Wednesday Roundup: YouTubing Rural
Uncertain wind tax law leads to layoffs • Farmers in Europe protest policies tilted toward big ag • More coal mines closing
There’s getting to be an entire genre of YouTube videos, those produced by rural students. (See this rap hit from some Kansas State guys.)
The one above comes from Sharon Springs, Kansas, in Wallace County. The students say that the lower calorie counts in school lunches don’t give them the fuel they need to get through the day.
Luke Mahin, with Republic County Economic Development, sent out the video and this explanation:
The students aren’t getting enough calories, even when they eat all the veggies and fruit offered. And we’ve seen a lot of students frequent the gas stations or fast food joints right after class is out. Being small schools a majority of the students are in nearly every activity or sport after their 7-8 hrs of class. Most don’t get home until 5:30 or later.
The few who don’t do all the sports or activities will work for local farms or do On-The-Job-Training so it’s difficult for them to stop and eat healthy when they work till the evening. It’s a Catch-22 saving money for the government while mandating healthier foods to the program while you live in a “Food Desert.”
Enjoy the video and good on the Sharon Springs students to speaking up.
Transmission Lines — There is lots of sun in the American Southwest, but not many power transmission lines. And that’s a barrier to expanding solar power production, the AP reports.
“We have incredible renewable energy resources,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during a visit earlier this year to a solar research lab in New Mexico. “The bad news is they’re where there are not many people. We need a distribution system that can accommodate that.”
The federal government is speeding up permits of seven proposed transmission projects in 12 states, but extending the lines to rural areas where wind and solar power could be produced is still a problem. By 2015, the utility industry is expected to spend around $66 billion on improving transmission capacity.
Coal Mines Closing — Alpha Natural Resources is closing eight mines in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, laying off 1,200 of its 13,000 employees.
And, of course, these lines cut across and despoil miles of ranch and farmland.
Coal Exec Dresses Up As Miner — A congressional race in Eastern Kentucky is stirring after a coal executive dressed up as a workaday coal miner to appear in an ad for Republican congressional candidate Andy Barr. Barr is running against incumbent Ben Chandler.
Barr “imported an ally from almost 300 miles and two or three congressional districts away to accuse Democrats, including incumbent Rep. Ben Chandler, of killing the coal industry with environmental regulation,” says the editorial page of the Lexington Herald-Leader. And then dressed him in underground coal garb. The paper continues:
An official of the United Mine Workers of America called the spot “deceitful.”
But really it’s extraordinarily revealing, an example of what’s frustrating Republicans from Mitt Romney on down: They want to appeal to average working people but don’t seem to personally know any.
Kentucky Voters and Health Care Law — Kentuckians don’t like the new health care reform bill — but they like a lot of things in it, according to a new poll taken by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Okay, 60 percent oppose the law. But 8 out of ten support the part of the law that requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. And 62 percent favor the part of the law that allows adult children to remain on their parents’ insurance. And 56 percent support the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees offer health insurance or pay a fine.
But 70 percent oppose the part of the law that requires people to buy health insurance.
European Farmers Protest — Farmers from across Europe “converged on European Union headquarters Wednesday to push for a food policy that is fairer to family farmers and kinder to the environment and developing nations,” the AP reports.
The coalition united under the slogan “EU farm policy must be fundamentally changed.” The “demonstrators carried signs saying “Size does matter” and “No to mega sties,” in their calls for small farming initiatives.
Uncertain Wind — Siemens wind turbine blade plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, laid off 407 people Tuesday as uncertainties about the future of the federal tax credit for wind energy have put a damper on the industry.
Siemens said in a statement that “the industry is facing a significant drop in new orders, and this has an unfortunate consequence on employment in this segment of the power industry.”
This is another area of tax policy that won’t be taken up by Congress until after the November election.