Michele Berger
Published: 12/20/2011

A few stories we recently covered on our blog—about the payroll tax bill including provisions related to the Keystone pipeline, and earlier in November, about a pecan shortage—are popping up again. Here’s a look at how they’ve changed since we wrote about them last.

Map: Peter Hoey

Keystone XL
As we reported last week, the huge battle in Congress over extending the payroll tax continues today. The latest iteration, a two-month extension that includes a shorter review of the environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline, passed the Senate on Saturday. This morning, a procedural vote passed in the House 231 to 187.

“It cleared the way for debate of the Republican proposal to turn down the Senate measure and establish a negotiating committee so the two chambers could resolve their differences,” reports The New York Times. “But the Senate has left town for the year, and Democrats say they do not intend to call it back, putting continuation of the tax cut in jeopardy.”

What do a few other news outlets have to say about it?

The GOP Could Accidentally Delay the Keystone XL Pipeline (Washington Post)
In his column, WonkBlog, writer Ezra Klein explains that expedited review of the Keystone pipeline could actually put a log-jam on the project for years.

Congress and Keystone XL: A National Disgrace (Huffington Post)
Actor Robert Redford, an avid environmentalist, weighs in on the whole Keystone mess, what he calls a “naked political stunt.”

House Republicans Scrap Direct Vote on Senate Payroll Tax Plan (CNN)
CNN gives an overview of where the debate in Congress stands, as well as the part Keystone plays.

The Keystone Ultimatum (Wall Street Journal)
This piece is from a few days ago, but worth including here. It takes a more conservative look at the debate.

Photo: Georgia Pecan Commission

And in something completely different…

Just before Thanksgiving, we wrote about how a pecan drought is causing prices of the nut to hit a whopping $11 a pound this year. Pecan thieves are cashing in, according to The New York Times. “This season, which began in October and ends in January, the thefts appear to be at record levels.”

Growers are getting savvier, using high-tech security cameras and fences. Some are even hiring security guards. “Still,” the article continues, “pecan thieves are being caught in numbers that are nearly double what they were in 2010.” For one Georgia county, that means almost three-dozen arrests already this year.