Wednesday Roundup: White House Backs GIPSA
•Bernard Shanks paints a grim picture of flood control along the Missouri River. Shanks, a former U.S. Geological Survey employee, contends that the huge dams on the upper Missouri have a serious risk of failure.
Four of the nation’s 10 largest reservoirs are on the Missouri. The dams creating those bodies of water are old and at least one, in Fort Peck, has a “flawed design,” Shanks writes.
Shanks describes a “domino-like collapse” of fives damns that would probably “wreck every bridge, highway, pipeline and power line and split the heartland of the nation….”
• More evidence has emerged showing that the country is growing more unequal in how long people are expected to live.
In 737 U.S. counties (out of more than 3,100), life expectancies for women declined between 1997 and 2007. The L.A. Times reports that for developed countries to experience a decline in life expectancy is rare. The paper continues:
Communities with large immigrant populations — Southern California, for example — fared considerably better than average despite relatively high poverty rates. The worst-performing counties were clustered primarily in Appalachia, the Deep South and the lower Midwest. In those places, women died as much as a year younger in 2007 than women did a decade earlier. Life expectancy for women slipped 2 1/2 years in Madison County, Miss., which recorded the biggest regression.
• Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma fell short in his attempt to stop federal support for ethanol. The 40-59 vote fell one Senator short of the total needed to overcome a fillibuster.
Chis Clayton reports, however, that the vote made the ethanol industry realize that changes in the ethanol blender credit are required. Coburn’s proposal would have ended the 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit and it would have ended the 54 cent tax on imported ethanol.
Coburn’s measure was supported by 34 of 47 Republicans, many of whom had signed a no-new-taxes pledge that the law would have violated. “You’ve got 34 Republicans that say they’re willing to end this, regardless of what Grover says,” Coburn said, referring to pledge creator Grover G. Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform. “That’s 34 Republicans that say this is more important than a signed pledge to ATR.”
• The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal project has been going on for more than three decades. Now the site is shut down. The Washington Post reviews the history of a project that is a “case study in government dysfunction and bureaucratic inertia.”
• What a mess. The city of Lynch in Eastern Kentucky is trying to stop a mountaintop removal coal job nearby. The city is also trying to get some money from the county to help restore an old fire station.
As told in the Harlan Daily Enterprise, the Harlan County Judge-Executive told the Lynch mayor he must negotiate with the coal company or the county would not fund the fire station. The mayor said this amounted to criminal coercion. The Judge said:
“I just told them that the coal companies are where the money comes from. If you’re not willing to work with them and you’re anti-coal, then the fiscal court members are not going to support you. They have already stated that. They don’t feel comfortable helping out cities with coal monies, when the city is not trying to work with the coal company.”
• The federal government reports that the number of people using shelters or transitional housing in suburban and rural areas increased 57% from 2007 to 2010.