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    PNS Weekend Update - April 18, 20150 


    In focus on our weekend rundown: tough questioning in New Orleans as the Justice Department tries to get President Obama’s deferred action on deportation plan unstuck; West Coast sardine fisheries are closing early—we’ll let you know why; and we’ll introduce you to a high school senior being honored this weekend for beating the odds.

Rural/Farming

PHOTO: The battle over how best to negotiate foreign trade agreements is expected to soon heat up in Washington, D.C., as the Obama administration pushes for fast-track authority on deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Photo credit: greensefa/Flickr.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A growing coalition of American food and farm groups is calling for rejection of a plan to give President Obama fast-track negotiating authority on foreign-trade agreements. The proposal, which may be introduced as early as next week, would allow the administration to negotiate tr ...Read More

PHOTO: The Belridge oil field near Taft in Kern County is nearly the size of a major city, and produces an extraordinary volume of wastewater every day, which some water-strapped Central Valley farmers are purchasing to water their crops. Photo credit: Peg Mitchell/San Diego 350.org.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - California Gov. Jerry Brown last week ordered the first-ever mandatory water restrictions in state history. The State Water Resources Control Board is imposing an immediate 25 percent reduction in water use among the 400 local water agencies around the state. But Patrick Sulli ...Read More

Photo: The North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation is hosting informational sessions this year to help airports across North Carolina protect wildlife and passengers. Photo credit: Matthew Hull/Morguefile.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Negotiating air traffic and unpredictable weather are just two of the concerns North Carolina airports face on a daily basis. Wildlife are also a concern, and according to the FAA, there were 225 wildlife strikes with planes in North Carolina in 2014. Bobby Walston, division of avia ...Read More

PHOTO: The 2013 explosion in West, Texas, killed 15 and caused as much as $230 million in damages, a number dwarfed by the West Fertilizer Co.'s $1 million insurance policy. A bill in the Texas Legislature proposes using private market forces to ensure safe storage of ammonium nitrate. Photo credit: Shane.Torgerson/Wikimedia Commons.

AUSTIN, Texas - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board called the 2013 fire and explosion of ammonium nitrate at West Fertilizer Co. the "worst chemical accident in its history." The blast killed 15 people, and caused more than $100 million in property damages. But the fertilizer plant only carried $1 milli ...Read More

PHOTO: Sustainable farmers rely on the integrity of the land, soil and water, and many say hydraulic fracturing is compromising the growing local food movement in Ohio. Photo credit: David Foster/Flickr.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sustainably produced foods are becoming more popular among consumers, but some Ohioans say the state's fracking boom is stifling the growth of the local food movement. According to the EPA, dozens of chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing, which some growers say puts air, water ...Read More

PHOTO: A new study of online records for just three states found fracking companies committed an average of two-and-a-half violations of drilling rules a day. Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club.

HARRISBURG, Pa. - On average, fracking companies commit more than two-and-a-half drilling violations a day, according to a new study drawn from just a small portion of available public record information. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) studied five years' worth of online reports for P ...Read More

PHOTO: Stopping a right to farm bill in Kentucky, which would have placed protections in the state Constitution, is a victory, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.

FRANKFORT, Ky. - A controversial "right to farm" bill died with last week's end of the 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, but the pros and cons of the legislation still are being argued - and the bill's sponsor says it will not go away. Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said her bill, Senate ...Read More

PHOTO: Better treatment of Idaho farmworkers and recognition of their importance in the food system are part of the National Farmworker Awareness campaign. Photo credit: Brian Prechtel, USDA Agricultural Research Service.

CALDWELL, Idaho - Farm-to-school programs and buying local food are popular trends in Idaho, and the route those foods take to get to the plate are being highlighted for National Farmworker Awareness - a spring campaign that coincides with crop planting. Migrant and seasonal workers are key for pla ...Read More

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