A state commission declined Thursday morning to designate eight Lake Erie watersheds as distressed, which would have set in motion requirements to protect the water against toxic algae blooms.The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission instead decided that the rules to protect Lake Erie should be written with input from the agriculture community before the distressed designation will be approved at a Feb. 15 meeting.The decision is the latest in the tug-of-war over the protections between Gov. John Kasich -- whose administration called Thursday’s move a delay tactic -- and members of the agriculture community -- who praised it.In July, Kasich signed an executive order to reduce agricultural runoff that contributes to the algae blooms in the lake, affecting 7,000 farmers in Northwest Ohio. Millions of Ohioans rely on the lake for drinking water, and algae levels were so harmful in 2014, Toledo residents were advised not to drink or use the water.
The Show Me State elected a Republican U.S. senator and, by roughly the same margins, turned around and approved ballot initiatives that reform elections, raise the minimum wage, and legalize medical marijuana.
As many Wisconsin farmers cling to their livelihood, hoping for some relief soon from crushing low commodity prices, some are asking what the state agriculture department will be like after Tony Evers becomes the next governor. Evers didn’t get into much detail on farm issues during his campaign, farmers say, but they’re keenly interested in his views and whom he appoints as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.The department’s work touches nearly everyone in the state, not just farmers, in areas such as state-inspected meat packing plants, enforcement of weights and measures standards, and accuracy of gasoline pumps. Evers has pledged to strengthen the University of Wisconsin Extension's support and market assistance for farmers caught in brutal commodities markets.“Wisconsin farmers are in a crisis as prices within the farm economy have been below production costs for more than three years. Farm families are enduring bankruptcy, health issues and even suicides as rural Wisconsin loses more than one dairy farm every day,” Evers said during his campaign
When the 116th Congress heads to Washington in January, there will be a record number of women in the ranks — at least 123, according to the news website Axios, including the first Muslim women, the first Somali-American, and the first Native American women. There will be more scientists too. On Tuesday, at least eight new science-credentialed candidates were elected: one senator and seven members of the House. Jacky Rosen, a computer programmer who positioned herself as a moderate Democrat, beat her Republican opponent, Dean Heller, in the US Senate race in Nevada.Chrissy Houlahan, an industrial engineer, Democrat, and Air Force veteran, won the House seat in Pennsylvania's 6th District.In South Carolina Joe Cunningham, an ocean scientist, defeated the Republican hopeful Katie Arrington. Sean Casten, a biochemical engineer, defeated Rep. Peter Roskam, the Republican incumbent, in Illinois.Elaine Luria, a nuclear engineer, won her House seat in Virginia. In Illinois' 14th District, Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse, unseated Randy Hultgren. The only new Republican scientist in Congress so far is Oklahoman Kevin Hern, a former aerospace engineer and businessman who handily beat his Democratic challenger.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Monday took up the definitions of farming and agriculture. And those two terms are central to whether some former workers should have received overtime pay at a Whatley, Massachusetts, company that produces bean sprouts.Farm workers in the state receive a lower minimum wage than others, and are not eligible for overtime pay.Attorney Susan Garcia Nofi represents the employees, and said they should have received overtime since they worked in the processing plant at Chang Enterprises. "The employees in this case did not work in the growing rooms, they did not grow or harvest bean sprouts," Garcia Nofi said. "They performed post-harvest work in a factory-like setting."But Chang's attorney, Sandra Lundy, argued the justices should go along with a lower court's interpretation of farming.
The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative is asking for proposals as part of its “Community Based Renewable Energy Programs” – and companies are responding. The program aims to expand access to renewable energy to those living in apartments, as well as small business owners and community groups. The idea is to make clean power available to those who have not had a chance to take advantage of it because of the type of building they live in, or where they are on the island.The energy providers need to produce a minimum of 250 kilowatt hours of energy to take part in the program.The utility cooperative will sign the contracts with the companies, and then individual customers can subscribe to the program — receiving credits on their electric bill for the amount of capacity they purchase. There are financial incentives for delivering electricity between 4 PM and 9 AM —when the sun is not at peak power.
Among the more than 150 statewide measures on ballots in Tuesday's midterm election were several related to climate change and the environment.Voters in 37 states -- many of them in the West -- considered whether they were for or against initiatives related to renewable energy, carbon emissions and offshore drilling.Here's how some of the most notable environmental- and climate change-related measures went, based on preliminary results. Arizona voters rejected Proposition 127 which would have changed the state Constitution to require nongovernmental providers to generate at least half of their annual electricity sales from certain renewable energy sources by 2030. Nevada voters approved State Question No. 6 amending the consititution to require that all utility service providers that sell electricity generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of it from renewable resources -- so that, by 2030, at least half of electricity sold by each provider comes from renewable energy resources. Washington rejected a carbon emission fee on large companies, and SB6269 which taxed crude oil products received through a pipeline. Colorado rejected a ban on oil wells within 2500 ft of occupied buildings, and Alaskans rejected a bill protecting salmon habitats. Florida voters approved an amendment prohibiting offshore drilling.Montana voters rejected permit restrictions on mining that related to water pollution.
California has become the first state in the nation to allow veterinarians to legally talk with clients about cannabis as a treatment option for pets. The new law prevents the California Veterinary Medical Board from disciplining a veterinarian or denying, revoking, or suspending the license of a veterinarian solely for discussing the use of cannabis in an animal for medicinal purposes.The veterinary board must develop guidelines for such discussions on or before January 2020 and post them on its website.The California law authorizes veterinarians only to discuss medical marijuana with clients; prohibitions against recommending, prescribing, dispensing, or administering cannabis or cannabis products to an animal patient remain in place.Additionally, the law prohibits a veterinarian from having a financial relationship with a licensed cannabis business in California, with violators facing fines and loss of their veterinary license.States where medical marijuana is legal—29 so far, plus the District of Columbia—shield physicians from criminal and disciplinary actions for discussing marijuana with patients or recommending or prescribing marijuana to patients. With the recent exception of California, no similar allowances are made for veterinarians.
EPA's announcement of new dicamba regulations comes at a time when states' ability to restrict this kind of federal pesticide label may be under threat. In the past, states have used section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), to pass more restrictive state regulations on federal pesticide labels. For example, the state of Tennessee used Section 24(c) to limit the use of three dicamba herbicides to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the state in 2018 -- even though the federal dicamba label only limited use from sunrise to sunset.That practice may no longer be routine, because EPA is worried that the FIFRA language does not actually support it, state pesticide regulators told DTN."What we've heard is that the purpose of Section 24(c) is to allow additional uses of a federal pesticide, as opposed to restrict uses," said Leo Reed, American Association of Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) board director from Indiana. "And states have been using it to restrict federal labels, and EPA is leery of continuing that process."
What we found amounts to a “Great Reshuffling” – a sorting of human capital, job creation, and business formation that has had vast implications for Americans and their communities. In the years following the recession, top-tier places have thrived, seeing meteoric growth in jobs, businesses, and population. Meanwhile, the number of people living in America’s most distressed zip codes is shrinking as the nature of distress becomes more rural. But the gaps in well-being between prosperous areas and the rest have grown wider, and national rates of growth have become more distant from the experience of the median community. What was once a country of disparate places that converged towards prosperity is now a country of places drifting further apart.The Great Reshuffling has left more Americans enjoying prosperity. The number of people living in prosperous zip codes swelled by 10.2 million between the two periods to a total of 86.5 million—more than any other quintile. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in distressed zip codes fell by 3.4 million between the two periods to a total of 50 million—the smallest population of any quintile.While the overall population in distressed zip codes declined, the number of rural Americans in that category increased by nearly 1 million between the two periods. Rural zip codes exhibited the most volatility and were by far the most likely to be downwardly mobile on the index, with 30 percent dropping into a lower quintile of prosperity—nearly twice the proportion of urban zip codes that fell into a lower quintile. Meanwhile, suburban communities registered the greatest stability, with 61 percent remaining in the same quintile over both periods. Urban zip codes were the most robust—least likely to decline and more likely than their suburban counterparts to rise.