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Rural America is on the frontlines of low-emissions electricity

he 6,000 residents of Alaska’s Kodiak Island are used to being on their own, and paying for it. A 10-hour ferry ride separates them from the nearest mainland town, keeping grocery prices high and tourism low. But the one thing the fishing port doesn’t overpay for is electricity. While the typical Alaskan forks over 21 cents for each kilowatt-hour to power their home, the island’s isolated inhabitants get away with around 15.

Energy Companies In Alaska Fight Controversial Salmon Initiative

In Alaska, a ballot measure is cutting right to the heart of the state's identity. It's pitting Alaskans' love for salmon against another powerful force - the oil and mining industries. The ballot measure pits the state's love for salmon against its need for oil and mining revenue. The controversial measure has drawn more money than all three gubernatorial candidates combined.

‘I Got Stuck’: In Poor, Rural Communities, Fleeing Hurricane Michael Was Tough

The orders came down to mobile home residents as the menace of Hurricane Michael approached in the Gulf of Mexico: Get out. Get out now. The evacuation mandate reached Gene Bearden, 76, in this blink-and-you-miss-it town with an aspirational name south of Tallahassee and in an area where a storm surge of up to 13 feet had been forecast.Mr. Bearden wanted to leave.

Many Native IDs Won't Be Accepted At North Dakota Polling Places

Native American groups in North Dakota are scrambling to help members acquire new addresses, and new IDs, in the few weeks remaining before Election Day — the only way that some residents will be able to vote. This week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify.Many Native American reservations, however, do not use physical street addresses. Native Americans are also overrepresented in the homeless population.

As milk prices decline, worries about dairy farmer suicides rise

Kansas dairy farmers are used to dealing with hard times, but as they struggle through the fourth year of depressed milk prices, they too have become down.Orville and Mary Jane Miller have been dairy farmers their entire lives. Mary Jane's father passed the farm in Reno County down to them, and they plan to pass it on to their son. “It's very demanding, my wife starts at 1:30 a.m. milking cows. There's a calf born nearly every other day. There's just a lot happening all the time,” said Orville Miller.

Simba The Lab To Provide Comfort To Kids In Court

Simba is the nation's first dog to be assigned to a county public defender's office. While the name Simba might remind most of us of a beloved cartoon lion, kids at the Depke Juvenile Justice Complex will meet another Simba whose purpose is to comfort them. The 2-year-old Labrador retriever is assigned to the guardian ad litem office, which advocates for kids' best interests. Simba has one mission, and it's a lucky one. "His job is to be petted," said Kathy Gordon, an assistant public defender and guardian ad litem, according to the Daily Herald.

Could TV Whitespace Get Real With Microsoft Initiative

Terrain, demographics, trees, hills, politics, and low population density all conspire to block rural residents from getting easy internet access.  Could that be changing? A year ago Microsoft announced its Airband Initiative, an effort to move TV whitespaces from a good idea to a working technology. The project coordinates smaller Internet service providers, manufacturers, and software vendors around the new technology. Some early signs hint at future successes.

Changing housing market, timber glut limit prices

Housing start fluctuations and an abundance of timber are limiting the ceiling on stumpage prices in Mississippi now, but expect the market to improve when sawmills begin stocking up for winter. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau National, home construction dropped 13 percent from May to June, which is considered a significant decrease.

‘Forever Chemicals’ Seep Into Michigan’s Water (and House Races)

Years after the Flint water crisis drew national attention, another water pollution issue has emerged in House races in Michigan. Residents are growing concerned about human exposure to so-called forever chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Pre-Existing Conditions Are a Thing in Pet Insurance Too

California’s pet insurance regulations, which experts peg as the strictest in the country, owe their existence to a dearly departed golden retriever named Bodie. It was Bodie’s death more than a decade ago from blood cancer, and his owner’s subsequent tussle with a pet insurance company for reimbursement of medical expenses, that led to the legislation requiring California’s pet insurance rules today. But outside of the Golden State, pet insurance is governed by a loose, state-by-state set of regulations that vary widely, experts say.

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