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A NEW REPORT LOOKING AT FEDERAL INVESTIGATIONS OF WAGE AND HOURLY STANDARDS ON U.S. FARMS SHOWS MOST CASES RESULT IN VIOLATIONS. IT SAYS THE PACE OF INVESTIGATIONS IS SLOWING, POTENTIALLY LEAVING MORE MIGRANT WORKERS VULNERABLE.
February 16, 2021
AMES, Iowa — An arctic blast has left all of Iowa frozen in recent days, but the spring planting season is inching closer.
A new report suggests those who work on farms still face obstacles when it comes to workplace protections, and some of the Iowa data isn’t pretty. The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute examined 15 years of federal enforcement of labor standards within agriculture.
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February 10, 2021
LINCOLN, Neb. – New analysis from the financial giant Morgan Stanley projects coal will be all but eliminated from electricity generation in the U.S. by 2033, primarily because of falling prices for renewable sources including wind and solar.
Patrice Tomcik, national field manager for the group Moms Clean Air Force, believes shifting away from fossil fuels can’t come soon enough. She said everyone exposed to air pollution from coal-fired power plants face health risks, but some Nebraskans are more vulnerable. “The reality is that Black, Brown, indigenous and other people of color, and low-income populations and children, are especially impacted by these polluting sources,” Tomcik contended.
Pollution from burning fossil fuels at coal-fired power plants and other sources is responsible for one in five premature deaths globally, according to findings published in the journal Environmental Research. In 2019, Nebraska relied on coal for 55 percent of its electricity, with just 20 percent generated by wind.
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February 9, 2021
BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho congressman may have taken the first step in untangling the tricky knot of dams in the Northwest and their effects on salmon. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, laid out a $33 billion Columbia Basin Fund. While it includes breaching the four lower Snake River dams, it also addresses replacing their benefits, such as energy and irrigation for local agriculture.
Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, said it’s a critical lifeline for the region’s endangered salmon and steelhead. “My reaction to Simpson coming out with this plan is ‘Finally!'” Brooks remarked. “Finally, someone is giving this attention to this issue because it is such a big problem and it is going to require a big solution, and Simpson is giving it the attention it deserves.”
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February 5, 2021
SEATTLE – Washington state is on the right track for electrifying its transportation sector, but still has work to do, according to a new report. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has taken a comprehensive look at states’ policies for deploying electric vehicles, and ranks the Evergreen State sixth in the nation.
The group’s Director of State Policy, Bryan Howard, said Washington could improve in a few key areas.
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February 5, 2021
HELENA, Mont. – New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to lead the U.S. Interior Department is historic for Native Americans. As a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary.
Shelly Fyant, chair of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in western Montana, said the nomination also is important for the divided country. She said Haaland has proven she can be bipartisan and will bring her experience as a Native American woman to the position.
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February 4, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. — New legislation in Congress would protect rivers Oregonians have identified as their most cherished. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., released the River Democracy Act on Wednesday. After hearing from nearly 2,500 Oregonians about which rivers they want protected, the bill would give 4,700 miles of rivers and streams across Oregon a Wild and Scenic River designation.
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January 27, 2021
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Senate has agreed to take up a bill that would increase penalties for produced water spills by the oil and gas industry.
“Produced water” is the flowback from fracking, known to contain dangerous chemicals and heavy metals toxic to humans. Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said spills from produced water occur as frequently as three times a week, and subsequently poison New Mexico’s land, water and air. “Currently this waste really is out of control,” Feibelman contended. “We’re seeing thousands of ponds and corroded steel tanks that store this waste.”
If passed, the legislation also would ban oil and gas companies from using fresh water in most cases, and require them to disclose the chemical composition of produced water from spills and any proposed use outside the oil field.
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January 26, 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. — Experts say food shortages, housing insecurity and other hardships many North Carolinians are experiencing from the pandemic could become commonplace as climate change drives more extreme weather events.
According to the state’s Climate Science Report, the past decade represents the warmest 10-year period on record, and recent data show 2019 was the warmest year to date for North Carolina.
Steffi Rausch, lead organizer for the Asheville Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said warmer temperatures are already driving displacement.
She reported farmworkers and other seasonal workers are leaving other coastal regions and traveling to North Carolina in search of work.
“So we’re finding that people from Florida are definitely moving here more because of the events that they are experiencing down in Florida with sea-level rise and flooding,” Rausch observed.
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January 19, 2021
As of 2019, federal agriculture officials said there were more than 16,000 organic farms in the United States
Iowa is among the top states when it comes to the number of organic farms in operation, but producers have long struggled to obtain crop insurance that can better protect them from losses. A new initiative aims to help close these gaps. Last summer’s derecho storm left many Iowa farm fields flattened.
Kate Hansen, policy assistant at the Center for Rural Affairs, said these situations can be especially devastating for small to mid-size producers who don’t have the right crop insurance that can soften the blow. She noted about a decade ago, when more organic farms came into existence, there weren’t many coverage plans that matched up with their products. But that’s changed.
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January 22, 2021
HELENA, Mont. – President Joe Biden made the Keystone XL Pipeline one of his top priorities on his first day in office, issuing an executive order to revoke the controversial project’s permit. Tribes and conservation groups are cheering the decision. The pipeline aimed to deliver 800,000 gallons per day of Alberta tar sands through Montana on its way to Louisiana and Texas. Bill Whitehead is chairman of the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System in northeastern Montana.
He said it’s been a long-fought battle, with many ups and downs.
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January 29, 2021
TUCSON, Ariz. – President Joe Biden signed executive orders this week aimed at tackling climate change, curbing pollution, conserving natural resources and addressing environmental justice.
To further develop his administration’s policies, the directives also created a federal Office of Climate Change and a National Climate Task Force to formulate objectives on global warming and public health. Arizona State Rep. Andrés Cano – D-Tucson – said after years of climate inaction, Biden’s changes are both welcome and essential
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January 13, 2021
DES MOINES, Iowa – As calls grow for President Donald Trump’s removal from office over the Capitol riot, other groups say his environmental policies have put the country in peril in a different way.
The current urgency from House Democrats is focused on the 25th Amendment or a second impeachment, but groups that want action on climate change feel the Trump administration has long been unresponsive on environmental issues.
Alex Cornell du Houx, who heads the group Elected Officials to Protect America, said impeachment would prevent Trump from seeking office again and from having influence on protecting air and water quality.
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January 14, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — To help the next generation of farmers, a West Virginia community farm group is raising funds to acquire land for future growers and beef up a sustainable agriculture economy in a former coal region.
Ian McSweeney, director of the Agrarian Trust, said the national organization is working with its Mountain State arm, the West Virginia Agrarian Commons, to buy an 82-acre farm in Fayette County with a 99-year lease.
He noted the average age of farmland owners is about 65 and the cooperative farm will lower costs to make it easier for new growers to enter agriculture production.
“Existing farmers are aging out, the cost of farmland and farming is considerable, which leads to 37 mid-sized farms a day closing,” McSweeney explained. “It’s just financially unsustainable for farmers to exit and next-generation farmers to take over.”Open document settingsOpen publish panel.