Tuesday Roundup: Bourbon Boom
It rained again in the Missouri River Valley and there are new flood warnings across Iowa.
We've been following the floods through the eyes of Richard Oswald, our Letter From Langdon columnist. He reported in at 5:30 AM today
Wish Texas had half of this.
A badly eroded section of levee got a makeover today from a Guard helicopter that dropped big bags filled with little sand bags onto the berm of the levee north of the Brownville NE bridge on US 136 today. Weather may have halted the operation early as a storm system moved in from the west with rain and some wind.
Sand bag filling resumes at the fair ground this morning. After a sudden unexplained rise on the river caused massive overflowing that set a new record, the river is falling too slowly. "More water" the corps says.
Our flood control system is a mixture of Oceans of Fun coupled with Jurassic Park.
There is so much sand bagging going on that the region is running out of the stuff, the AP reports. Meanwhile, the river is expected to remain high through August.
• A coalition of farm and ranch groups will hold a phone press conference Wednesday morning to talk about new regulations governing beef, pork and poultry markets. The regulations are stalled in the Department of Agriculture and the groups (including the National Farmers Union, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, R-CALF, the National Family Farm Coalition and the Contract Poultry Growers Association) are asking that the regulations be finalized.
You can join the press conference by dialing 1-800-514-0831 and by entering confirmation code 30064897. It begins at 11 a.m. E.D.T.
•There is a "bourbon boom" taking place in Central Kentucky. People are drinking more of the stuff, so distilleries are expanding. Bourbon makers have spent $150 million in building new distilleries.
Kentucky makes 95% of the world's bourbon and now has 5 million barrels aging.
• The budget of the federal Environmental Protection Agency is being cut 16% as Republicans and Democrats negotiate a new federal spending plan. But Juliet Eilperin at the Washington Post reports that most of these $1.6 billion in cuts this year will be passed along to the states.
"Already constrained financially at home, state officials have millions of dollars less to enforce the nation’s air- and water-quality laws, fund critical capital improvements and help communities comply with new, more stringent pollution controls imposed by the federal government," Eilperin reports.
• The Obama administration plans to place a 20-year ban on new mining on one million acres bordering the Grand Canyon. The L.A. Times notes that the move is aimed at protecting "an area that is a crucial water supply to the Southwest and where uranium mining claims have jumped 2,000% over the last seven years."
• Writer Doug Saunders contends that the shift of people from rural areas to cities is the "little-noticed force" behind the Arab Spring revolutions, new protests in China and economic booms in India and South America. Saunders writes:
Never in human history have so many people changed their locations and lifestyles so quickly. Each month, there are 5 million new city dwellers created through migration or birth in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. China alone has an estimated 200 million "floating" citizens with one foot in a village and the other in a city. If current trends continue as expected, between 2000 and 2030, the urban population of Asia and Africa will double, adding as many city dwellers in one generation as these continents have accumulated during their entire histories. Between now and 2050, the world's cities will add another 3.1 billion people.
This will be matched by an almost as dramatic decline in rural population. The United Nations Population Division predicts that the population of the world's villages and rural areas will stop growing around eight years from now and that, by 2050, the rural population will have fallen by 600 million due to migration to cities and urban encroachment on villages.