Tuesday Roundup: Following the Keystone XL
If this doesn't say it all: The Washington Post reports this morning that both presidential candidates attended more fund-raising events in July than meetings with voters.
• A retired economic development official writes that the best thing that could happen for rural communities is to have sales taxes apply to all online sales.
Ron Kraft, writes in the Yankton, South Dakota, newspaper:
It is so easy to buy on the Internet; no travel; order any time; we may find broader selections, etc. The downside is that the local business that loses the sale is paying local government property tax (even if it is through a rent payment); state and local sales tax; and hiring local people to work in their business. The local owner and employees pay more taxes. The business buys advertising and supports the local schools, churches and charities.
Rural communities are having a very rough time surviving, partially because their local and state governmental units are having a tough time providing the infrastructure we need to keep our rural towns alive. Remember: the loss of a sale to an out-of-state competitor is a 100 percent loss of those dollars in one transaction. The out-of-state business has not hired one South Dakota employee, paid a dime of property tax here, paid any sales tax here, supported our local school or church, or provided an hour of volunteer time with us.
• Washington Post reporter Steven Mufson is following the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, as it comes from Canada, crosses the Dakotas and Nebraska before heading to the Gulf Coast in Texas.
This morning he writes about the Ogallala Aquifer, the large underground reservoir the pipeline will cross (or come very close to crossing) as it goes through Nebraska. Opponents of the pipeline say a rupture could harm one of the world's largest underground supplies of water. Supporters say it won't.
Hyrdologist James Goecke says opposition is driven by a misunderstanding about how the Ogalalla works. “I’ve spent my career drilling holes to and through the Ogallala Formation. I’ve probably seen as much of the Ogallala as anybody,” he says on camera. “There’s a misconception that if the aquifer is contaminated, the entire water supply of Nebraska is going to be endangered, and that’s absolutely false. If people recognize the science of the situation, I think that should allay a lot of the fears.”
• Republicans in the House are trying to modify a program that distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to school lunchrooms to include frozen, canned and dried products.
“If the goal is to expand and improve upon childhood nutrition, it doesn’t make sense to limit the kinds of fruits and vegetables that schools serve,” said Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute, who argues that processed produce can be just as nutritious as fresh. “Let the schools decide.”
• A new study finds that the extreme heat and drought experienced across the world in the last few years is almost certainly the result of global climate change.
The recent change in temperatures — and the extraordinary number of record highs — is "too large to be natural," says James Hansen a NASA climate scientist.
• USDA's weekly corn report finds that half the nation's crop is rated poor to very poor.
Meanwhile, the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest in the Northeast since records began in 1895.
• President Obama is running a radio ad in Ohio saying it's Mitt Romney who is anti-coal.
"When he ran for President, Barack Obama pledged to support clean coal and invest in new technologies," the ad says.
"And Mitt Romney? He’s attacking the president’s record on coal," the narrator says. "Here’s what Romney said in 2003 at a press conference in front of a coal plant: 'I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant, that plant kills people.'"
• The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank has released a report on the effects of the drought. Economists there write:
Although the immediate challenges of the drought are expected to disappear over time with improved weather, there are concerns about whether some producers can endure these short-term losses. Regardless of how the transition from short-term despair to long-term hope proceeds, the drought of 2012 will be forever engraved into the annals of agricultural history.
• Yesterday Tyson Foods cut its full-year revenue forecast by $1 billion, to $33 billion. The company's stock has dropped by 25 percent since June.
Demand for poultry has remained stable, but costs have risen with the drought.
• Housing buffs out there may want to look at this page put together by Rural LISC. The housing group collects stories about local housing groups.