Energy & Environment

Most Dams Lack Emergency Action Plans

By Cort Olsen and Morgan White, Capital News Service

For many Virginians living downstream from a dam, there is a good chance that they don’t know what to do or where to go if the dam fails.

That is because more than 40 percent of the state’s dams that are supposed to have evacuation plans do not.

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Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s Dishonest Dealing: A Boat Pier or Oil Wells?

Bryant Osborn, Fresh and Local

As I wrote in previous columns, northern Fauquier County farmer Martha Boneta’s battles with Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) have focused a whole lot of attention on Virginia’s land trusts.

PEC is a private, non-profit land trust.  Land trusts are supposed to work to conserve land from development by administering conservation easements.  A conservation easement is an agreement where a property owner gives up the rights to future development of their land in exchange for tax breaks.  Virginia annually gives away $100 million dollars in tax breaks for conservation easements, so despite their relative obscurity, land trusts are a very, very big business.

Martha Boneta vs. PEC

Martha has charged that PEC trespassed repeatedly on her farm and has attempted to drive her off the farm through unwarranted and overly invasive conservation easement inspections, and an IRS audit she says was instigated by a PEC board member.  More recently, PEC appears to have committed fraud when Martha bought her farm, by filing a conservation easement that was dramatically different than the one Martha signed.

There has been a development this week in that story, and I will come back to that later.

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Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act: Rep. Tyler Lindholm on Unleashing Local Artisan Foods

Fresh & Local

Wyoming – not California, or the west coast or even New England, but Wyoming – has now jumped into the lead as the national hotbed for local artisan foods.

As I wrote in the previous column, earlier this month, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed into law the “Wyoming Food Freedom Act.” Under this first-in-the-nation law, direct-to-consumer food sales by farmers and other food producers cannot be subjected to any “licensure, permitting, certification, inspection, packaging, or labeling” requirements by state agencies.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R-District 1), calls it, “a measure designed to stop overregulation of locally produced foods.” He points out that the new law takes “local foods off the black market. It will no longer be illegal to buy a lemon meringue pie from your neighbor or a jar of milk from your local farm.” Continue reading

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