Sunday, November 23, 2014
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Oil pipeline still in limbo after vote in Congress

The proposed oil pipeline linking Canadian producers to the U.S. Gulf Coast isn't much closer to reality after Congress failed to approve it.

The measure requiring approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline passed the House but fell short of the votes it needed in the U.S. Senate this week. So the pipeline that was first proposed in 2008 remains in limbo.

The pipeline has attracted opposition from environmentalists and some landowners who worry about the potential damage from a pipeline leak and from oil mining in Canada. But many supporters of the project say those fears are exaggerated.

Landowner Ronald Weber says he thinks the project should have been built a long time ago, but that may not happen until a new president is elected.


New Nebraska tax law likely to slow revenue growth

Nebraska's state tax revenue likely won't grow as fast in the future because of a law passed earlier this year.

The director of Nebraska's Legislative Fiscal Office said Wednesday that the average growth rate will likely decline in the future.

State officials generally assume that revenue will grow at an average rate of 5 percent per year. Fiscal office director Michael Calvert told a legislative committee that a new tax-bracket indexing law will slow the increases over time.

The law ensures that Nebraska's income tax brackets automatically keep pace with inflation. Previously, taxpayers who received a cost-of-living increase would get bumped into a higher tax bracket, where they ended up paying more.

Lawmakers will craft a new two-year state budget in the session that begins in January.


No cause yet for fire at Mitchell grain elevator

Authorities say they will need to remove chemicals and other debris from a grain elevator complex building in Mitchell before they can start investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed the structure.

The Wednesday fire occurred in a CHS Farmers Alliance building that housed farm chemicals and fertilizer. No one was hurt, and authorities say there was no immediate danger to the public. A Sioux Falls company was called in to monitor air quality.

Company General Manager Jim Morken tells The Daily Republic newspaper that officials believe all of the chemicals were contained within the burned-out structure.

Morken tells KELO-TV that the company had just completed construction of the building last summer. He says the fire is a setback, but crunch time for farm chemicals won't be until spring.


Thanksgiving getaway: 46.3 million to hit the road

There is good news for Thanksgiving travelers: the price of gas is at five-year lows.

The bad news: a lot more people will be driving.

During the holiday weekend, 46.3 million Americans are expected to go 50 miles or more from home, the highest number since 2007, according to car group AAA. That would be a 4.2 percent increase over last year. While promising for the travel industry, the figure is still 8.5 percent short of the 50.6 million reached in 2007, just before the recession.

The overwhelming majority of travelers — almost 90 percent — will be driving.

AAA says the average retail price for gasoline is $2.85 per gallon, 43 cents cheaper than Thanksgiving Day last year. That means a family driving 300 miles will save $6.97.



Valentine Refuge to Open for Trapping

Valentine National Wildlife Refuge and Yellowthroat Wildlife Management Area will be open for trapping this winter.  People wishing to trap can call 402-376-1889 ext. 101or 402-376-3789 ext. 200 to get an application form.  There is a $20 the application fee.  Four trappers will be selected by public drawing on November 26 at 12:30 pm, to trap on designated areas of the refuge and wildlife management area.  Each trapper will be allowed a helper. There will be a $100 permit fee for trapping on the refuge and a $50 fee for the wildlife management area.  A State trapping license will be required and all trapping will be carried out in accordance with State regulations applicable to public lands except that the season on the refuge will be from December 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015.  Trapping will be allowed for muskrat, weasel, mink, raccoon, possum, skunk, badger, and coyote.  Motorized travel will be permitted only on public use roads.  Trappers will be required to keep a daily log which will be provided to the refuge manager at the end of the season.  Further information including a map showing the trapping areas will be provided with the application form.

Trapping provides for harvest of a renewable natural resource, minimizes property damage, and increases waterfowl production via marsh management and predator control.  The refuge has a history of high muskrat populations followed by die offs from Tyzzer’s disease.  Trapping helps reduce the muskrat population before disease outbreaks occur.  Harvestable populations of nest predators such as raccoon, skunk, coyote, and mink exist on the refuge and can be reduced by trapping.


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