Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Supreme Court Just Delivered A Crippling Blow To Obama’s Global Warming Agenda

by Michael Bastasch

The U.S. Supreme Court just delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda by halting the implementation of a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on carbon dioxide emissions.

The court won’t allow the EPA to implement its so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030. This is a big win for the 29 states suing the federal government to stop a rule expected to cripple the coal industry.

“Five justices of the Supreme Court agreed with North Dakota and other parties that EPA’s regulation would impose massive irreparable harms on North Dakota and the rest of the country and that there was a substantial likelihood EPA was acting unlawfully,” Paul Seby, an attorney with law firm Greenberg Traurig representing the state of North Dakota, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
States asked the Supreme Court to halt implementation of the CPP after a lower court rejected their appeal in January. Now, Morrisey and the Obama administration will make their oral arguments on the merits of the law in front of federal judges in June.

 “Make no mistake – this is a great victory for West Virginia,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who’s leading the states against the EPA, in a statement on the announcement.

Obama looks to forge ‘climate-smart economy’ with budget

President Obama is proposing significant funding increases to environmental regulators and clean energy research as part of his final budget offered as president.  The centerpiece of Obama’s proposal is a plan to green the transportation sector through a $32 billion, 10-year pan to invest in mass transit, clean vehicle research and lower-emission transportation sectors on the local and state level. He would pay for the plan by assessing a $10 per barrel tax on oil produced in the United States.  Obama is also looking to double the federal government’s investment in clean energy research and development, from $6.4 billion in 2016 to $12.8 billion in 2021, according to the budget proposal. About 76 percent of the funding for research and development will go toward Department of Energy research programs. Water programs get a boost in the budget, which would increase conservation programs and research work by $62.9 million over 2016 levels. Climate change resilience measures are also built into the budget. It provides $2 billion over 10 years for coastal areas susceptible to sea level rise, $311 million for a flood insurance program and new investments in anti-drought and wildfire programs. Obama also looks to use his budget to support the recent international climate agreement reached in Paris by pumping $1.3 billion into international climate change programs, including a $750 million investment in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries...more

Obama proposes new approaches to Western water shortages

Spurning dams for research in water technology, President Obama laid out a striking contrast Tuesday to the strategies adopted by California lawmakers in both parties on how to remedy Western water shortages. In a final budget plan that was dead even before its arrival on Capitol Hill, the administration’s vision of investing $269 million in research on water desalination, recycling and efficiency will find little traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. But it does lay out an alternative to the dams, water tunnels and other giant building projects that Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Central Valley House Republicans have embraced to varying degrees. Building on the model the administration used to boost solar and wind power early in Obama’s presidency, the budget calls for “an aggressive two-part water innovation strategy.” The first step would be to wring more water out of the existing system by increasing efficiency, reuse and conservation. The second is to invest in research to reduce the cost of desalination and recycling until they reach “pipe parity” with water drawn from rivers...more

Obama looks to increase budget for public lands

Obama’s budget provides $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 2017, making the program permanent and shifting some of its funding to mandatory accounts, the White House said on Tuesday. It also boosts funding to support the National Parks Service, which turns 100 years old in 2016, including an $860 million program to upgrade facilities across the system. A separate $235 million would go toward programs to support further NPS upgrades. The budget bumps funding for several climate-related programs, including wildfire prevention, water conservation and climate change resilience for communities along the oceans. Renewable energy development gets about $97 million in the budget, and a Bureau of Land Management onshore oil and gas program would see a 17 percent funding increase to “oversee safe, environmentally-sound resource development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.” In total, Interior is looking for a $200 million increase in discretionary funding from 2016 levels...more

Why Obama wants to spend millions relocating entire U.S. communities

When President Barack Obama visited Alaska last summer, he did not stop in tiny Kivalina, a village of about 400 that has become a poster child for climate vulnerability. But he did fly over it, and the view from Air Force One revealed just how exposed the community truly is. Located on a thin barrier island well above the Arctic Circle, and facing severe erosion as declining sea ice exposes its coast to large waves, Kivalina needs to relocate - which could cost well over $100 million. And now, Obama's budget request to Congress includes a proposed $400 million "to cover the unique circumstances confronting vulnerable Alaskan communities, including relocation expenses for Alaska Native villages threatened by rising seas, coastal erosion, and storm surges." The funding would be through the Department of the Interior, whose secretary, Sally Jewell, visited Kivalina last year. It's part of a larger $2 billion coastal climate resilience program proposed in the agency's budget...more

Wolverine case being heard in Missoula court asks if FWS made rational decision

In a room packed with wolverine legal experts, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen may have had the best brief. He actually saw the rare carnivore on three separate occasions. “I don’t know what the odds are of seeing a wolverine three times,” Christensen told the attorneys, “but there’s no reason for any of you to explain it’s a member of the weasel family with large feet that eats marmots. I’ve seen that.” Christensen added he also had read the scientific reports on the wolverine’s habitat and population, was aware of how elusive the animal is and how hard it is to study. What he wanted to know in the case of Center for Biological Diversity et. al. v. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was whether an agency decision denying Endangered Species Act protection to wolverines was reasonable or arbitrary. Everybody in the Missoula courtroom agreed about 300 wolverines remain in the continental U.S., mostly in Montana. And they agreed that a 2011 study by Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist Kevin McKelvey was a solid block of evidence showing how climatic changes would affect where wolverines can live. What they disputed was whether McKelvey’s study was enough to warrant federal protection for wolverines. The Fish and Wildlife Service decided it wasn’t, and ruled there was not sufficient evidence that wolverines might near extinction without agency action. Preso and Bishop argued there was, noting FWS used the same research in a draft decision granting wolverines protection in 2013, only to reverse course and deny it in the final decision a year later...more

A new and more dangerous Sagebrush Rebellion

by Jonathan Thompson

At first, as the armed occupation in Oregon's High Desert unfolded in January, it looked like a widescreen version of the flare-ups we've seen in the West ever since the Sagebrush Rebellion erupted in the 1970s. Recall the so-called "oppressed ranchers," their anti-federal rhetoric and the sight of cowboy-hatted heroes riding to their rescue.

But a closer look, and the episode's violent culmination, reveal a bigger and more sinister problem than your run-of-the-mill local-control scuffle.

For starters, precious few locals or even ranchers were among the couple of dozen occupiers of Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The lead occupier, Ammon Bundy, may look the part, but he actually owns a truck-fleet maintenance business in Phoenix. At one of his press conferences, Bundy said that he wasn't just sticking up for "the ranchers, the loggers and the farmers," but also for the "auto industry, the health-care industry and financial advisors." That remark, which ignored the federal largesse those industries receive, revealed the crusade's true scope.

Whereas the Sagebrush Rebellion of old was driven largely by pragmatic, grassroots concerns, today's version is purely ideological –– a nationwide confluence of right-wing and libertarian extremists. Many of them have little interest in grazing allotments, mining laws or the Wilderness Act. It's what these things symbolize that matters: A tyrannical federal government that activists can denounce, defy and perhaps even engage in battle. This movement, which has grown increasingly virulent since President Barack Obama's election, has created a stew of ideologically similar groups, ready to coalesce around each other when necessary.

LaVoy Finicum’s death, a watershed moment?

by Bryan Hyde

...It was this conviction that federal authority was becoming more aggressive and more harmful in consolidating unconstitutional power that led him to make his stand to educate others about properly limited government.

..Regardless of whether one agrees with the tactics of Finicum and others who peacefully occupied an empty wildlife refuge to air their grievances, there’s no doubt that they had real impact.

...Without pointing a single gun at anyone or firing a single shot in anger, Finicum was successful in personally educating hundreds of citizens about the nature of proper government, their natural rights and the need to stand for liberty.

Thousands more have become aware because of his efforts.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Restoration makes this essential observation about the difference between actual terrorists and protestors:
The fact that the protesters didn’t fire a shot gives immense power, validity and innocence to the cause of the protestors. It gives them the moral high ground in every way.
That they were able to do this in the face of the most concentrated media and government smear campaign of our time makes this even more remarkable.

...LaVoy Finicum’s life may have been ended by frightened men acting under the color of law but the resulting awakening in the minds of ranchers and citizens alike is only beginning.

Education, rather than bloodshed, is now a far more credible threat to the power of those denying our liberties. It will be interesting to see how far they’ll go to try to stop an idea that is bulletproof.

Courage can be contagious...

Sheriff Palmer's stance in LaVoy Finicum shooting draws opposition

Militant leader Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, armed, angry and facing arrest, shouted again and again to police who had stopped him outside Burns that he needed to go see "the sheriff." He felt only one man could protect him — Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer. Finicum, 54, never reached John Day, where Palmer was waiting to share the stage with the anti-government protesters who had taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Harney County a month earlier.  In the days since the Jan. 26 shooting, Finicum's final words and Palmer's response to the deadly confrontation have focused attention on the sheriff who has openly challenged federal authority in his own county. Palmer took to social media to say he knew nothing about plans that day to stop the occupation leaders and that he had not been at the "ambush site." His words drew a rebuke from the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, concerned that his description would "only inflame an already tense situation and incite further violence." The association's executive committee is considering a citizen request that it investigate Palmer.  Judy Schuette, a 30-year Grant County resident and retired school secretary, bought an ad in the Blue Mountain Eagle weekly newspaper demanding Palmer explain his actions. Schuette and others then organized a demonstration against him and the refuge occupiers outside the community meeting. "His actions have been irresponsible with the very real danger of more violence," she wrote in a post. Another indication that Palmer's conduct is dividing the community: His former undersheriff announced last month that he would challenge Palmer, who is seeking his fourth term...more

ACLU Defends 1st Amendment Rights Of Refuge Occupier Pete Santilli

The ACLU of Oregon has come to the defense of Pete Santilli, one of the 16 people indicted by federal prosecutors last week for organizing an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. “While many people might disagree with statements made by those involved in the Malheur takeover, Americans have a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” wrote Mat dos Santos, the legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, in statement posted to the group’s website Tuesday. Santilli is the host of an Internet radio show, which for weeks broadcasted hundreds of hours of live footage from the refuge and around Harney County. Santilli was arrested in Burns, Oregon on Jan. 26 along with militant leaders. Santilli’s lawyer has argued for his pretrial release and said repeatedly in court that Santilli is an independent journalist. But last week, U.S. District Chief Justice Michael Mosman affirmed a decision to keep Santilli in jail, ruling some of his statements posed a risk to the community, specifically law enforcement. In its statement, the ACLU said despite the fact that Santilli is “politically polarizing and, to many, downright offensive,” the radio host has protected First Amendment rights to make those statements. “We can all agree that we should not hold members of the media or protesters in jail without bail simply because they have shocking or abhorrent views,” dos Santos wrote. “These are principles that we must stand by, even when we disagree with the message of the speaker.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1560

Bill Clifton - Pal Of Yesterday is our selection today.  The tune is on his The Early Years 1957-1958 CD.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Lisa Bundy to NewsmaxTV: Authorities Trying to 'Break' Ammon

The heartsick wife of jailed rancher Ammon Bundy says authorities have locked her husband in a cramped, pitch-black cell, in a misguided bid to "break" his spirit and force him to cooperate with their probe into his armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon last month. "It is a 6x6 cell. No mat to sleep on, just pretty much a board. He's got a small toilet and a small sink to wash his hands and that's pretty much it. There's no sunlight, there's no window," Lisa Bundy said Tuesday in an exclusive interview on Newsmax TV's "Dennis Michael Lynch: Unfiltered." "There's a small tiny [space] they feed the food through. He's supposed to have one hour [outside], but it's been cut. One day he only had 15 minutes … And they're also taking time out of visiting [privileges] with his lawyer. So that's not right." Lisa, a mother of six, said her husband does not deserve solitary confinement. "I think that they are trying to — many have said — break him and the others to the point of where he might not be thinking straight. But it's important to note that he hasn't even been convicted of a crime," she said, adding that a court has so far refused him bail. "We own an orchard … [and] have a lot of work to do here as a family and what he's done, he's done. He educated, which is what his plan was — to get people that study the Constitution, learn their rights, learn of their freedoms, and that's it." Lisa Bundy told Dennis Michael Lynch she and her husband should not be written off as crazy, right-wing radicals. "We're not at all. In fact, we have a family of six children, we love our family, we would prefer to just focus specifically on them," she said. "But we also love our neighbor and when we see these wrong things happening, we have to act, we have to help our neighbor. We're not crazy." Lisa also said she's gratified by a huge showering of support from people across the country...more

Here's the NewsmaxTV interview:

Ammon Bundy urges elected officials to support their imprisoned constituents

Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, continues to make his voice heard while sitting in jail on a federal conspiracy charge -- his latest call urges elected officials from eight states to support his co-defendants. "This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the state of Washington and Ohio,'' Bundy says. "You have constituents in federal custody. Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble and civil disobedience.''  Bundy made the recording Saturday. It was released Monday by his lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey of the Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm.  Here's a transcript of Bundy's latest statement:

Ammon Bundy, February 6, 2016. This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the State of Washington, and Ohio.  You have constituents in federal custody.  Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble, and civil disobedience. It is your duty to hold federal agencies at bay, protecting the people in your state.    And to those who disagree with my speech, or our civil disobedience, and may dislike our ideas regarding that the land belongs to the people:  Please remember that you do not want free speech to be retaliated against by government officials.  If you do not advocate for government to tolerate ideas that it hates, then the First Amendment and free speech mean nothing. Arm yourself with ideas. Arm yourselves with education. Argue and disagree.  Be free.  Thank you...more

Cliven Bundy is coming to Burns, Ore., Portland

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is coming to Oregon to demonstrate on behalf of his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as the four remaining armed occupants of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore confirmed to OPB that she, along with other state lawmakers from Western states, will be traveling to meet Bundy in Burns and in Portland. Fiore said the final details of the trip are still being planned, but she expects to be in Portland on Thursday night to protest the jailing of Ammon and Ryan Bundy. “There is a Nevadan (Ryan Bundy) sitting in jail, and as an office holder, I will be there to demand his release,” Fiore said. “If that Nevadan can’t leave Oregon, we will bring Nevada to him. Peaceful, of course.”...more

Nevada Assemblywoman heading to Oregon to support Bundy’s cause

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore is answering the call of Ammon Bundy, who, in a recording released today, asked elected officials from across the West to come to the aid of his supporters. Fiore will travel to Oregon Wednesday to meet with legislators from across the West to advocate for Bundy and the 15 others who were indicted last week on counts of conspiracy and threatening officers during their armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton, a Las Vegas Republican, will travel to Oregon as well for a Thursday news conference, along with a possible third Nevada legislator, Fiore said, though she declined to specify which one. One of Fiore’s demands is that the authorities release any body camera or dash camera footage of the traffic stop that ended in the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an Arizona man who had acted as a spokesman for the group. The FBI has released video footage of that traffic stop, but the video does not have any sound and is poor quality, shot at a distance.  This will be Fiore’s first trip to Oregon since the standoff began in early January, though she has had phone and Skype meetings over the last several weeks with standoff participants, she said. She extended the invitation for Cliven Bundy to attend the meeting, but she said it was primarily for legislators...more

Ammon Bundy's lawyers deny breaking legal ethics rule with refuge visit

Militant leader Ammon Bundy ended up hiring a Eugene law firm less than three weeks after its lawyers went to the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to offer their services for free. The earlier trip to the refuge has now led to two complaints filed Monday with the Oregon State Bar against the law firm, contending the lawyers violated Oregon State Bar ethics rules. The complaints – one filed anonymously and the other by a Eugene woman – cite a report Friday by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which first raised the ethical questions. The state bar's Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3 says a lawyer shall not solicit professional employment in-person, by phone or through electronic contact "when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain.'' Arnold said his lawyers did nothing inappropriate. They offered their legal advice for free because they felt a duty to potentially help resolve the ongoing conflict at the occupied refuge. "It was fairly obvious that a group holed up at a refuge probably should have an attorney available to answer any questions, particularly since their grievance appeared to be legal – or constitutional – in nature," Arnold said. "We offered to be available by phone over the next couple of weeks to answer any questions for free, assuming we were not otherwise unavailable.'' The state bar's Client Assistance Office attorney will review the two complaints, seek an account of what happened from Arnold's lawyers and determine if possible violations occurred, said Kateri Walsh, a state bar spokeswoman. The bar attorney then will determine if enough evidence exists to ask the bar's Disciplinary Counsel's Office for a formal investigation. Here's what the bar will hear from the firm, Arnold said. He, other lawyers and staff in his office were talking about the occupation of the refuge in early January, he said. They spoke about how it's their duty to take on controversial clients and discussed how they might help defuse the standoff and offer legal advice pro bono, he said. "We saw a conflict – a political protest -- going on in our backyard," Arnold said. "We wanted to be a resource." "Believing that our firm had skills and experience to bring to bear to help resolve this, we contacted ethics counsel to confirm how to appropriately contact them," Arnold said. "Lawyers shouldn't just sit in their offices billing clients 24-7." Their ethics counsel was Portland attorney Peter Jarvis, who specializes in lawyers' professional responsibilities...more

Editorial: Governor puts Jewell's credibility on the line

Gov. Brian Sandoval has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle over hardrock mining’s future in Nevada, taking the bold step of calling out Sally Jewell over management of agencies she oversees as Secretary of the Interior.

Their response will reveal whether the proposed mineral withdrawal is more about helping the sage grouse or harming the state’s mining industry.

The Bureau of Land Management’s comment period closed three weeks ago, and Nevadans could learn by the end of the month whether the current two-year ban will be extended to 20 years. If it is, there will be no exploration along the northern edge of our state, nor in much of Idaho and southeastern Oregon.

Sandoval submitted the state’s official comments by the Jan. 15 deadline, including a revision that followed his talks with Jewell in early December. “Secretary Jewell committed to robust collaboration on the mineral withdrawal process,” he announced at the time. “The Secretary understands the national security and economic development importance of the mineral potential in Nevada.”

The deal outlined by our governor would preserve mining exploration on most of the proposed withdrawal area, while protecting critical sage grouse habitat in other areas. But it may be in jeopardy, because on Jan. 28 Sandoval issued a press release putting Jewell on the spot.
“I have always taken the Secretary at her word but if her agencies refuse to implement her publicly stated policies, the state cannot assume our negotiations are happening in good faith and my administration will consider the other legal options we have identified in the past,” he wrote.

One of “her” agencies, the BLM, is currently run by Neil Kornze of Elko. When questioned about the governor’s proposal by The Associated Press, Kornze’s Nevada spokesman gave an ambiguous response.

A Persistent Ground Game (as in "keep it in the ground")


Going forward, we know what the new year of environmental activism looks like. Activists have told us. They’ve made it perfectly clear. They call it: “Keep it in the ground.”

The campaign is about all fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. Instead of an “all of the above” energy policy, when it comes to fossil fuels, they want “none of the above.” A big part of the effort is focused on preventing the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands — which is supported by presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton. The recent moratorium of leasing federal lands for coal mining, announced by Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, is considered a great victory for “keep it in the ground.”

I wrote about the movement in December. Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion editorial for one of its leaders, Bill McKibben: “How to drive a stake through the heart of zombie fossil fuel.” In it, McKibben states: “In May, a coalition across six continents is being organized to engage in mass civil disobedience to ‘keep it in the ground.’”

While big news items fuel the fight, smaller, symbolic wins are part of the strategy. Introducing the plan late last year, the Hill states: “It stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells, coal mines and infrastructure.”

Here’s what keep it in the ground looks like in the real world — in “local fights” and “over small drilling wells.”

In a suburb of Albuquerque known more for computer chip-making than crude oil extraction, the anti-fossil fuel crowd is doing everything it can to prevent a “small drilling well” from being developed.

In Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the major employer is Intel. It is also home to several call centers — though the Sprint call center just announced it is closing and cutting 394 jobs. New Mexico has the nation’s highest jobless rate: 6.8%.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1559

I love this version of Sittin' On Top Of The World by the Shelton Brothers (Bob and Joe), and check out the excellent fiddle work by Curley Fox.  The tune was recorded in Chicago on Tuesday, August 20, 1935, and is on their The Shelton Brothers, Vol.2 collection on the British Archives of Country Music label.  The Westerner