Florida’s foray into developing hemp as a cash crop that will spur the creation of related processing and manufacturing industries in the state could get final federal approval in time for the 2020 growing season, officials say.
That timeline was firmed up Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its Domestic Hemp Production Program rules.
With publication of the federal rules, states can now submit their proposed hemp regulatory plans to the USDA for endorsement and eligibility for a variety of new hemp programs.
“Today’s announcement by the USDA is welcome news to the many Florida farmers I have heard from who are excited to take advantage of this alternative crop,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement. “This keeps us on track for implementation of our state program ahead of the 2020 growing season.”
Congress approved hemp farming and product production in the 2018 Farm Bill, taking the plant off the federal Schedule 1 list of banned drugs. Hemp is a cannabis species with very low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC found in marijuana.
After authorizing hemp pilot projects at the University of Florida and Florida A&M University in 2017, Florida lawmakers created the nascent state-sanctioned hemp program with the adoption of Senate Bill 1020 during the 2019 session.
Fried said the state’s draft rules under SB 1020 are finished and should be submitted to the federal government shortly after the public comment period ends Thursday.
She expects Florida’s hemp program to receive USDA approval no later then December, when her department will start processing applications so farmers can start getting seeds into the ground in time for the crop’s 2020 growing season.
Florida Cannabis Director Holly Bell has predicted the state will receive about 8,000 applications for cultivation permits with about 3,000 farm operations to qualify and start growing in January.
The state’s final draft rules approved Oct. 21 call for 12-month, non-transferable licenses. The rules place security measures on hemp as a “potentially invasive species” that could spread beyond where it's cultivated, and require growers to submit samples prior to harvest to check for THC concentration, which cannot exceed 0.3 percent. If it does, the state will require the entire hemp crop to be destroyed.
The draft hemp rules also require farmers to notify the state before harvests, and to ensure it is secure once cut. The transport of hemp products is also detailed.
Fried, a former cannabis corporation lobbyist, has been championing hemp as an alternate crop since she assumed office in January as the only statewide-elected Democrat in Florida.
In a speech to the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Future of Florida Forum in Orlando Monday, Fried reiterated her prediction that hemp would be a $30 billion industry in the state within a decade.
“I’ve compared it to the printing press, that that is the type of impact that it is going to have on our state,” she said. “It may take a couple of years. But I guarantee you, mark my words, that within 10 years that we are going to be known for hemp here in the state of Florida.”
Fried told the forum that for hemp to develop as a viable industry, it needs more than framers. Locally grown hemp, she said, could be a boon for entrepreneurs, manufacturers and processors of all types.
“Having industrial hemp here in our state is going to create a marketplace for products that we cannot only export to our neighbors in the rest of the United States but really create Florida-first, America-first products that we can export to other countries,” she said.
Despite Fried’s enthusiasm, all is not as rosy in the burgeoning hemp industry across the nation where harvest returns are not meeting forecasted profits.
According to Pennsylvania State University’s Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center, half of Pennsylvania’s hemp crop has no buyers, including 75 percent of the crop grown for CBD oil.
Hemp Industry Daily reported on Oct. 11 that half of North Carolina’s hemp farmers expect they’ll have to store harvested crops at great expense because it can’t be sold this season.
A September spot price index report by Hemp Benchmarks, a North American hemp market financial firm, indicated that some farmers selling 2019 crops are also trying “unload” 2018 harvests.
The Center Square
In my opinion, America will soon find out how corrupt the “previous” Presidential Administration actually was.
Barack Hussein Obama’s staff is doing what I predicted 8-10 years ago and several times since our current President took office…they are crumbling like cookies and “rolling over” to tell “the truth”. Comey did, McCabe did, Strzok did , Page did, AND NOW Clapper just did and there are many more to come!
I wrote numerous times, that Obama’s Administration was a Racketeering Organization, under the eyes of the law, and should be investigated, charged and tried as a RICO case by the DOJ. He directed his staff to break the law for power and wealth, and they complied…Clapper just said so!
McCabe and Strzok said so under oath to Congress. They said Comey told them to leak. Comey admitted he leaked, under oath, but denied he told anybody else to leak …who do you think told Comey to leak…the “leak fairy”?
Hussein’s castle is coming down and will bring him, Soros, Hillary, Valerie Jarret, Holder, Lynch , Comey, Rice, Brennan, Clapper and all those under them and more. ALL will roll facing Treason, Sedition, Espionage and a whole host of other very serious and life threatening charges! I predicted all of this in the Niagara Falls Reporter, sunbaypaper.com, Artvoice.com and here, in my The Right Side website!
I firmly believe, that our Rule of Law will RULE!
In my opinion, Obama directed Lois Lerner to weaponize the IRS against the Tea Party and other Conservatives and she did. He told Comey to “get” Trump before he won and then after. He “sicked” Clapper and Brennan on Judge Scalia, Carter Page (in order to get Trump), then Trump. Clapper ,Brennan, Comey together concocted the Russian phony Collusion FBI case using two dumb asses McCabe and Strzok…both of whom are too stupid to realized they’ve been used, abused, shit on and dumped. They should be pleading with the President and DOJ to allow them to tell all in return for a deal …before everyone else does and the free ride has passed and they are run over by the BUS and left for dead!
The actions of Hussein and his “dogs’, destroyed reputations of good people, resulted in illegal convictions of innocent people, bankrupted innocent people and is now trying to illegally remove our President!
Obama , through Clapper, Brennan, Comey and Lynch corrupted our most secret court in the land…the FISA Court. Through their underlings they obtained illegal wiretaps on US Citizens, and a Presidential campaign.
Richard Nixon was “removed” /quit, run over for lying and covering up a failed attempt to burglarize a Democrat Campaign Office!
These lying, corrupt bastards from Obama on down committed Treason, Sedition, Espionage, Murder (Scalia died of Natural causes my ass!),violated RICO statures , Hobbs Act-Political Corruption, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Fraud against The FISA Court and more… and ALMOST got away with it! How… because of the absolute failure of the Main Stream Media (MSM). Failure to report the truth instead of opinion!
Now that they all realize that Barr is serious with US Attorney Durham seating a Federal Grand Jury, the way it should have been done under Sessions, and hearing, under oath, with full subpoena powers, no defense attorney… why they did what they did. From what has been reported, Clapper already shed some light…he said he was told to do what he did. Next will be …Who told you and what exactly what did you do, Mr Clapper”? Then it’s Mr Brennan, and Ms Lerner, Hillary and etal. And when they “plead the 5th” and are then given “Use Immunity” and ordered to answer the questions under penalty of jail for refusing to answer, they will ALL squeal like stuck pigs! I said that years ago as well!
Impeach a duly elected sitting president?! All while some of our most corrupt politicians in our Nation’s history are standing, Scott-free…I don’t think so!
From your Constitution; “The President… of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.
What’s the high crime, Schiff? Cover up is not a crime, nor is collusion or firing an employee or exercising Article 2 Foreign Policy with the Ukraine, Mr Schiff, as you will find out.
Also from your Constitution; Amendment VI…”In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and PUBLIC trial, by an IMPARTIAL jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the “nature and cause” of the accusation;” to be confronted with the witnesses against him”; to have “compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor”, and to have the” Assistance of Counsel for his defense”
I don’t see ANY place where it says, “Except in the case of the Impeachment of the President of the United States.” Do you? Worry not …no piece of “Schiff”…will get away with his Treasonous attempt to overthrow our Republic!
J. Gary DiLaura
Retired FBI Agent
The Beltway swamp is clogged with miserable crapweasels: smug incumbents, status quo lemmings, Constitution infringers of all flavors, Silicon Valley lackeys, jihad apologists, open borders freaks and, oh, that Trump-deranged lurker, Mitt "Pierre Delecto" Romney.
In a country of 325 million people, can't we just have one elected official on Capitol Hill with the guts to call out the rest of the swamp things?
This is why I support Laura Loomer for Congress. Last week, the fiery investigative journalist and activist based in Florida announced that her campaign had raised nearly $160,000 in just 60 days of fundraising.
More than 2,300 donors across all 50 states, with Florida leading the way, provided their financial support in the third quarter of the year for Loomer's upstart bid. The average contribution was $66.
By comparison, Loomer's campaign points out, socialista darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised $59,000 in her first combined two quarters for her congressional campaign as a political newcomer in New York.
Meanwhile, Loomer's opponent, incumbent Democrat and Pelosi pal Rep. Lois Frankel only raised $107,000 in the same time period, and just one of Loomer's GOP rivals of the five candidates in the FL-21 field raised any money (less than $20,000). As a political newcomer, her campaign noted, Loomer outraised all of her opponents combined.
"I'm humbled at the outpouring of support for my campaign," Loomer told me. "This early showing puts career politician Lois Frankel and the do-nothing-Democrats in Congress on notice that no seat is safe, and that I'm running to win."
Any way you slice it, this is news. It's especially noteworthy because Loomer is the most banned woman on all of social media. Almost a full year ago, the 26-year-old independent reporter was suspended permanently from Twitter (where she had built up a formidable following of more than 250,000 users) during the crucial midterm election season. Loomer had lambasted Twitter for curating an Ilhan Omar tweet in its coveted "Twitter Moments" feature. "Ilhan is pro Sharia," Loomer wrote. "Under Sharia, homosexuals are oppressed & killed. Women are abused & forced to wear the hijab. Ilhan is anti Jewish."
Omar, of course, is the first-term Somalia-born Democratic Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota, who has since been caught giggling about al-Qaida; downplaying the 9/11 terrorist attacks; apologizing for anti-Semitic comments and then doubling down on others; calling for a United Nations takeover of American borders; reportedly engaging in purported marriage, tax, immigration and campaign finance fraud related to a bizarre marital arrangement with two different men (one of them suspected to be her own brother); and reportedly larking around with her married campaign manager. Loomer was the first to directly and publicly confront Omar about the brusband marriage scandal before she was elected.
Loomer was also at the vanguard exposing what I call Silicon Valley Sharia. After being kicked off Twitter, she was ruthlessly expunged from Paypal, Instagram, TeeSpring, Facebook, Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, Venmo, GoFundMe and Medium. She is suing Twitter and the speech-squelching grievance-mongers of the Council on American Islamic Relations to expose collusion against conservatives between the company and the unindicted co-conspirator of Islamic terrorist financing. She is also suing conservative speech-suppressing Google in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently rejected the social media giant's bid to have her lawsuit summarily dismissed.
Now, of course, pundits and politicians are falling all over themselves to jump in front of the parade against Silicon Valley censorship. But last fall, many of those same opportunists laughed at Loomer for disrupting a dog-and-pony House Energy and Commerce hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. When he denied that the social media site discriminated against conservatives, Loomer roared: "You are a liar, Jack Dorsey!" and boldly charged him with "committing perjury." Instead of challenging Dorsey, Republican Rep. Billy Long mocked Loomer and drowned her out with an auctioneering chant. Virtue-signaling conservatives (even on Fox News) ridiculed Loomer instead of heeding her warnings about systematic de-platforming and partisan rigging of the social media playing field.
But here's the thing: Loomer's campaign is about far more than getting back a Twitter account. It's about giving Floridians (and the rest of us) a clarion voice against Beltway business as usual on everything from mass, uncontrolled immigration to antifa violence to political corruption enabled by Frankel's pal, Nancy Pelosi. Karen Giorno, Trump's 2016 Florida state director and chief strategist for the Loomer campaign, told me: "Laura is proving that she is a serious candidate and committed to flipping this seat."
Political analysts on both sides of the aisle should not underestimate this bellwether candidacy. Just look at the actions of those who fear Laura Loomer most: Mere hours after she announced her run in August, Twitter announced it was changing its verification policy for authenticating congressional candidates. Previously, announced candidates could receive a verified checkmark. The Loomer Rule now requires candidates to win their primaries first.
They keep throwing up obstacles, but the gonzo journalist/activist persists. She's made all the right enemies. Now, it's time for friends of the First Amendment to put their time and money where their mouths are. Help elect a one-woman Free Speech Squad to counter the anti-American congressional Brat Pack. Disruption, not deference, is the key to defeating the Democratic resistance.
Every minute around the world, almost one million plastic bottles are purchased. As the environmental impact of that plastic tide swells into a political issue, packaged goods sellers and retailers, pressured to stem the flow of single-use bottles and containers, are coming up with new ideas and technologies to solve the problem.
Plastic production has surged in the past 50 years, responding to the widespread demand for inexpensive, single-use disposable products that are devastating the environment. And, while images of plasticdebris-covered beaches and marine animals dead from eating plastic have triggered public outrage, it won’t stop anytime soon.
The oil industry is pouring billions into new facilities to produce more plastics, particularly in Asia, the biggest regional producer of plastic and plastic waste.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are commonly used for soft drinks and mineral water, but can also be used for other household or personal care products. Data from Euromonitor International shows that more than 480 billion of these bottles were sold last year alone – almost one million every minute.
Rosemarie Downey, global head of packaging research at market research company Euromonitor International, told Reuters that adopting circular design principles in packaging, which considers the entire lifecycle of a product, including use and reuse, is one way for brands to address surplus waste at the outset and can assist recovery, recycling, and reuse in order to reduce the damaging impact of plastic waste in the environment. “Ultimately, mindful consumption of plastic is a global duty of everyone,” Downey said. “Consumers have their part to play to help realize zero-litter, as do corporate players in their use and handling, and governments in providing the necessary, optimized waste management infrastructure.”
The European Union has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030.
All Waste Plastic Could Be Recreated as New Plastic
Faced with this difficult problem, scientists and corporate product designers alike have been searching for ways to keep single-use plastic items from proliferating in the environment.
The fact that plastics do not break down but accumulate in our ecosystems is a major environmental problem. But at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, a research group led by Professor Henrik Thunman, who heads the Division of Energy Technology at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment, sees the resilience of plastic as an asset.
The nondegradable character of plastic that makes it such an environmental disaster also makes it a candidate for circular usage, creating a true value for used plastic, and thus an economic incentive to collect it, Thunman explains.
“We should not forget that plastic is a fantastic material – it gives us products that we could otherwise only dream of,” Thunman said. “The problem is that it is manufactured at such low cost, that it has been cheaper to produce new plastics from oil and fossil gas than from reusing plastic waste.”
Now, through experimenting with chemical recovery via steam cracking of plastic, Thunman’s research group at Chalmers has developed an efficient process for breaking any type of plastic waste down to a molecular level. The resulting gases can then be transformed into new plastics of the same quality as the original plastic.
“Through finding the right temperature, which is around 850 degrees Celsius, and the right heating rate and residence time, we have been able to demonstrate the proposed method at a scale where we turn 200 kg of plastic waste an hour into a useful gas mixture. That can then be recycled at the molecular level to become new plastic materials of virgin quality,” says Thunman.
The new process could transform today’s plastic factories into recycling refineries, right within the framework of their existing infrastructure.
Coca-Cola Makes Bottles From Plastic Ocean Debris
On October 15, the Coca-Cola company unveiled the first sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics, demonstrating that plastic ocean debris can be used in recycled packaging for food and drinks.
The sample bottle is the result of a partnership between Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company.
Although enhanced recycling is still in its infancy, the partners produced the sample marine plastic bottles as a proof of concept for what the technology may achieve in time.
About 300 sample bottles have been produced using 25 percent recycled marine plastic retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.
Some countries are trying to control the plastic tide through legislation. The Canadian government led by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June announced a ban on single-use plastics by 2021, joining over two dozen countries that have made similar moves.
Although specific details have yet to be released, Canada’s announcement puts pressure on big companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that sell billions of single-use plastic bottles.
Writing for “Corporate Knights,” a Canadian publication, Tim Nash said on June 17, “The massive amount of plastic waste in our water systems is becoming impossible to ignore. We know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we’ve seen the large amounts of plastic being found in whales that wash up on shore, and we’ve heard about the latest study from WWF showing that the average person ingests a credit card’s worth of microplastics every single week.”
“Although specific details have yet to be released, Canada’s announcement puts pressure on big companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that sell billions of single-use plastic bottles,” states Nash.
HP Constructs Computers With Ocean-Bound Plastics
Computer-maker HP Inc., a member of NextWave Plastics, on September 27 announced the launch of the HP Elite Dragonfly, the world’s first notebook manufactured with ocean-bound plastics.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is the world’s lightest, most compact business computer, weighing less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds). Its speaker enclosure component is made with 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, including five percent ocean-bound plastics.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is one of three HP products made with ocean-bound plastics.
To ensure their ocean-bound plastics efforts continue to scale, HP commits to including ocean-bound plastic material in all new HP Elite and HP Pro desktop and notebook computers launching in 2020.
In addition to protecting the oceans and the planet, HP’s ocean-bound plastic programs are also creating new opportunities for economic advancement and education in local communities. In Haiti, HP’s partnership with the First Mile Coalition has helped create more than 1,100 income opportunities for adults in the country and has provided 150 children with quality education, food, and medical assistance.
NextWave member companies are establishing ocean-bound plastics as a commodity to decrease the volume of plastic waste before it enters the ocean.
“Since joining NextWave Plastics last year, HP has been a standout partner, and we are thrilled to see the team continue to lead the way in scaling one of the most effective supply chains that is turning off the tap on ocean-bound plastics while improving the local community,” said Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, the convening entity for NextWave Plastics, a consortium of worldwide businesses committed to scaling the use of ocean-bound plastics.
“There are currently more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our ocean, and each year, over eight million metric tons of additional plastic enters the ocean,” Ives said. “We are proud that our member companies continue to scale commercially viable and operational ocean-bound plastics supply chains – keeping plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.”
NextWave member companies are currently on track, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.1, to divert a minimum of 25,000 tonnes of plastics, the equivalent of 1.2 billion single-use plastic water bottles, from entering the ocean by the end of the year 2025.
Ellen Jackowski, global head of Sustainability Strategy & Innovation, HP Inc, said, “Our circular economy strategy is about shifting our production to eliminate waste and enable a system that can sustain our levels of consumption in harmony with nature and our singular planet Earth for generations to come.”
© Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.
How much of the monetary gains from the Trump economic speedup have gone to the middle class? If you ask Democratic senators and presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, the answer to that question is ... almost none.
" (Donald) Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people," Sanders likes to say. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grouses that under the Trump agenda, "the rich get richer, and everyone else is stuck paying the bill."
Uh-huh. That's been the standard liberal riff for the last couple of years as they try to explain how a president who they said would create a second Great Depression has created boom times with the lowest inflation and unemployment in half a century.
But not a word of this is true, according to new Census Bureau data on the incomes of America's middle class. This study by former Census Bureau researchers and now statisticians at Sentier Research has found gigantic income gains for the middle class under Trump. The median or average-income family has seen a gain of $5,003 since Trump came into office. Median family income is now (August 2019) $65,976, up from about $61,000 when he entered office (January 2017).
Under George W. Bush, the household income gains were a little over $400 in eight years, and under Barack Obama the gains were $1,043. That was in eight years for each. Under Trump, in less than three years, the extra income is about three times larger.
These gains under Trump are so large in such a short period of time that I asked the Sentier Research team to triple-check the numbers. Sure enough, on each occasion, the income swing was $5,000.
This is a bonanza for the middle class, and the extra income in tens of millions of Americans' pockets is getting spent. Consumers are king in America today, and fatter wallets translate into more store sales.
Home Depot and Lowe's recently recorded huge sales surges.
The tax cut also added an additional $2,500 to a typical family of four's after-tax incomes. So after taking account of taxes owed, the income of most middle-class families is up closer to $6,000 in the Trump era.
Memo to Pelosi: That ain't crumbs.
Ronald Reagan used to talk about the importance of real take-home pay. He asked voters in 1980, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" (when Jimmy Carter was elected). Thanks to high taxes, high inflation and high unemployment in the late 1970s, the answer to that question was clearly no. Reagan won and Carter lost.
Trump should begin asking Americans if they are better off than they were four years ago. Today, the answer to that question is clearly yes. It's the economy, stupid. Everyone -- especially the middle class -- is sharing in the fruits of the Trump boom.
To the Editor,
Gotta love the ultra liberal ninth circuit Court. Banning students from wearing shirts with the US because it offends Mexicans.
For those who talk about flag code, though I agree in principle, it’s not law. Just a set of rules on how the flag should be treated and wearing one on a shirt is freedom of speech!
Also the flag code law applies to an actual flag being worn as clothing, not a design of it
Given that, any ruling that limits anyone’s rights based on anyone else’s opinion on how it makes them feel is wrong.
The right to free speech needs to be paramount in any decision.
also, I think people who burn flags are terrible unpatriotic people, but I’ll defend their right to do it.
To the Editors,
Keeping the American public in the dark and not releasing full transcripts of the interviews is a horrible optic for the Dems. I suspect that they want to see how they can spin whatever they learn.
And remember if they had anything that made their case a slam dunk, it would already be out.
We all know that this impeachment nonsense is just trying to distract/covering up for Barr's investigations into the origins of Russiagate? And to keep people from talking about Biden withholding aid money to force the firing of the Ukraine prosecutor and his son Hunter making a million dollars from an energy company's board of directors that meet once or twice a year without any experience to bring to the table.
Smoke and mirrors ... just smoke and mirrors
To the Editor,
I love your paper! But I was disanointed when I turned to page seven and found no Sun Bunny.The sunset was nice but that was usually on page 14 or so.
Are you not doing that anymore?
Ed. Note: Even as fun of a job as that it is to do, and I would know, I used to do it for the Sandpaper back in 2000 and 2001. But Unfortunately, we have a very small staff and do not have anyone dedicated to getting those pictures.
All the Sun Bunny pics have been sent in by readers for more than 2 years now. Just haven’t had any sent in quite a few weeks now and we used up all the ones we had saved.
If you know any budding photographers that would like to volunteer to do the terrible job of taking pictures of ladies on the beach, send them my way. Or have your significant other take one of you and send one in yourself.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says activities including oil and gas development on federal lands managed by the agency contributed $105 billion in economic output in fiscal 2018.
The BLM, which manages over 245 million acres, released a report Friday detailing the agency’s economic contributions. Total economic output on BLM-managed lands is $105 billion, up from $95.6 billion in fiscal 2017.
“America’s public lands are a key driver of the nation’s economy, particularly in states across the West. The jobs and communities these lands support are vital to millions of Americans, and the Bureau of Land Management is proud to make sure economic activities continue in a sustainable, environmentally-sound manner,” acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley said.
Energy production was the largest contributor to the agency's increased economic output.
Oil and gas development on BLM lands accounted for $71.5 billion in economic output last year. Oil production increased from 174 million barrels in 2017 to 214.1 million in 2018, the bureau said.
Coal production on BLM lands accounted for $10.1 billion in economic output in 2018, with an 8 percent decrease in production from the previous year.
Non-energy mineral production made up $12.7 billion in economic output, with a mineral production value of almost $89 million in 2018.
Recreation on BLM lands contributed $6.8 billion in fiscal 2018, with 68 million visits for activities like fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking. Recreation accounted for $6.7 billion and 67.4 million visits in fiscal 2017.
Economic activity on all BLM-managed lands helped support 471,000 jobs, with 300,000 of those jobs being related to oil and gas development.
Activities on U.S. Department of Interior lands – which include BLM-managed lands – contributed $315 billion in economic output and supported 1.8 million jobs nationally last year.
In Arizona, recreation on DOI lands contributed $1.8 billion to the state’s economy. Energy and mineral development on DOI lands managed in Nevada contributed nearly $3.8 billion. In Colorado, energy and mineral development contributed $6.1 billion in GDP.
The Center Square
Republicans and Democrats alike take advantage of a pay-to-play system ingrained in the nation’s Capitol, a new oversight report from OpenTheBooks.com maintains.
“Congress writes their own rules to protect their re-election campaigns,” according to the 36-page report, “The Congressional Favor Factory: Legalizing Pay-To-Play – A Study Of Federal Grants, Campaign Cash, Investments, Employment, Power & Influence.”
The report includes eight case studies of four Republicans and four Democrats.
These members serve on the most powerful committees in Congress, the report states, within “a culture of conflict of interest. The confluence of federal money, campaign cash, private employment, investments, prestigious committee appointments, political power, nepotism, and other conflicts are a fact pattern.”
Republicans analyzed include: Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Democrats include Connecticut Rep. John B. Larson, Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, and Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence.
The report found that the members own investment stock in, are employed by, and receive retirement pensions from federal contractors who receive billions of dollars of taxpayer money. The same members sponsor legislation that impacts the contractors whose lobbyists also advocate for or against legislation that helps both the member and the contractor, the report found.
For example, the report highlights Rep. Larson, whose campaign received the most funding from United Technologies Corporation (UTX), a company of which he is a stockholder.
UTX executives, employees, political action committees and affiliated lobbyists donated $377,050 to his campaign. Since 2010, Larson co-sponsored 19 bills for which United Technologies registered lobbying activity. The company received $83.8 million in federal grants (subsidies) and $16.1 billion in federal contracts (2014-2018), according to the report.
In Michigan, the report notes that employees at the University of Michigan (U-M) donated the most to Rep. Dingell over the course of her congressional career. Dingell is a member of the university’s Ford School of Public Policy Committee, involved with fundraising and networking initiatives. She also co-sponsored four bills for which the U-M registered lobbying activity (2014-2018).
In the last five-years, U-M received federal payments of $2.3 billion, of which the vast majority ($2 billion) was in federal grants.
“As I am sure you know, it is not at all uncommon for members of Congress to be strong advocates for and supportive of the major institutions in their congressional districts or in their home states,” Mark Schlissel, University of Michigan president, said in a statement included in the report. “The University of Michigan is a world-class institution of higher education. Both the main campus in Ann Arbor and the UM-Dearborn campus are within Rep. Debbie Dingell’s district.”
“U-M is one of the state’s largest employers – with more than 50,000 employees across the state – and two of the three academic campuses, along with the Michigan Medicine main campus, are located within her district,” Schlissel adds. “Our employees are free to make personal campaign contributions to any elected official they may wish to support.”
Nothing OpenTheBooks uncovered in its oversight report is illegal, it notes. “In fact, it’s all legal. Quite possibly, that is the scandal,” it states. The goal of exposing the pay-for play system is “to hold these politicians accountable,” the report emphasizes.
Information about the federal grant, contract, farm subsidy, and direct payment data was acquired through Freedom of iInformation Act requests from the U.S. federal government and covers four years of records from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2018, including farm subsidy data over a longer period.
OpenTheBooks auditors acquired campaign donation data from OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics, and the Federal Election Commission disclosures through August 7, 2019.
All members audited were given the opportunity to answer questions before the report was published and none chose to go on the record, according to OpenTheBooks.com. All federal contractors were given an opportunity to answer questions before publication and only three chose to go on the record.
The Center Square