Weekend Roundup: Alaskan Heat
Temperatures are rising and that is changing how people in the Far North live. People have to change their mindset, Burke writes, from thinking first about how to stay warm to thinking now about how to cool off in the summer.
“I think that people are really starting to feel the heat. It’s a new thing and the theory is that we should be thinking of ways to help prevent people from running into heat-related health issues,” said Michael Brubaker, director of the Center for Climate & Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
• Dan Morgan writes that just when the nation should be spending more on ag research and development, we’re cutting.
• Parts of the Federal Aviation Administration will shut down at midnight as Congress has failed to extend the agency’s operating authority. The shutdown will put 4,000 people out of work.
AP reports that the major obstacle to passing a bill is a provision backed by Republicans and the industry that would make it more difficult for airline and railroad workers to unionize. House Republicans also want to end subsidies for airline service to 13 rural airports.
• Good rundown here by Cecilia King at the Washington Post on the latest back and forth with the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. This week Sen. Herb Kohl (D of Wisconsin) said the deal should be blocked and the Federal Communications Commission delayed its review.
“The ebbs and flows of merger reviews create moments of pause that sometimes imply greater uncertainty and risk than what actually exist,” said Jeffrey Silva, an analyst at Medley Global Advisors in a research note.“This appears to be one of those moments, though the warning signs should not be ignored.”
• Robert McDowell, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, says he’s worried about reforms proposed for the universal service fund. The FCC was supposed to vote on a reform that would direct USF money from providing phone service to isolated areas to providing broadband in primarily rural regions.
But that vote has been put off. “I start to get anxious about this date slipping away,” McDowell said.
• Ken Ward Jr. has a good summary of a new report on the West Virginia economy, titled “Booms and Busts: The Impact of West Virginia’s Energy Economy.”
The report finds that an economy built on energy production is inherently unstable and weak:
In the past, West Virginia counties with a concentration in mining saw their economic performance dramatically decline after an energy development boom. Today, their economies are weaker than the rest of the state, and they are ill-positioned to compete and grow. It is uncertain whether today’s energy boom, led by natural gas extraction, will bring the prosperity to West Virginia that it promises. While the potential revenues from this boom seem to be an attractive source of economic growth for communities, history shows that natural resource booms inevitably lead to busts….
A boom in energy development, be it in coal mining or natural gas extraction, does not guarantee long-term economic growth and prosperity. Although communities can rely on energy development for economic growth in the short-term, the boom is unsustainable. If trends hold, the boom ultimately leads to a bust, followed by decades of underperformance.
• The Environmental Protection Agency has released its final rules governing water quality affected by coal surface mining. Environmentalists like ’em; the industry doesn’t.
Ken Ward Jr. has a good summary of the rules here. http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/
• The New York Times reports that farm thieves are at work, taking grapes, bees, everything:
While other states have their own agricultural intrigue — cattle rustlers in Texas, tomato takers in Florida — few areas can claim a wider variety of farm felons than California, where ambushes on everything from almonds to beehives have been reported in recent years. Then there is the hardware: diesel fuel, tools and truck batteries regularly disappear in the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural powerhouse, where high unemployment, foreclosures and methamphetamine abuse have made criminals more desperate, officials say.
“All of our ag crimes are up,” said Sergeant Reed, who oversees a unit of two full-time detectives — down from three a year ago — all patrolling a county about eight times the size of Rhode Island. A wet winter and warm summer, after all, have meant healthy crops, he said, and a healthy market means happy thieves.