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[imgcontainer][img:louisaplants.jpg][source]Daily Yonder/Shawn Poynter[/source]American Electric Power plans to close its coal-fired plant near Louisa, Kentucky. The state’s historic dependence on coal for cheap energy is the subject of a column by Ronnie Ellis (see below). [/imgcontainer]
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Farm Bill — Congress has six legislative weeks to get its act together to reconcile the House and Senate versions of a new farm bill.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) says there’s time to get the job done. But she’s putting pressure on the House to start the conference talks that would lead to a compromise bill, Chris Clayton reports in the Progressive Farmer.
Clayton has an excellent synopsis and explanation of the key differences between the two bills.
The issue grabbing headlines is how the House version of the bill dropped the nutrition program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – what used to be called food stamps). But there’s another key difference that could affect the future of ag legislation.
The House version undoes the permanent agriculture laws of 1938 and 1949. Currently, if Congress fails to pass a new farm bill, the law reverts to these older laws. The policies and price triggers in those old pieces of legislation are onerous to many. And that threat has ensured that Congress acts.
Without the threat of those permanent laws kicking in, Congress’ approach to farm bills in the future could be quite different.
New Hampshire Poll — Residents of New Hampshire favor putting a higher priority on renewable energy instead of increased drilling for oil, a poll conducted at the University of New Hampshire shows.
The findings are part of a brief from the university’s Carsey Institute. The poll of Granite State residents shows:
- Two-thirds of New Hampshire residents surveyed think that, for the future of this country, increasing renewable energy should be a higher priority than the exploration and drilling of oil.
- Large majorities of Democrats and independents, and a sizable minority of Republicans, favor renewable energy development.
- Nine in 10 New Hampshire residents believe that climate change is happening now. Fifty-four percent agree with the scientific consensus that current changes are caused mainly by human activities, whereas 36 percent believe they are caused mainly by natural forces.
Coal-Powered Plants — Ronnie Ellis of CNHI, a Kentucky newspaper group, looks at the historic alliance of coal, cheap electricity and manufacturing in the Bluegrass State. That alliance is faltering because of air pollution restrictions and changing energy markets. “There are no good or easy answers [to the problem],” he writes. “Denying it exists will only make the problem worse and delay the inevitable. We had better be thinking about the future rather than living in the past.”
Tubal Ligations – Rural women in their 20s and 30s are more likely to get tubal ligations than women those ages who live in cities or suburbs, a study finds.
Researchers speculated that rural women might be more likely to get the irreversible birth-control procedure at a younger age because they don’t have access to or can’t afford other forms of contraception. On the other hand, the authors noted, rural women have less access to doctors who perform such procedures.
The study looked at data from 4,700 women aged 20 to 34. “About 23 percent of women living in rural areas of the U.S. said they’d been sterilized,” Reuters reported. ”That compared to less than 13 percent of urban and suburban women.”