WASH - Last Week Truckers, This Week Farmers...Rally Against Gas Prices

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Farmers to rally against gas prices

03/19/2000 By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Last week it was truckers. This week it will be farmers and other rural residents descending on the nation's capital to ask lawmakers for attention to their problems.

Two days of events are planned as part of the Rally for Rural America, which is being sponsored by several labor, agriculture, religious and rural organizations. According to organizers, including the National Farmers Union, the participants will ask Congress to "open up the farm bill and reform rural policies to alleviate the price crisis, ensure fair and open markets and pursue fair trade."

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and several lawmakers are scheduled to address the rally.

Congress is not exactly unmindful of rural America's plight; about $15 billion in emergency relief has been allocated to farmers in the last two years, and another $6 billion has been set aside to deal with anticipated calamities this year.

Last week, more than 100 lawmakers revived the Congressional Rural Caucus to bring some collective country clout to the table.

"After today, when we talk about the allocation of resources to stimulate economic development in this country, we also will talk about the need for resources to be channeled into farms and ranches, to small cities and towns, where one-fourth of our population calls home," said Rep. Eva Clayton, D-NC. Please send moneyOklahoma's lawmakers asked U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno for $500,000 to help dispose of hazardous chemicals found at methamphetamine labs in the state.

In a letter to Reno, the delegation noted that Oklahoma is third in the nation in meth labs and that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has already depleted its money for cleaning them up. Noxious fumes coming from a lab set up in a hotel room in Grove last month made 26 people sick; a private company was called in to dispose of the chemicals.

"In the future, if the same thing happens again anywhere in Oklahoma, there may be no way to clean up these chemicals," the members told Reno.

The Justice Department is $5 million short of the money it needs for this year. The delegation said they where hoping Reno would work with the Drug Enforcement Agency to find the money. Lock 'em up, Watts saysRep. J.C. Watts, R-Norman, asked Gov. Frank Keating and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson to consider a program started in Virginia for prosecuting people for illegal gun possession.

"While the Clinton-Gore administration looks to infringe on the rights of honest gun owners with more control measures, Oklahoma can simply not wait for them to fulfill their role of enforcing current gun laws on criminals," Watts said.

The Virginia program, Project Exile, has been praised for its mandatory minimum sentences of five years for certain gun crimes. Watts and others who have opposed some of President Clinton's gun-control proposals say the administration doesn't enforce the laws already on the books. Coburn contrary?Watts was asked last week about his Oklahoma colleague, Rep. Tom Coburn, a Muskogee Republican, campaigning for a conservative New Jersey Republican who is challenging incumbent Rep. Marge Roukema, considered a moderate.

It is unusual for members to get involved in primaries, particularly on the side of a challenger against an incumbent.

Watts said he "loves him to death," but that he and Coburn just do things differently.

This and thatGov. Frank Keating continues to be named as a possible running mate for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the apparent Republican presidential nominee; one plus for Keating's being mentioned by pundits now is that he's Catholic, and Bush caused himself some problems with Catholics when he spoke last month at Bob Jones University in South Carolina.

Watts is still being promoted as a running mate, too. A second petition drive to nudge Bush toward Watts, this one in Houston, is reportedly under way; a California man started a similar effort last year.

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has become one of Clinton's loudest critics over rising gas prices. But last year, when prices were so low that energy jobs were being cut by the thousands, DeLay seemed to welcome a reduction in crude oil since it potentially could help the energy industry in his Houston-area district. On March 24, DeLay said, "OPEC's decision this week to reduce their supply by 2.6 percent will help."


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 19, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ