Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.
Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.
“The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.
Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.
Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.
Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell urges Congress to ratify USMCA trade agreement
Farming feeds Alabama, but our state’s farmers also help feed the world.
That’s why the Alabama Farmers Federation is urging Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.
Canada and Mexico are our first and third largest export markets. This agreement not only preserves our partnership with these neighbors, but it also shows the United States can get a better deal for American farmers, businesses and families through strong negotiations.
Alabama already exports about $2.5 billion in agriculture and forest products worldwide, and there’s potential to greatly expand these markets. With plans underway to deepen the shipping channel at the Port of Mobile, customers around the world will have greater access to Alabama-grown food and fiber.
Currently, Alabama exports about $1.3 billion in forest products, $315 million a year in chicken, $158 million in cotton and $92 million in soybeans. Our North American trading partners make up a large portion of these totals and are a big reason agriculture is a bright spot in America’s trade balance.
According to the Alabama Commerce Department, state exports totaled $21.3 billion in 2018, just shy of the $21.8 billion record in 2017. During the last decade, the value of Alabama exports increased 34 percent.
That means more jobs for Alabama families, more investment by businesses and more tax revenue for public services.
Alabama’s business-friendly climate and hardworking people have led to tremendous economic growth and job creation. To sustain that growth, Alabama farmers and manufacturers must have access to world markets.
The Trump administration’s tough negotiating style is paying dividends with better trade deals. Still, we must act to finalize the USMCA. Last year, Alabama exports were down three percent to Canada and 12 percent to Mexico. When the USMCA is ratified, we can turn those numbers around.
The USMCA will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products. Canada also agreed to grade imports of U.S. wheat in a manner no less favorable than their own, and Mexico agreed all grading standards for agricultural products will be non-discriminatory.
Simply put, the USMCA preserves all the zero tariffs on agricultural products in the North American Free Trade Agreement while leveling the playing field for other farm products.
Alabama farmers have proven time and again their ability to grow healthy, abundant supplies of food and fiber. With access to global markets, there’s no doubt Alabama agriculture and forestry will expand to meet world demand.
Jimmy Parnell is a native of Stanton in Chilton County and a graduate of Auburn University in agricultural business and economics. Parnell was elected president of the Alabama Farmers Federation in 2012.
The clock is ticking to stop the EPA’s latest overreach (Opinion)
(Photo: Farms Reach)
On June 29, the Environmental Protection Agency formally published its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in the Federal Register. Sixty days from that date, this rule, which could greatly increase regulation under the Clean Water Act, will go into effect. The clock is now ticking to stop the adoption of this detrimental rule.
The lengthy WOTUS rule spans 300 printed pages. Even with all those words, we’ve found the rule fails to clarify the EPA’s jurisdiction and instead relies on ambiguous language that muddies the waters.
While riddled with problems, the greatest issues with the rule lie in the added definitions of “tributaries” and “nearby waters” as protected areas. The definitions are complex and unclear. Failure to precisely define these terms means the EPA could regulate dry ditches or ephemeral streams, which only hold water after a heavy rain.
Good common sense dictates that this should not be allowed under the Clean Water Act, an act implemented to protect water, not dictate land use.
The EPA claims it addressed farmers’ concerns by saying it does not plan to regulate ditches or ephemeral streams. But when dealing with federal regulations, a spoken assurance carries no weight. The words used in the rule do, and those words are vague.
Farmers care for the environment. We want clean water for our crops and animals but most importantly, we want clean water for our families.
However, we also want to provide for our family members and meet the challenge of providing food, clothing and shelter for the world. That means we must be allowed to work in our fields to raise our crops and livestock in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
The ambiguity included in this rule could very well prevent farmers from working their land due to EPA regulations.
This rule should not only concern farmers or only Alabamians. This should be of great concern for U.S. homeowners who spray to kill weeds in their lawns or gardens. It should concern construction companies and workers that move dirt to build houses or businesses.
Luckily, there is still time to prevent the EPA from adopting the WOTUS rule, but that action must come from Congress or the courts.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange signed on to a federal lawsuit that would strike down the controversial rule. He joined eight other states: West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau, have also filed a lawsuit against the rule in a Texas federal district court.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Regulator Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would prevent the administration from implementing the WOTUS rule. It would also require the EPA to rewrite the rule and consider public input from the hundreds of thousands of Americans who submitted comments since the rule was introduced last year.
A similar measure, S. 1140, passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee June 10. Alabama is fortunate to have the support of Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions in passing this measure. We hope all U.S. senators will make it a priority to stop the WOTUS rule.
Jimmy Parnell is president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest farm organization with more than 365,000 members. The Federation is an affiliate of American Farm Bureau.