- - Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Lawmakers advance Keystone pipeline bill

LINCOLN — State lawmakers backed a plan Wednesday to have the state’s Department of Environmental Quality conduct an independent review of possible routes the contested Keystone XL pipeline could take through the state, after developer TransCanada volunteered to reroute the massive project to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

The single-house Legislature voted 45-0 in favor of Speaker Mike Flood’s proposal to task Nebraska’s environmental protection agency with examining new possible routes. The Legislature would have to back the measure twice more before it could go to Gov. Dave Heineman for his signature.

TransCanada volunteered this week to divert its proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline so that it wouldn’t pass through the Nebraska Sandhills. The offer followed the U.S. State Department’s announcement that it would delay its decision on the transnational pipeline until at least 2013.

The proposed $7 billion pipeline would carry up to 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s tar sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The route would cross six states - Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma and Texas - and had stirred fears about a contamination threat to the Ogallala aquifer, a key water source for eight states.


Foreign adoptions by Americans plunge again

NEW YORK — The number of foreign children adopted by Americans fell by 15 percent last year, reaching the lowest level since 1994, largely as a result of sharp cutbacks by China and Ethiopia, sources of most adoptees in recent years.

Figures released Tuesday by the State Department for the 2011 fiscal year showed 9,320 adoptions from abroad, down from 11,059 in 2010 and down nearly 60 percent from the all-time peak of 22,884 in 2004.

Once again, China accounted for the most children adopted in the U.S. But its total of 2,589 was down from 3,401 the previous year as China finds itself with fewer abandoned children and more interest in domestic adoptions.

Ethiopia was second, at 1,727, but that was down from 2,513 in 2010. The main factor was a decision by Ethiopian authorities to slow down the handling of adoption applications to reduce instances of fraud and ease a heavy workload at Ethiopia’s Youth Ministry.

Following Ethiopia on the list were Russia, which accounted for 970 adoptions, South Korea at 736, Ukraine at 632, the Philippines at 230, India at 228, Colombia at 216, Uganda at 207 and Taiwan at 205.

One reason that the overall adoption numbers have dropped so sharply in recent years is that problems of fraud and corruption prompted the U.S., as well as other nations, to suspend adoptions from several countries, notably Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala and Nepal.


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