Monday, January 30, 2023

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Massachusetts could restrict police use of facial recognition technology, Wyoming mulls more health coverage for workers, and a report finds low salary contributes to social workers leaving the field.

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Civil rights activists push for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act following the killing of Tyre Nichols, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he can reach a deal with President Biden on the debt ceiling, and election experts say 2023 could shape voting rights across the country.

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"Brain Gain?" Research shows rural population is actually growing, especially in recreational areas; other small towns are having success offering relocation incentives like free building lots, cash, complimentary dinners and even internet credits; and researchers say the key is flexibility and creativity.

2021 Winter Storm Uri Repercussions Still Felt – in Minnesota

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Monday, February 14, 2022   

CORRECTION: Brian Edstorm did not directly mention the Build Back Better Act, re-characterized as proponents of the legislation (11:20AM. MST, Feb. 15, 2020)

The grid failure in Texas this time last year went far beyond the state's border, and consumer advocates say it means the country needs to shore up its energy infrastructure.

Brian Edstrom, senior regulatory advocate for the nonprofit Citizens Utility Board in Minnesota, said the infrastructure bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden provides a start. But there was considerable damage to consumers in northern states when Texans cranked up their electric heaters to cope with Winter Storm Uri.

"During that storm when it was so cold in Texas, it was also extremely cold up here," Edstrom recounted. "Minnesotans were using a lot of gas to heat their homes and many of those costs are now being passed through to Minnesotan customers."

Edstorm pointed out in Minnesota, gas prices rose to 70 times their normal level while gas prices in western Wisconsin rose from $2.60 to more than $200 on February 17. In Texas, at one point more than three million people were without power, resulting in 246 deaths across 77 counties.

The Texas electric grid is separate from two other major grids serving the U.S., leaving consumers at risk because it is unable to borrow power from neighboring states.

But Edstrom noted vulnerabilities are not exclusive to Texas, and more severe weather events due to climate change are likely.

"While Minnesotans share in sympathy for Texas residents, I think there's a lot of frustration and anger up here about how the lack of regulation and preparation for these winter weather events in Texas contributed to the costs that we're now seeing," Edstrom contended.

The infrastructure bill includes billions of dollars for states to upgrade, harden, and modernize their transmission lines. Proponents of the Build Back Better Act, now stalled in Congress, say it would go one step further to transition the country to diversified renewable energy sources and build climate resilience.

Disclosure: Energy Media contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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