[imgcontainer right] [img:508743196d74b.preview-620.jpeg] [source]Mason City Globe Gazette[/source] Life does go on, even in an election year. Bill Menner, USDA rural development state director in Iowa, led a rural-issues roundtable discussion Tuesday at the North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City. “We’re not chasing smokestacks anymore, but focusing on entrepreneurship,” he said, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette. [/imgcontainer]

InsideClimate News’ Elizabeth Douglass reports that within the oil industry “the hot topic these days is not the nation’s need to import Canadian oil—it’s the possibility of exporting crude oil produced in the United States.” 

“A paradigm shift happens when reality smacks you upside the head, and reality is now smacking us upside the head,” said Mark Mills, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative, free-market think tank. “We’re about to have a gusher of oil.” Douglass writes:

The flood of crude has caused a wholesale reversal of thinking within the industry, triggering predictions across the political spectrum that the United States could become not only energy self-sufficient but also a major oil exporter whose output could rival Saudi Arabia’s.

Current U.S. oil output isn’t nearly enough to satisfy domestic needs, but some of the newly accessible oil reserves still haven’t been tapped. Already, the gush of home production has created an oversupply of light, sweet crude in the Midwest. Industry analysts expect rising production in Texas and North Dakota will create a similar surplus as early as next year in the Gulf Coast, where the nation’s largest refineries are based—and where ports provide a launching point for overseas exports.

Republicans in Kansas — Columnist Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star reports that the GOP “dominance” in Kansas “reaches all-time high.” 

The latest evidence is that Republicans now have a 342,000 advantage in registered voters, an all time high. 

Glut of Biodiesel — The DesMoines Register reports that “so much biodiesel has been made and sold this year that the federal mandate for use of the biofuel has largely been met, resulting in a sudden loss of demand for the product and the shutdown of at least one Iowa biodiesel refinery.” 

Eat Chocolate, Win a Nobel Prize — An article in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that there is a “significant linear correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries.” 

Why’s that? Well, hypothetically, chocolate consumption could improve cognitive function. 

What Climate Change? — Among the issues not discussed in this year’s campaign — joining rural America and the collapse of the European economy — is climate change. John Broder writes in the New York Times: 

Even after a year of record-smashing temperatures, drought and Arctic ice melt, none of the moderators of the four general-election debates asked about climate change, nor did any of the candidates broach the topic.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have seemed most intent on trying to outdo each other as lovers of coal, oil and natural gas — the very fuels most responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Farmers Support Conservation Funding — The National Farmers Union released a poll of 400 farmers in 13 farm states who had a minimum of $50,000 in annual sales. The NFU asked if farmers thought the level of federal conservation funding should be increased, decreased or stay about the same. 

Almost 9 out of ten farmers said funding for this program should remain the same or grow. The poll also found:

Farmers view conservation programs as critical to dealing with drought conditions.  

Nearly eight in ten farmers (79 percent) say that conservation programs are important to dealing with drought conditions, and the level of intensity is high—43 percent believe conservation programs are very helpful in dealing with drought conditions…Farmers across these thirteen heartland states view conversation programs as highly important, including in a time of drought, and they are strongly opposed to any plan to cut conservation in order to fund short-term drought relief. 

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