Tuesday Roundup: Gov. OKs Keystone Route

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Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman sent a letter Tuesday to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying he approved of the new route of the Keystone XL pipeline takes through his state. 

The pipeline will carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It’s controversial for several reasons. Landowners in Nebraska opposed the pipeline when it was drawn to cross over environmentally sensitive land. The Nebraska legislature opposed the route and the pipeline failed to receive a permit it needed from the Secretary of State in order to cross the U.S./Canada border.

The company building the pipeline, TransCanada, changed the route, steering it away from the Ogallala Aquifer and the Nebraska Sand Hills. The pipeline will still cross a portion of the aquifer.

The Omaha World-News has published a copy of Heineman’s letter.  Gov. Heineman says the company has agreed to several “mitigation measures,” including testing of water wells prior to pipeline construction and “more rigorous pipeline design, manufacturing,” construction and monitoring.

The pipeline is still opposed by some Nebraska landowners and by landowners in Texas. National environmental groups say that using the tar sands will speed global warming.

AT&T to Buy Rural Wireless Carrier — AT&T says it will pay $780 million in cash to purchase Alltel wireless, wich is part of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc.

Alltel serves 585,000 customers in mostly rural parts of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio, according to Reuters.

The proposed purchase comes after AT&T’s 2011 failed bid to purchase T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. 

Health and Fracking — Several of the nation’s top universities are teaming up to take a “rigorous scientific” look at the health hazards of natural gas and oil tracking. 

Green Blog reports that the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina will “investigate and analyze reports of nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties and other ills from people who live near natural gas drilling sites, compressor stations or wastewater pits.”

“There is an enormous amount of rhetoric on both sides,” said Trevor M. Penning, head of the Penn toxicology center and the driving force behind the Environmental Health Sciences Core Center Hydrofracking Working Group. “We felt that because we are situated in Pennsylvania, we had a duty to get on top of what was known and what was not known.”

Farm Bill Jockeying — Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (a Michigan D) issued a news release Tuesday praising Majority Leader Harry Reid for listing the the farm bill as one of his “privileged, top priority bills” for 2013. 

Local Beef in Schools — Hey, if a school district in rural Colorado with only 400 kids can serve local, grass-fed beef to its students, why can’t everyone?

Do We Want to Live Without a P.O. — Save the Post Office has a new and very good database showing the post offices closed or suspended in the last year. Get it here.

Medicate the Children — Children on welfare are three times more likely to be given psychotropic medication than children an adolescents in the general population, according to a new report issued by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. And rural children in the welfare system are given these drugs at higher rates than children in the cities, report Wendy Walsh and Marybeth Mattingly.

The researchers report:

“The significantly higher rates of psychotropic medication use among children in rural areas and the significantly higher rates of taking multiple medications point to the need among child welfare professionals in rural areas to closely monitor use. There were several significant differences in the characteristics of children receiving medication in rural and urban places. In rural places, children receiving medication were more likely to be older, girls, living at home, and poor compared to those receiving medication in urban places. When used appropriately medications can provide a viable treatment option. However, it is generally recommended that prescriptions be closely monitored, especially when children are prescribed more than one medication.”

 

 

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