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USDA Forest Service chief resigns in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Politico | Posted on March 8, 2018

Tony Tooke, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, stepped down from his post following reports of sexual harassment and retaliation at the agency that revealed the Agriculture Department was investigating misconduct allegations against Tooke himself. Tooke, who was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in August, announced his resignation in an email to employees. 

Idaho, 10 other states back Washington in culvert appeal

Capital Press | Posted on March 7, 2018

States across the country argue that if Washington loses Supreme Court case, land uses from coast-to-coast will be vulnerable to lawsuits.  Eleven states from around the U.S. argue that if Washington loses its case in the U.S. Supreme Court over culverts, land-use rules across the country will be at risk of being subordinate to tribal treaty rights. The states, led by Idaho, filed a brief with the high court March 2 supporting Washington’s appeal of a court order to replace more than 800 fish-blocking culverts. The order provides a script for challenging anything that could harm tribal fishing and hunting in their states, according to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and colleagues.

Possible food stamp replacement worries grocers nationwide

WTOL | Posted on March 7, 2018

A federal proposal to replace food stamps with what is called "America's Harvest Boxes" is worrying some small grocers in towns across the nation. President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget includes a proposed change to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, most often referred to as food stamps. The program would trade food stamps for boxes of food."On reading about this federal proposal it does concern us in that we are a meal program that does accept food stamps from clients," Carolyn Fox with Mobile Meals of Toledo said. "A lot of them pay with their food stamps and that's all of their food stamps so hopefully they could still use those totally to support their meal program, because these people aren't people that could go out and like I said get food."Many small grocers say exchanging food stamps for "America's Harvest Boxes" could hurt not only their bottom line, but also shoppers' nutrition.

Trump budget eliminates sweat equity and 10 other rural housing programs

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 1, 2018

Despite pushback from the House and Senate on a similar proposal released last year, the Trump administration again recommends doing away with a majority of the nation’s rural housing programs.

US solar company to lay off hundreds of workers after Trump tariffs

The Hill | Posted on March 1, 2018

American solar company SunPower will lay off about 3 percent of its workforce in March, a decision that comes after President Trump began imposing new tariffs on imported solar materials earlier this month.  SunPower has already started the process of laying off between 150 and 250 workers, largely from its research and development and marketing positions, CEO Tom Werner told The Hill. The cuts will amount to about a 10 decrease in operational expenses.

Attorney Generals pledge to keep suing Trump admin over environmental policies

The Hill | Posted on March 1, 2018

A group of Democratic state attorneys general has taken 80 legal actions against the Trump administration over environmental policies, and is promising even more. A report released by a group helping the attorneys general outlined the lawsuits and other actions in areas like greenhouse gas pollution, energy efficiency, methane, water pollution, ozone and more, often resulting in victories. Four of the attorneys general told reporters that they will not relent in their legal fights.

Food stamp benefits are already too low in 99 percent of U.S. counties

The Washington Post | Posted on March 1, 2018

Researchers found that in 99 percent of counties those meals regularly cost more than even the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In Manhattan, for instance — home to nearly a quarter-million food-stamp recipients — SNAP allows $1.86 per meal, while the average meal costs $3.96. The reports add to a growing body of evidence that SNAP benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. In light of the Trump administration’s calls to reduce spending in the program, advocates are pointing to studies like this to argue that the program cannot take further reductions.

Why Trump’s effort to curb immigration could hurt US economy

WTOP | Posted on March 1, 2018

Nearly half the new jobs the government foresees emerging by 2026 will require only a high school diploma — or none at all. Those jobs share something else in common, too: Hundreds of thousands of them will likely be taken by low-skilled immigrants who are willing to do work that many Americans won’t. Lost in the immigration debate raging in Washington is the vital economic role played by immigrants who don’t have the education, training or skills that the Trump administration and many Republicans in Congress say should be a pre-requisite. Economists say that especially with unemployment at a 17-year low and the growth of the workforce slowing, immigrants — skilled as well as unskilled — are vital to the economy.

Colorado to pay Nebraska $4M in Republican River settlement

The Denver Post | Posted on February 27, 2018

Colorado officials have agreed to pay Nebraska $4 million to settle old claims that their state violated a water-sharing compact involving the Republican River. The settlement requires Colorado to make the payment by Dec. 31, 2018, even though state officials did not admit to any violations of the Republican River Compact. Colorado legislators must approve the funding before the deadline, or the settlement will become invalid.

House Oversight Probes Scott Pruitt’s Travel Expenses

Roll Call | Posted on February 27, 2018

EPA administrator has been under fire for first-class travel and luxury hotel stays.  As questions about the official travel habits of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt mount, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is demanding documents and other information on his first-class flights, as it looks into whether federal laws were broken.Pruitt has for several months been under fire for incurring high travel costs at taxpayer expense. After recent news reports of Pruitt’s use of expensive first-class flights and stays at luxury hotels, an EPA spokesman said the administrator had been given a “blanket waiver” to fly first class for security reasons.