Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Route 66 ‘singing road’ debuts in New Mexico - A new way to get your "kicks"?

Route 66 is known for neon signs, the iconic 66 sign and now a singing street. A section of the mother road in New Mexico now plays the patriotic tune “America the Beautiful” when someone drives over it. “I’m thinking how cool is this that we actually have something as neat as “America the Beautiful” playing on the highway,” said Eric Gibson. The singing road was created because of National Geographic. It was built as part of National Geographic’s new show Crowd Control. The show uses fun experiments to change social behavior. The goal of the rhythmic road, at 364 Highway 66 East near Tijears, is to help drivers stay focused. “It requires you to drive the posted speed limit,” said New Mexico Department of Transportation Spokesperson Melissa Dosher. The magic number is 45 miles-per-hour. If a driver goes even a couple miles over or under that the tune can’t be heard. Dosher said the department hopes the rumble strips will also keep drowsy drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. Not everyone is pleased with the project...more

UNM's Prickly Pear Vandal - Prickly Pear Juice Political Messages

The University of New Mexico has a prickly pear problem on its hands. A vandal is back tagging buildings on campus with prickly pear juice, ultimately causing a lot of damage. UNM officials said the vandal first started leaving political messages, written in the juice, on buildings before the Nov. 2012 elections. “It comes and goes in cycles. We had probably 20 or 30 this spring, and then it went away for the summer,” Willie West, the manager of Environmental Services at UNM, told KRQE. Now they are back in a big way. West said in the past three to four weeks, more than a dozen tags have been left on campus in the prickly pear juice. UNM officials asked us to blur some of the text to not give the suspect a bigger platform. The tags are sticky and smelly, but West says they do wash off. If crews don’t get to the prickly pear tags in a timely manner, however, the juice will stain the building. Each tag takes between one to three hours to remove...more

Court Upholds Decision To Keep Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Off Endangered Species Act List

Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 decision not to list the lizard under the Endangered Species Act. Congressional Western Caucus Co-Chairs Steve Pearce (NM-02) and Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large) along with Western Caucus member Mike Conaway (TX-11) released the following statements in response to the decision: “It is about time the courts stood up for private landowners over radical environmental groups that continually use sue and settle tactics to exploit taxpayer money to pay lawyers and fund themselves instead of recovering species,” said Chairman Pearce. “This decision ensures that sound conservation efforts are carried out in Eastern New Mexico without sacrificing the economic activity that the area depends on. The plan itself is a great example of how cooperative conservation efforts between private industry, state officials, landowners, and the federal government are more than adequate to protect species. This decision differs from the Fish and Wildlife’s listing of the lesser prairie chicken in March that severely hindered a successful cooperative conservation effort. I hope the Fish and Wildlife Service along with the courts continue to allow future efforts like this to succeed.”...more

Secretary Jewell, Director Jarvis Announce Nine New National Historic Landmarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced the designation of nine new national historic landmarks, ranging from the oldest operating streetcar system in America to the home of an arctic explorer. The sites announced today join 2,544 other sites across the country recognized as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. "These nine sites add to a nationwide network of unique, historic places that represent the complex journey that we have taken as a nation," said Secretary Jewell. "By designating these new national landmarks we ensure that America's history of innovation, vision and diversity are celebrated today and for future generations."...more

None are in the West

Historic Navajo-U.S. Settlement as It Happened: 10 Unforgettable Images

It is the largest settlement in the history of U.S.–Tribal relations, and Indian Country Today Media Network was there every step of the way. The signing on September 25 of a $554 million settlement to make amends for more than half a century of trust-fund mismanagement of Navajo tribal resources by the U.S. government was not only historic but also moving. Under a sharp blue sky, framed by iconic Window Rock, Navajo officials and dignitaries met with their counterparts from the U.S. government, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, to sign the agreement and witness a healing moment. It started with a morning blessing and progressed from there under unimpeded sun.Overall, settlements with tribes during President Barack Obama’s two terms will amount to more than $8 billion, according to Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. Photographers Julia Mitchell and Jared King captured the day with their cameras. Here we bring you images showing how the day unfolded, as it happened...more

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Dark cloud over solar plans

The Obama administration’s push for big solar plants and other renewable energy projects on public lands has started to stall as developers question whether they can finish projects in time to qualify for key federal subsidies. Just days after U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell came to Palm Springs to trumpet the success of these projects in combating climate change, Oakland-based BrightSource Energy abruptly scrapped its plans to build a solar “power tower” project on about six square miles of desert between Indio and Blythe in eastern Riverside County. The company’s Sept. 26 decision was especially surprising because the project was expected to be approved next month by the California Energy Commission. Joe Desmond, a BrightSource vice president, acknowledged last week that he didn’t believe the Palen project, featuring a 750-foot boiler tower heated by mirrors, would be built in time to qualify for a subsidy that would have Uncle Sam pay nearly a third of the cost. Desmond was referring to a 30 percent tax credit for completed renewable energy projects that’s scheduled to drop to just 10 percent Jan. 1, 2017. Getting the tax credit essentially means getting the financing to build, said Mike Taylor, the research director for the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Electric Power Association. But now financiers “can’t assume the tax credit will be available when the project is done,” Taylor said. “They have to assume a worst-case scenario.” Too many things can go wrong for anyone to count on a large-scale solar tower project being built in two years, Taylor said. Officially, however, BrightSource officials did not blame the subsidy situation for its Palen retreat. The company’s official statement said the firm needed to bring forward a different project “that would better meet the needs of the market and energy consumers.” On Monday, company officials declined to discuss the decision...more

BP Agent - Adm. knowingly endangered public health & safety, withheld info from Congress on transporting illegal aliens

A whistleblowing Border Patrol agent alleges that the Department of Homeland Security ignored health and safety concerns in attempting to transport illegal immigrants to a facility in Murrieta, Calif., the site of a high-profile confrontation between DHS and local citizens this past summer. In a whistleblower disclosure document obtained by National Review Online, the agent alleges that the federal government knowingly transported illegal immigrants to facilities that were unequipped to process them; disregarded repeated warnings from a Border Patrol agent about the public-health risks posed by the immigrants, many of whom were suffering from infectious diseases; rejected multiple offers of assistance from local officials; and suspended law-enforcement operations at part of America’s southern border while denying a congressman’s repeated requests for information about the government’s plan to process the immigrants and about the startling events unfolding in his district. The whistleblower disclosure was filed by Border Patrol agent Ron Zermeno, the health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613. Zermeno writes in the disclosure about how, as early as May of 2014, when he learned of the government’s plan to relocate the immigrants, he began raising the alarm, reaching out to Border Patrol management, local officials, and a congressman. He gained no ground with these warnings, he says. He also spoke with NRO and other media about his concerns but was disciplined — for the first time in his decades-long career — for allegedly exposing sensitive law-enforcement information to the press. Zermeno declined to comment for this story. His disclosure suggests that while the images coming out of Murrieta showed American citizens fighting the arrival of illegal immigrants, the confrontation would have been avoided entirely if only the federal government had heeded the warnings of its employees. Zermeno says in the document that on May 7, he received word from a senior agent of the federal government’s plan to send 140 illegal immigrants every 72 hours to the Murrieta Border Patrol Station, despite its inability to accommodate their arrival. His disclosure says he was concerned for the safety of the agents because of reports that the detainees would be carrying infectious diseases, scabies, and lice. The facility could not safely house the incoming women and children, he writes. But the senior agent, according to Zermeno, said that immigrants would nonetheless be processed and then released to the community, and that the directive was “concealed for unknown reasons....more

The US Is Forking Over $300 Million To Settle A Decades-Old Cotton Dispute

The United States will pay Brazilian cotton producers $300 million to settle a decade-old dispute over cotton subsidies, two officials familiar with the settlement said on Tuesday, the first concrete step to repair ties hurt by an espionage scandal. The agreement will be formally signed on Wednesday morning in Washington after Brazilian Agriculture Minister Neri Geller and Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo traveled to the U.S. capital to finalize details. In exchange for the one-off payment to the Brazil Cotton Institute, or IBA, Brazil agreed not to take any further trade measures against the United States. The official said the United States could implement a new farm bill without concerns about retaliation. In 2004, Brazil won a challenge against U.S. cotton subsidies at the World Trade Organization, giving it the right to impose $830 million in sanctions against U.S. products. Brazil agreed to suspend the penalty if the United States paid into an assistance fund for Brazilian cotton farmers. The United States stopped paying the monthly compensation in October last year due to budget disagreements in Congress, prompting the Brazilian government to threaten to slap higher tariffs on U.S. products. The retaliation would have deepened diplomatic tensions between both countries, officials and experts said at the time. Reports earlier this year said the United States was willing to pay at least $460 million in compensation to Brazilian growers to end the dispute, according to Brazilian diplomatic documents obtained by hackers and leaked to the local press...more

Our policy is very simple:  In order to keep subsidizing U.S. cotton producers, we must also subsidize Brazilian cotton producers.

Judge upholds ban on new mining claims on 1M acres

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did not abuse his discretion or violate any laws in prohibiting new hard-rock mining claims on one million acres near the Grand Canyon, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. Salazar announced the 20-year ban in 2012 for an area rich in high-grade uranium reserves outside Grand Canyon National Park. Mining industry groups and a Chino Valley resident quickly sued, saying the ban was irresponsible public policy and violated federal laws. U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled in favor of the federal government and conservationists, who argued that it will protect water flowing through the canyon from potential contamination. Campbell said he could find no legal principle that prevents the Interior Department from withdrawing 5,000 acres or more from new mining claims for up to 20 years without approval of Congress, even if he was erring on the side of caution in "protecting a national treasure." Representatives of industry groups said they are reviewing the decision. The plaintiffs have 60 days to appeal...more

The Public’s Preference for Renewed Federalism

For much of its history, the United States had a notably decentralized government structure. Since the 1930s, the national government has undertaken new efforts to regulate the economy and society and to redistribute resources. Those new efforts have implied a greater centralization of authority in Washington. In the past the public often supported such centralization. Public opinion about federalism has changed. Voters are more supportive of decentralized policymaking on many issues where they previously supported a stronger national role. This shift in the public mood is consistent with other polling data that indicates profound distrust in the capacity of the federal government to act on behalf of the public good. On some issues, like national defense, much of the public continues to support national primacy. Such issues are often assigned to Washington by the Constitution. In contrast, much polling finds that many citizens believe state and local governments are likely to perform better than Washington. Americans support a more decentralized federalism than in the past both on particular issues and as a general matter of institutional confidence. Cato

Read the full policy analysis here.

Report: Border Patrol Agent Says Classified Intel Proves Terrorists Infiltrate U.S.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona claims he was privy to classified intelligence that proves terrorists have infiltrated the homeland from Mexico. Border agent Art Del Cueto, who heads the national union for border patrol agents Local 2544 in Tucson, made those comments in an interview with Public Radio International (PRI) that aired September 24. While walking a section of the Arizona-Mexico border, Del Cueto told PRI that the area is susceptible to Islamic terrorist crossings, adding that classified U.S. Border Patrol intelligence verifies that some have successfully infiltrated the U.S . "The intel we have is hard evidence. It’s very hard evidence. It’s pictures. It’s debriefings of individuals,” the agent told PRI. Del Cueto did not elaborate further, saying the evidence is classified. Border agents have to remain vigilant of terrorists coming across the southern border, according to Del Cueto...more

Holder urges tech companies to leave device backdoors open for police

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said on Tuesday that new forms of encryption capable of locking law enforcement officials out of popular electronic devices imperil investigations of kidnappers and sexual predators, putting children at increased risk. “It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said at a conference on child sexual abuse, according to a text of his prepared remarks. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.” In his comments, Holder became the highest government official to publicly chastise technology companies for developing systems that make it difficult for law enforcement officials to collect potential evidence, even when they have search warrants. Though he didn’t mention Apple and Google by name, his remarks followed their announcements this month of new smartphone encryption policies that have sparked a sharp government response, including from FBI Director James B. Comey last week...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1305

John Dilleshaw was a 6' 7", left-handed guitar player from Georgia who learned how to play while being home bound by a hunting accident.  He and his band recorded under the name Seven-foot Dilly and his Dill Pickles.  Sand Mountain Drag was recorded in 1930 and that's Harry Kiker on the fiddle. The Tune is on the Document Records CD John Dilleshaw 1929-1930.  For an excellent article on Dilleshaw see Charles Wolfe's The Legend of John Dilleshaw here (

No wonder I'm so smart...

Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in hops, improved memory and thinking in a lucky group of mice. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in plants, known to have numerous health benefits. Last year, researchers discovered that a flavonoid found in celery and artichokes could potentially fight pancreatic cancer.The researchers treated the mice with dietary supplements of xanthohumol over the course of eight weeks. Their goal was to determine if xanthohumol could affect palmitoylation, a naturally occurring process in animals (including humans) that’s associated with memory degradation. The mice then went through a series of tests—including the popular Morris water maze—to gauge whether or not the treatments had improved their spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. For the younger mice in the group, it worked...more

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Group wants Rio Grande sucker declared endangered; trout OK, feds say

The environmental group WildEarth Guardians Tuesday asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider declaring the Rio Grande sucker, a fish found in northern New Mexico, endangered. The fish, also found in Colorado, is threatened by human water use that is drying the region’s rivers, and dams fragment the fish’s habitat, making it harder for it to survive, the group argues in its 44-page petition. The Fish and Wildlife service now has 90 days to determine whether there is enough evidence to begin a full study of the fate of the fish. If the answer to that initial question is “yes”, the agency then has a year to make a decision on whether to formally declare the fish “endangered”, which could trigger legal protections for the fish. Also Tuesday, federal biologists said there’s no danger of the native Rio Grande cutthroat trout going extinct now or in the foreseeable future. The finding announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a blow to environmentalists’ efforts to get the fish added to the list of endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity argues that the trout are gone from nearly 90 percent of their range in New Mexico and Colorado and that populations are declining. The Fish and Wildlife Service says it reviewed the best available scientific and commercial information before deciding not to list the fish...more

Nevada ranchers horseback riding to White House in protest - video

CARSON CITY, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- A group of ranchers are heading to Washington D.C. on horseback to protest limitations to grazing rights on federal land. They rallied in Carson City and stopped at Governor Sandoval’s office on Monday.

The ranchers with the Grass March Cowboy Express began their journey a few days ago in California and they are heading to the White House hoping to change the future of public lands. The group said it is mainly protesting the grazing allowance it has been issued by the Bureau of Land Management.

"It's just a whole different system then what we're used to, they've just disrupted our whole way of life is what they’ve done," said Lynn Tomera.

The ranchers said they are hoping over the next few weeks to bring awareness to land and environmental issues. "We have had cuts and I don't know if we're ever going to ever get them back," said Arlo Crutcher.

The BLM said it recently changed some grazing allotments for ranchers because of drought conditions. They emailed News 4 a statement that said:

"BLM Nevada attempted to work with the individuals who graze their cows on an area of public lands known as the Argenta Allotment to develop a plan for reduced use that would correspond to the current drought conditions. These cooperative efforts were rejected which forced the Bureau of Land Management to temporarily prohibit grazing on the parts of the Argenta Allotment that had already surpassed recommended use levels."

Still, one rancher said she believes grazing rights on federal land are being taken away for the wrong reasons. "The drought really isn't an issue on our range because we've got some good, good range, we've got some good grass, and there really was no reason for them to keep us off the range," said Tomera.

Many ranchers said the cuts have affected their lifestyle, so they hope their coast-to-coast trip of 2,800 miles to Washington D.C. on horseback will make a difference.

The BLM said it is working with hunters, nature lovers and others who rely on public lands to appropriately adjust land uses during this prolonged drought. It also said it will continue to work closely with all land users to make appropriate and timely adjustments while the severe drought continues.

Show me where they have cut back on hunting as a result of the drought.  What "adjustments" has BLM imposed on nature lovers?  Nothing but outhouse soup if you ask me.

Here is the KRNV video report:

$1 Million In Federal Funding To Promote N.M. Agriculture

Several organizations in New Mexico will share $538,279 in federal grants to help develop new markets for agricultural products. In addition, New Mexico State University will receive $499,191 to improve competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers.

The 2014 FMLFPP funding is as follows:
  • Delicious New Mexico (Albuquerque) will receive $100,000 provide outreach, marketing, training and technical assistance to improve and expand the EspaƱola Food Hub into an incubation hub for Northern New Mexico food businesses.
  • Santa Fe Community Foundation will receive $100,000 to expand a local, healthy food procurement program to low-income and low-access communities that will improve the capacity of Pueblo agricultural producers through farm-to-market training.
  • The National Center for Frontier Communities will receive $25,000 to the National Center for Frontier Communities to assess the feasibility of a regional food hub in Silver City to support a more self-sufficient local food economy in southwestern New Mexico.
  • The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute will receive $91,604 to establish an advertising campaign to promote the market and Federal benefits redemption at the South Side Summer Market, and provide technical assistance and professional training to vendors.
  • The Pueblo of Pojoaque will receive $44,616 for promotional activities, expanded services and season and vendor recruitment to grow the Pojoaque Farmers Market.
  • The Pinyon Foundation (Santa Fe) will receive $100,000 to produce and implement Spanish language multimedia campaigns promoting farmers’ markets nationwide.
  • The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association will receive $77,059 to promote SNAP redemption at farmers markets in four counties and train vendors to use EBT.

Announcing these grants, our Senators say:

“Connecting our communities to their local farmers and produce markets increases options for families to purchase healthy, locally-grown food, and it helps boost the economy at the same time,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) in a statement announcing the grants along with Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). “Through investments in marketing outreach and training, small family farmers and ranchers – especially in our rural and tribal communities – will have the tools necessary to attract more business while providing fresh food options to New Mexicans.
All this while they're trying to put almost 40 ranching families in Dona Ana and Luna County out of business through wilderness/national monument designations.  Shame on these families for doing their own marketing and for not producing organic beef, having a food hub or being on food stamps.  

Farm group questions NRCS-Ducks Unlimited relationship

A group representing North Dakota wheat and barley farmers is raising questions about the working relationship between the federal government's main conservation agency and a private group that works to boost wetlands and waterfowl. The North Dakota Grain Growers Association says the government's Natural Resources Conservation Service should not be using nonprofit Ducks Unlimited personnel "as foot soldiers for its work." The Grain Growers fears such a relationship might infringe on farmers' ability to use their land as they see fit, and hurt them financially. The NRCS works with landowners to conserve, maintain and improve natural resources and ensure landowners are complying with regulations. Producers who don't comply could lose eligibility to participate in federal farm programs. Grain Growers Executive Director Dan Wogsland said the association recently found out that NRCS was using Ducks Unlimited members to help with the agency's work. "Ducks Unlimited will have undue influence on programs that impact North Dakota farmers and landowners," Wogsland said...more

Controlling feral hogs with…gummy bears?

Earlier this year, the USDA announced it was testing sodium nitrate, the same preservative used to cure bacon, to poison feral hogs.  Feral hogs cause roughly $1.5 billion in damages nationally each year. According to the Associated Press in an article here, sodium nitrate is more toxic to pigs than people and is used in Australia and New Zealand to help control feral swine populations. Here is the United States, USDA scientists believe it also may be the best solution to U.S. farmers, ranchers and landowners to help control the invasive species. There’s just one problem – the wild hogs aren’t biting at the bitter taste of sodium nitrate. That’s where Glen Gentry, an animal science researcher with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, comes in.  He recently spoke at a symposium to discuss the latest on his study to control feral hogs.  In his research, Gentry found the pigs were attracted to certain flavors, such as strawberry, but the grain-based bait had some problems. “When the sodium nitrite is added to the mix, consumption tends to drop off,” said Gentry. The answer to this issue may be in an unlikely source – gummy bears. “We are looking at semi-solid bait forms developed by LSU AgCenter researcher Zhijun Liu in the School of Renewable Natural Resources,” he explained. “I like using gummy bears as a way to hide the salty and bitter taste of sodium nitrite.”His goal is to kill 90 percent of the pigs. So far, Gentry is at 68 percent...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1304

This will be a "Crow Flats Country" Week, which means old time fiddle and string band music. First up will be the Kessinger Brothers with Chicken Reel (Les Reel des Poulets) from the Document Records CD Kessinger Brothers, Volume III (1929-1930).

USDA offers $31.5M for healthier food stamp diet

A division of the Agriculture Department is making $31.5 million in funding available to help people on food stamps obtain healthier foods. The department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is making the funding available to help those enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income Americans. "Too many struggling families do not have adequate access to nutritious food," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday as he announced the new funding. "Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families' health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers.” The agency wants funded projects to examine how to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables, the department said, and the funding could subsidize pilot projects, multiyear community projects or large-scale multiyear proposals. The funding stems from the farm bill Congress passed earlier this year, which created the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program...more

Do you see any meat falling out of that SNAP bag?

California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link

Global warming contributed to extreme heat waves in many parts of the world last year, but cannot be definitively linked to the California drought, according to a report released Monday. The third annual analysis of extreme weather events underscored the continuing difficulty of teasing out the influence of human-caused climate change on precipitation patterns. One of three studies examining the California drought in 2013 found that the kind of high-pressure systems that blocked winter storms last year have increased with global warming. But another study concluded that a long-term rise in sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific did not contribute substantially to the drought. And researchers noted that California precipitation since 1895 has "exhibited no appreciable downward trend." Overall, the report editors concluded that the papers didn't demonstrate that global warming clearly influenced the drought, which is one of the worst in the state record.  In the report, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 20 research teams explored the causes of 16 extreme weather events recorded in 2013, including torrential downpours in Colorado, heat waves in Korea and Australia and a blizzard in South Dakota. The studies overwhelmingly showed that human-caused climate change played a role in the heat waves, in some cases making them 10 times more likely. But the report editors wrote that "natural variability likely played a much larger role in the extreme precipitation events," whether it was flooding in India, deep snow in the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains or the California drought...more

Michelle Obama’s lunches trashed, $4 million wasted daily

Local news teams across the country have determined that children are so unhappy with their federally mandated, taxpayer-funded school lunches that they they often throw them out, wasting much of their food to the tune of $4 million dollars every day across the country. The goal of the Healthy, Hungry Free Kids Act is to “end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation,” as reported at, but the news team at KSHB out of Kansas City said much of the food is wasted and kids come home hungry. “Just because districts have to serve the fruit and veggies doesn’t mean students have to eat it,” they wrote earlier this month. A local ABC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio reports that “the new standards are so unpopular that nearly 600 school districts across the country have dropped out of the school lunch program, citing more and more students simply not buying lunches.” A report from Cornell University and Brigham Young University in December found that “students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables.”...more

Sheriffs Who Are Protecting Liberty

An increasing number of county sheriffs are rising to resist federal overreach in their counties. About 100 of them met in mid-September at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The gathering was organized by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association -- a group that was formed by former Sheriff Richard Mack. It was a time of mutual encouragement, where several sheriffs shared their experiences in resisting federal overreach. Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wycomico County, Maryland was one of the sheriffs in attendance. He got national attention recently for saying that the feds better not try grabbing guns in his county. Two sheriffs who have attracted something of a cult following are Brad Rogers of Elkhart County, Indiana, and Bennie House of Otero County, New Mexico. While they were not in attendance this September, their stories were heralded as examples to follow. Sheriff Rogers is a GOA Life Member who interposed himself between the Food and Drug Administration and a raw milk dairy farmer. The feds were on the verge of confiscating the farmer’s equipment which would have bankrupted him. But Sheriff Rogers communicated with the head attorney at the FDA and told her that if they put one more foot on the farmer’s land, he would arrest them. She, in turn, threatened to arrest him. Rogers simply ended the debate by replying: “Game on.” That was almost three years ago, and the FDA has been MIA ever since. Then there’s Sheriff Benny House of Otero County, New Mexico, who led a confrontation with the Forest Service several years ago on behalf of some of his citizens. The locals were hauling dead trees out of National Forest land in violation of Forest Service policy. The locals not only wanted the firewood provided by the dead trees, but were also lessening the risk of forest fire (dead trees burn much more quickly and serve to make fires more likely to spread). The Forest Service threatened to arrest the Otero County citizens who were disturbing the “natural condition” of the forest. But Sheriff House threatened to arrest the Forest Service agents. That successful standoff allowed the folks in Cloudcroft to save their ski village when a forest fire threatened them two years ago...more

EPA approves plan to close two units at San Juan Generating Station

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a state plan that would close two coal-fired units at San Juan Generating Station in Waterflow by the end of 2017 and save the plant owners $780 million, according to a press release. The plan was proposed 18 months ago. It was written by the New Mexico Environment Department, the Public Service Company of New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation. The plan would help the plant meet federal emissions requirements under the Regional Haze Rule. Without the state's plan, the utility said it would have to install catalytic emissions-reducing technology that could have cost upwards of $1 billion dollars. The state's plan would close two of the four units and install non-catalytic emissions reducing technology, saving the utility about $780 million through the next 20 years, a PNM release stated. However, the closing of units at San Juan Generating Station could cost the area jobs. He said the company might not lay off its employees, but he fears there won't be the same amount of work for the approximately 300 contract employees who now work at the power plant...more

Eddy Co. flooding worries continue as crops rot

Farms in southern New Mexico are still under water after recent massive flooding and that has farmers worried their popular crops could be wiped out. After weeks of rain, some farms in Eddy County saw nearly 26 inches of rain. Woods Houghton, with Eddy County, said the pinto bean crops in their area have been wiped out. Houghton said the county’s largest crop, which is cotton, is looking like its headed that way too. Now farmers are having to wait for the water to recede before they know for sure which crops can be saved and which are going to be a total loss. Hougton said Eddy County is the seventh largest agricultural county in New Mexico. Their fields produce cotton, pumpkins, pinto beans and even chile. With a good portion of farms there are still under water the majority of crops in the county could be jeopardy. “Our chile crop doesn’t look too good either,” Hougton said. Houghton said their chile is sold across the state. He said while a lot of the state has already picked, roasted and sold bags of its green chile, the Pecos Valley was just getting started...more

Monday, September 29, 2014

US judge refuses to halt fracking in Nevada

A federal judge has refused to block the release of oil and gas leases in Nevada that critics say will be used for hydraulic fracturing that could harm sage grouse and cause more environmental damage than the Bureau of Land Management admits. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du ruled she has no authority to grant opponents' request for an emergency order at this time to prevent the BLM from formally issuing the leases in a vast swath of central Nevada. Lawyer Glade Hall, who represents the Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking, says they're considering refiling their complaint. The coalition of ranchers, farmers and others say the BLM has abused its authority by limiting public comment and failing to conduct an adequate review of the potential impacts of the fracking. AP

Range editor speaker for Lake library dinner

C.J. Hadley, editor/publisher of Range Magazine, will discuss “Cuddling the Soul of the West” at the Lake County Library’s annual Library Endowment Dinner Saturday, Oct. 18. at the Lakeview Elks Lodge. The 6:30 dinner program will be preceded by a no-host reception fundraiser at the new main library in Lakeview from 5 to 6 p.m. Hadley has been called an “unsung heroine of the West” and “Clint Eastwood with both guns drawn” because of stances advocating ranches and ranchers. Her advocacy seemed unlikely, given her background. Known as Caroline Joy, she was 17 when her parents gave her a one-way ticket from England to Canada. Hadley never looked back. Instead, she hitchhiked and worked her way around the world as a typist, freelance writer, rodeo photographer, snowmobile racer and tuna fisherman. In 1991, after spending 10 years as editor of Nevada Magazine, a group of ranchers asked her to produce a brochure to send to members of Congress to tell the “true side of ranching” and counteract calls for “Cattle Free by “93” advocated by some environmental group. That brochure turned into Range, a magazine that features stories and photographs about ranchers, ranching and the often controversial issues surrounding ranching. Range has grown into a national magazine with a fervent following with more than 170,000 readers in every state and 23 foreign countries. Commentator Paul Harvey said of Range: “No other source I know has dispassionately and yet thoroughly projected the future of America the Beautiful — if we keep paving it. We’re making some unerasable mistakes. If the sagebrush rebellion comes too late, there is nothing to eat, and there’s no place to run to anymore.”...more

Francisco Fort became the center of La Veta

In 1862, Col. John M. Francisco was the sutler at Fort Garland and ventured over one of several passes into the Cuchara Valley. Upon reaching the valley he declared, "I have found my home. This is paradise enough for me." He and his business partner, Henry Daigre, purchased 48,000 acres of the vast Vigil land grant. They hired 20 men to construct a fort with 2-foot thick adobe walls approximately 100 feet by 100 feet. Its interior rooms faced into a central plaza. The fort had an excellent well. There was far too much land for these men to develop so they leased it to ranchers and farmers establishing the fort as the center of commerce. In 1871 under the name Spanish Peak, a post office was set up in the fort. The fort was attacked in 1863 by a band of Ute Indians. The men in the fort were rallied to gun ports along the parapets on top of the flat-roofed buildings. One man volunteered to ride to Fort Lyon and get help. By the time the cavalry arrived, the Indians had decided to retreat. The arrival of the narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande in 1876 changed the economy of the area and brought in a wave of new settlers. The tracks advanced the following year over La Veta Pass at 9,390 feet and at the time, was the highest railroad pass in the United States. Around Francisco Fort, the railroad platted the town of La Veta and constructed a depot just a block north of the fort...more 

Big Isle ranchers struggle to keep cattle in the isles

It's a challenge for Big Island ranchers to keep their cattle in the islands while beef prices climb to all-time highs on the mainland, a University of Hawaii livestock expert said. Drought is gripping beef-production regions on the mainland, allowing ranchers to sell beef there for $2.25 a pound, West Hawaii Today reported. That compares with $1.50 to $1.65 a pound here in Hawaii. Some ranchers "commit from the heart" to leave part of their herds in Hawaii, even though they would earn more shipping the cattle to the mainland, said Glen Fukumoto, an extension agent with the UH's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.Beef is a $46 million industry in Hawaii, and 76 percent of those cattle are here on the Big Island. Recent consumer trends toward local, organic and healthy meats have put the local grass-fed beef industry in growth mode since the late 1990s. Nevertheless, 60 percent to 70 percent of local beef is shipped out of state. Current infrastructure can't support much increased production in the short term, Fukumoto said. "For the sake of sustainability, we'd like to keep everything here. But how do you do that financially?" Moniz said. "All of us ranchers would like to keep our cattle here, but we can't." Less than 9 percent of beef consumed in the state is local. Even if all of the beef produced in Hawaii stayed here, it would meet less than 40 percent of demand, Fukumoto said...more

Willie Nelson, Neil Young play to thousands protesting Keystone XL

Art and Helen Tanderup gazed with amazed smiles at the thousands of cars parked on the stubble of their recently harvested cornfield on Saturday, at the stage set up in their rye field and at the ocean of people standing in front of it. “It’s unbelievable. It’s absolutely amazing this is happening,” said Art just before the start of Harvest the Hope. The sun shone in a sky dotted with white clouds, and nearby corn rustled in a southern breeze on the 160-acre farm near Neligh, as fans waited to hear the concert’s headliners, Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young and country music star Willie Nelson. Between performances by opening acts -- Native American hip-hop artist Frank Waln, and Lukas and Micah Nelson and Promise of the Real (featuring Willie Nelson’s sons) -- politicians and activists spoke to the crowd of about 8,000 about the fight against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The Tanderups are two of about 100 landowners refusing to sign easement agreements with TransCanada Corp., the company that wants to build the controversial pipeline capable of transporting 840,000 barrels of crude oil per day, mostly from Canada’s tar sands region destined for refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Fighting the Keystone XL is only a small part of the bigger battle against a changing climate that is threatening the entire planet, Young said during a press conference before the concert...more

The Radical Environmental Agenda Should Be Rejected, even if Global Warming Is Real

by Daniel J. Mitchell

I believe that protecting the environment is both a good thing and a legitimate function of government.

But I’m rational. So while I want limits on pollution, such policies should be determined by cost-benefit analysis.

Banning automobiles doubtlessly would reduce pollution, for instance, but the economic cost would be catastrophic.

On the other hand, it’s good to limit carcinogens from being dumped in the air and water. So long as there’s some unbiased science showing net benefits.

But while I’m pro-environment, I’m anti-environmentalist. Simply stated, too many of these people are nuts.
Then there’s the super-nutty category.
Check out this video from Reason, filmed at the so-called climate march in New York City.

Just in case you think the folks at Reason deliberately sought out a few crazy people in an otherwise rational crowd, let’s now look at the views of Naomi Klein, who is ostensibly a big thinker for the left on environmental issues.

Slate published an interview with her and you can judge for yourself whether her views are sensible. Here’s some of what Slate said about her.
According to social activist and perennial agitator Naomi Klein, the really inconvenient truth about climate change is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. …she’s turned her argument into a hefty book… This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is focused on exposing how the relentless pursuit of growth has locked us in to a system that’s incompatible with a stable climate. …
And here’s some of what Ms. Klein said.
The post-carbon economy we can build will have to be better designed. …not only does climate action mean a healthy community—it’s also the best chance at tacking inequality. …The divestment movement is a start at challenging the excesses of capitalism. It’s working to delegitimize fossil fuels, and showing that they’re just as unethical as profits from the tobacco industry. …profits are not legitimate in an era of climate change.

Shale Revolution Deniers Face An Inconvenient Truth


Despite turning the U.S. into the world's largest producer of natural gas and driving a 3 million barrel per day surge in U.S. oil production in just the last three years, the shale revolution still has its doubters. They couldn't be more wrong.

The Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization recently dismissed shale fracking as a "Ponzi scheme" and "this decade's version of the dot-com bub ble" that's about to burst. But time and again over decades, the naysayers and "peak oil" advocates have grossly underestimated the energy industry's ability to innovate and beat production forecasts. Today's shale pessimists continue to do so.

Shale pessimism is constructed on the theory that U.S. development has so far largely centered on sweet spots — the most resource-rich areas of geologic formations. As drilling continues and moves further from these sweet spots, productivity of newly drilled wells will allegedly fall. Shale development is already a complex and highly capital-intensive process. The profit margins between an economic well and an uncompetitive well can be razor-thin. In theory, less productive wells, drilled in the margins of shale plays, will quickly become uneconomic and put producers in the red.

Shale pessimists also point to the sharp decline curves of shale wells to support their bubble theory. While newly drilled and producing wells may be highly productive initially, their output falls sharply over time — nearly 50% a year. Continuing to increase overall production, much less just maintain it, supposedly takes constant drilling.

Theory Vs. Data
The sharp decline curves and the movement of drilling into the margins of shale plays seem like a recipe for production to peak and then fall, according to the "peak oil" advocates. But even as producers have moved away from sweet spots, and even as the rig count in many plays has either stayed flat or fallen, production of shale oil and gas continues to grow significantly. If you're a "peak oil" shale contrarian, the data unfortunately just aren't on your side.

There are two important reasons why the shale pessimists are wrong: innovation and expertise. The shale revolution was launched because of breakthroughs in a range of technologies, most notably advances in horizontal drilling paired with advanced hydraulic fracturing.

Competition and innovation drive the oil and gas industry, particularly in the U.S. The innovation that unlocked the nation's oceans of shale resources hasn't stopped but instead has actually intensified. New ideas, technologies and ways of cracking the shale code emerge daily. And America's amazing "petropreneurs" have obviously gotten very good at what they do.

Crews are working more efficiently, bringing wells online in shorter periods and producing more oil and gas from each new well. Consider Arkansas' Fayetteville Shale, where the average drilling time for a new well has fallen from 17.5 days in 2007 to just 6.2 days in 2013. In the Marcellus Shale, America's largest single shale gas field, each well is producing eight million cubic feet of gas per day on average — more than eight times what each well produced as recently as 2009.

Impressive production gains have also taken place for America's crude oil production — oil production per rig in the Bakken oil field of North Dakota has increased fivefold since the shale revolution started there in 2007, and oil output per rig in the prolific Eagle Ford region of south-central Texas has doubled in just the last two years.

County pins economic hopes on wilderness land swap

Karen Perry knows firsthand the power of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The landscape, people and outdoor lifestyle pulled her family back again and again until they finally bought a trailer and parked it on property near Manila. Now a county commissioner, Perry and others believe if they can just get people to visit their spot in the rugged and remote northeastern corner of Utah, they’ll come back. The Daggett County commissioners are hoping Congressman Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative will help them put that tourism and economic development strategy into play. In trade for designating additional wilderness lands in the High Uintas, county leaders hope to build additional resorts along the reservoir and a ski hill on the horizon. "Our businesses have not been doing quite so well as they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s," Perry said. "We are trying to garner new interests and other activities that will bring more people to our beautiful county." The idea of another ski area in Daggett County — population 1,059 in the 2010 Census — may raise eyebrows along the Wasatch Front, but it’s the kind of bucket list item Utah counties are floating as part of Bishop’s far-reaching legislative push. Daggett County is one of the first to put its plan on paper. Proposals in Daggett County include designating wilderness, swapping land between federal and state agencies to allow commercial development and securing designation for the Green River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act...more

Four southeast Alaska logging projects on hold after judge orders further review

Four southeast Alaska logging projects are on hold after a judge found the U.S. Forest Service didn't fully comply with a prior court order. Conservationists who sued to stop the Scott Peak, Overlook, Traitors Creek and Soda Nick projects raised concerns with the model for determining sufficiency of deer habitat. An appeals court in 2011 ordered an explanation for how the models supported decisions to move ahead with the projects. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline said Friday that the Forest Service failed to comply with that order. The management plan for the Tongass National Forest was updated in 2008. Beistline said the agency can provide deer modeling analyses based on the 1997 plan under which the projects were approved or revise the approval decisions to apply the 2008 plan. AP

Valles Caldera preserve to ask for more funding

The Valles Caldera National Preserve decided this week to ask Congress for more federal funding to manage operations for another five years. The preserve’s board of trustees voted at its quarterly meeting Wednesday to submit a recommendation for extending federal appropriations through 2020. There are inherent government functions that will likely require aid on the federal level, Valles Caldera Trust Board chairman Kent Salazar said. Those functions include compliance with historic-preservation and environmental laws, forest restoration and infrastructure repairs. More than 60 percent of the preserve was affected by recent wildfires and post-fire flooding, officials said. The 90,000-acre preserve in the Jemez Mountains was a private ranch with grazing and logging operations before the federal government bought it in 2000. If the trust is not financially self-sufficient by the end of this fiscal year, the board can request Congress for more funding under the Valles Caldera Preservation Act. Under the act, the trust can also be dissolved and the preserve would be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service, the Albuquerque Journal reported ( ). Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have also proposed legislation giving control of Valles Caldera to the National Park Service. The nine-member board will send a formal letter to Congress sometime in the next few weeks...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1303

Its Swingin' Monday and here's a tune recorded in San Antonio on Jan. 27, 1935: Bill Boyd & Cowboy Ramblers - The Train Song.

The Head-Scratching Case of the Vanishing Bees

In 1872, a merchant ship called the Mary Celeste set sail from New York, and four weeks later was found by sailors aboard another vessel to be moving erratically in the Atlantic Ocean 400 miles east of the Azores. Curious, those sailors boarded the Mary Celeste, only to find nary a soul. The cargo was intact, as were supplies of food and water. But there was no sign of the seven-man crew, the captain, or his wife and daughter, who had gone along for the journey. To this day, what turned that brigantine into a ghost ship remains a maritime mystery. It was with a nod to this history that when bees suddenly and mysteriously began disappearing en masse in Britain several years ago, the phenomenon came to be known there as Mary Celeste Syndrome. Beekeepers in this country were similarly plagued. Honeybees, those versatile workhorses of pollination, were vanishing by the millions. They would leave their hives in search of nectar and pollen, and somehow never find their way home. On this side of the Atlantic, though, the flight of the bees was given a more prosaic name: colony collapse disorder.  What caused it remains as much of a head-scratcher as the fate of the Mary Celeste, but the serious consequences for American agriculture were clear. And thus it draws the attention of this week’s Retro Report, part of a series of video documentaries examining major news stories from the past and analyzing what has happened since. What caused it remains as much of a head-scratcher as the fate of the Mary Celeste, but the serious consequences for American agriculture were clear. And thus it draws the attention of this week’s Retro Report, part of a series of video documentaries examining major news stories from the past and analyzing what has happened since. The centrality of bees to our collective well-being is hard to overstate. They pollinate dozens of crops: apples, blueberries, avocados, soybeans, strawberries, you name it. Without honeybees, almond production in California would all but disappear. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that nearly one-third of everything that Americans eat depends on bee pollination. Billions of dollars are at stake each year for farmers, ranchers and, of course, beekeepers. But in the fall and winter of 2006-07, something strange happened. As Dave Hackenberg, a beekeeper in central Pennsylvania and in Florida, recalled for Retro Report, he went to his 400 hives one morning and found most of them empty. Queen bees remained, but worker bees had vanished. Mr. Hackenberg’s distress resounded in apiaries across the country. Some of them lost up to 90 percent of their colonies. Not that mass bee disappearances were entirely new. They had occurred from time to time for well over a century. But as best as could be told, no previous collapse matched this one in magnitude...more

USGS study links fracking wastewater injection with surge in Raton Basin earthquakes

A surge in earthquakes in southern Colorado and New Mexico has almost certainly been caused by the injection of fracking wastewater deep into the ground, U.S. Geological Survey scientists reported last week. The study details several lines of evidence directly linking the injection wells to the seismicity. The timing and location of the quakes is clearly linked with the the documented pattern of injected wastewater. Detailed investigations of two seismic sequences (2001 and 2011) places them in proximity to high-volume, high-injection-rate wells, and both sequences occurred after a nearby increase in the rate of injection. A comparison between seismicity and wastewater injection in Colorado and New Mexico reveals similar patterns, suggesting seismicity is initiated shortly after an increase in injection rates. For example, two injection wells near the epicenter of a 2011 5.3 earthquake had about 5 million cubic meters of wastewater injected just before the quake — more than seven times the amount injected at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal well that caused damaging earthquakes near Denver, Colorado, in the 1960s. The August 2011 M 5.3 event is the second-largest earthquake to date for which there is clear evidence that the earthquake sequence was induced by fluid injection. The study looked at the Raton Basin, which stretches from southern Colorado into northern New Mexico. The basin was seismically quiet until shortly after major fluid injection began in 1999. Since 2001, there have been 16 quakes magnitude 3.8 or greater (including M 5.0 and 5.3), compared to only one (M 4.0) the previous 30 years. The increase in earthquakes is limited to the area of industrial activity and within 5 kilometers of wastewater injection wells...more

Mammoth Lakes earthquake swarm is the largest in nearly a decade

More than 600 small earthquakes have rattled the Mammoth Lakes region in less than 36 hours as ripple effects continued across one of the most seismically active volcanic regions in California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The swarm of quakes — ranging from magnitude 1.0 to 3.8 — began just before 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the USGS. “This is one of the largest earthquake swarms we’ve seen in the past decade or so,” said David Shelly, a USGS research seismologist who has been studying the volcanic system near Mammoth Lakes. “We’ll be tracking it closely.” Residents reported periodic rattles through the day but said they were used to the shaking given that Mammoth is a seismically active area. Earthquake swarms are not uncommon to this region in California’s Eastern Sierra. Countless small faults crisscross the area known as the Long Valley Caldera, Shelly said. This roughly 20-mile-wide crater-like depression, adjacent to Mammoth Mountain, was formed from ash and pumice deposits during a volcanic “super eruption” about 760,000 years ago. At 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain is a lava dome complex on the southwest rim of the caldera and last erupted about 57,000 years ago. The volcanic region is one of the most seismically active in a mostly quiet network of 17 volcanoes throughout California...more

Water On Earth Is Older Than The Sun

It's no surprise that water was crucial to the formation of life on Earth. What may surprise you is that water on earth is older than the sun itself. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments came into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. A new paper in Science says that much of our Solar System's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Water is found throughout the Solar System, not just on Earth; on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury and in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon, and Mars. Comets and asteroids in particular, being primitive objects, provide a natural "time capsule" of the conditions during the early days of our Solar System. Their ices can tell scientists about the ice that encircled the Sun after its birth, the origin of which was an unanswered question until now...more

USDA: Genetically modified wheat found in Montana

Unregulated genetically modified wheat has popped up in a second location in the United States, this time in Montana, the Agriculture Department said Friday. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming, and the discovery of unapproved varieties can pose a potential threat to U.S. trade with countries that have concerns about genetically modified foods. USDA said Friday that the incident is on a smaller scale than a similar finding in Oregon last year that prompted several Asian countries to temporarily ban U.S. wheat imports. The herbicide-resistant wheat was found on one to three acres in Montana, while the genetically engineered plants found in Oregon were spread over more than 100 acres. And the plants were found at a university research center in Huntley, Montana, where genetically modified wheat was legally tested by seed giant Monsanto 11 years ago. The plants in Oregon were found in a field that had never conducted such tests, prompting questions about how they got there. The department said it is investigating the discovery of the Montana wheat, which is a different variety than the genetically modified wheat found in Oregon. USDA said the wheat would be safe to eat, but none of it entered the market. In a final report also released Friday, USDA said it believes the genetically modified wheat in Oregon was an isolated incident and that there is no evidence of that wheat in commerce. The report says the government still doesn't know how the modified seeds got into the fields...more