Thursday Roundup: New Keystone Route

Log in first, then add event to Yonder Calendar • Pictures from Creston • Effort to end income tax ends in Kansas and Missouri • A new bear-sighting app for Yellowstone

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TransCanada Inc. has submitted a proposed new route for the Keystone XL pipeline, one that the Omaha World-Herald says “would avoid Nebraska’s Sand Hills.”  (Look to the right to see the new route.)

The proposal was presented to the state the day after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a law that would allow a quicker review of the new pipeline route. the new route would be 100 miles longer than the route the company first proposed.

The Keystone XL pipeline is being built to carry tar sands oil to the Texas Gulf Coast. It stalled first in Nebraska, where ranchers and legislators feared that spills from the pipeline could damage the Sand Hills or the Ogallala Aquifer. Later, the Obama administration delayed granting TransCanada a permit to build the pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border.

The pipeline will run 1,700 miles and cost $1.7 billion. Keystone has become a focal point of the current presidential election, with Republicans criticizing President Obama for holding up the project.

The World-Herald reports that local groups aren’t pleased with TransCanada’s proposed route, saying it will cross portions of the Sand Hills not on state maps and will still go over the Ogallala Aquifer. 

“If TransCanada cared about our state, landowners, water and Sand Hills, they would have proposed a safer, more responsible route instead of trying to play games with landowners,” said BOLD Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb in a statement.

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• There’s more evidence coming out that food “deserts” — rural and urban areas without stores selling fresh foods — don’t cause obesity among children and teenagers.  Add all the grocery stores you want, the research finds, and you won’t wind up with skinnier kids.

“It is always easy to advocate for more grocery stores,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not involved in the studies. “But if you are looking for what you hope will change obesity, healthy food access is probably just wishful thinking.”

Getting better food into poor neighborhoods has been a big part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s fitness campaign. She has said, often, that poor people lack access to good food. These new studies contradict that assumption. 

• Turns out that the virtual world of cloud computing takes a heck of a lot of real world power to maintain.

Juliet Eilperin in the Post reports that data centers use less energy than only four countries — the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. 

• Yes, there are new apps that will tell you the latest bear sightings in Yellowstone Park. 

• Lots of photos here of the damage done by tornadoes in Creston, Iowa. 

• Democrats are figuring Republicans won’t extend the current farm bill, which expires on September 30.

“I think it’s a very real possibility that the Republicans will not extend the bill unless there are cuts, and that means you’re writing a farm bill,” Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington on Tuesday, according to a report by Christopher Doering. “My guess is that the only way Republicans are going to get up to $34 billion (in cuts) is through food stamps, so we’re going to have a fight with food stamps when we get a farm bill.” 

Republican Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said that “everything will see reductions” in this year’s negotiations. “If you think I’m going to consume a lot of Maalox before this process is over, absolutely,” he said. “I have to work within the environment that I’m given.”

• It appears that efforts to get rid of a state income tax in favor of higher sales taxes won’t succeed in Missouri or Kansas. 

Backers in Missouri were trying to put the measure on the general ballot, but a judge threw out the petition because it did not accurately show the cost of the proposal. The petition said the measure would cost the state $1.5 billion, but the judge found it would be closer to $7.5 billion.

The Kansas push is dying in the legislature. 

 

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