Friday, January 16, 2015
What We Learned This Week - "The Airing of Grievances"
recurring theme at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting, where attendees suggested that excessive federal government regulation threaten the viability of the nation's farms and ranches. Soon thereafter, the EPA released a final scientific report that sets forth the scientific basis for the proposed rule. A court ruling in an Oregon dairy farms' case may set a legal precedent for similar manure-water contamination incidents. Congressional Republicans retreated to Hersey, Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, where, as one Senator put it, it was "time to air the differences." Federal authorities allege that the company in charge knew about spill-containment dike problems at its Elk River, West Virginia facility years before a massive 2014 coal-cleaning chemical spill. Chemicals from that spill traveled farther down-river than initially thought. Tennessee's environmental regulator sued the Tennessee Valley Authority over its unlined coal ash ponds, and an environmental group sued the Obama administration over its refusal to release Gulf of Mexico fracking documents. The Government Accountability Office found that so-called sue-and-settle lawsuits brought by environmental groups have only a "limited" impact on subsequent U.S. EPA regulations. The GAO also told the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that it should plan for a gap in reliable weather data because of a satellite monitoring network that is stretched thin. The USDA is "changing the way it funds conservation" through its new Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The Senate may vote on whether climate change is happening (no response on the record, yet, from the climate). Following a state court ruling, the Keystone XL pipeline could face new legal challenges from Nebraska ranchers who disagree with its Governor-approved route. The U.S. House likes that route, though, and passed a bill approving the pipeline's construction. Meanwhile, the Senate has agreed to debate the topic. And last, but not least, maybe the 113th Congress wasn’t as unproductive as people think.