Monday Roundup: Coffee, Satellites and Politics
To note: Starbucks plans to open 1,500 stores in China by 2015.
• There are lots of protests of mountaintop removal coal mining, but those running for office in West Virginia are reluctant to oppose the practice.
In mountaintop removal, mining companies blast off hilltops to reveal the seams of coal below. Leftover rock and dirt are pushed into the valleys below.
The Charleston (WV) Gazette surveyed the 14 people running for governor of West Virginia about mountaintop mining, writes Alison Knezevich. Nine answered and they supported the practice, although one Republican, West Virginia University professor Ralph William Clark, said he would favor a moratorium on new permits unless certain conditions were met.
• Congressional budget cuts left a key weather forecasting satellite program in limbo, reports the Delta Farm Press. The cuts would mean a new weather satellite would not be launched in time to replace older “birds” as they fail.
Forecasts in the Southern U.S. could lose as much as 50% of their accuracy without the new satellite, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That’s okay, because the rural South rarely has turbulent weather……That, of course, is a joke.
• The Mississippi River should crest Tuesday at Memphis. On Sunday, the river was at 47.6 feet in Memphis. The record is 48.7 feet set in 1937.
• Meanwhile, wildfires picked up again in West Texas.
Fire experts are saying the blazes that have burned two million acres since December are the result of long-term changes in the way land is being managed. Grasslands left ungrazed for conservation purposes have become “potential torches,” writes Randy Lee Loftis of the Dallas Morning News. And suburban areas around Dallas and Fort Worth have become “Little Californias” as brush has built up around housing developments.
Land management experts say ranch land needs periodic controlled burns to restore pastures and knock back the growth of fire-prone trees and brush. In Central Texas, Ashe junipers fill in quickly. Junipers contain oils that make the trees “gasoline on a stick,” according to fire fighters.
• The Los Angeles Times reports that a year after the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia exploded and killed 29 miners “many family members say that Washington has failed them, and some of the president’s closest congressional allies agree.”
“We’ve been messing around for a year,” said Rep .George Miller (D-Martinez), who introduced a bill last summer that would have dealt with the backlog and other issues brought to light by the deadly explosion. “The sad thing is that nothing will happen until the next major disaster.”