Friday, December 5, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "Ooooooooooklahoma"

Senate Agriculture Committee members explored how voluntary conservation measures on farm and ranch lands protect the environment.  Des Moines, Iowa is struggling with nitrates in its water supply source once again. Within the span of a few hours, Hillary Clinton spoke on behalf of Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, champion of the Keystone XL pipeline, and before a group fighting to kill it.  Otherwise, it’s lonely being Sen. Landrieu. The ice sheet of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate, which is important since the Louisiana delta is particularly vulnerable to rising seas.  A Purdue University economist suggested that it may be time to retire the myth that the world doesn't make new farmland anymore. Prospects are iffy for continued growth in agricultural productivity on the farmland we've got, particularly in light of climate change.  This year is on course to be the warmest on record, and 83% of Americans are inclined to believe that.  One who doesn't believe in human-induced climate change is a man from Oklahoma poised to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year.  Soil moisture levels continued to drop in his drought-stricken state, and water deficits continued to mount in Minnesota and the Dakotas.  Oklahoma plans on using no more water in 2060 than it does today, despite an anticipated 33 percent demand increase.  In hog farm news, Missouri approved a 10,000-hog farm in the center of the state, over water pollution concerns, and a Federal judge ruled that the USDA and Small Business Administration violated environmental laws by guaranteeing a $3.6 million loan to a large Arkansas hog farm near the Buffalo River.  Mining operations can affect waterways and fish habitats far downstream of the mines.  Coca-Cola plans to launch sales of a high-end "supermilk" in 2015. Kentucky environmental regulators are no longer able to effectively enforce clean water rules. The U.S. EPA has approved the use of potash to kill invasive zebra mussels in Christmas Lake, Minnesota.  That may cut in to the ingredient supply for a new Excelsior Brewing Co. ale made in Minnesota with zebra mussel shells and invasive Eurasian milfoil.  Researcher are testing estrogen's effects on fish at a lake-wide scale.  House members easily passed a bill reauthorizing the Coast Guard, setting up Senate approval before year's end. The Federal government probably won't shut down after December 11, thanks to a legislative creature known as a "cromnibus."  Next year, over half of the area of the U.S. will fall under "single party rule."  And last but not least, following the IRS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife Service get sworn at the most in formal public comment documents.

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