House lawmakers in both parties are hoping to use a spending bill to block offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the waterways off their states’ coasts. A handful of lawmakers, mainly from coastal states, are sponsoring proposed amendments to the annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would block Interior funding to allow drilling in particular areas.
Six New Hampshire biomass plants might be in jeopardy of closing after a bill was recently vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu. The governor said the bill could have cost Granite Staters millions, but plant managers and employees said the plants are in jeopardy if lawmakers don't act. The governor issued the veto in June, saying the veto would not take anything away from the biomass industry. He said the bill would have given the industry an additional $30 million in subsidies, and vetoing it saved ratepayers about $25 million. Plant managers said the veto has already had an impact. At Pinetree, the pile of wood chips that fuels the plant is running low and will likely last for about a week."Once we go through that fuel, we will go into economic shutdown," manager Robert Lussier said.Officials at six biomass plants that employ about 900 people said they could close if nothing changes.
The Canadian government has announced an investment of up to C$14 million to help the country’s beef industry to boost sustainability and exports, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said in a news release. Ottawa’s contribution to the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) adds to the BCRC’s own contribution of up to C$7.6 million, for a total investment of about C$21 million. BCRC is a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Clusters.
Governor Scott announced that more than $1.6 million has been awarded to support projects in rural communities across the state. This grant funding was provided through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help with the planning, preparation and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities. These projects will result in job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of Florida’s rural economies. During Gov. Scott’s time in office, every county has had a decrease in unemployment and every region in Florida has experienced job growth.
Virginia regulators have accused the builder of the Mountain Valley Pipeline of environmental violations punishable by fines and repair mandates, saying the company’s failure to install and maintain erosion-control devices has fouled 8,800 feet of streams in six locations.The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality gave Robert Cooper, project manager for EQT Corp. in Pittsburgh, a nine-page notice of violations on Monday. The energy company, which hopes to fill the line with natural gas by the end of the year and is permitted to continue working, has 10 days to respond.Five months into tree-clearing, grading and digging needed to bury the pipe, the $3 billion project faces possible state enforcement action for the first time. West Virginia previously notified EQT of alleged violations on that state’s portion of the pipeline.
North Dakota's attorney general is suing the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline over agricultural land the company owns in violation of a state law banning large corporations from owning farmland. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a civil complaint in state district court against Dakota Access LLC, a company formed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to build the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline began operating a year ago. Dakota Access in September 2016 bought about 6,000 acres (2,400 hectares) from a ranch family in an area of southern North Dakota where thousands of pipeline opponents had gathered to protest. North Dakota law prohibits large corporations from owning and operating farms, to protect the state's family farming heritage, but Stenehjem reached a deal with the company under which he agreed not to immediately sue. He deemed the purchase temporarily necessary to provide a safer environment for pipeline workers. The agreement with the company expired at the end of last year but was extended through June. The company's "continued ownership of the land constitutes a continuing violation of state law,"
The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held June 28 through July 1 in Los Angeles, Ca. The event was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Mercy for Animals, The Save Movement, Compassion Over Killing and The Humane League, along with other animal rights extremist groups. According to conference organizers, the Animal Rights National Conference is the world’s largest and longest-running gathering of animal rights activists with the shared belief that “animals have the right to be free from all forms of human exploitation.” Speakers at the conference made it clear that their objective is the liberation of animals, not enhancing animal welfare. “Animal rights is different from animal welfare. It’s not about better cages; it’s about empty cages,”said Anita Krajnc of The Save Movement, a group who conducts “vigils” at slaughterhouses across the country. Speakers agreed that any form of meat production is inherently inhumane, making statements such as “There is no such thing as humane slaughter” (Michael Budkie, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!), “You cannot humanely kill something that doesn’t want to die”(Justin Van Kleek, Triangle Chicken Advocates), “I do believe that all farming and slaughterhouses are cruel”(Jaya Bhumitra, Animal Equality) and “All farms are factory farms, no matter the size”(Hope Bonahec, United Poultry Concerns).
More than 4 of every 5 acres of non-federal land in Colorado would be off-limits to new oil and gas drilling if voters this fall approve a proposed ballot measure that aims to significantly widen the distance wells have to be from occupied buildings and water sources, according to an analysis released this month by state energy regulators.The report, which doesn’t directly address the initiative’s potential economic impact, comes at the fever pitch of a yearslong dispute over how and where companies access mineral rights. Supporters call the industry an engine of economic growth, whereas critics point to the fading gap between extraction sites and fast-expanding neighborhoods.Initiative 97 would establish the minimum setback of oil and gas wells to 2,500 feet — from the current 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for schools. Industry advocates warn that would decimate the state’s oil and gas sector, which was cited in a recent Colorado Petroleum Council study for having generated nearly 233,000 jobs in Colorado and contributed more than $31 billion to the state’s economy.
Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, is experiencing growing disparity between rural and urban centers.To reverse this trend, Massachusetts requires a rural strategy for economic growth. We must do more to attract investment that retains and expands existing jobs, stimulates the creation of new jobs and attracts new business and industry in these parts of the commonwealth. Between 2010 and 2017, the nation’s population grew by some 17 million people. But while cities grew, it was the first extended period on record with population decline in rural areas as a whole.The same was true in Massachusetts. Between 2010 and 2017, the population of the commonwealth grew by some 312,000 people, while the population fell in three of our most rural counties: Berkshire, Franklin and Barnstable.As elected officials representing rural western Massachusetts, we’ve worked together to reverse this trajectory. Specifically, we’ve fought to bring high-speed internet and improved rural transportation to the region as well as links to regional economic centers. We’ve worked to bring more money to our rural schools. And, we’ve supported our regional employment boards and a middle skills manufacturing initiative, which trains people in our region the skills they’ll need to get jobs in advanced manufacturing firms.But there is more we can do.We have introduced the Rural Jobs Act for Massachusetts. This legislation is aimed at attracting private capital investment to the small communities that help make up our commonwealth. This month, the state House of Representatives and Senate are debating an economic development bond bill, and this should be a part of that effort.
The recent award of $25 million in damages to residents who sued a Smithfield hog farm prompted a rally this week in support of hog farmers, and proposals that could restrict such lawsuits are moving through the state legislature. Several hundred people gathered in Duplin County, N.C., to support hog farmers across the state that could become targets of what the protesters called nuisance lawsuits over the disposal of hog waste or other environmental impacts. The protesters contend that many complaints were not launched by residents, but by teams of lawyers who filed class-action suits.The report quotes the state’s commissioner of agriculture, Steve Troxler, saying the family at the center of the Smithfield lawsuit could lose their hogs and possibly go out of business in the wake of the decision.Smithfield is expected to appeal the $25 million damage ruling, which the report said could be reduced to about $500,000.