This week at progressive state blogs: Demanding progress on climate; Making Aberdeen LGBTQ inclusive

At MN Progressive Project, Dan Burns writes—Minnesota soybean farmers could get crushed by Trump trade war:

When Republicans do well in elections in Minnesota, it’s generally because outstate DFLers didn’t vote. It seems like many only do vote when they’re angry, anxious, really disgusted, etc.

The president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) issued a scathing statement Wednesday in response to Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China that suggests just how “devastating” Trump’s offensive could be at the polls in November.
 
“It should surprise no one that China immediately retaliated against our most important exports, including soybeans. We have been warning the administration and members of Congress that this would happen since the prospect for tariffs was raised,” ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer said, adding that China’s plan to impose 25 percent levies on soybeans would be “devastating” to American soybean farmers.
(Daily Kos)

It’s probably more likely than not that something will get worked out before the next harvest. But in any case uncertainty makes it harder to get loans and so forth. And the last thing a lot of farmers need is more stress.

At Louisiana Voice, Tom Aswell writes—Are those silver and gold decals being offered to LSTA donors subtle messages that driver is not to get a ticket?

Just when you thought enough had been written about the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), wouldn’t you know that the organization sent out solicitation letters to three members it had kicked out a couple of years back because they questioned the group’s political activity?

Talk about adding insult to injury. […]

Louisiana Voices state blog

So, now there’s this Trooper Talk which informs potential donors that any contribution will get them a couple of window stickers that will, in case you are pulled over for a traffic violation, tell troopers that you are a cheapskate who wouldn’t even pony up $50. But if you give between $50 and $100, you will get a dandy “Silver Distinguished Donors badge.” 

Now this is just any old silver distinguished donors badge. It has a genuine magnetic back “and should be placed on the driver’s side of your vehicle’s trunk or rear door.” (emphasis added.) (Now, why would they suggest placing them there? For better trooper visibility perhaps, hmmm?)

At Blue NC, scharrison writes—Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy’s self-regulating “research” is flawed:

Extracted from the 2017 4th quarter Executive Summary of the Allen Steam Station:

An update to the 2016 human health and ecological risk assessment was conducted. There is no evidence of unacceptable risk to humans and wildlife at Allen attributed to CCR constituent migration in groundwater from the ash basins. The only evidence of potential unacceptable human related risks estimated in the 2016 risk assessment was under the hypothetical subsistence fisherman scenario due to concentrations of cobalt in fish tissue. This risk assessment update supports that the fisher risks were overestimated based on conservative exposure (it is unlikely subsistence fishermen exist in the area) and modeled fish tissue uptake assumptions (modeled concentrations likely exceed actual fish tissue concentrations if measured), supporting a risk classification of “Low” based upon groundwater related considerations.

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This is not research, it’s rhetoric, carefully crafted to leave the reader confident there’s nothing to worry about. The “cobalt in fish” thing is simply a red herring, if you’ll pardon my use of a saltwater species to drive home a point. If they reported they’d found nothing at all, people wouldn’t believe them. So we get cobalt in fish, that nobody’s going to eat anyway. Just an aside: Cobalt concentrations detected in at least three common species have been proven to reduce appetite, subsequently stunting growth in the fish affected. The truth is, there are several other toxins even worse than cobalt leaking from the Allen plant […]

Duke Energy plays a clever little game with its supposed “third party” research stuff, making the end result a mixed bag of hard data and soft marketing and public relations efforts. In almost all (genuine) scholarly research, the Executive Summary elevates the most important findings so they can be understood and dealt with in a timely fashion. Duke Energy, on the other hand, has a habit of doing the opposite: Burying important data and elevating dubious conclusions. And they’ve been caught red-handed engaging in this misdirection:

Included in the thousands of pages of documents provided to WBTV by UNCC in response to a public records request was evidence that Duke Energy executives re-wrote portions of a scientific report submitted by Langley.

At Blog for Arizona, Jana Segal writes—My letter to the City Council urging them to fight against TEP’s gas-fired generators:

Here is my e-mail to Mayor Rothschild and the Tucson City Council members detailing our efforts and asking for them to join the good fight. I hope this inspires you to write a letter to your council member (maybe not so long…lol)

Dear City Council Member_____,

The city council committed to support the Paris Climate Agreement and take steps to combat climate change. But it will take a more proactive approach than adding some solar panels on city property or installing a few water recharge basins.

state blogs, blog for Arizona

With some strong leadership, Tucson could become a model for sustainable practices. An oasis in the desert. A destination for ecological tourism. But none of this will be possible if we continue to accelerate climate change by allowing TEP to install 10 gas-fired RICE generators, encouraging our car culture by widening roads, and approving perpetual development (beyond what our annual rains can sustain.)

First things first. As you know, TEP is proposing modernizing the Sundt Generating Station by replacing two 1950’s era steam units with ten natural gas fired combustion engines. The purpose of the new generators is to ramp up more quickly and to balance the variability associated with solar and wind energy generation. TEP claims that these units are part of a larger goal for 30% renewable energy by 2030. But gas fired engines should not be equated with clean, renewable power from wind and solar. The RICE units are fossil-fuel based generating units that would create significant greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, the project expects to cause an increase in emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter (fine particles PM2.5 and coarse particles PM10) and volatile organic compounds.

As a member of Sustainable Tucson, I am concerned about TEP’s unambitious goal of transitioning to 30% clean energy by 2030. The negative impacts of climate change are progressing much faster than that – even faster than scientists first predicted. We are already witnessing its devastating effects. If TEP is truly dedicated to transitioning to clean energy, why would they be installing 10 new pollution spewing gas-fired generators? […]

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At Blog for Iowa, Trish Nelson writes—Loebsack’s Rural Wireless Access Act Signed into Law:

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after his legislation, the Rural Wireless Access Act, was signed into law by President Trump. This bipartisan bill was incorporated in the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law last week.

“Folks living in rural areas know just how bad wireless voice and mobile internet services can be. Unfortunately, the maps that the FCC currently uses are incomplete and tell a different story than what Iowans know is actually happening. I am pleased my legislation will help get resources where they are most needed, including rural communities.”

Currently, the standards that define how wireless coverage is determined are not sufficient, meaning that coverage maps can be incomplete or inaccurate. Without accurate coverage maps, resources needed to improve wireless access will not be directed to the areas that need the most help, including rural areas. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will now develop new maps to ensure resources to improve wireless voice and mobile Internet services go to the areas that need it the most.

A significant digital divide remains between urban and rural America. Congressman Loebsack is a leader in working to close this divide by promoting broadband deployment throughout rural America. Loebsack serves on the Communications and Technology subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications issues. He also serves as a co-chair of the Rural Broadband Caucus.

At Blue Mass Group, drtucker writes— A Demand for Progress on Climate:

Like gun violence, chronic poverty and unequal health care coverage, the problem of unchecked greenhouse gas pollution won’t solve itself.

As important as local and state efforts to reduce the emissions imperiling our planet are, a problem of this magnitude demands federal action—the sort of federal action being dismantled by the current executive and legislative branches. If the House of Representatives and Senate change hands this November, the 116th Congress must be comprised of representatives and senators able to restore America to a position of leadership in combating climate change.

Blue Mass Group

Gary Rucinski, who has launched a primary challenge to Rep. Joseph Kennedy III in Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District, is running to be such a representative. Rucinski, a physicist, thirty-year Newton resident and the longtime Massachusetts State Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (as well as the co-founder of the Committee for a Green Economy), is currently gathering signatures (2,000 are needed by May 8) to secure a spot on the Democratic Primary ballot. Is it a daunting challenge? Not nearly as daunting as the challenge of transforming our energy system and ensuring our children and future generations don’t experience the worst effects of climate change.

It’s possible to respect an incumbent while recognizing that incumbent’s priorities may not fit the times, and Rucinski asserts that Kennedy simply has not led on climate; the threat of a warming planet didn’t even make it into Kennedy’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address. “Rather than remain silent,” Rucinski noted in a recent interview, “I intend to thoroughly educate voters of the Fourth District about both the risks of climate change and the opportunities and benefits that will come from taking decisive action to address it.”

Taking decisive action means not being satisfied with only fighting back against the depravity of Donald Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Washington’s overall culture of deference to the fossil fuel industry, but working in the district and in Congress to bring new allies to the effort to pass fair, simple, and transparent climate legislation.

At Dakota Free Press, Cory Allen Heidelberger writes—Learn Monday How to Make Aberdeen More LGBTQ Inclusive:

What should Aberdeen do about Kennith and Ardys Gosch‘s religious and racial bigotry? Simple—don’t attend their anti-immigrant hate rally next Tuesday.

What should Aberdeen do about its apparent lack of inclusive policies toward South Dakotans of diverse sexual orientations and identities? Simple in the opposite direction—do attend Lawrence Novotny’s presentation on South Dakota’s Municipal Equality Index scores.

Dakota Free Press

Novotny, the chair of Equality South Dakota, is making two presentations in the coming days, at the Brookings Public Library on Saturday, April 7, at 10 a.m. and at the Aberdeen Pizza Ranch on Monday, April 9, at noon. The Aberdeen presentation is part of Monday’s Brown County Democratic Forum.

Novotny will be comparing his town of Brookings and my town of Aberdeen because, as I reported in October, Brookings has the best MEI score in South Dakota—72 out of 100—while Aberdeen has one of the lowest at 18. Brookings has more than doubled its MEI since 2013 by, among other things, upgrading its human rights commission in 2015 and passing a resolution on inclusivity. The Human Rights Commission will likely recognize Brookings with a higher MEI this year in recognition of its passage last September of the first comprehensive municipal LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in South Dakota.

Aberdeen lags far behind Brookings since, apparently, all HRC could find on the books for inclusivity in our fair city are anti-bullying policies and hate crimes reporting.

The Gosches and their ilk want to drag Aberdeen down the self-destructive path of exclusivity. City council members and other Aberdeen leaders should eschew that oldthink wall-building and instead join Novotny for lunch on Monday to talk about how to learn from Brookings’s example and make Aberdeen a more welcoming city.

At R.I. Future, John McDaid writes—Whitehouse debuts $30M fund for coastal resiliency:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse chose the flood-prone Island Park section of Portsmouth as the backdrop to introduce the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund. With local business, government leaders, and NGOs looking on, Whitehouse announced that the fund received its first $30 million appropriation in last month’s omnibus spending bill.

Rhode Island Future state blog

Whitehouse began by showing the two dozen attendees at the Thriving Tree Coffee House a map of Island Park with multiple levels of potential sea level rise, pointing out the location where they sat, amid swaths of color indicating the land around them that could be underwater by the end of the century.

“Businesses like this, communities like Island Park, municipalities like Portsmouth need resources,” said Whitehouse. “It is not baked into their budget to be able to do the things that need to be done: to redo the FEMA mapping which isn’t any good, to take a look at what’s happening to beaches. We have a beach SAMP going on run by Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), but it’s starved for resources.

The fund, which grew out of legislation Whitehouse first introduced in 2015, would provide a dedicated funding stream for grants to local governments, states, universities, NGOs, and public-private partnerships. Applications include hardening coastal infrastructure, building community resiliency, investing in restoration, and supporting ocean and coastal research.

“For the first time we finally have an appropriation lined up and NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will administer the first round of 30 million dollars in grants,” said Whitehouse. “I view this as a really important foothold, but that number frankly ought to be ten times that big. It perhaps even ought to be 100 times that big when you consider what so many coastal communities around our country are facing. We’re not quite yet at the stage of Alaska where they’re having to get special appropriations to move entire towns out of the way of sea level rise, but that gives a sense of how serious this can become if we don’t get ahead of it.”

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Abe writes—Trump: Neither truth nor consequences:

So here we are in April, the month of taxes, showers and… fools. T. S. Eliot thought to call it the “cruelest” month, but with two-thirds of the year remaining in Trump Americana, I wouldn’t dare go that far.

Painfully, the president gilded his re-election campaign for 2020 with a fly-in to Richfield. He revved up an invitation-only group of unionized operating engineers by assuring them that he was fully on their side in his relentless battle to make America great again against the evil forces called Democrats in Ohio

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The visit was to be all about infrastructure, or that’s how the speech was billed. It left little doubt that it went over big with unionists favoring the state’s Republicans who never retreat from the party’s historically long failed efforts to make Ohio a right-to-work enclave.

We got a strong clue about his own sensitivities to the issue when he encamped former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as our ambassador to the United Nations. During a confrontation with organized labor while governor, she boasted for all to hear: “We don’t have unions in our state because we don’t like unions.” So there’s that.

Blogging Blue

At Blogging Blue of Wisconsin, Ed Heinzelman writes— Why Am I Paying For This? Or You For That Matter?

Wisconsin taxpayers to pay $30,000 to settle lawsuit after Rep. Dale Kooyenga took a protester’s sign

Wisconsin taxpayers will spend $30,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against state Rep. Dale Kooyenga after he removed a protest sign critical of Republicans from a public area of the Capitol.

Kooyenga, a Brookfield Republican now running for the state Senate, said in a statement he signed off on the settlement because he did not want to “incur the costs of a prolonged legal battle, or further divert time or energy from the actual public policy priorities facing our state.”

Doesn’t want to incur the costs of a prolonged legal battle? Look you self centered son of a bitch. Cough up the $30,000 for the settlement out of your own pocket. There is no reason the taxpayers should be footing the bill for your illegal activities. You aren’t a traditional government employee where the government might be liable…particularly since this was a partisan action. Pay up you little prick!

At The Last Ogle of Oklahoma, Hayley writes—Is Scott Pruitt about to be canned by Trump?

Like one of those scraggly baby geese in the Dawn soap commercials being scrubbed up after an oil spill, Scott Pruitt’s political career seems to be struggling to stay alive. Ironically, the fact that his commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, has been backing him up during the numerous ethics probes against him only adds fuel to the dumpster fire that is his performance as EPA chief.

The Last Ogle, stateblogs,

Via the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump offered a measured gesture of support for the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, but those words of encouragement for Scott Pruitt also came with a White House warning about the ethical questions surrounding his travel spending and ties to Washington lobbyists…

In a phone call Monday, Trump told the EPA chief that “we’ve got your back” and urged him to “keep his head up” and “keep fighting,” according to two administration officials.

A big factor in feeling burnt out in your job is feeling like you have no support from upper management. Good thing that’s not the case for Scott Pruitt! Like whatever modge podge or tacky glue that keeps his wiry hair plastered on his oily scalp, Trump appears to be sticking by Scotty boy throughout this whole ethics investigation. While it may seem as though Trump has Pruitt’s back, it probably means he is really getting close enough to stab him there.

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