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Rockefeller Archive Center;
My paper documents the history of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park, created on Rockefeller-owned lands in northwestern Wyoming shortly after WWII. A collaboration between Laurance Rockefeller, president of Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., the New York Zoological Society and the State of Wyoming, the park sought to educate the public about the need for conservation by creating a living exhibit of the West's major wild animals - primarily elk, bison, moose, antelope, and a variety of deer species. It was thought that if people could see these majestic animals in their natural environment versus the typical urban/suburban zoo, they would be more apt to become involved in the effort to save them and the habitats necessary for their survival. Almost simultaneously, the founders established a scientific research facility to enable studies of the area's animals, plants, watershed, and other features impacting the landscape.
Environmental Working Group;
As the southern Great Plains get hotter and drier, is federal policy that encourages farmers not to adapt to climate change leading to another Dust Bowl?
That's the troubling question raised by a new EWG report that shows how a provision in the federal crop insurance program provides a strong financial incentive for growers to plant the same crops in the same way, year in and year out, regardless of changing climate conditions. What's worse, this program is focused on the same southern Great Plains counties hit hardest by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history.
The federal crop insurance program guarantees farmers' earnings from their crops won't fall below a percentage of their usual income. The percentage is set based on a multi-year average of a farmer's actual crop yields. Averaging good and bad years grounds the program in reality.
But a provision called the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill during conference negotiations – allows growers to drop bad years from their average crop yield calculations. The government simply pretends these bad years didn't happen. In some cases, more than 15 bad years can be thrown out when calculating the average yield, resulting in artificially inflated insurance payouts.
It makes sense for crop insurance to give growers a break if they're occasionally hit by one or two bad years, but keeping growers on a treadmill of failed crops and insurance payouts is foolish. Helping farmers adapt to the new weather conditions would be considerably better, and was exactly what helped growers survive the Dust Bowl and return to productivity.
The southern Great Plains are getting hotter and drier. Drought has been common over the last 10 years and forecasts show the number of days above 100 degrees quadrupling by 2050. Implementing conservation practices to adapt to changing climate conditions is vital for growers who want to stay in business.
Some, but not enough, growers are already adopting conservation techniques in this region. Savings from ending the misguided yield exclusion policy could be used to help more growers change the way they farm to face the challenges posed by a changing climate.
Carsey School of Public Policy at The University of New Hampshire;
In January 2016, the Department of Interior announced a moratorium on all new federal coal leases while it conducts an in-depth review of the process by which coal owned by the American public is sold to private enterprise for harvest. Nearly 40 percent of all coal produced in the United States comes from federal land, and coal still powers one-third of the nation's electricity grid.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
The first agency responsible for prison release in Wyoming was the Board of Charities and Reform, established in 1889 under the state's constitution. In 1947, the role shifted to the Board of Pardons, which was comprised of five elected officials: the governor, the secretary of state, the state auditor, the state treasurer, and the state superintendent of public instruction. The Wyoming legislature created the Board of Parole in 1971. This parole board has existed in its current form since 2003, and has assumed the functions of the pardons board in addition to granting paroles. Felony offenders receive indeterminate sentences. There are no sentencing guidelines. However, Wyoming has instituted mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes as well as a habitual offender/"three-strikes" law.
Energy Transition Advisors;
The Department of the Interior is required to manage public lands, including the coal, oil, and gas they contain, "to benefit Americans now and in the future." Right now, Interior is beginning to look at how to reform elements of its federal coal program. A new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative has analyzed the coal program in the context of what it means for our climate, and the conclusion is clear: Interior should make the moratorium on new coal leases permanent.
The lands Interior manages include our national parks, which are celebrating their centennial, and which exemplify the idea of managing natural resources for the benefit of both current and future generations. When it comes to fossil energy resources, by contrast, Interior's actions have primarily benefited fossil fuel companies. Now the agency has the chance to change course and get it right. It is becoming abundantly clear that going forward, this means keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Protecting Our Climate Is More Important than Subsidizing Coal
Earlier this year Interior Secretary Sally Jewell directed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct a systematic review of its coal leasing program, and put a moratorium on new coal leases in the interim – an important step toward improving the management of our fossil fuel resources. The Department has asked for public comment on what should be included in this review by July 28th.
A central feature of the review should be to examine the coal program in the context of the climate goal the United States – and more than 170 other countries – adopted in the Paris Agreement to determine what, if any, level of coal production from public lands is compatible with holding global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
NextGen Climate America asked Carbon Tracker to rigorously examine this question. The results are in and the answer is clear: If we are serious about limiting global warming to well below 2ºC, no new federal coal leases will be needed as coal ceases to be a major source of electricity in America. In fact, we have already leased more coal than we can afford to burn.
The obvious conclusion is that the coal moratorium needs to be made permanent. For existing and past leases, Interior needs to enforce the law requiring mining companies to contemporaneously reclaim disturbed land to functional pre-mining conditions, and charge royalties that reflect the full social cost of extracting and burning coal rather than leaving it in the ground.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
Two years ago, we explored philanthropy's response to the worst economic crisis in our country since the Great Depression. We reported that contributions from foundations and corporations declined over 23% from 2008 to 2010 because of the recession's impact on foundation assets and uncertainty about the future. In this report, we analyzed 23,783 grants to Northwest organizations from 245 funders in 20121, totaling $958,347,806. This represents a 4% decline in giving over 2010. We were not surprised by this finding. The Foundation Center predicted that national giving by foundations and corporations would remain flat in 2012 given the volatile economic recovery, while over 77% of Philanthropy Northwest members that responded to our annual survey expected their giving to remain flat or decrease.
Other key findings from this edition of Trends in Northwest Giving include:
Dramatic state-by-state variation in grantmaking trends.Corporate giving is up sharply, but not all states are seeing the benefits. Education receives the largest share of grant dollars, a total of $239 million, or 25% of regional grantmaking. Health funding grew more than any other category, but is still far below national levels.
Transportation for America;
In 2015, Congress will once again debate transportation funding at the federal level. It would be in the best interests of the nation for them to fix the perpetual shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund and set the country on a path toward a 21st century infrastructure. It is important to note that all of the states that have acted thus far, and those working to do so this year or beyond, are doing so in expectation of ongoing federal support.
Governors and legislators have acted because states face growing needs and static or falling revenues. The situation has been made worse by federal funding that has remained flat as costs have risen, and could grow disastrously worse should Congress reduce federal support in the upcoming renewal of the national program.
Regardless of what happens in Washington, states know that Congress will never appropriate enough support to close the gap needed to address maintenance backlogs and build for the future. Governors and legislators recognize that they can be leaders on this issue, working across party lines, generating new funding mechanisms, and creating new coalitions in support of transportation investment. The strategies and examples discussed in this report are intended to be a helpful guide for those emerging leaders as they navigate the unique context of their own individual states to pass transportation revenue legislation, and in turn, set an example for others to follow in the future.
American Mental Health Counselors Association;
This comprehensive study shows that 6.7 million uninsured people with a mental illness are currently eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But the majority of these individuals with mental health conditions will be left out in the coverage cold due to their state's antagonism toward the Medicaid Expansion health insurance initiative.
Rockefeller Archive Center;
Grand Teton National Park has long been celebrated for the grandeur of the Teton Mountains, and the Rockefellers, particularly John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his son, Laurance S. Rockefeller, have long been recognized for their role in conserving that natural setting.