Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Washington: The O-List

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The New Republic has prepared a list of "The 30 people who matter most--in order."

The only eviro listed is Al Gore, who comes in at number twenty-two.

Obama, Kennedy & EPA

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The Huffington Post has interviewed Robert Kennedy Jr. on his being cosidered for the EPA position:

"You know what, I would be of service in any way that the administration asked me to be," Kennedy told the Huffington Post. "But I am also very happy and I believe I am being effective doing the stuff I am doing currently."...The appointment would represent a major and early victory for environmentalists and would undoubtedly please Kennedy's cousin, Caroline Kennedy and uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy - who was an instrumental Obama backer during the primary and is in poor health.


David Roberts
at Grist Mill doesn't seem to be sold on Kennedy at EPA:

It might please Clinton and Kennedy, but by my count it will piss off just about everyone else. Enviros are still pissed about his opposition to Cape Wind. Sensible people are pissed about his naive acceptance of the phantom vaccine-autism connection. Many journalists are pissed that his overheated work on Republican vote theft in 2004 served to discredit more modest but verifiable theories. He's also, to put it bluntly, widely considered considered kind of an arrogant jerk -- which makes me like him more, but I don't know how it will play in a delicate and highly constrained bureaucratic position.


Two reporters at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer write:

He strikes us as a strange choice. Yes, he's unquestionably green and a magnificent orator... but he's not so much known for his administrative abilities. (He's a fascinating character in so many ways. Example: He got involved with the Riverkeeper organization after he was busted with a lot of heroin and sentenced to community service, which he served at Riverkeeper. He's been clean for years now and is said to not like to discuss this part of his life....

Finally, this Reuters article mentions:

These include Democratic Governors Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas, both of whom have pushed to limit greenhouse emissions...Mary Nichols, now head of California's Air Resources Board, has been active in opposing a state ballot proposition that she maintains would increase greenhouse emissions. As a member of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, she is seen as having the ability to work across party lines...Kathleen McGinty, Pennsylvania's former Environment Secretary, has also been mentioned as a possible EPA chief...Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, which does policy research on environment and sustainability, is also considered a potential candidate.


The speculation is all over the place.

Stay tuned.
Al Gore group urges Obama to create U.S. power grid Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection has some environmental advice for the incoming Obama administration: focus on energy efficiency and renewable resources, and create a unified U.S. power grid. On Thursday, the group Gore founded rolled out a new media campaign to push for immediate investments in three energy areas it maintains would help meet Gore's previously announced challenge to produce 100 percent clean electricity in the United States in a decade. Pegged to Obama's election victory on Tuesday, the Gore group's ads on television, in newspapers and online, pose the question, "Now what?" Gore -- former vice president, Nobel Peace laureate and star of the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" -- has said repeatedly he wants to play no official government role in the fight against climate change. But with environmental activists talking about a possible "climate czar" in President-elect Barack Obama's White House, Gore's name inevitably gets mentioned. The plan advocates immediate investment in energy efficiency, renewable power generation -- including public investment in wind, solar and geothermal technology -- and the creation of a unified national smart grid....
Ottawa swoops in with climate-change offer Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proposing to strike a joint climate-change pact with president-elect Barack Obama, an initiative that would seek to protect Alberta's oil sands projects from potentially tough new U.S. climate-change rules by offering a secure North American energy supply. Key federal ministers issued the call for a climate-change pact yesterday, less than 24 hours after Mr. Obama won his historic election victory, in a clear bid by Ottawa to carve out a key place for Canada on the new administration's agenda. Energy security has been a major issue in the U.S. election, and Mr. Obama campaigned heavily on eliminating dependence on Middle East and Venezuelan oil. But he has also condemned the United States's reliance on "dirty oil" - his advisers have specifically criticized the oil sands - and has promised tougher climate-change action. A Canada-U.S. climate-change pact could tie those issues together by adopting common standards and mechanisms such as a market-based emission trading system, while acknowledging the important contribution the oil sands make to North American supplies and the need to adopt technologies that would reduce oil sands emissions....
Scientists say a rock can soak up carbon dioxide A rock found mostly in Oman can be harnessed to soak up the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide at a rate that could help slow global warming, scientists say. When carbon dioxide comes in contact with the rock, peridotite, the gas is converted into solid minerals such as calcite. Geologist Peter Kelemen and geochemist Juerg Matter said the naturally occurring process can be supercharged 1 million times to grow underground minerals that can permanently store 2 billion or more of the 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted by human activity every year. Their study will appear in the November 11 edition of the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences. Peridotite is the most common rock found in the Earth's mantle, or the layer directly below the crust. It also appears on the surface, particularly in Oman, which is conveniently close to a region that produces substantial amounts of carbon dioxide in the production of fossil fuels....
Cody comments on new wolf plan A group of about two dozen sportsmen, ranchers, environmentalists and others made comments Wednesday night on Wyoming's latest plan for managing gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain region. Among questions asked were why the public comment process was being rushed, whether the state and ranchers would have adequate options to control wolf depredation and whether the plan would guarantee genetic diversity among wolves. Gov. Dave Freudenthal approved emergency rule changes that clarify a commitment to maintaining 15 breeding pairs and 150 individual wolves in the state's northwest corner, including in Yellowstone National Park. The changes also more clearly define "damage to private property" and "chronic wolf depredation." Unchanged are the boundaries defining where wolves may be shot any time as predators, a provision in the plan defined by law, and which cannot be altered until the state Legislature convenes in January. In the northwest corner of the state, they are classified as trophy game. The animal's status as a predator across most of the state is a key sticking point with opponents of Wyoming's plan, who say it exposes wolves to potentially devastating losses that could threaten their long-term recovery....
Firearms Industry Statement on Results of CDC Blood Lead Levels in Hunters Study The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry -- issued the following statement in response to study results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released by the North Dakota Department of Health, showing no evidence that lead or "traditional" ammunition pose any health risk to those who consume game harvested meat. The CDC report on human lead levels of hunters in North Dakota has confirmed what hunters throughout the world have known for hundreds of years, that traditional ammunition poses no health risk to people and that the call to ban lead ammunition was nothing more than a scare tactic being pushed by anti-hunting groups. In looking at the study results, the average lead level of the hunters tested was lower than that of the average American. In other words, if you were to randomly pick someone on the street, chances are they would have a higher blood lead level than the hunters in this study. Also of note, the lead levels of children under 6 in the study had a mean of just 0.88, less than half the national average. Children over 6 had even lower lead levels. The CDC's level of concern for lead in children is 10....
Agencies to let more bison outside Yellowstone State and federal officials say they've tentatively agreed to allow more bison to roam outside Yellowstone National Park without being captured and slaughtered to protect cattle against disease. The plan, which remains in draft form, would allow an unlimited number of bison to stay during winter in an area west of Yellowstone known as Horse Butte. The animals would not have to be tested for brucellosis, a disease carried by bison and feared by ranchers because it causes cattle to abort their calves. Last year, more than 1,600 bison leaving the park were killed to guard against the disease. Final adoption of the plan is expected next month in Helena, when five federal and state agencies wrap up a series of meetings they've held on the issue over the last several months.
Can the Forest Service reclaim its image? It's been a dismal eight years for the U.S. Forest Service. When the Bush administration took office, it immediately suspended a popular measure to protect 58 million acres of backcountry public forests from new roads. Instead, the agency became consumed by firefighting. Since 2001, stopping fire has grown from about 15 percent of the agency's budget to nearly 50 percent today. Without forward-thinking leadership, the Forest Service agenda will continue to focus primarily on this one reactionary activity. Yet there is enormous potential for the agency and its 35,000 employees who manage public lands that exceed the size of Texas. Agency staffers could be turned loose to do good work on the ground. The future of the agency -- and the rural communities that depend on it -- lies in its recognizing that more frequent fires are a symptom of a warming climate and an already stressed environment. And while fire fighting is essential, it is only one part of a long-term agenda. Scrape away eight years of languor perpetuated by the Bush administration, and the clear challenge of climate changes stands out. Here's what the Forest Service could do to lead the way....
Economy Shifts, and the Ethanol Industry Reels As producers of ethanol navigate a triple whammy of falling prices for their product, credit woes and volatile costs for the corn from which ethanol is made, an economic version of “Survivor” is playing out in the industry. Last week, VeraSun, one of the nation’s largest ethanol producers, announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection after its bets on the price of corn turned out to be wrong — and costly. Several other small producers have filed for bankruptcy this year, and construction plans for several Midwestern ethanol plants have been postponed or shelved. Shares in the handful of publicly owned ethanol companies have mostly been slumping all year. Aventine Renewable Energy and Pacific Ethanol, for instance, have both lost more than 80 percent of their value since the beginning of the year. While producers pin their hopes on rising government mandates for the use of ethanol, analysts who follow the industry voice concerns that more companies could go under. They expect a wave of consolidation to sweep the ethanol business once the credit crisis eases....
Election results for Proposition 2 and greyhound racing Proposition 2, the California ballot initiative on farm animal housing backed by the Humane Society of the United States, passed on Tuesday with more than 60 percent of the vote, and the result will essentially end current management practices for California egg producers, forcing the industry out-of-state. In Massachusetts, voters approved a ballot question to end greyhound racing in the state, rejecting track owners’ arguments that the ban would cost jobs at a time of economic hardship in favor of protecting dogs from harm. A similar ballot question was defeated in 2000. The ban, which takes effect in 2010, passed by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent....
Asbill wants to fence 'Dead Cow Road' A 2007 legislative appropriation of $125,000 for 26 miles of fencing along a county road is not enough to get the job done. But further delaying the project could put the money at risk of being taken back by the governor, county leaders said. The funds were obtained by Sen. Vernon Asbill, R- Eddy, for fencing along County Road 605, also shown on county maps as Potash Mine Road. But the highway has been dubbed by locals as Dead Cow Road because of cattle wandering onto the road and occasionally being plowed down by motorists. Over the years, collisions between cow and car have caused some serious and fatal injuries. The dilemma for the county is two-fold. The first is the issue of liability should the fence be nstalled. The commission said New Mexico is open range, and by fencing off cattle to keep them from wandering onto the road, the liability shifts to the county for any accident caused by cattle on the road. The second issue for the county is that the $125,000 is not enough to fence the 26 miles and the county would have to dip into its coffers to make up the difference. Frank Weldon, county road department superintendent, said although the county has not yet called for bids, the current price for fencing material is about $5 per linear foot. That would work out to more than $26,000 for a single mile of fence. Commissioner Lewis Derrick, a rancher from Artesia, said based on his experience in the ranching business, $125,000 would not cover the cost of fencing materials, cattle guards and labor. "Not only won't it be enough, it won't work," Derrick said. "Cattle will always find a way to get around or through the fence."....
Interview with actor Robert Fuller Some excerpts from a recent interview I did with Robert Fuller, star of “Wagon Train,” and “Emergency.” The only color season of “Wagon Train,” one of the great TV westerns, has just been released on DVD, along with a selection of 16 of the best black and white episodes. “When I was doing ‘Laramie,’ all our dressing rooms at Universal were called Whiskey Row, across the street from two bungalows that belonged to Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson. We had dressing rooms that had a bedroom and a kitchen, but nothing like the bungalows across the street for Tony and Rock. There were five or six in a row. The first one was Ward Bond’s, the next was Frank McGrath’s, the next was Terry Wilson’s, the next was John Smith’s, and the last was Lee Marvin’s. “That’s why they called it Whiskey Row. “Right now I live in Gainesville Texas, 65 miles north of Dallas. Got a ranch just south of the Red River. Horse country. I’ve got quarter horses and miniature donkeys and 28 acres of coastal Bermuda hay which I inherited when I bought the place four and a half years ago. I sell it to the ranchers for their horses. “I don’t do any work. I don’t have an agent and I don’t want to. To tell you the truth, I left Hollywood because I got tired of living in the same town with Rosie O’ Donnell and Sean Penn.”

Obama - Ag Position

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The Fresno Bee is reporting that Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Ca) is pushing Bill Lyons for a position at the Ag Dept:

"It's critically important that we have someone from California high up at the Department of Agriculture," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced. Cardoza is suggesting the name of Bill Lyons Jr., a Modesto-area rancher who headed California's Department of Food and Agriculture. Cardoza further acknowledged he is "concerned" that an Obama administration might clash with Valley farmers and ranchers on endangered species and other environmental protection issues.

I worked with Lyons when he was Sec. of Ag in California, and we would be lucky to get him in this administration. However, Cardoza worked with Pombo on endangered species legislation, and his recommendation may be the kiss of death.

Obama Transition - Interior

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The Washington Post is reporting that David Hayes, a deputy secretary at the Interior Department under President Bill Clinton, has been tapped to oversee Obama's transition at the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department.

The WP report is based on a source "close to the transition." There is no confirmation on the transition website. In fact, there are no press releases at all posted there.

This WP report adds:

Other former Clinton officials said to be helping Obama's transition at environmental and energy agencies include: John Leshy, former solicitor at Interior; Donald J. Barry, former assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks at Interior; David B. Sandalow, former assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science; and Frank E. Loy, former under secretary of state for global affairs.


Most westerners will remember John Leshy. This us from his Hastings College of Law website:

John Leshy was born and raised in a village in southern Ohio. He received an A.B. cum laude from Harvard College in 1966 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School three years later. Upon graduation he litigated civil rights cases for the U.S. Department of Justice out of Washington, D.C. for three years, then moved to the Bay Area and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council (a national nonprofit environmental group) for five years. In 1977 Professor Leshy returned to Washington to join the Carter Administration as Associate Solicitor for Energy & Resources. In 1980 he became Professor of Law at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. After twelve years in the classroom, Leshy took leave to serve as Special Counsel to Chairman George Miller of the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C., and then became leader of the Clinton-Gore transition team for the Interior Department. In early 1993 President Clinton appointed him to be Solicitor (General Counsel) of Interior where, following Senate confirmation, he served under Secretary Bruce Babbitt until the end of the Administration, the second-longest tenure of any Solicitor in the Department's 159 year history.


On Donald Barry, this is from his 1998 statement to a senate committee:

To begin with, I offer you my experience. I believe that my years in Washington, D.C. have provided me with a clear understanding of the varying roles and responsibilities of the office of Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. I have either worked in, or worked with, this particular office for almost a quarter of a century. From 1975 to 1986, I provided legal advice to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks through various positions in the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior. Since my return to the Department as a political appointee in May of 1993, I have alternately served as the Counselor to the Assistant Secretary, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, and the Acting Assistant Secretary. Moreover, during the six years that I worked for the House of Representatives, I was responsible for the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee's Congressional oversight of the Assistant Secretary's office. It, thus, could be said that I have interacted with past Assistant Secretaries for Fish and Wildlife and Parks from a variety of angles. I, believe therefore, that I have the practical experience and insight that one would want in an Assistant Secretary. In addition to my familiarity with the office of Assistant Secretary, I have also worked for over 20 years with the two agencies that this office oversees: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. I served for 12 years as an attorney for the Fish and Wildlife Service, including 6 years as that agency's Chief Counsel. As a result of this prior professional relationship, I have long-standing personal ties with every Regional Director in the Service, and most of the agency's Field Supervisors as well. Moreover, I have worked closely with the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Jamie Clark, for many years, and believe that we have established a solid record of solving problems together.


For David Sandalow, here is some info from the Brookings Institution website:

Sandalow is currently executive vice president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where he helps manage field-based conservation, advocacy, and research programs around the world. Prior to joining WWF, Sandalow served as assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment, and science in the Clinton administration, where he helped shape and implement U.S. diplomacy on a wide range of environment, science, and technology topics, including global warming, biotechnology, and the environmental standards of export credit agencies. Before joining the State Department, Sandalow served jointly as senior director for environmental affairs at the National Security Council and associate director for the global environment at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In those roles, he helped advise the president and vice president on global environment issues. Sandalow has been a member of the Sustainable Development Roundtable at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France, a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Environmental Law, and co-chair of the ABA's Annual Conference on Environmental Law.


On Frank Loy, this is from a 2006 press release by the Nature Conservancy:

The Nature Conservancy today announced the addition of a new member, Frank E. Loy, to its board of directors. As the former under secretary of state for global affairs from 1998 to 2001, Loy coordinated U.S. foreign relations on issues such as the environment, the promotion of democracy, human rights, refugees and humanitarian affairs and counter-narcotics. In this position he served as the chief U.S. negotiator for climate change, as well as for treaties on trade in genetically-modified agricultural products...Loy joins the board with in-depth knowledge of the environmental community, having served as board chairman of Environmental Defense, the League of Conservation Voters, and Resources For the Future. He currently serves on the boards of Environmental Defense, the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Resources for the Future, ecoAmerica and Population Services International.


As we learn more about this wing of the transition team, we'll post it here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama Administration, New Congress Should Mean Aggressive Approach to Global Warming, Science Group Says The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is looking forward to quick and decisive action to combat climate change by the new Obama administration and Congress after eight long years of obstruction by the outgoing administration. "The past eight years of denial and delay are over. Voters largely embraced candidates who support clean energy, green jobs, and a safer climate for our children and grandchildren." Next year the new administration and Congress can do much to jumpstart a "Green Deal" that would help pull the country out of our economic downturn by investing in clean energy and modernizing the national electricity grid, Knobloch said. "A critical step for Congress is to pass a strong federal climate bill with a declining cap on global warming emissions," Knobloch said. "Such a cap-and-trade system would generate needed revenues to finance new energy sources and help Americans manage and reduce their energy costs." President-elect Obama also has pledged to ensure that 10 percent of the nation's electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025. Such a national renewable electricity standard would cut global warming emissions, create jobs, save ratepayers money, and encourage private investment in clean technology....
Obama will protect public lands, pursue green energy Western Democrats and environmentalists will have more influence on federal land decisions in Idaho and the West under President Barack Obama. Decision-makers will defer more to scientists on resource issues and spending priorities will shift toward protecting land, fish and wildlife, Democrats said Tuesday night. But there is a tension between environmentalists who want him to reverse decisions made by the Bush administration and Western Democrats who hope Obama's pledge to govern in a "post-partisan" manner means he will bring a collaborative approach to public land issues. "He's not going to make some of the mistakes of the past," said Cecil Andrus, former Idaho governor and Jimmy Carter's interior secretary. "He knows his history." Issues like climate change and alternative energy - along with the economy - are going to get more attention in the new administration than public lands grazing, logging and motorized recreation. And the skyrocketing federal deficit could force a reorganization of land, water and wildlife agencies now spread out under three different Cabinet departments....
5 ideas for Barack Obama on the environment 1. Establish a strong cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, auctioning, rather than giving away, emissions allowances to provide resources that can be put to work increasing energy efficiency, promoting renewable and clean energy technologies, and creating the green jobs of the future. 2. While Congress develops this legislation, use existing regulatory authority to begin regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and pushing U.S. automakers to develop a super-efficiency fleet of new cars by approving a waiver, denied by the Bush Administration, that will allow 11 states, including Massachusetts, to adopt stricter emissions standards. 3. Rejoin global climate change treaty talks and offer an affirmative American leadership proposal that will move developed and developing countries alike toward clean energy technologies and steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions....
Sen. Salazar says BLM may see significant changes under Obama Coloradans may expect to see significant changes in how the Bureau of Land Management oversees drilling on federal lands in a future Barack Obama presidential administration, Sen. Ken Salazar said Wednesday. The senator, in comments to reporters Wednesday, also seemed to dismiss speculation that he might accept a position as head of the U.S. Department of the Interior, calling the possibility “highly doubtful.” Less than a day after Americans handed President-elect Obama a landslide 349-162 electoral vote victory, Salazar said the incoming Obama administration would seek a balanced approach for a “comprehensive energy program.” That program would seek to protect the resources that are needed for the “long-term sustainability” of communities impacted by energy development. “I think what you are going to see is a greater sensitivity from an Obama administration with respect to the protection of land and water, and I think a deference to what it is that state governors, state officials and local elected leaders want in respect to their lands,” Salazar said. “I have often said that Bush-Cheney ethic of development of our natural resources is ‘go everywhere and anywhere’ without any significant limitations. I don’t think that will be the case with an Obama administration.”....
Privatizing the Public Estate There is nothing as priceless in a physical sense that Americans can bequeath their descendents than the public domain – national parks, national forests, bureau of land management (BLM) lands and wildlife refuges that, collectively, make up a third of the nation. These, at least for now, belong equally to all 300 million U.S. citizens, billionaire and pauper alike. But a “private sector” that has bought everything from networks to congressmen has our lands in its crosshairs, and in recent decades right wing economists and legal advisors have devised strategies aimed at their privatization, a goal furthered by repeated reductions of the budgets of land management agencies, allegedly in the interest of “streamlining” government. What puts this issue on front burner now is a skyrocketing national debt of well beyond ten trillion dollars, nearly the size of the entire U.S economy and requiring the National Debt Clock to drop its $ sign in order to make room for the additional digit. Efforts by private interests to gain control of public lands have evolved from the “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1970s, through the “Wise Use Movement”, and into so-called “free-market environmentalism” consisting of a politically powerful and massively funded network of industrial interests and conservative foundations and think tanks pushing privatization via such means as “competitive outsourcing” and “public-private partnerships”....
Ag Undersecretary: Missoula Appeal “Superfluous and Uninformed.” U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey says Missoula County's recent appeal over federal handling of a Freedom of Information Act request is "superfluous and uninformed." In a telephone interview with The Associated Press this week, Rey talked about the county's demand for information related to road easements involving the Forest Service, which he oversees, and Plum Creek Timber Co. The county will get all the information it is due under the FOIA request, Rey said, but that may not be all the information sought. The request filed in June arose as Missoula County officials looked into private negotiations between the Forest Service and Plum Creek, negotiations about possible changes in the easements that are a framework for company use of Forest Service roads. In the appeal filed last week, the county said the Forest Service provided too little information in response to the FOIA request. As more information is gathered, it will be sent if deemed appropriate for release, Rey said. The appeal is superfluous because one filed earlier by the county has not been decided, and uninformed because an index requested in the county's latest appeal is something not normally provided outside of a court case, he said. Deputy Missoula County Attorney D. James McCubbin on Wednesday defended the request for the index and said the appeal he sent last Friday was submitted one business day before an appeal deadline specified by the Forest Service. McCubbin said the agency told him not meeting that deadline would result in the county forgoing its right to appeal....
BLM to Carson: Hold your horses A federal agency says pastures it operates in Oklahoma and Kansas no longer have room for wild horses caught in New Mexico's Carson National Forest. In the past horses caught in the forest that couldn't be adopted out were sent to Bureau of Land Management holding facilities. But Carson National Forest wild horse coordinator Anthony Madrid has received an e-mail from U.S. Forest Service headquarters saying he can no longer ship unadopted horses to BLM facilities. The e-mail gives no reason but Madrid speculates the policy change comes because the BLM facilities are nearly full and expect more wild horses from BLM-managed lands.
Ag groups worry California cage ban will spread Farm groups on Wednesday criticized a new California law that bans keeping chickens, calves, and pigs in cages, arguing it will increase production costs, while animal welfare proponents said they hope to get similar laws adopted in other states. "California often is a bellwether, so it's likely this ban will be pushed in other states," Bryan Black, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a statement. "We certainly don't expect the Humane Society to stop with California." Black called it "regrettable" that farmers and ranchers "who treat their animals humanely and provide them a safe, healthy environment" were vilified by animal-rights groups. "We certainly hope we don't see more of these measures on the ballot in other states, but the animal activists have a lot more money than the American veal farmer," said Chip Lines, president of the American Veal Association....
Jogger runs mile with rabid fox locked on her arm With a fox locked onto her arm, an Arizona jogger ran a mile to her car, where she was able to dislodge the animal, throw it into the trunk and drive to a Prescott hospital. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said the fox, which later attacked an animal control officer, tested positive for rabies. The unidentified Chino Valley resident told deputies she was on a trail Monday at the base of Granite Mountain when the fox attacked, biting her foot. The woman said she grabbed it by the neck when it went for her leg and it latched onto her arm. Thinking the fox was rabid, she wanted to make sure it didn't get away so she ran to her car, where she was able to pry open its jaws, wrap it in a sweat shirt and toss it into the trunk. The woman is receiving rabies vaccinations, as is the animal control officer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Transition Team

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For the past several months, a board of advisors has been informally planning for a possible presidential transition. Among the many projects undertaken by the transition board have been detailed analyses of previous transition efforts, policy statements made during the campaign, and the workings of federal government agencies, and priority positions that must be filled by the incoming administration. With Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s election, this planning process will be now be formally organized as the Obama-Biden Transition Project, a 501(c)(4) organization to ensure a smooth transition from one administration to the next. The work of this entity will be overseen by three co-chairs: John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse. The co-chairs will be assisted by an advisory board comprised of individuals with significant private and public sector experience: Carol Browner, William Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Governor Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein, and Ted Kaufman. Gitenstein and Kaufman will serve as co-chairs of Vice President-elect Biden’s transition team. Supervising the day-to-day activities of the transition will be:

Chris Lu – Executive Director
Dan Pfeiffer – Communications Director
Stephanie Cutter – Chief Spokesperson
Cassandra Butts – General Counsel
Jim Messina – Personnel Director
Patrick Gaspard – Associate Personnel Director
Christine Varney - Personnel Counsel
Melody Barnes – Co-Director of Agency Review
Lisa Brown – Co-Director of Agency Review
Phil Schiliro – Director of Congressional Relations
Michael Strautmanis – Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Katy Kale – Director of Operations
Brad Kiley – Director of Operations

The phone number for the transition headquarters is 202-540-3000. The official website for the transition is www.change.gov and it will be live later today.

COMMENT

Of interest to readers is Carol Browner, who was the administrator of EPA during the Clinton Administration. Prior to that she was an aide to Senator Al Gore and ran the Flordia Department of Environmental Protection. She is currently chair of the Audobon Society and also chairs it's executive committee. The Audobon Society issued the post-election statement I linked to here.

This is from Wikipedia:

During the Clinton Administration

When Republicans took control of Congress after the 1994 elections, she took the lead in the Clinton Administration in successfully fighting efforts by the Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, to weaken the Clean Water Act. She was able to work in a bipartisan manner, though, with Congressional Republicans in helping craft amendments to strengthen the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act.

Browner came from Florida with a reputation as someone who could work with the private sector. While at EPA, she expanded the Agency's flexible public-private partnerships as alternatives to traditional regulation through Project XL (designed to find common sense, cost effective solutions to environmental issues at individual facilities) and the Common Sense Initiative (targeted at efforts involving entire industry sectors).

In 1995, Browner generated controversy, after she and the EPA were charged by the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs with violating the federal Anti-Lobbying Act (18 U.S. Code § 1913) by faxing unsolicited material opposing the Republican-sponsored regulatory reform package to various corporations and public-interest groups.[2]

As EPA Administrator, Browner also started the Agency's successful brownfields program, which, during her tenure, helped facilitate cleanups of contaminated facilities, especially in urban areas, and which leveraged more than $1 billion in public and private funds for cleanups.

Since 2001

After the Clinton Administration, Browner joined the Albright Group, a "global strategy group" headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. As a Principal in that firm, Browner assists businesses and other organizations with the challenges of operating internationally, including the challenges of complying with environmental regulations.


COMMENT

Another Gore connection is Donald Gips, who served as Domestic Policy Advisor to VP Gore and who raised over $500,000 for the Obama campaign. He is currently vice president of corporate strategy and development for Colorado-based Level 3 Communications, the sixth largest defense contractor in the country.

Watch for Gore to be some kind of special envoy on climate change from the White House or State Dept.

See anyone representing agriculture?
Election Results Bring Conservation Opportunity and Need for Action "Voters in this historic election cast their ballots not only for change, but for a new era of hope for our environment, and the people, birds, and other wildlife that depend on it. Washington has been ignoring critical environmental issues for too long. President-elect Barack Obama and a more environmentally aware Congress offer the promise of leadership and fundamental change that could usher in new protections for America's great natural heritage, and a new lease on life for species in decline. "Despite real reason for optimism, we cannot take conservation gains for granted. Audubon is committed to helping the new Administration and Congress to live up to their great promise; and to make conservation, clean energy and green jobs part of America's path to a brighter tomorrow. "Through our local Chapters, state offices and national grass roots efforts, Audubon will join with others in the environmental community to ensure that our newly elected leaders lead the way on issues vital to our environment, our economy and diversity of life on Earth." Issues demanding prompt attention include....
Lawyer wants Supreme Court to hear eagle case A Northern Arapaho man who killed an eagle for use in his tribe's Sun Dance is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court order that he must stand trial on a criminal charge. Winslow Friday asked the Supreme Court to review his case last month. He wants the court to overturn a ruling that a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued in May stating that he must stand trial. Friday's request is the latest turn in a long-running legal dispute over the rights of American Indians to kill eagles for religious purposes. The latest challenge, however, centers on whether it's appropriate for federal appeals courts to second-guess federal district judges on the factual issues of a case. The appeals court ruling in may overruled a decision that U.S. District Judge William Downes of Wyoming wrote in 2006 that dismissed the criminal charge against Friday. In throwing out the charge against Friday, Downes ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had shown "callous indifference" to the religious beliefs of American Indians. Downes ruled that the federal agency wouldn't have given Friday a permit to kill the eagle even if he had applied for one....
Report: Drilling on federal lands could be faster The government isn't doing enough to expedite drilling in federal waters and on public lands, according to a report issued Tuesday by congressional investigators. In a review of the 55,000 federal oil and gas leases issued to energy companies by the Interior Department from 1987 to 1996, the General Accountability Office found that the vast majority expired without being drilled, and an even smaller amount actually produced oil and natural gas. "We do not agree that Interior is pursuing expedited development of oil and gas leases," the report reads. Energy companies currently hold leases but are not producing on about 68 million acres of federal land -- property that has the potential to double domestic oil production. About a third of the oil produced in the U.S. in 2007 came from public lands. House Democrats and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama have said companies should "use it or lose it" -- meaning they must drill on lands they currently rent or release them before being awarded new leases....
Wolves kill ewe at Reed Point ranch Wolves returned to a sheep ranch north of Reed Point Sunday and killed one ewe. Wolves have killed livestock on the ranch in five previous incidents, the most recent in early October. Federal Wildlife Services officials confirmed that wolves were responsible for the depredation. As a result, a permit allowing the rancher to kill one wolf was extended for 45 days, starting Sunday. A total of 16 sheep and one goat on the same ranch have been confirmed killed despite the efforts of herders and guard dogs.
Burgeoning workloads ahead for Interior agencies The Minerals Management Service might need as much as $140 million in new appropriations to regulate new offshore drilling projects, according to agency officials. MMS is one of two federal agencies that oversee energy projects on federal lands, and both will see their workloads increase markedly in the next few years. At MMS, it’s because of the lapsed ban on offshore oil drilling, which opens millions of acres of coastal lands to exploration. The Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, will have two new responsibilities: issuing oil shale exploration leases, and managing new geothermal projects on millions of acres of federal land. The new work means both Interior Department agencies could need big budget bumps in years to come. At BLM, the most immediate priority is the geothermal project. The Interior Department last month opened 190 million acres of federal land to geothermal development; companies are already looking to develop some of that land, according to Mike Nudd, BLM’s associate director for minerals, realty and resource protection. Companies are particularly interested in developing land in Western states, like California, Nevada and Wyoming, Nudd said. BLM will probably look to expand its staff in that region, he said....
Avalanche blasting in park still prohibited The National Park Service has issued a final decision denying BNSF Railway permission to use explosives for avalanche control on Glacier National Park's southern boundary except under extreme, emergency circumstances. The decision signed by Mike Snyder, the service's Intermountain regional director, does, however, allow the railroad to monitor the potential for avalanches on the steep slopes above railroad tracks in the Middle Fork Flathead River corridor. The railroad had requested permission to use light artillery to reduce the threat of avalanches to railroad traffic. "The area of the park that was the subject of this [environmental impact statement] has federally listed threatened and endangered species present, is within the park's recommended wilderness, provides winter recreation for park visitors and is important winter range for deer, elk and other ungulate species," Cartwright added....Endangered Species: 1, Human Safety: 0
Ca. animal welfare measure passes Proposition 2, which outlaws cramped cages for egg-laying chickens, has passed. The Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act drew some high-profile backers, including Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi. Opponents argue the measure will drive egg producers out of state. The proposition was the farthest-reaching measure dealing with farm animal treatment ever put before voters in any state. It prohibits ranchers from keeping chickens, veal calves and breeding pigs in pens that are too small for them to stand up, turn around or stretch....
USDA adds to list of preferred environmentally friendly products The Agriculture Department is proposing to add nine categories of products made from biological or agricultural ingredients to its list of preferred procurements. Procurement staffs and federal contractors must give preferences to these environmentally friendly products when they order new supplies so long as they are available in a reasonable amount of time, meet performance needs and come at a reasonable price. The nine new product categories are chain and cable lubricants, corrosion preventatives, food cleaners, forming lubricants, gear lubricants, general purpose household cleaners, industrial cleaners, multipurpose cleaners, and parts wash solutions. The nine products would be added to the 33 product categories that have been identified to date under Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program. The categories include everything from hydraulic fluids and roof coatings to hand cleaners and towels....
COOL marks first full month After the first full month of country of origin labeling implementation, producers, packers and retailers have begun sorting out in practical terms how to transfer live cattle origin information up the chain to consumers at the retail meat case. What the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers the “educational compliance” phase is expected to take at least another six months. “The best estimate that we are seeing now is that approximately 30 percent of the beef sold in the U.S. will have to be labeled with country of origin information,” says Ryan Reuter, a beef specialist for the Noble Foundation at Ardmore, Okla. Processed items, food service, restaurants and smaller meat markets doing less than $230,000 in business annually, are all exempt from the law. Most beef is already of U.S. origin. The nation’s largest packer Tyson Foods estimates that 90 percent of all the fresh, retail beef and pork cuts produced in the United States will qualify for a U.S. label. All the major meatpackers have said they intend to label everything they can as a U.S. product by spring. During a temporary grace period, USDA is allowing auction markets and packers to use visual identification to determine origin. But government officials have continued to insist that visual means of identification of imported animals alone will not be sufficient to make a U.S. origin claim in the future....
BSE Testing Hot Topic on “Boston Legal” With the hubbub of the election, you might have missed ABC’s “Boston Legal” tackling the beef industry. Last night’s episode centered on cattle rancher Carol Hober (Valerie Bertinelli) suing the USDA for not allowing her to test every animal on her ranch for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). During testimony, Bertinelli’s character accused the USDA of catering to corporate meat packers who are against the cost of mandatory testing, while 65 countries impose trade restrictions on U.S. beef. “That’s the policy at my ranch. We want to test every cow so we can be safe. How dare the federal government say I can’t do so,” Hober said on the stand. Proponents for USDA on the show revealed BSE testing can only detect the disease shortly before the animal exhibits symptoms—which for most U.S. cattle is after the typical age of slaughter. “First of all, testing can’t detect mad cow disease until shortly before the cow develops symptoms. Cattle are typically slaughtered at 24 months of age—that is long before the disease is detectable. Look, all this testing, testing, testing talk, the reality is, testing can’t make a difference,” said the proponent for USDA. During Shore’s cross examination, the USDA representative said that allowing some ranchers like Hober advertise the fact they test all of their animals would make the rest of the beef industry look unsafe....
Oregon - US Senate: Merkley-Smith race tightens as count continues
Alaska - Stevens leads Begich by thin margin in Senate race

Alaska - Young headed to victory

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

North Dakota - Hoeven returns as Governor
South Dakota - Johnson returned to Senate
Idaho - Risch defeats LaRocco to succeed Craig in U.S. Senate
Heinrich wins 1st Congressional District seat (NM)

Teague ends 28-year GOP hold in 2nd (NM)
Huntsman reelected Governor in Utah
Wyoming's Enzi, Barrasso elected to Senate
Gov. Schweitzer wins re-election in Montana

Voters send Baucus back to Senate
Democrat wins in Colorado U.S. Senate race
NM Dem. Udall carries on green family legacy
Obama beats McCain in New Mexico presidential vote

McCain wins Wyoming

Udall defeats Pearce in US Senate race
MIT scientists baffled by global warming theory, contradicts scientific data Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature - and not the direct result of man's contributions. The two lead authors of a paper published in this week's Geophysical Review Letters, Matthew Rigby and Ronald Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, state that as a result of the increase, several million tons of new methane is present in the atmosphere....
Profits to the Planet The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that it is launching a new conservation fund called the Earth Profits Fund. The fund will ask the world’s 500 wealthiest corporations to dedicate one percent of their profits to protect threatened forests, fisheries and other at-risk ecosystems around the world. IUCN, a Swiss-based nonprofit, is an environmental network comprised of more than 1,000 governmental and nonprofit organizations (also known as the World Conservation Union). The group is best known for producing and maintaining a Red List, the most comprehensive tally of the globe’s endangered species. The new Earth Profits Fund will act as alternative funding source for conservation programs in light of the fact that traditional sources are disappearing in light of the worldwide economic meltdown. If the group can get the buy-in from the world’s richest companies, it could raise some $10 billion a year to put toward conservation causes....
Mammoth step in bringing back extinct species Resurrection of frozen extinct animals, such as woolly mammoths, could be a step closer to reality, with scientists cloning mice from the brain cells of dead mice which had been in a deep freeze for more than a decade. The cloned mice were able to reproduce normally and have healthy babies. It had been thought this approach would not work with frozen animals, because ice crystals in their cells would have damaged their DNA. But a Japanese team of researchers, led by Teruhiko Wakayama of the RIKEN research institute in Kobe, developed techniques to get around this problem, producing clones from mice which had been kept at -20 degrees for 16 years. No special chemicals had been added to the mice to cryopreserve them, a situation which would also apply to animals frozen in the wild, such as mammoths trapped in the permafrost. Dr Wakayama said this meant his team's success "offers a distinct chance to resurrect extinct animals or preserve endangered species"....
Yellowstone wolves crash, Idaho's thrive Since the beginning of wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies, Idaho and its more than 20 million acres of wild lands have taken a back seat in the debate to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone simply had more star power for wolf advocates seeking a remarkably ambitious program to restore wolves into a region where the animals were hated, poisoned and eliminated. The 2.2 million-acre national park at the core of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, along with nearby Grand Teton, also offered wolf advocates a level of government control like few places on Earth. When wolves were finally released in 1995, all the national hoopla went to Yellowstone. The releases in Idaho were almost a footnote. The Idaho wolves quickly found each other, along with the few native wolves that hadn't been illegally shot or poisoned. They formed their own packs and flourished in the wild backcountry of the Salmon-Selway ecosystem, which has ample supply of elk. With managers balancing protection with the needs of livestock owners, the Idaho wolves also found homes on the edges of the ideal habitat. Wolf numbers grew in Idaho at rates far higher than either Yellowstone or Northwest Montana, where they had been repopulating since the 1970s. When they were delisted back in March, there were as many wolves in Idaho - more than 700 - as there were everywhere else in the northern Rockies. Even in the face of relatively high mortality due to official killings to protect livestock, Idaho became the place where wolves grew old....
Offsetting Bush's Green Legacy: Advice for No. 44 There is no shortage of people eager to see President George W. Bush hit the road — his approval rating hovers at 25% — but few will celebrate the end of the Bush era more than environmentalists. From the green perspective, the Bush Administration has been an unmitigated disaster, with sins of omission (the failure to do anything significant on climate change) and commission (stealthy attempts to weaken environmental protections such as the Endangered Species Act). For Bush's successor, that legacy means having to play catch-up starting Jan. 20 on a dusty list of green issues; to name a few: national action on capping carbon, reengaging with the United Nations climate change treaty process, America's addiction to foreign oil, water shortages in the Southwest and accelerated species loss. But the most important task on that to-do list is simple: Don't be George W. Bush. At a time when climate change forced the rest of the world to pay more attention to the environment than ever before, Bush went AWOL. "I think the most important opportunity for the new leader is simply to be a leader," says Mark Tercek, the president of the Nature Conservancy, one of the most influential environmental organizations in the world. The new President will be faced immediately with the U.N.'s annual climate change summit, which occurs this December in Poland before he takes office....
Feds propose much fewer snowmobiles in Yellowstone A cap on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks would be lowered by 40 percent under a federal proposal released Monday in response to a judge's rejection of earlier plans. Parks officials had proposed allowing up to 605 snowmobiles a day in the two parks, but U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected that plan in September, agreeing with plaintiff environmental groups that it would increase air pollution, disturb wildlife and cause too much noise. The new plan calls for a cap of 318 snowmachines a day in Yellowstone and another 50 in Grand Teton to the south. Park administrators said they expect it will be adopted by Dec. 15. Yellowstone winter use planner John Sacklin said the new cap would meet Sullivan's concerns while park administrators again try to form a long-term plan for the machines. The cap would expire after three years....
The Philanthropic Roots Of Corporate Environmentalism Perhaps the first environmental historian to critique the influence of ostensibly progressive philanthropic foundations (big money) on the environmental movement was Robert Gottlieb. (1) Writing in 1993, Gottlieb noted in his influential book Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement that foundations "[a]s much as anyone else ...had become part of the process of creating the environmental policy system of the 1970s," which in turn, created a "new breed of environmental organization, with expert staff, especially lawyers and scientists, and a more sophisticated lobbying or political presence in Washington." However, of the subsequent work critically examining how liberal foundations have affected the evolution of the environmental movement, (2) none provides more than a cursory investigation of the involvement of liberal foundations in shaping environmental developments throughout the 1960s, despite the fact that even prior to the 1960s such foundations had been active in funding all manner of conservation and preservation organizations. This article fills this gap in the environmental literature by focusing specifically on the role of the two foundations that gave the environmental movement the most monetary support during its early days, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.(3)....
CEO pleads guilty in shootings of neighbor's bison A modern-day range war ended Monday when a Texas businessman who owns a ranch in central Colorado pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and animal cruelty in the slaughter of 32 bison that belonged to a neighbor. Jeff Hawn, CEO of Seattle-based software company Attachmate, agreed to pay $83,000 to the bison's owner, $70,000 to charities and $4,000 to the Park County Sheriff's Department. Hawn could also face up to 10 days in jail when he's sentenced on Jan. 28. He faces two years of probation, and the case could be wiped from his record if he stays out of trouble during that time. Hawn's lawyer, Pamela Mackey, didn't immediately return a telephone message. Hawn lives in Austin, Texas, but has a luxury home on his Colorado property. Prosecutors say he gave 14 hunters permission to shoot and kill the bison on his land because they kept wandering there from owner Monte Downare's ranch....
Bison are Camp Pendleton's royal grunts They roam freely over the grassy hills, American royalty in a most unusual of settings. Nearby, young Marines are being tutored in the controlled application of violence, but the 147 bison of Camp Pendleton, shaggy, rust-colored and majestic, are protected by federal law. The Marine Corps makes no attempt to fence them. Instead, a staff of civilian biologists monitors the movements of the population, sometimes by helicopter. If the bison wander too close to the artillery or live-fire ranges, training is halted. Once the bison surrounded a vehicle containing the commandant, blocking his way. The four stars on his collar gave him absolute authority over 170,000 Marines but meant nothing to the bison. He waited until the beasts, in their haughty, self-assured manner, slowly decided to move. It all started in the mid-1970s, when the San Diego Zoo gave a dozen bison, which it did not have space for, to Camp Pendleton. Space was not a problem at the 125,000-acre base. The Camp Pendleton population, given its isolation, may prove a genetic boon to species preservation efforts....
Grizzly deaths reach legal 'trigger point' A female grizzly bear shot by a Pennsylvania elk hunter this week will push mortality levels for the bears past a management "trigger point" - only a year and a half after Yellowstone's grizzlies were removed from the endangered-species list.
Federal overseers of the bears are not panicking, however. "We've had high levels of mortality in the past. This isn't unprecedented. It does happen," said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "I don't think this is a crisis at all. Populations are still increasing." But environmental groups, who have sued to restore threatened status for Yellowstone grizzlies, are worried. Surprised by the female grizzly Wednesday, the hunter fired his .300 Winchester Short Magnum rifle, possibly shooting through the female and killing her cub. The man was hunting in the Cinnabar Basin, northwest of Gardiner, with an outfitter who had left him at the edge of a clearing. When the bear wandered close, the hunter stood and yelled. The bear rushed toward the man in defense of her cub of the year....
From Calif. to Denver: Ozone woes become regional Ozone pollution — once seen as mainly an urban problem — is spreading across the interior West from rural Wyoming to suburban Phoenix. Levels of the corrosive gas that can impair breathing have exceeded federal health standards in Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado. Four Arizona counties and two in Utah also are likely to exceed a new, tighter federal standard, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. "It's a new ballgame in the West," said Mary Uhl, New Mexico's air quality director. "We've got to do something, and we've got to do it now." In Wyoming, ozone levels in rural areas are "creeping up," said David Finley, state air quality division administrator. "We need to keep our eye on this." The emerging pollution problem is leading to tighter controls on oil and gas operations and raising questions about how much development the West can sustain....
The Horseracing Industry wins by a nose (for now) In the eternal battle of industry vs. regulators, the horseracing industry is employing a [1] wily plan that just might save it from the final nail in the coffin a.k.a. federal oversight.Ever since the unfortunate and [3] very public death of the filly Eight Belles’ during the 2008 Kentucky derby, the horseracing industry has essentially been in a race to save its own life. With the clamoring of bewildered television viewers, animal activists, and opportunistic politicians to “do something” about the state of horseracing . Already barely scraping by with meager revenues and an ever dwindling fan base, new regulations and standards would almost certainly prove too costly, too time-consuming, and result in too boring a sport for the dying industry to bear. So, in what could be described as a Hail Mary pass, the national thoroughbred racing association last month [4] appointed ex-cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson to oversee the implementation of an industry-wide certification system for racetracks. In order to receive the certification, the tracks will need to demonstrate their ability to handle issues such as doping and humane treatment of horses (including retired horses). For the sake of the horseracing industry, and for the sake of the horses within the industry, I hope this works. As of now it seems to be a tenuous victory. Animal activists are still pushing hard for the feds to get involved, and no politician wants to be the one to turn his or her back on camera-friendly ponies....
It's All Trew: Good use of newspaper Today's highly-touted "recycling" programs are not new to old timers. The terms of "save it, use it up and wear it out" were the everyday habits of the early day families in order to get by and survive. Nothing was wasted or just tossed out. There was always a use of some kind. Hundreds of stories, jokes and pranks recall the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues saved and hung in outhouses to save having to buy toilet paper. Not only was the habit a money saver it provided many hours of enjoyable reading for as long as you could hold your nose. No one threw newspapers of any type away. The principle use was to clean lamp chimneys. Something about the ink in the print made the glass globes shine and glisten around the flame. Since most lamps had to filled with kerosene each day, the newspaper was a staple around most rural homes and kept at ready for instant use. Ours was kept on a shelf in the pantry along with a stack of paper sacks, a ball of twine, a pile of white meat wrapping papers and some rubber bands. Dust from the Dust Bowl along with soot from wood and coal smoke settled on everything inside a home. Newspaper was used to cover shelves so that when they needed cleaning, the paper liner was changed. As most shelving at the time was usually crude and uneven, the newspaper hid the ugly surface neatly as well as providing a clean surface....

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama Cabinet Picks

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At Politico.com Mike Allen has gathered intel on potential Obama appointments. The article gives Dem insiders info on both White House and Cabinet picks. Of interest to readers here are the following:

Secretary of Interior - Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Secretary of Agriculture - Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

Secretary of Energy - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)

Environmental Protection Agency administrator - Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.); Kathleen McGinty, former head of the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Agency

Allen says McCain's people were too busy campaigning to talk.
EU facing revolt over climate change target enforcement The European Union is facing a revolt from poorer members over tough climate change targets at a time when the global economy is heading for recession. Italy has teamed up with seven east and central European countries - Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia - to threaten a veto over Brussels legislation that implements an EU target to cut Europe's CO2 emissions 20 per cent by 2020. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, attacked the target as an unnecessary burden on European businesses at a time when recession was intensifying international economic competition. "I have announced my intention to exercise my veto," he said. As well as agreeing to cut CO2 emissions, the EU is trying to enforce a target requiring European countries to produce 20 per cent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Poland fears that its reliance on coal-fired power stations will see it unfairly squeezed and pushed to invest in expensive wind turbines, unlike France which is dependent on nuclear energy. The row has opened a deep rift over the costs of meeting environmental targets between rich Northern and Western member states and their poorer neighbours....
Obama Called Out for Comments About Bankrupting Coal Fired Power Plants With only hours before election day, coal has become a major topic of Decision 2008. Sunday, comments resurfaced from a taped interview Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama did with the San Francisco Chronicle in January. In the interview, which has been available online for months, Obama talks about the importance of coal. He went on to talk about his cap and trade proposal to help curb global warming. "If somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," Barack Obama said to the San Francisco Chronicle in January. The campaign for Republican presidential candidate John McCain jumped on those comments today and is already sending out taped phone messages to voters in Ohio. Campaigning in Marietta today, McCain's running mate Sarah Palin mentioned the Obama comments. "He said that, sure, if the industry wants to build coal-fired power plants, then they can go ahead and try, he says, but they can do it only in a way that will bankrupt the coal industry, and he's comfortable letting that happen. And you got to listen to the tape," Sarah Palin said....
Coal official calls Obama comments 'unbelievable' At least one state coal industry leader said he was shocked by comments Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made earlier this year concerning his plan to aggressively charge polluters for carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, the coal industry provides about 40,000 direct jobs in the state, including those for miners, mine contractors, coal preparation plant employees and mine supply company workers. The senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association called Obama's comments "unbelievable." "His comments are unfortunate," Chris Hamilton said Sunday, "and really reflect a very uninformed voice and perspective to coal specifically and energy generally." Hamilton noted other times Obama and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden have made seemingly anti-coal statements....
Missoula County appeals to get forest papers The U.S. Forest Service has withheld information sought by Missoula County officials as they looked into road easement negotiations conducted privately between the federal agency and Plum Creek Timber Co., the county said in documents Friday. Deputy County Attorney D. James McCubbin sent the Forest Service an appeal of its response to an information request the county filed June 25 under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Missoula County has criticized Rey over negotiations in which the government and Plum Creek, the country's largest private landowner, agreed on changes to an agreement about company use of Forest Service roads. Some county commissioners in the state have said the changes would make it easier for Plum Creek to sell timberland for housing or other development, perhaps leaving counties with the high cost of providing public services in remote places. Commissioners say the easements traditionally allowed company use of Forest Service roads only for management of Plum Creek forests. Rey maintains the terms have allowed broader uses. After conducting an investigation requested by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the Government Accountability Office said in October that the agreement between Rey and Plum Creek could set a precedent allowing other private landowners to use forest roads for development of subdivisions. The amendment would substantially increase of the value of many Plum Creek lands in Western Montana, according to the GAO, which also found the private talks blocked public involvement....
Rift widens among area tribes, private landowners Private landowners and businesses here have a double threat from state and federal traditional cultural property regulations. They are trying to stop the temporary designation of Mount Taylor as a traditional cultural property from becoming permanent, which they say has already violated their rights and stopped them from using their land for any commercial purposes. If made permanent, they say the Grants area economy will be destroyed. Not only is the state Cultural Property Review Committee considering making a state-level traditional cultural property permanent, but the Forest Service has also temporarily designated Mount Taylor to be a traditional cultural property under the Historic Preservation Act and could move to make it permanent. The land within the federal traditional cultural property is some 1,100 square miles and includes more than 200,000 acres of private land. Even though the listing is temporary, anyone using land within or nearby the boundaries of the area is required to follow regulations as if the listing were permanent. This means that if landowners wish to do anything with their land requiring a federal or state permit, they must consult with five area tribes, including the Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Acoma, before being allowed to use their land as they wish. “They did this without public knowledge,” says Joy Burns, who owns land within the traditional cultural property boundaries....
Land auction suspended as tribes claim first rights The U.S. Forest Service has suspended the auction of its former ranger station in Twisp, Okanogan County, after the Colville Confederated Tribes complained that it should have had the right to acquire the property first. Caught in the middle of the dispute in federal court is the Methow Valley town, which has made acquisition of the property, including 17 buildings on 6.7 acres, the focus of its redevelopment plans. Twisp's Public Development Authority made the only bid on the site — $1 million — before the Forest Service halted the online auction. The town's residents have made "a huge local investment in developing a vision for that property," said Kate Jones, executive director of the Methow Arts Alliance and a member of the Public Development Authority. Jones said the authority has spent $30,000 on a feasibility study for the project, which envisions a town center that combines ecological awareness and the arts through education. Project advocates hoped to incorporate a new library, a farmers cooperative and an American Indian cultural center. Now the project has been thrown in doubt, and some residents are concerned the Colville Tribe is interested in Twisp as a potential casino site. Tribal Business Council Vice Chairman Michael Finley said Tuesday the tribe wants the property for cultural reasons....
Omnibus land act includes wilderness designations Republican Mike Beagle of Eagle Point and Independent Dave Willis of Lincoln are excited about the coming vote. But they are looking beyond Tuesday's general election, albeit an event in which both voted and will follow closely. They are anticipating a potential Senate lame-duck session beginning Nov. 17 in which the Senate is expected to vote on the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, which contains two proposed wilderness areas in southwest Oregon among its more than 150 public lands, water and resources bills. If the bill passes in the Senate, the House may also act on it before the year is out. Beagle, field coordinator for Trout Unlimited in Oregon and Washington, supports creation of the roughly 13,700-acre Copper Salmon Wilderness in the Elk River drainage near Port Orford. Willis chairs the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, which is pushing for creation of the roughly 23,000-acre Soda Mountain Wilderness in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in the mountains east of Ashland. Willis spearheaded the creation of the monument in 2000. Bills calling for the creation of both wilderness areas are contained in the omnibus package. In the case of the monument, the bill also would retire grazing leases in and around the monument through a buyout of willing ranchers. The buyout would be paid for through private sources....