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WI:Walker signs fish farm bill

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that loosens fish farm regulations. Under the Republican bill, fish farms no longer need permits to discharge material into a wetland if the wetland was created for fish farming. Natural water bodies can serve as fish farms and farms wouldn't need permits to construct or enlarge artificial water bodies connected to a navigable waterway. New permit conditions will be prohibited unless needed to meet water quality standards.

GA: Senator Lucas to lead rural work group committee

State Sen. David Lucas has been named chairman of a committee tasked with improving rural Georgia. The political veteran will guide the meetings for the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee that begin this summer. The committee deals with similar issues as a House Rural Development Council that will create policy ideas on issues such as health care and education in rural communities.

Rural and Urban Differences in Air Quality, 2008–2012, and Community Drinking Water Quality, 2010–2015

Patterns for all three air-quality measures suggest that air quality improves as areas become more rural (or less urban). The mean total number of ozone days decreased from 47.54 days in large central metropolitan counties to 3.81 days in noncore counties, whereas the mean total number of PM2.5 days decreased from 11.21 in large central metropolitan counties to 0.95 in noncore counties. The mean average annual PM2.5 concentration decreased from 11.15 μg/m3 in large central metropolitan counties to 8.87 μg/m3 in noncore counties.

Republicans' Proposed Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Rural Patients Hard

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing.

Judge reverses key ruling in $1.4 billion timber class action

A judge has ruled that counties can’t sue the State of Oregon for financial damages, potentially undermining a $1.4 billion class action lawsuit over state logging practices.Linn County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy has reversed an earlier ruling in the case, which held that Oregon’s “sovereign immunity” doesn’t bar counties from seeking such damages.In his most recent June 20 decision, Murphy has agreed with Oregon’s attorneys that counties — as subdivisions of the state — cannot sue the state government for money.Murphy said he’s “well aware this interpretation contradicts” his earlie

Rural divide

The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.

Review of sage grouse agreement could turn partners into adversaries

A public-private agreement has managed to preserve the habitat of a threatened species while accommodating hunting, fishing, ranching, and energy development. Interior Secretary Zinke says he's revisiting the agreement. That could lead to the sage grouse qualifying as "endangered," which would mean a far less flexible approach to conservation. “The sage grouse initiative, the collaboration, up to now it’s been working,” said O’Toole, owner of Ladder Ranch along the Wyoming and Colorado border.“It’s the collaboration that’s the key.

WA:Court water-well ruling imposes undue burden on rural families

Now a harsh ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court in Hirst v. Whatcom County, blocks access to water for rural families — making that life unaffordable and simply impossible for the average Washington citizen. Declaring that counties can no longer rely on the Washington State Department of Ecology to determine if there is enough water for permit-exempt wells, the court brought the state’s Growth Management Act into conflict with 80 years of water law.  Supporters of Hirst argue the court’s strict new interpretation helps salmon.

For First Time in History, Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs in Virginia

Virginia has long been coal country, but the solar power industry has been increasing its foothold in the Commonwealth over the last few years. Virginia now has more jobs in the solar industry than the coal industry. Numbers from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy show a 40% drop in the number of people working in the coal industry over the last five years. Henry Childress with the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance says coal produces more energy with fewer employees.For now, though, the solar industry has more employees in Virginia than the coal industry.

Rural America is being ignored, again

It has been remarkable how quickly the “buzz” about rural voters and their electoral impact has faded. Many Main Street advocates, myself included, predicted the super-majority of rural voters who carried Donald Trump to victory would prompt a policy spotlight that would shine brightly on small towns and rural spaces. After all, without rural voters there would be no President Donald Trump.Then, the incoming administration waited until the day before the inauguration to announce an Agriculture secretary-nominee.

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