Monday Roundup: Fighting Coal, not Pipeline
Two policy analysts say environmentalists should think less about stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and more about reducing the amount of coal the country burns.
Writing in Bloomberg, Matthew Stepp and Alex Trembath say they applaud the organizers’ show of strength (against the pipeline), but recommend they switch targets and address a carbon enemy more worthy of their army: U.S. coal. Keystone XL would bring tar sands oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Bighorns Are Thriving. Nebraska moved some bighorn sheep from Canada into the state over a year ago and the Omaha World-Herald reports they are doing well. The animals are breeding away in the northwest part of the state and the paper reports that “nearly a year after their first lamb crop in Nebraska, wildlife biologists are delighted with how the sheep are settling in at their new home. They are robust, healthy and big.” The Canadian sheep weigh more than herds imported from nearby states.
The Local Good of Big Government. Two Kansas City Star reporters go to Sumner County, Kansas (pop. 24,000) to see the effect of big government on a small community.
Dave Helling and Steve Kraske add up all that Sumner County sends to Washington, D.C., and how much it gets in return. The county receives about $7,900 per person in crop payments, Social Security and other government programs, up to 50 percent more than what’s paid in taxes.
Most of that went for Social Security and Medicare, since a good portion of the county’s population is over 65. And we should remember than rural counties still receive less per person than urban counties.
The story does point out that the county votes reliably Republican and made a big show of turning down federal money last year for city planning. But Sumner still receives a good deal from “big government.”
“We tend to be very conservative, and railing about smaller government,” said Vince Wetta, a former state representative. “Yet we’re dependent on big government. I think it’s a contradiction.”
Walleye Bust in Minnesota. Minnesota officials are revealing more of a three-year investigation into selling and buying game fish illegally in northern parts of the state. Last week 10 men were accused of netting walleyes from lakes on Indian reservations and then selling them. This was in violation of federal, state and tribal law. Monday, more people were charged.
Sugar Slump. Sugar beet farmers have had several years of high prices, but not in 2013. World production of sugar (beet and cane) has gone up and that has sent prices down, hitting a 30 month low earlier this month.
Oysters and Keystone XL. The energy bill that would expedite the Keystone XL oil pipeline also includes extending an oyster farm’s permit to operate in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Drakes Bay Oyster Company, located on the national seashore north of San Francisco, was supposed to cease operations in November 2012, after its 40-year lease expired. The current owners of the oyster farm are suing the federal government to continue operations, and they have received temporary approval to continue operations through May. Environmental advocates want the company closed so the National Park Service can create the nation’s first marine wilderness area. An unlikely alliance of Republican lawmakers, locavores and foodies are siding with the oyster farm against environmental groups.