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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.
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.
Indian People's Action;
This paper analyzes the denial of voting rights for Americans Indian living on the Blackfeet, Crow, Fort Belknap, Northern Cheyenne and Rocky Boy's Reservations in Montana.
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.
National Congress of American Indians;
A growing number of tribal nations are designing innovative approaches to cultivate the abilities of their citizens to successfully pursue careers that will empower those nations to create the futures they seek. NCAI's Partnership for Tribal Governance (PTG) has embarked on a project that works collaboratively with selected tribal nations to document their innovative approaches and share them with Indian Country. The following presents the story of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes in Montana, the second of four "Innovation Spotlight" case studies that PTG developed as part of this project. The four case studies were followed by a workforce development toolkit for tribal leaders and key decision-makers, which was released in 2018. The toolkit explores common challenges and emerging trends in tribal workforce development, and also presents lessons learned, policy recommendations, and questions to consider for tribal leaders and workforce development practitioners.
In 2008, Lumina asked SPEC Associates (SPEC) to evaluate the foundation's grant making aimed at improving the productivity of higher education through statewide policy and program change. The initiative was initially known as Making Opportunity Affordable and later became known more broadly as Lumina's higher education productivity initiative. Eleven states received planning grants in 2008 and a year later seven of these states received multi-year grants to implement their productivity plans. In 2009, Lumina published Four Steps to Finishing First in Higher Education to frame the content of its productivity work. In 2010, the foundation, working with HCM Strategists, launched the Strategy Labs Network to deliver just-in-time technical assistance, engagement, informationsharing and convenings to states. Lumina engaged SPEC to evaluate these productivity investments in the seven states through exploring this over-arching question: What public will building, advocacy, public policy changes, and system or statewide practices are likely to impact higher education productivity for whom and in what circumstances, and which of these are likely to be sustainable, transferable, and/or scalable?
Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most states' individual health insurance markets were dominated by one or two insurance carriers that had little incentive to compete by providing efficient services. Instead, they competed mainly by screening and selecting people based on their risk of incurring high medical costs. One of the ACA's goals is to encourage carriers to participate in the health insurance marketplaces and to shift the focus from competing based on risk selection to processes that increase consumer value, like improving efficiency of services and quality of care. Focusing on six states—Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, and Texas—this brief looks at how carriers are competing in the new marketplaces, namely through cost-sharing and composition of provider networks.
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.
Alliance for a Just Society;
With support from the WK Kellogg Foundation, the Alliance for a Just Society conducted grounded research in 10 states (California, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas) to explore how those who need health care the most—low income people, immigrants, and people of color—are experiencing ACA implementation.
This report examines the following questions:
Who was able to sign up for health insurance?
How effective was outreach to underserved communities?
How accessible are health care services to newly enrolled patients?
And finally, what changes might make the current health care delivery system more effective in serving low-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color?
Pacific Community Ventures;
Impact measurement is central to the practice of mission investing, allowing mission investors to understand if their investments are meeting their goals and furthering their mission. The Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) has worked with PCV InSight for eight years to evaluate and understand the impact of its mission-related investment, Invest Northwest. In this white paper, we detail how the fund has delivered consistent social impact since its inception, including: strong job growth; steady increases in annual median wages; and higher employee wages than at other private businesses nationally and regionally.
Third Way, The;
How easy is it to buy a firearm from a complete stranger without a background check? In an analysis of internet gun sales in 10 states from a single website during the months of June and July, Third Way found more than 15,000 guns -- onethirdof which were semi-automatics -- available for sale without background checks at any given moment. In 2,000 web ads in these states, buyers were intentionally seeking private sellers where background checks are specifically exempt from federal law.
This report focuses on online sales in the 10 states where Senators were initially targeted but failed to support bipartisan legislation to close this virtual loophole.
Women's Foundation of Montana;
This report aims to provide a snapshot of the status of women in Montana, with a special focus on economics, safety, health, and leadership. Although great strides have been made in the last hundred years, much more remains to be done, as women still fare worse than men, on average, on a variety of measures. With better and more accurate information, it is our hope that we may inspire women and all citizens of Montana to demand fairness and equality in all areas of their lives.