without being subject to new safeguards now being considered by a federal agency.

Elizabeth McGowan and Lisa Song at InsideClimate News report that “efforts to beef up oversight of the nation’s oil pipelines are progressing so slowly” that new regulations are unlikely to apply to new projects.

For instance, they write, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration “began examining at least six safety regulations in October 2010, three months after a ruptured pipeline spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. None of those changes is in effect nearly two years later.” 

“Tens of thousands of miles of new pipelines are going into the ground, and there aren’t going to be regulations that make them safer for years,” said Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a nonprofit watchdog organization based in Bellingham, Wash.

• Britain figures it will need more than 60,000 new farmers in the next decade to take the place of farmers who will soon be retiring. The average age of a farmer in the United Kingdom is 58, similar to that in the U.S. 

Young people say they don’t want to become farmers because they see the industry as “boring, repetitive and low-paid,” according to a recent poll. So some very big businesses in the U.K. (including McDonalds) have funded a program to give students experience in food production. A farm publication has also set up a “farmers apprentice” boot camp for people 18 to 25 years of age. 

• Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat, has reintroduced a new coal mine safety bill aimed at stemming the epidemic of black lung in the underground coal industry and fixing “glaring safety issues revealed in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which claimed the lives of 29 miners in Montcoal, West Virginia.” 

•The U.S. Department of Agriculture promoted “Meatless Monday” to its employees as “one simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias.”

The PR gimmick turned out to be more effective in stirring up Republicans, reports The Hill

“I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Rep. Steve King of Iowa said he would promote “double rib-eye Mondays instead.” 

The USDA quickly answered the cascade of condemnation, saying the Meatless Monday promotion was put up on the agency’s website without proper approval.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) responded: “Good!” He then joked in a follow-up tweet, “I should have said ‘well done!’ “

• The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it will spend $115 million to extend broadband connection to rural areas. 

This money is the coming from the Connect America Fund and will be used to match money from companies. The FCC estimates this funding till extend broadband to 400,000 people in 37 states after three years.

Frontier Communications, a telecommunications company based in Stamford, Conn., will receive the largest amount from the fund after agreeing to extend broadband service to about 200,000 customers in 16 states.

CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., will expand service in 22 states, the FCC says.

The funding comes from what was the old Universal Service Fund that, last year, was transformed into the Connect America Fund.

• The wildfires don’t stop destroying once the fire is out.

The AP writes today that wildfires in western cattle country will be affecting people and animals for years. At one ranch in Montana, the Kolka family counted 400 cows and calves killed by the Ash Creek Fire. 

“Before we found our cattle we said at least we’ve got our homes and are all safe,” Delores Kolka said. “In truth, we would have rather lost everything here except our cattle.”

Now ranchers are in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are tending to injured cattle and acres of burned over grassland.

Rich Yturriondobeitia, at his ranch in southeastern Oregon, had to shoot six injured cows at one watering trough. “I can talk about it now and not cry,” said his wife, Jeanette. “My husband still can’t talk about it. The cattle, oh crud we even had some of them named.”

• A mining company has reached an agreement to lease and mine 1.4 billion tons of coal on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. 

The company, Cloud Peak Energy, is mining the Powder River Basin deposit for the export market.

• Business owners; farming, fishing and forestry workers and construction or mining workers are the least approving of President Obama, according to a new Gallup poll. 

• California has plans to build a $24 billion tunnel to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to cities and farmland in the south. 

There is, of course, lots of discussion about the environmental costs of the project (if any).

• Smithfield Foods will import corn from Brazil to feed its hogs. 

Smithfield is the second largest hog producer in the nation and is worried about a stable feed supply during the drought.

Chris Clayton at DTN goes through some real-life conversations farmers are having in the middle of a drought and a Congress that can’t pass a Farm Bill. Folks, there are a lot of people there who aren’t covered!

• Save The Post Office takes on the trend of post office annexation — the moving of post offices off of Main Street and into an annex on the edge of town. 

Incredible buildings, now public, are being sold. Check out the one above in Northfield, Minnesota. 

In other words, the Postal Service is moving its retail offices away from is customers — and out of the buildings that made the post office a special place in town. 

 

 

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