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SARL Members and Alumni News

Washington sets aside $21.55 million for faster rural internet

Capital Press | Posted on May 9, 2019

Over the next two years, Washington plans to lend $14.44 million and give another $7.11 million to public agencies, tribes and businesses to bring high-speed internet to rural areas and Indian reservations. The money, set aside in the new two-year capital budget, is a fraction of the $1 billion the Washington Independent Telecommunications Association estimates will be needed to blanket the state with service that meets the federal definition of high-speed internet.Because the funding will be mostly loans, the program may not do much to introduce internet to isolated areas with few paying customers, the association’s executive director, Betty Buckley, said.“If we could make money or even repay a loan, we’d have done it already,” said Buckley, who represents 18 small companies that serve rural areas. “We are cutting out the really remote areas,” she said. “Everyone wants to make rural broadband happen, but no one wants to pay for it.”

Bill Would Allow Vets To Report Suspected Animal Abuse

WUFT | Posted on May 9, 2019

Veterinarians in Florida may soon be able to report suspected animal abuse they witness at work. The Florida Senate is considering a criminal justice bill, HB 7125, that would allow vets to report suspected criminal violations, like animal abuse, to authorities as long as the animal doesn’t live on agricultural land. Clients who own the animal on agricultural land would need to be given notice before the vet can call the authorities.Currently, state law prohibits vets from discussing a patient’s condition without a subpoena and notice to the client. While federal law says health care providers may disclose information to authorities regarding child abuse or neglect, that doesn’t apply to animals.The law now penalizes vets who share medical records by referring them for disciplinary action by the state’s licencing board. If the bill passes, the Board of Veterinary Medicine would no longer have the authority to discipline a licensee, said Patrick Fargason, the spokesman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.Of vets surveyed nationally, 87 percent said they’ve encountered at least one case of animal abuse at work

New York wants to fight climate change through good farming. Here's the dirt.

Grist | Posted on May 9, 2019

Dobson’s work drew the attention of Barrett a few years back. In 2015, she toured the farm for the first time and asked him for advice on how to incentivize climate change–thwarting farming practices. “It just seemed like a no brainer,” Barrett said. “New York can lead on this.” The resulting pilot project, included in this year’s state budget, will test out different methods of farming in a way that promotes soil health and fights global warming.It’s true that nothing quite compares to the natural ability of trees to soak up carbon dioxide. Reforesting parts of the U.S. could sink up 307 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 65 million cars), whereas cover cropping could mitigate 103 million metric tons (another 21 million cars), according to a 2018 study in Science Advances.But humans need farms to survive. And it’s Dobson’s kind of farm that might just help us survive in the long run.

Federal court rules Ohio’s congressional map is unconstitutional

Fox News | Posted on May 9, 2019

A federal court on Friday found Ohio’s congressional map unconstitutional, ordering that a new map be proposed by June ahead of the 2020 elections -- and blocking the state from holding another election under the current map.“Accordingly, we declare Ohio’s 2012 map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, enjoin its use in the 2020 election, and order the enactment of a constitutionally viable replacement,” the decision said.

In North Carolina, bill to raise electric vehicle registration fees stalls

Energy News Network | Posted on May 8, 2019

Meanwhile, a bill that would fine drivers for blocking charging stations advances in the House. Some North Carolina state lawmakers want to fine drivers of gasoline-powered cars for blocking charging plugs for electric vehicles. Others want to hike annual registration fees for plug-in cars to become the highest in the country.“On one side, you’ve got something good for [electric vehicles], on the other — really just the worst,” said freshman Sen. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat from Cary, who authored a bill (S511) to outlaw blocking charging stations and has fought against raising electric vehicle fees.

California to ban controversial pesticide blamed for harming child brain development

CBS News | Posted on May 8, 2019

The nation's most productive agricultural state will ban a widely used toxic pesticide blamed for harming brain development in babies, California officials said. The move would outlaw chlorpyrifos after scientists deemed it a toxic air contaminant and discovered it to be more dangerous than previously thought. State Environmental Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said it's the first time the state has sought to ban a pesticide and the move was overdue."This pesticide is a neurotoxin and it was first put on the market in 1965," Blumenfeld said. "So it's been on the shelf a long time and it's past its sell-by date."

Pipeline Protesters Could Face 10 Years in Prison Under Bill OK’d by Texas House

Texas Observer | Posted on May 7, 2019

Two industry-backed bills in the Texas Legislature would charge environmental activists who allegedly engage in civil disobedience at oil and gas sites with a felony.

Hawaii Moves Closer to Its Goal of Carbon Neutrality

Forbes | Posted on May 1, 2019

In March 2019, just two months after utility Hawaii Electric (HECO) submitted seven large solar plus battery storage projects for review, the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) approved six projects priced at $0.10/kWh or lower, making it the largest and lowest cost portfolio of renewables developed at one time in the state. The projects will contribute 247 MW of solar energy and 998 MWh of energy storage. The entire capacity of all six projects will be in 4-hour duration batteries. Unlike projects in most US states, the bulk of solar projects deployed in Hawaii are rooftop solar, not utility-scale. These projects will greatly increase the capacity of utility-scale solar on the archipelago, more than tripling the current output and moving the island closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.

Program helping young farmers buy land

Recorrd Online | Posted on May 1, 2019

Farmland protection goals in the Hudson Valley are shifting from keeping valuable agricultural land out of the hands of developers to putting it in the hands of a new generation of farmers. The sale of the late Bill Topp’s 196-acre farm in Mount Hope to Trish and Matt Southway represents the first time new affordability tools have been used in the Hudson Valley toward this end - and one of the first times in New York.“Conventional easements – also known as the purchase of development rights - simply restrict future development,″ said Matt Decker, director of conservation at the Orange County Land Trust. “They don’t guarantee the land will be farmed or be financially accessible to farmers. What we’ve done is ensure that this farm is a farm forever.”These additional provisions about the land’s use effectively reduced the price of the Topp house and farm from its market value, roughly $870,000, to its agricultural value, $300,000, and brought it within the Southways’ reach.

CAFO foes fight bill to limit inspection power

Columbia Daily Tribune | Posted on May 1, 2019

Opponents of a House bill that would limit authority to inspect animal farming operations say local control is necessary, while supporters say it would protect farmers from animal rights activists and other entities want to put them out of business. The bill allows the state departments of agriculture and natural resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “and any other federal or Missouri state agency with statutory or regulatory authority” to inspect operations with livestock, poultry, dairy, egg production or dog breeding. The only local authority with inspection power would be the county sheriff, which Haden added as an amendment after introducing the bill.The bill is one of several in the legislature that would limit local authority over concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit local health agencies from imposing regulations stricter than state or federal rules. The Senate debated the bill earlier this month but has not voted on it.