Friday, September 26, 2008

Michigan Senate votes to allow killing of wolves The Michigan Senate has voted unanimously to let farmers kill gray wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock -- assuming the state removes the wolf from its threatened species list. The farmers would have to report to the state Department of Natural Resources within 12 hours of shooting a wolf. Legislation approved Thursday also would let the owners of hunting dogs kill wolves caught attacking their dogs. Until the DNR finishes hearings to remove the wolf from the list, a wolf only can be killed by a state official. The DNR supports the bills....
Court: No reserved water rights for NM trust land There are no federally reserved water rights for the millions of acres of state trust land in New Mexico, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. The court's decision Wednesday came in a case involving the adjudication of water rights in the San Juan River Basin of northwestern Mexico. In the river system, there are nearly 300,000 acres of trust land. Last year, a state district court in San Juan County rejected the claim made by the Land Office. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. The lands conveyed to New Mexico by acts of Congress from 1850 to 1910 "were never withdrawn from the public domain and reserved for a federal purpose. As such, it necessarily follows that any attendant federal reserved water rights that the commissioner now claims in connection with those lands were also not impliedly reserved," the court said in an opinion written by Judge James Weschler. "The Court of Appeals got it exactly right," D.L. Sanders, chief counsel for the state engineer, said in an interview. He said no state court has recognized federal reserved water rights for state trust lands in the West although the legal question has come up in other places, including Arizona and Montana. "By everybody's calculation, this was a huge stretch in the legal theories," Sanders said. Had water rights been reserved for New Mexico's trust lands, Sanders said, it would have been a "sweeping change in law" and disrupted the current system that allocates rights for using water. Federal reserved water rights typically are more senior than those held by private landowners or municipalities in New Mexico, giving them a greater priority in times of drought when not enough water is available to cover the demands of all users....
Credits where credits are due The Senate today overwhelmingly approved a massive tax package that mashes together incentives for renewable energy with support for traditional energy sources less beloved by environmental groups. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), would extend the investment tax credit for solar energy for eight years. It would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind for one year, and the PTC for solar, biomass, and hydropower for two years. The residential energy-efficient property credit would be extended through 2016, and the definition of the systems that qualify for that credit would be expanded to include small wind investment and geothermal heat pumps. The bill also includes provisions for carbon capture and sequestration, oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquid fuels, which enviros are much less happy about....
Oldest rocks on Earth found in northern Canada A pinkish tract of bedrock on the eastern shore of Canada's Hudson Bay contains the oldest known rocks on Earth, formed 4.28 billion years ago, not long after the planet was formed, scientists said on Thursday. The rocks may be remnants of Earth's primordial crust, which formed on the planet's surface as it cooled following the birth of the solar system, according to Jonathan O'Neil of McGill University in Montreal. "Maybe it was the original crust, and before that there was no stable crust on the Earth. That's a big question," O'Neil said in a telephone interview. The expanse in northern Quebec, measuring about 4 square miles (10 square km), is made up of the volcanic rock basalt....
Meager North American jaguar population faces several risks Jaguars once roamed from Argentina to as far north as the Grand Canyon, but those that inhabited North America have now become isolated to roughly 70 square miles of rugged terrain in northern Mexico. To promote their conservation project, Diane Hadley, president of the Northern Jaguar Project (NJP), gave a presentation entitled “Protecting the Jaguar’s Place” at Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Hadley said the region in which the jaguars live “is this little pocket of land surrounded by Río Aros on one side and the Río Yacqui on the other.” Hadley said NJP is trying to identify and establish safe corridors for jaguars to return to their former habitats within the U.S., particularly in southern Arizona and New Mexico....
In Storm’s Aftermath, Cow Roundups in Southeast Texas Two weeks after Hurricane Ike blew through Southeast Texas, cowboys on horseback and in helicopters are still trying to round up thousands of head of displaced cattle. The storm’s surge carried cows up to 20 miles from their pastures in coastal Jefferson and Chambers Counties. Dead cows can be seen rotting in the forks of trees, and lone calves wander looking for their mothers amid overturned tractors and grain silos crushed like tin cans. “We’re still hearing about Katrina victims, but no one seems to know about this,” said Mike Latta, a rancher and rice farmer in this agricultural community about 10 miles from the Gulf Coast. “It’s total devastation.” Mr. Latta said he had so far recovered only 15 cows from his herd of 400 and holds out little hope of finding the rest, even as rescue efforts continue. Thus far, about 10,000 of the estimated 25,000 missing cows in the region have been found alive. Explaining how any survived the powerful surge with waves reported over 15 feet, Hollis Gilfillian, a rancher in nearby Winnie, Tex., said that “cows are surprisingly buoyant” thanks to their four air-filled stomachs. Mr. Gilfillian said he was able to recover half of his 350 head because “they sort of floated like boats.” Displaced and severely dehydrated cows roaming the debris- and seaweed-strewn landscape have been herded into fenced pastures north of where the storm surge ended. They are marked with brands from the scores of ranches in the area and need to be sorted so they can be returned to their owners....
The Cowboy in Winter The resulting image of man, horse and dog was published in the January 1986 issue of National Geographic and is included among 200 pictures in The Life of a Photograph, a retrospective of Abell's field work to be published this month. It was one of 25,000 images Abell gathered during a year following in the footsteps of the late artist Charles M. Russell, who, as a teenager in the 1880s, had come to Montana from St. Louis to start life as a cowboy. To evoke Russell's time and spirit, Abell traveled to the windswept plains where Russell learned to ride and rope, where he honed his skills as a painter and where he memorialized the twilight of an era. "It looks the way it looked in Russell's day," says Abell, 63. "There are grander and more sublime landscapes—to me. There are more compelling cultures. But what appeals to me about central Montana is that the combination of landscape and lifestyle is the most compelling I've seen on this earth. Small mountain ranges and open prairie, and different weather, different light, all within a 360-degree view." The cowboy culture was still very much in evidence when Mack rode into Abell's viewfinder more than two decades ago. Men and women spent their days in the saddle, following cattle up to the high grasslands in spring and summer and down to the valleys in fall, and drove off to town for a dance and a beer only when the chores were done. That life required good horse work, an affinity for the lariat and hard labor, a stoic acceptance of blistering summers and soul-numbing winters, and the quickness and strength to chase down a calf, flip it over and apply the branding iron....
AAE Letter To Bingaman

September 23, 2008

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General has opened an investigation into possible illegal coordination between lobbyists for environmental groups and federal officials of the National Landscape Conservation System calls for an immediate investigation and hearings by your committee. We encourage you to undertake this action immediately and before the upcoming November election due to the nature of the potential impact such alleged activities may have now and in the new Administration.

Because the focus of the IG investigation is centered on potential illegal conduct involving two giant national environmental groups – the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society -- with extensive political agendas and interests in many areas subject to the Interior Department’s jurisdiction, it is imperative that you immediately ascertain if this is an isolated incident, or evidence of a pattern of criminal behavior that may extend to other offices in the Department.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society are multi-million dollar enterprises with clear national political and environmental agendas that require action by many federal departments, agencies and the Congress. Needless to say, the brazen conduct of holding regular meetings that reportedly illegally coordinated lobbying efforts and activities between these two groups and the NCLS is quite disturbing. It begs the question whether these contacts and reported coordination of illegal lobbying activities was limited to this one federal office, or whether it was the point of contact where federal officials could help the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society extend this activity elsewhere within the Interior Department?

One has to wonder that because this alleged illegal activity was being conducted apparently in the open with several environmental groups in attendance, whether the leadership of these groups would also attempt to encourage this behavior in other federal offices in pursuit of their lobby agenda. In addition, published reports where apparently jobs were being discussed also calls into question whether this activity is designed to place individuals into sensitive government jobs that then are controlled by these environmental groups, both now and in the next Administration.

This investigation also calls into question any action that might be taken this year on S. 3213, particularly the inclusion of the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139), until this situation is concluded. The cloud hanging over the NCLS alone should disqualify any consideration of this legislation this year. The allegations of collusion between the national environmental groups lobbying hard for this bill and the staff of the Interior agency that would be the subject of this legislation are enough under any reasonable assessment to shelve this legislation immediately until justice takes its course.

Frankly, the possibilities of more widespread corruption are staggering. Your Committee is in a very important position to take the leadership necessary to open this investigation and assert your oversight in this troubling abuse of the public trust. We urge this be done immediately and that you begin to shine the disinfecting light of sunshine on this matter.


J. Greg Schnacke
President & CEO
Americans for American Energy

cc: The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern. GAO-08-944, September 4.

Highlights -

Wildlife Refuges: Changes in Funding, Staffing, and Other Factors Create Concerns about Future Sustainability. GAO-08-797, September 22.

Highlights -

DENVER, CO – A coalition of Western business leaders is urging Congress not to reward “scandalous and potentially illegal behavior” by enacting legislation to establish the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139) is a bill to statutorily establish the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is one of over 90 bills contained in a omnibus lands package (S. 3213) being prepared for Senate Floor consideration by Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman.

General at the U.S. Department of the Interior has initiated an investigation for possible violations of anti-lobbying law by federal employees at the NLCS. Emails and other documents obtained by the House Resources Committee Minority staff raise serious questions about the degree and extent of communications and coordination between top officials of the NLCS and environmental lobbyists.

In a letter sent to Senator Bingaman today, the Roundtable urged the Senator and his colleagues to postpone consideration of language relating to NLCS that would statutorily establish the NLCS within the BLM.

“As you undoubtedly know, federal law prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress. If these accusations prove to be accurate, federal employees at NLCS actively supported and participated in efforts designed (directly or indirectly) to encourage government officials to favor the NLCS legislation. This would be in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1913,” noted Jim Sims, President and CEO of the Roundtable.

The NLCS was first concocted in 2000, by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, through administrative mandate. The NLCS covers a vast amount of territory of various types and quality, consisting of tens of millions of acres of federal lands administered by the BLM including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails. The vast majority of these lands are located in 12 Western states.

“If the Inspector General finds that public officials were indeed using their time, office, and influence to lobby for NLCS legislation, what kind of message does Congress send to the American public if it turns around and enacts the very legislation these federal employees were illegally promoting?” said Sims.

“The least we can do is wait until the Inspector General and/or the Justice Department have adequate time to investigate these charges. It would be a shame to allow rogue government employees to benefit from inappropriate and illegal behavior,” Sims added.

For more information on the details of S. 1139, see the Roundtable letter to Bingaman
Al Gore Urges 'Civil Disobedience' Toward Coal Plants Al Gore called Wednesday for "civil disobedience" to combat the construction of coal power plants without the ability to store carbon, Reuters reported. The former vice president, whose efforts to raise awareness of global warming have made him the most prominent voice on that issue, made the comment during a session at the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan. "If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said, according to Reuters. It wasn't clear what specific action he intended by "civil disobedience," which calls for the intentional violation of laws deemed to be unjust....The last time I saw Gore he looked like he was the one who needed to get out and do some marching.
PETA Urges Ben & Jerry's To Use Human Milk People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman. "PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves," the statement says. PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health....
More Carson national forest land opened to drilling The release Wednesday of a final decision four years in the making opens the last portion of Jicarilla Ranger District forest land in Rio Arriba County to natural gas and oil drilling. It permits the lease of 4,992 acres of never-leased National Forest land about 50 miles east of Farmington. The decision regarding the land in Carson National Forest is reviled in some quarters and startling to other entities. "I can't believe they've finally done it," said Tom Mullins, principal/engineering manager of Synergy Operating, LLC. "We are pleased a final decision has been reached. It's been almost four years." Local environmentalists are stoic but saddened by the decision because of damage already done to the forest from drilling since the 1940s....
More factory farming but oversight lags Some huge livestock farms produce more raw waste than cities as large as Philadelphia or Houston. But federal regulators are failing to control pollution from the gigantic operations or assess health risks from the enormous quantities of manure they produce, according to congressional investigators. The Government Accountability Office report on the raw waste is to be released Wednesday to a House committee hearing on federal oversight of factory farms. The conclusions fueled concerns about a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule change that would eliminate one of the few federal oversight mechanisms over air and water pollution from big farms. The rule would eliminate a requirement that farms report to federal, state and local officials when air emissions of hazardous substances like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide exceed certain levels. EPA proposed the rule change in December, contending the requirement created an unnecessary burden for farms and that the emission release reports usually weren't needed or acted upon....
Presidential Race: Candidates Respond to Questions by the American Farm Bureau Federation The final question was: Why should farmers and ranchers vote for you? Sen. Obama replied: During my time in the Illinois Senate and in the U.S. Senate, I’ve had the great privilege of representing some of America’s hardest working and most productive farmers. And farmers have helped teach me how important this sector is to the nation. We depend on agriculture to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel, and it’s vital that federal policies help our farmers make a living and contribute to our nation’s food security....
China tainted milk crisis triggers global recalls An industrial chemical that made its way into China's dairy supplies and that authorities blame in the death of four babies has turned up in numerous Chinese-made exports abroad — from candies to yogurt to rice balls. British supermarket chain Tesco removed Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies off its shelves as a precaution amid reports that samples of the milk candy in Singapore and New Zealand had tested positive for melamine — an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizer. More than a dozen countries have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products. One of the latest was France, which does not import Chinese dairy products but has halted imports of Chinese biscuits, candy or other foods that could contain Chinese dairy derivatives. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said White Rabbit candy has been added to its list of products being inspected at ports of entry, but that no melamine-tainted goods from China of any sort have turned up yet. Nonetheless, some ethnic grocers started removing the popular candies from their shelves....
Horse slaughter bill moves forward A U.S. House of Representatives committee this week approved a measure that would ban the practice nationwide of slaughtering horses for human consumption and halt the export of horses destined for consumption in other countries. Animal-welfare groups have long campaigned for the horse slaughter ban, claiming the treatment of horses sold for meat is cruel. They’ve already succeeded at forcing the closure of the three final U.S. horse slaughterhouses — two in Texas and one in Illinois. But since thousands of horses are still exported for slaughter in Canada and Mexico, and many states have no laws that would prohibit the opening of new plants, the groups have been seeking federal regulation since 2001. The proposed legislation is the “Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act,” sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Dan Burton, D-Ind. The proposal would make it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison to possess or transport horse meat for human consumption or horses intended to be slaughtered for human meals. The Animal Agriculture Alliance called the proposal “horribly misguided and misleadingly named.” According to AAA, “multiple amendments intended to lessen the frightful negative impact the bill would have on horse welfare were defeated along largely partisan lines.” Opponents of the law, including many cattle ranchers, horse breeders and veterinarians, believe the measure will have many unintended, inhumane consequences....
Border agent first saddled up in '42 Forty miles was the route. Horseback was the preferred mode of transportation. "You rode with a partner. You were seldom alone," says Robert "Bobby" Jarratt, who rode for the Border Patrol in 1942 and '43 back when the border was a barbed-wire fence, nothing more. "We looked for signs — broken branches, footprints. Then we'd pick up the trail heading north," says Jarratt, who would work his way up to the state's top job in the Border Patrol before retiring on the last day of 1970. In late December of 1941, he signed up for the Border Patrol and spent the next 30 days training in El Paso, learning, among other things, elementary Spanish and immigration law. On probation for a year, he spent the first few months in Nogales and Gila Bend before heading to the Texas Gulf Coast, looking for wartime saboteurs. Pay to start out was $2,000 a year. "You had to buy your own uniform. The only thing furnished was the hardware, like your gun and handcuffs."....
Oracle's Historic 3-C Ranch Mary West, the daughter of a Texas cattleman, assembled the land that comprised the old 3-C Ranch. Once known as the Columbia Cattle Co., the 3-C Ranch was a combination of several of the oldest cattle ranches in the state, including some that dated back to the early 1800s. Ranchers had long been attracted to the area because of the abundance of water. In addition to being a rancher, West was an attorney, and an investor in mining exploration. She purchased the ranch in 1945 and began buying up other ranches in the area. The resulting 36,000 acre ranch included the Bill Huggett Ranch, as well as the Peppersauce, the American Flag, White House and VY ranches. When she sold the ranch in 1959, it consisted of approximately 5,000 acres of deeded land and the rest in state and federal lease land. While the sale price was not revealed, it had been listed at $700,000. The property also included two homes and two guest houses. It was sold again in 1966, this time for around $1,000,000....
Event has flavors of West Patrons to the West Texas Rehab sale at Producers Livestock Auction today will be welcomed by the smell of mesquite smoke from the campfire of an authentic chuck wagon and the aroma of food being prepared in outdoor cast-iron skillets. In recent years, the Round-Up for Rehab livestock sales have taken on the flavor of the American West, complete with a mule-drawn chuck wagon, which displays cattle brands from ranches contributing to past roundups. Head cook Archie Jobe, who looks like he just walked off a John Wayne Western movie set, will be in the Producers parking lot, 1131 N. Bell St., this morning applying his culinary art to the noon menu. Red beans and corn bread have been the cowboy's staple since 1866, when Texas Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight introduced the first chuck wagon to the cattle trail drives. Back in 1960, the late Conda Wylie, Coke County rancher and owner of the Fort Chadbourne ranch, separated a few head of beef from his herd, sold them and donated the money to the rehabilitation center. That was the beginning of Cattlemen's Round-Up for Crippled Children....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This from AAE

Congressional Probe Of Enviro Groups Urged Over Lobbying Of Interior Department Agency

For Immediate Release: Sept. 24, 2008
Contact: Greg Schnacke, 866-416-0869

Washington, D.C. -- Potential illegal coordination between U.S. Interior Department officials and several national environmental groups, currently being investigated by the Interior Inspector General, should also be investigated by Congressional oversight committees, according to Americans for American Energy.

Americans for American Energy Wednesday asked U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Chair of the House Resource Committee, and U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to convene oversight hearings on the matter.

News of the IG investigation was unveiled late last week by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), ranking Member on the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Parks and Public Lands, who said that he was informed of the investigation involving the Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation and possible improper contacts with the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) on September 18.

Bishop indicated in a statement that e-mails and other documents collected b the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Interior Department show extensive coordination between environmental lobbyists and NLCS top officials.

These activities appear to include coordination of lobbying, agency requests for budget language from environmental lobbyists, setting up NLCS events, review of official memorandums, and other potentially illegal exchanges, Bishop said.

The Interior IG is also collecting and reviewing travel documents as part of the investigation, the Congressman added.

“The Inspector General needs to quickly determine how far this goes, but the Congressional oversight process must be brought into play as well,” said Greg Schnacke, President and CEO of Americans for American Energy, a non-profit grassroots energy education organization based in Denver, Colorado. “The Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation spend millions of dollars pursuing an anti-American energy political agenda. The question we have is how far does this extend and does is it more extensive than simply the NLCS?”

AAE also called on Congress to shelve action on Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 3213), and in particular the portion of the bill directly affecting the NLCS, the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139).

"This investigation calls into question any action that might be taken this year on S. 3213, particularly the inclusion of the National Landscape Conservation System Act (S. 1139), until this situation is concluded. The cloud hanging over the NCLS alone should disqualify any consideration of this legislation this year. The allegations of collusion between the national environmental groups lobbying hard for this bill and the staff of the Interior agency that would be the subject of the this legislation are enough under any reasonable assessment to shelve this legislation immediately until justice takes its course,” Schnacke stated in his letter to Rahall and Bingaman.

Published reports indicate that NLCS officials met regularly with environmental groups, often at the Wilderness Society’s Washington, D.C. offices to coordinate federal lobbying strategy and messaging. Federal law generally prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress.

"It is the job of the Congress to provide oversight and investigate whenever there are such allegations of misconduct and misuse of taxpayer dollars," Schnacke said. "If the committees refuse to conduct such oversight, it will be sending a message to the American people that it intends to turn a blind eye to such activities."

“You can’t tell me this is an isolated incident,” added Schnacke. “The political agenda of the NWF and the Wilderness Society is too broad and touches more in the Interior Department than just the NLCS. I am sure the leadership at Interior will also be very interested whether other employees in other agencies may be a little too cozy with the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation.”

“AAE encourages the IG to get to the bottom of this immediately, and the U.S. House and Senate to investigate this as well. These investigations should begin prior to this election, given that some of these individuals may be planning to get jobs and important policy positions in the new Administration,” said Schnacke.
Western Initiative Proposes Emissions-Trading Plan Seven Western states and four Canadian provinces on Tuesday proposed a comprehensive program to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, manufacturers and vehicles. The Western Climate Initiative would establish a regional market to trade carbon emissions credits and is designed to keep costs down for those affected. It covers more polluters than other regional plans adopted in the United States and Canada. The plan is aimed at cutting the region's carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2020. The idea is to allow industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy and sell credits for their emissions. Businesses that cannot cut their emissions enough can buy the right to pollute from cleaner companies. The plan was drafted by Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec....

IG investigating coordination by BLM and enviro groups, congressman says

Noelle Straub, E&E Daily reporter

The Interior inspector general is investigating possible illegal coordination between lobbyists for environmental groups and federal officials of the National Landscape Conservation System, Rep. Rob Bishop said yesterday.

Interior officials informed his office about the investigation into the NLCS, which is a division of the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Republican said in a statement.

E-mails and other documents show extensive coordination between top NLCS officials and environmental lobbyists, said Bishop, the top Republican on the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee.

The main groups involved appear to be the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation, a House GOP aide said. At some point NLCS officials had weekly meetings with these and other groups, often at the Wilderness Society's office, to coordinate lobbying strategy and messaging, the aide said.

E-mails show that NLCS officials requested environmental groups to write budget language, the aide added. E-mails also talk about coordinating lobbying efforts, setting up NLCS events, sending out draft memorandums for each other to review and preparing for congressional hearing.

The federal and advocacy officials exchanged resumes and job announcements in their respective organizations and BLM, the aide said. Travel documents are still being collected and reviewed and will be part of the investigation, the aide added.

Federal law generally prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress.

Kevin Mack, NLCS campaign director with the Wilderness Society, said he was unaware of the investigation. "I don't know what the investigation is about, have not been called by the IG, so I can't say anything more than that," Mack said.

Both his groups work on public lands issues and are in contact with many people related to their work, Mack added. "I don't know what 'there' is there."

NWF spokeswoman Jennifer Jones said the group has not been contacted by the IG's office.

Interior spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said the department had no comment at this time. An inspector general spokesman could not be reached by press time.

Bishop said the Interior Department should act quickly to halt any improper activities involving advocacy groups and the NLCS. He also called on employees involved in the investigation to step aside from their positions until the inspector general finishes his work.

"The department must insist that any employee involved in violations of the anti-lobbying law step aside until the inspector general or the Justice Department has reviewed his or her conduct," Bishop said. "Just as the employees of the royalty-in-kind program at MMS learned, we will not tolerate misconduct by public officials."

Bishop was referring to a sex, drugs and financial favors investigation of Minerals Management Service employees recently completed by the Interior inspector general, on which the full committee held a hearing yesterday (E&ENews PM, Sept. 18).

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt established NLCS during the Clinton administration to grant protections to ecologically and historically valuable lands controlled by BLM.

But Babbitt's designation did not codify the system, meaning a later Interior secretary could dissolve it. When the House approved a bill in April codifying it, Bishop complained the House Rules Committee blocked GOP amendments, including one by him that would have addressed the private property rights he said were threatened by what he called a "vague legislative entity."

We all knew stuff like this went on under Clinton, but the degree of collaboration alleged here under The Bushies is amazing. You have to wonder what may be going on at USFWS, NPS, etc. It will be interesting to see what action, if any, is taken by Courageous Kempthorne.
Feds ask to put wolves back on endangered list Federal wildlife officials have asked a judge to put gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list — a sharp reversal from the government's prior contention that the animals were thriving. Attorneys for the Fish and Wildlife Service asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to vacate the agency's February finding that more than 1,400 wolves in the region no longer needed federal protection. The government's request Monday follows a July injunction in which Molloy had blocked plans for public wolf hunts this fall in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists. "What we want to do is look at this more thoroughly," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Sharon Rose said. "We definitely have a lot of wolves out there, but we need to address some of (Molloy's) concerns in a way that people feel comfortable with." At issue is whether a decade-long wolf restoration program has reversed the near-extermination of wolves, or if — as environmentalists claim — their long-term survival remains in doubt due to proposed hunting. "This hit everybody really cold," said John Bloomquist, an attorney for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "All of a sudden the federal defendants are going in the other direction."....What the hell is wrong with Dirk Kempthorne? First the polar bear and now the wolf. Get the wolf back on the list and then hope Obama will save the day. The FWS is screwing us and Kempthorne is either unaware, doesn't care, or is the Screwer-In-Chief.
Environmentalists sue to protect prairie dog An environmental group is suing the federal government to gain more protections for the Utah prairie dog. WildEarth Guardians of Sante Fe, N.M., says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong in deciding last year not to change the classification of the animals from “threatened” to “endangered.” The “endangered” status would provide additional protections along with restrictions on development in prairie dog habitat. The group says it would also end a special rule allowing up to 6,000 prairie dogs to be shot each year. The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Washington, D.C. Federal officials on Monday said they couldn’t comment on a pending lawsuit....Of course they can't comment. They have to first huddle with our western hero, Kempthorne, to figure out the best way to cave on the issue.
Barrasso says US Fish and Wildlife Service double-crossed Wyoming on wolf decision U.S. Senator John Barrasso says the federal government double-crossed the state of Wyoming in deciding to reverse its decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list. Lawyers representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday told a federal judge in Montana that the agency intends to withdraw a decision it released this spring concluding that wolves no longer needed federal protection. Barrasso, a Republican from Casper, calls the Fish and Wildlife decision a "significant breach of trust." He says the federal wildlife agency reneged on its commitment to the people of Wyoming....You can tell Barrasso is a freshman senator - he still thinks you can trust the feds.
Southwest Forest Proposes End to Baiting of Endangered Mexican Wolves The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona, where Mexican gray wolves roam, has proposed a new policy requiring proper disposal of livestock carcasses – the first time livestock owners would be tasked with a responsibility to prevent conflicts with wolves. If the remains of cattle (and sometimes horses and sheep) that have died of non-wolf causes are not made inedible or removed, they can attract wolves to prey on live cattle that may be nearby the carcass, and habituate them to domestic animals instead of their natural prey. The new policy would effectively ban the practice of baiting wolves into preying on domestic animals, which can lead to wolves being trapped or shot by the government in retribution. Such “predator control” actions are undermining recovery of the Mexican wolf, North America’s most imperiled mammal. The proposed change would help the beleaguered species recover. Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity in Silver City, N.M., commended the Forest Service for the proposal. “Ensuring that cattle and horses that die of non-wolf causes don’t entice Mexican wolves into scavenging was recommended by independent scientists and is just plain common sense,” Robinson said. The Apache-Sitgreaves is one of several Southwestern national forests updating their 10-year forest plans, and is the first unit of government to propose a livestock carcass clean-up policy in the Southwest. The policy was instituted from the outset of the successful reintroduction of northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho....
Democrats to let offshore drilling ban expire Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in a months-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., told reporters Tuesday that a provision continuing the moratorium will be dropped this year from a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Congress recesses for the election. Republicans have made lifting the ban a key campaign issue after gasoline prices spiked this summer and public opinion turned in favor of more drilling. President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling in July. While the House would lift the long-standing drilling moratoriums for both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, a drilling ban in waters within 125 miles of Florida's western coast would remain in force under a law passed by Congress in 2006 that opened some new areas of the east-central Gulf to drilling....
Democrats alter oil-shale strategy Democratic leaders Tuesday removed language from a spending measure that would have allowed state-by-state approvals of oil-shale development. Citing President Bush's threat to veto the bill with limits on energy development, lawmakers said it would be stripped out. That leaves unresolved what will happen to barriers on commercial oil-shale leasing, which could affect federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. A moratorium that blocked the Bureau of Land Management from issuing final regulations on oil-shale development expires Sept. 30. Placed in a spending bill last year, it would have to be extended either directly or with language renewing all provisions of earlier spending bills. Instead of individual budgets, Congress is passing one spending resolution to keep the government running next year....
3 Utahns with animal-rights group claim they freed minks Three Utah members of the Animal Liberation Front claimed credit Monday for breaking into a Kaysville farm early Sunday, destroying property and releasing thousands of minks. A statement posted on the ALF Web site states that the group entered the farm, released the minks and destroyed all breeding records. It states that they destroyed an electrical fence, vandalized trucks and equipment and cut about 100 holes in the perimeter fence. The FBI has labeled ALF a domestic terrorist organization. The group has resorted to arson and the use of explosives to protest what they call the exploitation of animals for fur, food and lab testing. Juan Becerra, spokesman for the the FBI's Salt Lake City office, said his bureau was assisting local detectives, but that it was too early in the investigation to speculate on "subjects or suspects" involved....
The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopts rules a green group calls "a model" for the U.S. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Tuesday adopted rules to protect wildlife from drilling operations — one of the most contentious pieces of the commission's nine-month overhaul of state regulations. The rules focus on protecting species such as mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, golden lesser prairie chickens, bald and golden eagles, and several sage-grouse species. One rule protects the state's Gold Medal trout streams. With approval of the rules, on an 8-1 vote, the commission has provisionally adopted the bulk of the new and revised rules to manage the burgeoning industry. In the past three months, about 100 new rules covering a broad range of issues have been passed. They include drinking-water protection, odor and dust control, and disclosure of toxic-chemical drilling....
Tribe to lose historic lands if dam is raised In this valley where four rivers meet, the Winnemen Wintu tribe fished and farmed for centuries, its villages always near the water's edge. Much of that heritage was lost during California's era of dam building. The tribe's ancestral land in Northern California was submerged when the federal government built a 602-foot dam downstream of their ceremonial and prayer grounds in 1945. Now the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is considering enlarging Shasta Dam as a way to boost California's water supply. If allowed to go forward, the project would flood what little remaining land once belonged to a tribe whose name translates as "Middle Water."....
Aggies and Enviros Make Nice in Historic Alliance The battle lines are decades old, the rhetoric around them spoken on a nearly weekly basis at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors — north versus south, progressives versus conservatives, agriculturists versus environmentalists, rural-dwellers versus urbanites. No matter what the specific debate is about, the discourse is often bitter, frequently heated, and almost always destructive to compromise. Simply put, when it comes to balancing Santa Barbara County’s undeniably vital agricultural identity with environmental and social concerns, you can only count on one thing: conflict. That is, until now. Gathered at the historic San Julian Ranch just south of Lompoc earlier this week, an unprecedented and highly unlikely union held their coming out party under bright blue skies on Monday afternoon. After 15 months of semi-secret meetings at the Alma Rosa Winery, a coalition of farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, and community activists officially announced the formation of Santa Barbara County’s Ag Futures Alliance, an entity with a mission statement aimed specifically at keeping farmers in farming while also being eco-minded stewards of the land....
Cattle Shootings In the last few months, cattle and horses have been shot in the back country. The latest incident happened in Bingham County. One bull and five cows were shot. A lot of ranchers are upset and want to catch whoever is doing it. Many of these ranchers are joining the Range Deputy Program that Bingham and Bonneville County officially kicked off Tuesday morning. The hope is, with more eyes and ears out there, the faster they can put a stop to this. "It's a serious deal. Shouldn't be messing with someone else's livelihood," says Matt Thompson, an upset rancher. A livelihood that's costing ranchers more than they can spare. "We've had nine to ten cows shot in the last two months," he says. For Thompson, that's 15-hundred per cow and it adds up. "We've lost probably fifteen thousand dollars," says Thompson. Ranchers are tired of it....
Texas cattle rancher rounds up herd scattered by Hurricane Ike Bill White spent much of Monday the same way he did the day before Hurricane Ike hit his ranch on the Texas Gulf Coast: on horseback, moving cows. Mr. White's ranch, on the Jefferson County coast, was on the bull's eye for Ike's storm surge. As the hurricane approached, he and some friends pulled off an instant cattle drive, shifting the cattle to the highest enclosed ground they could find. By sunset, he realized that wasn't going to be high enough. So as the winds and rains started to lash the coast, Mr. White opened the gates and let his cattle out to fend for themselves. The strategy worked, he said Monday, talking on his phone while on horseback with cattle lowing around him. While he estimated it would take at least a month to sort his cows from the thousands of other cattle roaming Jefferson and Chambers counties, he figured most of his herd survived....
Country-of-origin food-labeling rules about to take effect Starting next week, grocery shoppers will be able to distinguish more easily between U.S.-grown foods and imported products. Foods such as meat, fruits and vegetables will carry country-of-origin labeling beginning Sept. 30, under federal legislation that requires retailers to inform consumers where certain agricultural products come from. COOL applies to fresh beef, lamb, chicken, goat and pork, as well as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, macadamia nuts, pecans, ginseng and peanuts. Wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish have had to disclose country of origin since 2005. Retailers may use a wide range of methods to show country of origin, including labels, placards, stamps, bands, twist-ties and pin tags. Some product labels, such as those on meat, may list multiple countries if the animals were born, raised and finished in different countries. The new rule also allows state, local or regional labeling of produce, such as "California Grown," "Washington apples" or "Idaho potatoes," to be used to identify origin....
Dozens of Senators Now Supporting Effort To Repeal The DC Gun Ban
But Majority Leader Harry Reid is blocking a vote on the bill

Gun Owners of America
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151
Monday, September 22, 2008

Your hard work is reaping benefits once again!

Last week, we told you how the U.S. House of Representatives had overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill repealing the D.C. gun ban (HR 6842).

But we also warned you that there was not much time left in the legislative session, and that Majority Leader Harry Reid might try to kill the bill.

That's why we asked you to petition your Senators to urge Reid for a vote in the Senate.

Well, the good news is that 47 Senators have listened to you and have cosigned a letter addressed to the Majority Leader from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. These signatures were obtained in two short days with Senators getting ready to leave town.

The bad news is that our predictions have come true. Sen. Reid is trying to use procedural maneuvers to keep the bill from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Without a vote in the Senate, it becomes clear that the House vote was an election year ploy... a deal cut by two anti-gunners: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Put another way, the House vote merely provides "cover" for many "F" rated Democrats.

After all, 47 congressmen who voted in favor of the bill are rated "F" by Gun Owners of America. Included in this number are three Democrats who are running statewide for open U.S. Senate seats (Tom Udall in New Mexico, Mark Udall in Colorado and Tom Allen in Maine).

Four congressmen who voted to repeal D.C.'s gun laws also cosponsored a bill to ban so-called assault weapons!

So after giving "F" rated Democrats in the House a chance to vote pro-gun, the Democrat leadership is keeping their party members in the Senate from voting on the bill (to prevent the bill from being signed into law by the President).

It is vital that more Senators support the Hutchison effort. Her letter states that, "For more than thirty years, the District of Columbia has subjected residents to the most prohibitive gun control laws of any city in the nation, requiring rifles and shotguns to be registered, stored unloaded, and either locked or disassembled. Despite the Court's ruling in June, the District of Columbia city council has continued to exact onerous and unconstitutional firearm regulations on law-abiding residents."

That's why HR 6842 is needed. Time is of the essence....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idaho Republicans going green in red state Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch ticks off a list of environmental accomplishments he made in his short term - seven months - as governor. The candidate for U.S. Senate said he stopped a coal-fired power plant in the Magic Valley, signed rules that kept new mercury sources out of the state, negotiated a new rule to protect roadless national forests and signed a bill to increase alternative energy use in the state to 25 percent by 2025. "I've got a green streak a quarter-mile wide across my back," Risch boasted. Risch's unabashed efforts to court environmental voters represent a major shift for Idaho Republicans. For more than a generation Idaho Republican candidates, like current U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, ran against environmentalists as much as they ran against Democrats. Now Republicans Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson have wilderness bills pending in Congress. Gov. Butch Otter has led the drive to get state agencies to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming....
Not one more acre in Pinon Canyon So, years after the Pentagon's plans to massively expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado became public knowledge, Keith Eastin turned up in Trinidad last month to "open dialogue" with the local community. He was touting the latest in a long line of expansion plans — in this one, the Army has temporarily scaled back its request for 418,000 acres of our native grasslands to "just" 100,000 acres and apparently believes it has a willing seller for nearly all of that despite a funding ban. Judging by the commentary from some politicians and media outlets, we are meant to accept this as a fair compromise that should be allowed to proceed unhindered — as if no harm could possibly come of this. Those commentators will no doubt feign astonishment when they discover that when we said "not one more acre," we meant it. So did every member of the diverse alliance of groups fighting expansion, all the southern Colorado county commissioners and state and federal representatives who have clearly voiced their opposition, and especially those in Congress who voted overwhelmingly to block funding for all aspects of the Pentagon's plans. There are many reasons why the expansion plan should never happen. The environmental consequences for this fragile ecosystem and the rare wildlife it supports would be catastrophic. Ranchers whose relationships with the native grasslands go back many generations would lose our lands and our livelihoods. The region's ranching- and agriculture- based economy and the communities that depend upon it would be devastated. And a vast trove of historical, archaeological and paleontological treasures would be lost....
Ban Near on Diverting Water From Great Lakes The House began debate Monday on a sweeping bill that would ban almost any diversion of water from the Great Lakes’ natural basin to places outside the region. The measure is intended to put to rest longstanding fears that parched states or even foreign countries could do long-term damage to the basin by tapping into its tremendous body of fresh water. The bill, which would also put in place strict conservation rules for the eight states that border the lakes, is expected to win House approval, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. It has already been passed by the Senate, and the Bush administration has signaled its support. So House backing for the measure, known as the Great Lakes Compact, is regarded by its many advocates across the Midwest and in New York and Pennsylvania as a long-sought final piece to a complicated puzzle whose solution started taking shape a decade ago in an effort to give the region control over its water. The fear was that without strict, consistent rules on who is entitled to that water, it might start disappearing....
Rancher, Douglas County fight over water rights This county, one of the richest in the country, is running out of water. Rancher Chuck Quisenberry says that's why local officials are preventing him from selling his water on the open market - so they can buy it cheap for themselves. Douglas County officials say they're simply enforcing zoning rules to protect future water supplies. In a lawsuit, Quisenberry, whose 106-acre ranch sits along Parker Road, charges that the county is abusing land-use rules to force him to keep his water, which he estimates at 400 million gallons annually, on his property. Quisenberry maintains that he could sell it for tens of thousands of dollars to water-strapped towns and cities statewide. At the center of the dispute are two ponds on Quisenberry's ranch that he wants to fill and use as "recharge pits," storage areas. He claims that the county has consistently required him to obtain "special use by review permits" to fill the ponds. The catch, he said, is that the county won't grant the permits unless he dedicates his water to the property for future development needs....
US to reopen training center An education and training center for troubled youths that once employed 70 people in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will soon reopen under the control of the U.S. Forest Service. The Oconaluftee Job Corps Center will be the third Job Corps under Forest Service control in North Carolina and will be one of 22 the agency runs nationwide. The Forest Service also manages the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Franklin and Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center near Brevard. The government spent $2.1 million on repairs at the facility, including $224,898 on the dining hall roof. Seyden said 12 former National Park Service workers would become Forest Service employees in the changeover....The Forest Service runs 22 Job Corps Centers? Why? Shows you what I know - I thought the Job Corps shut down years ago.
Matheson adds to shale bill Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, won a huge round Monday in the fight to allow oil-shale development in Utah — even as environmental groups redoubled efforts against it. Matheson persuaded House Democratic leaders to include in a bill a provision that would lift a ban on developing oil shale on federal lands in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. The bill is needed to prevent a government shutdown. The language would formally lift a moratorium that Congress imposed last year to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from issuing final rules for oil-shale leases there. Matheson's language would allow commercial oil-shale leases in any state that also approves allowing them, and Utah politicians generally favor that. Matheson similarly persuaded leaders last week to put an identical provision into a Democratic energy bill. However, that bill has only a long shot at eventually becoming law....
Wild horse roundup planned at Nev. wildlife refuge The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to round up hundreds of wild horses this week from a national wildlife refuge on the Nevada-Oregon line, putting most up for adoption and sterilizing males before they are returned to the wild in an effort to keep the herd in check. The gather at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge was scheduled to begin Tuesday, officials said. Refuge managers said of the 340 horses targeted for roundup, 200 of those deemed most desirable will be put up for adoption through the Tennessee-based Carr's Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center, a private agency that has placed thousands of gathered mustangs and burros for nearly 30 years. The remaining 140 will be released back into the wild, but males will be sterilized through vasectomy to try to stem population growth, officials said....
Bishop wants federal workers under scrutiny to 'step aside' for now The Interior Department's inspector general has started a probe into inappropriate ties between environmental lobbyists and the National Landscape Conservation System, according to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. Bishop - ranking member of the national parks, forests and public lands subcommittee - called for quick action and demanded that federal employees under scrutiny be removed, at least temporarily. "The department must insist that any employee [under investigation for possible] violations of the anti-lobbying law step aside until the inspector general or the Justice Department has reviewed his or her conduct," Bishop said. "We will not tolerate misconduct by public officials." Interior officials have told Bishop's staff that they have documents that indicate "extensive coordination" between top conservation-system employees and lobbyists for environmental groups. It is against the law for federal funds to be used to lobby Congress....
Proposition 2 anti-agriculture, would be harmful to California On Nov. 4, California voters will consider Proposition 2, “Standards for Confining Farm Animals.” Specifically the proposal requires that certain farm animals be allowed (for the majority of every day) to fully extend their limbs and wings, lie down, stand up, and turn around. Voter approval of this ballot initiative could lead to the rapid demise of California’s egg industry. According to the 2007 California Agricultural Resource Directory, 10 million layers produced 4.9 billion eggs which added $212 million to California’s economy. Results from a University of California-funded study conducted by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center explored the potential economic effects on California egg farmers and consumers if Proposition 2 passes. The study found that the state’s egg industry would be severely hobbled. Costs of production would rise and more eggs shipped in from other states, which would not be required to meet the regulations set for California production. “The most likely outcome, therefore, is the elimination of almost all of the California egg industry over a very few years,” said the study’s lead author Daniel Sumner, director, Agricultural Issues Center, and Frank H. Buck, jr. professor, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beach erosion from Ike may make homes illegal Even people whose coastal houses were spared by Hurricane Ike could see them condemned under a little-known Texas law, and hundreds whose beachfront homes were wrecked could be barred from rebuilding there. Now here's the saltwater in the wound: It could be a year before the state tells these homeowners what they may or may not do. And if these homeowners do lose their beachfront property, they may get no compensation from the state. The reason: the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act. Under the law, the strip of beach between the average high-tide line and the average low-tide line is considered public property, and buildings are illegal there. Over the years, the state has repeatedly invoked the law to seize houses in cases where a storm eroded a beach so badly that a home was suddenly sitting on public property. The aftermath of Ike could see the biggest such use of the law in Texas history....
Republicans Suspect Democrats May Punt Oil Drilling Ban Past Election Senior Republican congressional aides told that they believe the Democratic leadership may now roll the dice by allowing the ban on new offshore oil drilling leases to expire at the end of this month while planning to renew it early next year if they manage to win the White House and maintain control of Congress. That would allow them to avoid a potentially politically damaging showdown over offshore drilling in the month leading up to the November election. Such a tactic could succeed, the Republicans say, because no new drilling leases could be auctioned in intervening time. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, suggested in an interview with on Thursday that he was aware Democrats could allow the ban on offshore drilling to expire without immediately risking new drilling in domestic waters....
Coming To The Supreme Court

Summers v. Earth Island Institute (07-463)

Earth Island Institute and other conservation groups sued the United States Forest Service after it authorized application of regulations 36 C.F.R. 215.4(a) and 36 C.F.R. 215.12(f) to a planned salvage logging project in the Sequoia National Forest. The conservation groups claimed that the regulations, which limit public notice, comment and administrative appeals, were invalid under the Administrative Procedure Act, which protects the ability of the public to appeal administrative actions. The parties settled the dispute over the regulations as they were applied to the salvage logging project, but the conservation groups continued the suit as a direct facial challenge to the regulations themselves. At issue before the Supreme Court in this case is whether judicial review of the regulations was proper, whether the conservation groups established standing and ripeness to challenge the regulations after settling the controversy over the regulations’ application to the specific project, and whether issuing a nationwide injunction was a proper remedy. The outcome of the case will influence federal agencies’ requirements to provide administrative appeals, the ability of the public to challenge administrative actions, and the scope of equitable remedies against improper applications of agency regulations....


This case rests on whether individuals may appeal agency regulations only as they are applied to specific agency actions, or whether individuals may challenge the validity of regulations without linking the challenge to a specific agency project. The Forest Service argues that under the APA, only as-applied regulations may be challenged. The conservation groups, on the other hand, argue that the APA supports direct, facial challenges to agency regulations. The Supreme Court’s decision will affect the rights of individuals to contest unlawful agency regulations and the scope of federal agencies’ responsibilities to provide administrative appeals. The decision will likely clarify the balance between agencies’ autonomy and their transparency toward the public, which will have ramifications for advocacy groups, industry members, and federal agencies.

Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council (NRDC) (07-1239)

On March 22, 2007, the Natural Resources Defense Council ("NRDC") sued the United States Navy in the District Court for the Central District of California to enjoin the Navy from conducting training exercises off the coast of southern California. Specifically, the NRDC sought to prevent the Navy from using mid-frequency active ("MFA") sonar during these exercises because such use harmed whales and other marine mammals, in violation of several environmental laws. The District Court concluded in January 2008 that NRDC had proven that allowing the exercises to continue would cause near certain harm to the environment and issued a preliminary injunction. In response to the injunction, both the President and the Council for Environmental Quality ("CEQ") exempted the Navy from two environmental statutes, finding that emergency circumstances existed which allowed the training to continue. The District Court, however, found the exemptions were improper and upheld its preliminary injunction, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The Navy challenges this decision by arguing that courts below used too lax of a standard when deciding that a preliminary injunction was justified and that the judiciary improperly interfered with the executive branch’s authority to control the military. How the Supreme Court decides this case will not only reflect its view on balancing environmental protection and national security, but also clarify the roles each Federal branch has in these matters....


This case addresses an important question about the significance of environmental protection. The answer may hinge on the Supreme Court’s view of the balance among the three branches of government, and the extent of the executive branch’s authority over the military. Overall, the Supreme Court’s decision on the separation of powers will have implications beyond the immediate issue of environmental protection.
Past bedevils Army in Pinon Canyon expansion The Army won that round, but lost the fight for public opinion in southeast Colorado with missteps that now endanger its plans to add 100,000 acres to train soldiers. "We found the Army wasn't truthful that first go-round," said Herman Multrer, a Vietnam veteran and rancher who opposes the expansion. "I support the Army 100 percent, but only when they're doing the right thing." In the late '70s and early '80s, the Army eventually used condemnation to obtain nearly half the training site. Its promises of jobs and federal money for local communities proved empty. As Congress this fall again debates whether the Army should be allowed to buy land, the past haunts today's negotiations. "There are some hard feelings left over from the past," said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican, who as Colorado Springs' congressman is fighting to get the Army the 100,000-acre addition. In a bid to overcome resistance, the Army in recent months has cut its expansion plans from more than 400,000 acres to 100,000, and promised jobs and $100 million in construction cash. It hasn't worked....
A full measure of incompetence The sex and drugs and possible bribery within the Interior Department's oil and gas royalties program was bad enough — a slap in the face to those of us struggling with higher gas and fuel costs. Now we learn that, even worse, federal regulators may have short-changed Americans by billions of dollars worth of the fossil fuels. New audits from the Government Accountability Office found that the Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Land Management have failed to keep pace with inspecting the very meters on oil and gas rigs that determine how much of the fuels are to go to the government. We applaud the congressional scrutiny now focused on the MMS and its Royalty in Kind division. Hopefully, the extra scrutiny will eventually produce a better process, and that could mean pulling MMS into a separate agency that would be more transparent and easily monitored. Measurements are vital to the royalty program, which allows energy companies to pay federal royalties with oil and gas instead of cash. The RIK program then markets the fuels to increase federal funds and to shore up reserves. Last year, MMS collected more than $11 billion in the royalties program. With so much at stake, we would expect that the need for accurate measurements is a no-brainer. Apparently, that responsibility wasn't so obvious to MMS....
Let's talk climate impact on wildlands Arizona's climate is changing. Statistics show that we are, on average, 2.7-degrees warmer now than a century ago. This is causing major problems for our wildlife, wildlands and the outdoor heritage we enjoy in Arizona. Ongoing drought conditions are affecting many wildlife populations. Forests throughout northern Arizona are dying off from beetle infestations that are partially caused by higher winter temperatures. Wildfires like the Rodeo-Chediski Fire near Cibeque in 2002 are getting bigger and burning unnaturally hotter. Habitually low water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell are impacting fish production and reducing boating opportunities. The list goes on and on. In Arizona, the topic of climate change remains controversial. The "sky is falling" mentality of the left combined with the "head in the sand " naysayers on the right prevent reasoned discussion. With Arizona's outdoor heritage at stake, this is a shame....
Sheep grazing limits proposed to protect bighorns Payette National Forest officials are considering a ban on domestic sheep grazing in some areas frequented by wild bighorns. If approved, the plan would force several ranchers to give up grazing areas in parts of Hells Canyon and the Salmon River canyon. The draft plan is open to comment for 90 days. Once a final decision is made, each individual grazing decision will be handled separately, forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville told The Idaho Statesman. The environmental review and draft plan followed an order by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in 2007 that ranchers move their sheep off of five allotments in Hells Canyon to protect the wild sheep. Domestic sheep carry some diseases to which they have resistance but that can spread to more vulnerable wild bighorns. In the draft, the Forest Service said Canada and the United States have a long history of large-scale, sudden, all-age die-offs in bighorn sheep populations, many of them associated with domestic animal contact....
State continues overhaul of oil, gas rules State regulators headed toward the final stretch of work on new oil and gas rules as they prepared to grapple with ways to protect the state’s wildlife and manage drilling waste pits amid Colorado’s natural gas boom. Those were among the issues on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s agenda Monday and Tuesday. The panel has given preliminary approval to dozens of new regulations since August and is expected to take final votes in October on the state’s most comprehensive rewrite of rules for the industry since drilling rates started breaking records. Small groups will report back after trying to unravel disagreements on a few topics, such as reclamation, overlap of local and state regulations and the size of buffers between houses and wells. Also still hanging is the standoff between the state and Colorado office of the Bureau of Land Management on whether the state rules would apply to federal land. The BLM says “no.” The commission says “yes,” citing states’ rights to oversee wildlife, air and water quality. Both sides say they’ll keep talking....
Scientists study endangered kangaroo rat habitat Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count Giant Kangaroo Rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space. Scientists will examine images taken from the same satellite used by Israeli defence forces to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows. From that they plan to get the first-ever accurate population count of the rodents, a bellwether for the health of a parched plains environment. The information will help scientists determine when cattle might be used to reduce non-native grasses, allowing the rats to more easily find food. Giant Kangaroo Rats, nocturnal rodents so named because they hop on back legs, adapted to their desert environment by extracting moisture from seeds and in their nasal passages from the humid air they exhale. For food, they pile seeds from native grasses in circles outside their burrows, which provide shelter for the endangered San Joaquin antelope squirrel and blunt-nosed lizards. Their fat five-inch (nearly 13-centimeter) bodies are a favoured source of food for the endangered kit fox....
NM Game and Fish recommends cougar hunting changes Conservationists who have been seeking changes in the way New Mexico wildlife officials manage cougar hunts are throwing their support behind agency recommendations that they say will help maintain the big cats' population. The state Game and Fish Department is recommending that the agency provide information on its Web site to teach hunters the difference between male and female cats to ensure that more breeding females are left in the wild and kittens are not orphaned. The department is also recommending that a cougar control program aimed at reducing depredation of livestock in the southeastern part of the state come to an end. Those recommendations and others dealing with New Mexico's big game hunting rules for the 2009 and 2010 seasons will be taken up by the state Game Commission at its Oct. 2 meeting....
Virtual fence could modernize the Old West Dean Anderson insists he doesn't want to put cowboys out of business. But he would like to see them get more indoor work. Anderson, an animal science researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working on a system that will allow cowboys to herd their cattle remotely by singing commands and whispering into Bessie's ears via radio and tracking her movements by satellite and computer. "I could be sitting in my office here and programming cows in Mongolia. It's not technologically impossible," says Anderson. The technology isn't exactly ready yet, but Anderson and others involved in researching the concept of "virtual fencing" of cattle and other livestock say it is getting close. "It's not a silver bullet," he insists. "You're not going to spend a year in Mazatlan and run your cows by computer. You need to have a human on the ground." No kidding, says Gary Morton, who runs 2,000 head of yearling cattle at Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains range of northern New Mexico. "They've been saying cowboys and the way we do business is dying for the last 100 years," Morton says. "But we're still around."....
Honoring Old Yeller Dressed boyishly in denim overalls and a straw hat, Kassie Stagner, 10, wraps her arms around a yellow Labrador retriever, striking a pose that’s reminiscent of character Travis Coates and his devoted dog in the 1957 movie classic, Old Yeller. “This morning, I rubbed my T-shirt in the dirt, too,” says Stagner, whose efforts won her the “Travis Look-Alike” contest during Old Yeller Day in Mason, Texas (pop. 2,134), last year. The annual October event honors the late author Fred Gipson, who spent most of his life in Mason, where he penned the beloved dog tale in 1956. The following year, Walt Disney turned Old Yeller into a Hollywood favorite, starring Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker and Tommy Kirk. Set in the 1860s, Old Yeller was inspired by a true story told by Gipson’s grandfather and recounts the frontier adventures of a teenage boy, Travis, and his poor family who adopt an ugly “yeller” dog....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Casey and the grulla
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

Cowboys are quite often loners, especially if they are holding down a ranch job in a remote area of the West.

Casey was just such a loner, with his horses serving as his best friends.

For five years running, he wintered very peacefully at the Box Canyon Camp on the Estacado Comida Ranch in northern New Mexico, a job that suited him perfectly.

With an abundance of horse charm and the fact that the ranch raised premier colts from their large mare herd, it was a good match for them all.

The mares were wintered in the large, protected canyon, giving the colts that were born in the spring a safe place to grow and a chance to learn to travel in the rough country.

Casey would work a little with the young ones, teaching them a few manners and getting them used to being around that beast called man. It was called work, but for him, it was something next to heaven.

He kept the mares gentled down and, when needed, offered a little midwifery skill during foaling.

Then along came the ranch owner's son, fresh out of college with a degree and an assignment to reacquaint Casey with reality.

Brad arrived at winter camp full of book ideas, enthusiasm for the invigorating outdoors and thoroughly in love with a blonde who promised to wait for him until spring.

During the cold months, Brad got over his scholarly schemes and recognized the environment for its greater challenges, but when it was time to bring the mares and colts out of the canyon, he was still in love.

Casey usually hit the rodeo road during the summer. Brad decided he and Blondie, who happened to be a barrel racer, would summer with Casey on the rodeo trail.

He was, after all, the boss' s kid, so off they went to collect the girl and get on with the summer.

When they met her at the arena, both men's eyes lit up.

This was a very pretty girl - long honey blonde hair and big green eyes. She was riding a big grulla gelding built like a fine quarter horse should be.

Brad had his eyes on the girl, but Casey had eyes on the gelding.

Through the summer, the cowboys kept their pockets lined with their rodeo winnings.

However, Blondie wasn't faring as well with the grulla, who hadn't quite caught on to the concept of running around three cans.

Casey regularly applied his "horse charm" to keep the big slate-colored horse calm and working well enough to get Blondie to the next rodeo.

He was not charming enough to keep her consistently winning, not that she noticed.

She and Brad spent more time looking at each other than at the rodeo schedule, so it didn't appear to be a career goal for either of them.

When the winds of autumn began cooling the days and fall nights took on a crispness recognized as a precursor to winter, Casey began to think about Box Canyon.

He had one more thing he wanted to accomplish before summer's end.

Brad and the honey-blonde were making their own plans and a fall wedding was in the works.

Casey agreed to stand in as best man at ranch headquarters along with further arrangements to leave right after the ceremony.

He and the newlyweds had come to an agreement about the future.

After the last toast for lifelong bliss was made, Casey changed into his jeans, a Carhartt jacket and set off for winter camp.

Brad had the girl. Casey left riding his gray and leading the grulla.

And everybody lived happily ever after.

Now, don't you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Julie is looking for a Box Canyon winter hideout.
FDA Proposes Regulations for Genetically Engineered Animals The prospect of foods and other products from so-called genetically engineered animals moved a step closer to reality Thursday, as U.S. regulators said producers of such animals will have to prove they are safe to eat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was proposing new guidelines for genetically engineered animals. These guidelines lay out the agency's position on its authority to regulate the burgeoning industry of genetically engineered animals and spell out requirements and recommendations to producers of these animals. "Genetic engineering is no longer a new technology. It has been widely used in agriculture to make crops resistant to certain pests or herbicides or with improved nutritional qualities," Randall Lutter, deputy commissioner for policy at the FDA, said during a morning teleconference. Genetic engineering in animals refers to the use of what scientists call recombinant DNA techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits, often adding a genetic trait from one animal to another. Proponents say the practice will lead to animals that can grow faster, produce healthier foods such as heart-healthy eggs, or be resistant to certain diseases, such as mad cow disease. Opponents say the practice could unleash unintended consequences by altering the traditional genetic structures of animals....
Farmers sue state over raid on funds State officials violated the U.S. and state constitutions when they took money from a trio of agriculture funds to balance the state budget, farm interests charge in a new lawsuit. It's the latest blow against the budget, which has drawn complaints far and wide as agencies and the people who rely on them grapple with cuts in state funding. In this case, farm groups say the state was wrong to "sweep" the money in agriculture funds and use it to shore up the state's general fund for the budget year that ended June 30. The money is voluntarily contributed by farmers and growers to pay for research grants and held in trust by the state treasurer until the grants are awarded....
Bovine TB designation hinders NM ranching, dairy operations Beef and dairy producers are preparing for stringent regulations across state lines and advocating for a smaller zone of restrictions after the USDA's Sept. 11 bovine tuberculosis downgrade. Around 50 representatives of state government, New Mexico State University and the ranching and dairy communities met at NMSU to discuss the state's downgrade Friday, part of a series of such informative meetings across the state. Two infections since May 2007, in Roosevelt and Curry counties in eastern New Mexico, prompted the USDA downgrade, to reduce the possible spread of the infection outside of the state. "We see that, in New Mexico, as the area of risk," said Myles Culbertson, executive director of the New Mexico Livestock Board, who said it was still unknown where the most recent cow became infected. Culbertson said the original anti-TB guidelines were established in 1917 because of a 6 percent prevalence of bovine TB in the bovine population and a higher incidence of people drinking raw milk. Though untreatable, cooking meat and pasteurizing milk kill the bacteria that causes bovine TB. The bacteria that causes it can be transmitted between infected animals and humans through drinking raw milk or breathing, according to the USDA. He said bovine TB should not be "misconstrued as a public health crisis." "Now, (the prevalence) is .016 percent, infinitesimally small," Culbertson said, noting that Colorado and Oklahoma were each one infection away from being downgraded as well. "That program, I think, is archaic ... The program says if you find two cases within 48 months, the whole state goes down." State veterinarian Dr. Dave Fly has estimated the cost of testing could cost the state up to $6 million. Culbertson said the quickest the state could get its downgrade revoked would be two years, but Gov. Bill Richardson and the state Livestock Board have asked the USDA for a reconsideration by October....
Error results in tax break for horse owners Horse owners in eastern New Mexico can look forward to a tax break this year due to an oversight by the New Mexico Livestock Board. Due to a accounting error, there will be no livestock board tax on horses in New Mexico for 2008 — horse owners will only have to pay local and state property taxes. The error will cost the livestock board $72,000 toward the 2009 budget, which is $6 million, said Myles Culbertson, executive director of the livestock board. “This error will not affect our services, but it will reduce our budget,” Culbertson said. “We have a large budget, but every dollar is spoken for.”....
Who was the Indian princess? Before it is swept away by the river of oblivion, this writer wishes to share a little-known legend about a mysterious Native American woman who once lived in Belen. In the late 1700s or early 1800s, there lived a mysterious woman who claimed to be an Indian princess. We don't know her name, although many called her "La Indita." Others called her the "Aztec Princess," suggesting that she came from a rich, powerful Indian tribe and culture in Old Mexico. Many facts have been lost through the cloudy lenses of time, and to tell her story, one must rely on the few facts that have filtered down by word of mouth from generation to generation. This noble-looking woman was the subject of speculation and curiosity among the people of Belen. She remained rather aloof, but was otherwise friendly, speaking Spanish haltingly. She sometimes attended church services and sometimes attended wedding dances held in the popular dance hall located across the road from the old church. Where did this beautiful stranger come from? And why did she live in Belen?....