Earth NewsComments Off on Fracking figures into WNC Senate race
They are running in state Senate District 50, which is comprised of the state’s seven westernmost counties. Fracking uses water and chemicals to mine natural gas. Critics say it can pollute ground water. Supporters say it is safe in some cases. fracking wastewater – read more
Earth NewsComments Off on With Bipartisan Support, Senate Passes Bill Banning Fracking Wastewater
Reviving a fight with the Christie administration, the state Senate yesterday with bipartisan support easily approved a bill (S-1041) barring the processing and discharge of waste from drilling operations to extract natural gas from shale deposits in … fracking wastewater – read more
Earth NewsComments Off on Connecticut Fracking Waste Bill Compromise Reached In State Senate
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s Senate on Monday endorsed a bipartisan compromise on how to handle the possibility of waste coming to Connecticut from hydraulic fracturing operations in other states. The legislation creates a moratorium on the waste … fracking wastewater – read more
Earth NewsComments Off on Late and lame, farm bill finally clears Senate
Today the U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill, a massive piece of legislation that sets U.S. agricultural policy until 2023. The bill is 353 days overdue, and lawmakers will still have to reconcile it with the version making its way through the House before it becomes a law. You may recall that once there was hope for major reform in the legislation: Strip away the subsidies supporting giant monocultures, and move that money to support the kind of farming that makes people, and the environment, healthier.
Remember that? Yeah, not going to happen.
The bill is called S. 954, Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, which is a bit misleading. A small fraction of the bill is concerned with risk management and even less devoted to reform. The most accurate part is the 954 — which is about how much the bill would cost over a decade, in billions of dollars. A better title would be the Crop Insurance, Conservation and Food Stamps Act.
Here’s what changes actually made it into the bill: The Senate cut $ 41 billion in direct payments to farmers, but added a lot of that back in the form of crop insurance and disaster relief. Senators reduced the money for food stamps by $ 4 billion and cut conservation programs by $ 3.5 billion. (Details here [PDF], and Brad Plumer at Wonkblog has done a nice job breaking this down in plain English.)
You might expect the farm bill would have had an even tougher time of it: After all, coastal Democrats have constituencies pushing to cut the subsidies to big farms, and Republicans are generally against government payments. Why aren’t politicians pushing harder for genuine reform, or, barring that, just allowing the bill to die? As it turns out, the farm bill has bipartisan support, even though both Republicans and Democrats criticize it. That’s because each side gets a lot from this legislation.
Democrats get help for the poor. A huge chunk of the Senate’s farm bill, 80 percent, goes toward food stamps. (Food stamp use ballooned during the recession.) Republicans come across the aisle at the bequest of agricultural constituents. Most of the farm subsidies go to red states, or Republican districts within blue states.
There are also those conservation payments, which keep environmentalists on board, along with millions for organic farmers, money for the next generation of greenhorns just starting out, funds for farmers markets, sustainable agriculture research, and local food projects. In the end, there just aren’t many politicians who would be willing to let the farm bill die.
The biggest difference between the Senate and the House bills (and therefore the biggest potential fight) is the size of the cuts to food stamps. Instead of cutting $ 4 billion, the House has proposed cutting food programs for the poor by $ 20.5 billion, and some conservatives say that’s not nearly enough. (Interestingly, one of the congressmembers most forcefully for food-stamp cuts, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, gets his own farm bill welfare.)
It’s true that 80 percent of $ 955 billion in government spending is a lot of money. But liberals like to point out that food stamps are an extremely effective form of stimulus, and note that the people who get them really need the help. As The Economist put it:
It is also hard to argue that food-stamp recipients are undeserving. About half of them are children, and another 8% are elderly. Only 14% of food-stamp households have incomes above the poverty line; 41% have incomes of half that level or less, and 18% have no income at all. The average participating family has only $ 101 in savings or valuables.
It’s a little sad that this is what we’ve come to: Fighting over food stamps, when once there was hope that this bill might bring about an agricultural revolution. You may have also heard of any number of interesting amendments aimed at legalizing industrial hemp, saving honeybees, labeling genetically modified foods, and limiting antibiotic use in livestock. There were hundreds of these amendments up for debate, but most never had a chance, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to cut off the debate on these stragglers and put the bill to a vote.
Of course there’s still the possibility that the House will fail to pass any farm bill at all. Or that the House and Senate won’t make a deal before Sept. 30, when the current farm bill will expire once again.
Filed under: Business & Technology, Food, Politics Grist
Earth NewsComments Off on Obama’s energy, environment picks face Senate grilling this week
Both nominees are Massachusetts natives with Washington experience. Nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, Obama’s nominee for energy secretary, will appear before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday. On Thursday, Gina … Continue reading »
Earth NewsComments Off on Senate GOP tells Obama to tone down the attacks – Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm … – wflx
Senate GOP tells Obama to tone down the attacks – Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm… wflx WASHINGTON (AP) – Polite yet firm, Senate Republicans told President Barack Obama on Thursday to tone down his political attacks and prod Democratic allies to support controversial changes in Medicare if he wants a compromise reducing deficits and …
Earth NewsComments Off on Supervisor Farr to Testify at State Senate Hearing on Hydraulic Fracturing – Noozhawk
Supervisor Farr to Testify at State Senate Hearing on Hydraulic Fracturing Noozhawk Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr will be offering testimony regarding hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) on Tuesday morning to the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Water and Environmental …
Earth NewsComments Off on Senate candidate Sadler talks Farm Bill, hydraulic fracturing, border security … – LubbockOnline.com
Senate candidate Sadler talks Farm Bill, hydraulic fracturing, border security … LubbockOnline.com Democratic Senate candidate Paul Sadler talked border security, the politics that kept Congress from passing a farm bill this summer and hydraulic fracturing as part of a question-and-answer session with the Avalanche-Journal Tuesday. Sadler faces …
Earth NewsComments Off on Senate panel supports California fracking moratorium – Los Angeles Times
Senate panel supports California fracking moratorium Los Angeles Times A state Senate panel has approved legislation that would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing in California until regulators write rules governing the controversial procedure.
Earth NewsComments Off on NC Senate panel OKs framework to regulate fracking – CBS News
NC Senate panel OKs framework to regulate fracking CBS News A divided Senate Commerce Committee voted in favor of the measure, which would lift a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. But state permits wouldn't occur for at least another two years while regulations are developed, and the General Assembly … Fracking Bill Passes NC Senate CommitteeWFAE.org
Fracking bill approved by NC Senate committeeCharlotte Observer