Friday, August 8, 2014
What We Learned This Week - "We'll Never Be Royals"
The size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone this July was average but still quite large. Residents of Des Moines, Iowa could find their water tainted as did Toledo, Ohioans recently, but people in Madison, Wisconsin, Peoria, Illinois and Louisville, Kentucky have been told not to worry. A groundbreaking Northwestern U.S. settlement may have implications nationwide for Army Corps pollutant releases from its dams. The new USDA Conservation Partnership Program received nearly 600 pre-proposals; 60 from the Mississippi River Basin Critical Conservation Area. Voters in Missouri approved a "right to farm" amendment that may limit future environmental regulations potential impacts on its nearly 100,000 farms. Across the border in Kansas, cattle like to sing along to trombone music. Neither Missouri nor Kansas are among the states with the biggest increases in the number of farmers markets, but Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana and Nebraska are. Last Friday, 50 members of Congress asked the EPA and USDA not to approve a new, potent herbicide, "Duo," which contains 2,4-D, or to deregulate genetically engineered crops resistant to 2,4-D. On Wednesday, a USDA Environmental Impact Statement took those herbicide-resistant crops a step closer to deregulation. Duo is meant to kill "superweeds," such as the giant ragweeds that are plaguing Minnesota; the result of the widespread use of another potent weed-killer: Roundup. Congress maintained the "status quo" this past year, continuing a recent practice of passing few laws of significance. That is perhaps why, for the first time, a majority of U.S. adults disapproved of the job their own member of Congress is doing. Sen. John Walsh of Montana won't be one of those members come January; he's bowed out of his Senate race. There was a shuffling of acting senior executive positions at the USEPA, while another senior executive will soon exit from the USDA. Experimental underwater speakers designed to repel Asian carp were deployed on the Mississippi River near Genoa, Wisconsin, but it's likely too late. Also a bit late, over 7,000 Asian carp were removed from the Illinois River during a "Redneck Fishing Tournament." 5,000 yellow rubber duckies raced down the Mississippi River on Saturday. For the first time, more than half the world's population was born after 1985: the last year that the Earth was cooler than average. And last but not least, everyone’s favorite government-sponsored bear, Smokey, turns 70 years old this weekend.