Even though big proposed budget cuts may be DOA for the Interior Department, it doesn't mean there aren't a wide range of land and resource-related stories emerging from the debates. The latest TipSheet sets the scene and offers a half-dozen ways to localize the Interior Department funding story.
Great Plains (IA KS ND NE MO SD)
"The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014, according to new research."
"The Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month, which an American Indian tribe says bolsters its argument that the pipeline jeopardizes its water supply and deserves further environmental review."
"Every day is a test of endurance on the [Standing Rock Sioux] reservation, which encompasses 3,600 square miles of windswept prairie in North and South Dakota. Freezing in winter, baking in summer, the reservation's residents brave the elements in clusters of trailer parks and prefabricated homes. Some 40 percent of its 8,200 people live below the poverty line. Like other Native American communities, Standing Rock suffers from high rates of unemployment, alcoholism and suicide. The health care system is a shambles, and housing is so scarce that multiple families often cram into a single dwelling."
"A federal judge has dismissed Des Moines Water Works' lawsuit against drainage districts in three northern Iowa counties the utility claimed are funneling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a source of drinking water for 500,000 central Iowa residents."
"The company whose pipeline dumped more than 46,000 gallons of diesel on northern Iowa farmland in January has had more spills than any other pipeline operator in the state over the past 16 years, according to a Des Moines Register analysis."
For the first time, Sundance Film Festival spotlighted a single theme, and it was climate change. Documentaries highlighting the issue including a sequel to Al Gore's blockbuster, as well as more than a dozen other films dealing with issues like coral reefs, recyling, changing landscapes and rainforest destruction.
The latest WatchDog TipSheet details an open-records case against U.S. EPA nominee Scott Pruitt (shown), the scoop on an Agriculture Department animal welfare database that vanished then returned, a reporter busted at Standing Rock, plus items on whistleblowers, coal-ash and more.
"For years, when spring rolled around in St. Louis, Mich., songbirds dropped to the ground, dead."