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Groups to sue US agency over loss of caribou herd

San Francisco Gate | Posted on February 14, 2019

Environmental groups plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to prevent the recent loss of the last herd of mountain caribou in the Lower 48 states. The handful of remaining animals were relocated into Canada last November, ending decades of efforts to save the southern Selkirk Mountains herd, which were located in a remote part of northern Idaho and Washington state.

The $4.8 trillion immigration issue that is being overlooked by Washington

CNBC | Posted on February 14, 2019

As Congress and President Donald Trump continue to butt heads over a border wall and immigration policy, one of the main issues being overlooked is the contribution refugees and immigrant entrepreneurs have on the U.S. economy. When you pull back the curtain on the issue, the facts are mindblowing. According to the National Immigration Forum, immigrant-owned businesses employ more than 19 million people and generate $4.8 trillion in revenue. They also play a key role in revitalizing neighborhoods, cities and regions that have seen economic decline. The bottom line: Immigrants provide rocket fuel for small business on Main Street and for the Silicon Valley start-up universe. Immigrants account for roughly 28 percent of small business owners in the U.S., and they are two times more likely to become entrepreneurs than native-born businessmen.



The Green New Deal versus rural America

National Review | Posted on February 14, 2019

The Green New Deal is the shiny new object in Washington. Rolled out last week by Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.), the proposal is a grab-bag of policies that covers everything from creating “high-quality union jobs” to universal health care. It has been endorsed by four Democratic contenders for the White House and nearly 70 members of the House of Representatives. The fundamental charge of the Green New Deal is the “green” part: The U.S. is supposed to get to “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.” Achieving such a goal (and doing it in just ten years) would require overhauling nearly every piece of energy infrastructure in the country. That’s where the Green New Deal parts company with the real New Deal — and, in fact, contradicts the achievements of the legislators who helped ensure rural electrification, and by doing so, helped set the table for America’s emergence as an economic superpower after World War II. Two pieces of New Deal legislation changed the shape and structure of America’s energy sector: The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 busted the big electric utilities that had a stranglehold on America’s electric grid, and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 provided low-cost federally backed loans to electric cooperatives and other entities, which allowed them to build their own electric grids and be independent of the big utilities. Those laws helped slash electricity costs for rural customers and led to a broad dissemination of economic and political power across the country that was critical to the development of western and southern states. And that leads to my thesis: If the Green New Deal becomes a reality, it will dramatically increase electricity costs and concentrate economic and political power in big business and in Washington. In short, the biggest costs of the all-renewable-energy push will be paid not by urban liberals such as Ocasio-Cortez, who are pushing the Green New Deal, but by rural Americans who probably voted for Donald Trump.


The big Alaskan land giveaway tucked into a sweeping conservation bill

Washington Post | Posted on February 13, 2019

The Senate passed the biggest conservation bill in years. The Natural Resources Management Act of 2019 swells with more than 100 combined pieces of legislation related to public lands, water and natural resources. Many environmentalists are happy: Wins for public lands and wildlife have been scarce in recent years under an alternately hostile and sclerotic GOP-controlled Congress. The bill is expected to sail through the House. Slice open this giant haggis and peer inside, though: Something reeks. The act contains language that would hand over nearly a half-million acres of federal lands in Alaska — your land and mine — to private hands. That is an area roughly equal to half the size of Long Island, or 31 Manhattans.Alaska’s two senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, say their proposal would correct a lingering injustice by granting up to 160 acres each to Native Alaskans who are Vietnam War veterans and who missed out on an earlier chance to stake a land claim because of military service during that war. They estimate about 2,800 veterans and heirs could take advantage of the program, which means 448,000 acres of land could be handed out. It presents a thorny issue for conservationists: Justice for Native veterans! What anthracite heart could object?


EPA wins new chance to argue against pesticide ban

Reuters | Posted on February 12, 2019

The Trump administration has persuaded a U.S. appeals court to reconsider its recent decision ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos, which critics say can harm children and farmers.the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it will again review former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 refusal to ban chlorpyrifos for use on food crops such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.Pruitt’s ruling reversed a 2015 Obama administration plan to extend a 2000 ban on the pesticide that had covered most household settings.

U.S. to end tomato trade pact with Mexico, threatening duties

Reuters | Posted on February 11, 2019

The United States will resume an anti-dumping investigation into Mexican tomatoes, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, withdrawing from a 2013 managed trade deal that U.S. growers and lawmakers say has failed. The move opens a new source of trade friction between the United States and Mexico, Commerce said it was giving the required 90-day notice before terminating the six-year-old agreement not to pursue anti-dumping cases against fresh tomato imports from Mexico.The action could lead to new duties on Mexican tomatoes, higher consumer prices and possible retaliation at a time when the two countries are still wrangling over U.S. tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum.

EU to cash $70bn in from trade war, Brazil to benefit $10bn: UN

Agricensus (free registration required) | Posted on February 9, 2019

The European Union will profit the most from changes in global trade due to the US-China trade war, with Brazil cashing in $10.5 billion annually if the world’s two largest economies expand the trade war, a UN report published this week showed. The study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that the EU will benefit from $70 billion worth of increased trade, equivalent to 0.9% of the bloc’s total exports.Of that headline figure, $50 billion will replace Chinese exports to the US, with $20 billion capturing US exports to China.President Trump has warned that if no deal is reached by March 1, the additional tax rates on Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% with China to react reciprocally.The UN estimates that of the $250 billion of Chinese exports taxed by the US, 82% will be snatched up by firms in third countries, with 12% to be retained by Chinese firms and just 6% by US companies.Conversely, of the $110 billion of US exports taxed by China, 85% will go to other countries, with US firms holding on to 10%, and Chinese companies only seeing a 5% increase.Brazil, who became China’s number one soybean supplier in 2018 following the trade war, will benefit to the tune of $10.5 billion, equivalent to a 3.8% increase in annual exports and making it the eight largest beneficiary from the trade war.Yet, only 20% of that increase is due to Chinese tariffs on US goods, meaning that the largest benefits for Brazil are to be reaped from additional trade with the US, such as metals and machinery, rather than additional soybean sales to China.

WOTUS controversy: What’s that about?

Ag Policy | Posted on February 7, 2019

On February 28, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13778, “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” While not making any immediate changes to WOTUS, the executive order set in motion a process that included the suspension of the WOTUS changes by EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt in January 2018, and the issuance of a new rule, “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States,’” in December 2018 by Acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler.Due to the ongoing government shutdown, the new rule has not been published in the Federal Register. As a result, the 60-day comment period will not start until official publication, but our readers can download the rule from that site and read the rule for themselves.The gist of the change is that it removes ephemeral streams from the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers which is responsible for the navigable waters of the US. Ephemeral streams are generally described as those which are dry most of the year but regularly flow for 7 days or less as the result of heavy rains or snow melt. Most of the areas affected by the inclusion of ephemeral streams are in the arid west.So why might the original WOTUS rule that was made by the Obama era make sense and why might the repeal be a problem?A better solution changing WOTUS may be to require the federal government to map the areas that it determines are in the watershed of ephemeral streams. Then farmers will not be faced the problem of not knowing whether or not they need to apply for a permit before engaging changes to their land.

USDA Wetlands Rule Draws Agriculture Groups' Ire

DTN | Posted on February 7, 2019

 Agriculture and environmental groups alike are not impressed with USDA's interim final rule on wetland conservation and highly erodible land posted in December. A public comment period on the rule closed on Tuesday. USDA made revisions to codify technical portions of the existing agency policy that had not undergone public review and comment. The revisions amend four sections of USDA's regulations.Agriculture groups, in particular, made the case in public comments that USDA has not followed proper procedure on the regulations from the get-go, and it is making an already confusing situation worse for farmers.

Oregon bill aims to prevent Trump environmental "rollbacks"

Capital Press | Posted on February 7, 2019

A bill requiring Oregon government agencies to protect against “rollbacks” of federal environmental regulations has been dismissed as “political theater” by farm, ranch and timber organizations. Under House Bill 2250, state natural resource agencies would have to monitor whether changes to federal air and water regulations have fallen short of standards enacted under the Obama administration.The Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies would then recommend or take actions to ensure that Oregon’s environmental rules maintain or exceed the federal protections before the Trump administration took office.