Saturday, March 14, 2009

Labor Secretary Proposes Suspending Farm Rules

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced Friday that she would suspend regulations that the Bush administration introduced in December to make it easier and cheaper for agricultural employers to use foreign workers in temporary jobs. Just hours after being officially sworn on Friday morning, Ms. Solis said she would suspend the regulations for nine months. The move could create turmoil for growers who had already applied to bring in temporary farm workers under the new rules. Last year, tens of thousands of foreign workers were brought in under the temporary agricultural program, known as H-2A, harvesting lettuce, sweet potatoes, tobacco, cucumbers, sugar cane and other crops. The new rules cut the wages that many of these workers will receive and reduced the amount that growers had to reimburse these workers for their travel. They also eased administrative burdens by letting employers simply attest that they had met various program requirements. Ms. Solis, who criticized the rules when she was in Congress, said suspending them was “the prudent and responsible action” to take “because many stakeholders have raised concerns about the H-2A regulations.” Many farm worker and labor groups had attacked the Bush regulations, saying they would push down wages for H-2A workers and take away jobs from workers in the United States. Growers generally applauded the rules, saying they would reduce red tape in employing foreign seasonal workers who they said did arduous farm jobs that few Americans wanted to do. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the rules on Dec. 18, and they took effect on Jan. 17. Ms. Solis said the proposed suspension would be open for public comment for 10 days...NY Times

No matter your opinion on the rules, they are just another example of Bush incompetency. Eight years in office and they just couldn't get it done.

Farmers Lead a Bid to Create 2 Californias

After nearly 90 years on the farm, Virgil Rogers has suffered through all manner of agricultural agita, from colicky cows to oscillating milk prices to drought, both past and present. But Mr. Rogers’s newest source of consternation, he says, is some fellow Californians. “Those Hollywood types don’t have any idea what’s going on out here on the farms,” said Mr. Rogers, a retired dairyman from Visalia, the county seat in a Central Valley region where cows far outnumber people. So it is that in recent weeks Mr. Rogers, whose previous political involvement amounted to little more than writing a check to a favored candidate — has suddenly become a leader in a secessionist movement bent on cleaving California in two. But while the plan is not new — the idea of two Californias has been floated dozens of times — the motivations and geographical scissor-work are. Frustrated by what they call uninformed urban voters dictating faulty farm policy, Mr. Rogers and the other members of the movement have proposed splitting off 13 counties on the state’s coast, leaving the remaining 45, mostly inland, counties as the “real” California. The reason, they say, is that people in those coastal counties, which include San Francisco and Los Angeles, simply do not understand what life is like in areas where the sea breezes do not reach. “They think fish are more important than people, that pigs are treated mean and chickens should run loose,” said Mr. Rogers, who said he hitched a ride in 1940 to Visalia from Oklahoma to escape the Dust Bowl, with his wife and baby son in tow. “City people just don’t know what it takes to get food on their table.” The final straw for folks like Mr. Rogers was Proposition 2, a ballot measure in November that banned the tight confinement of egg-laying hens, veal calves and sows. While many food activists and politicians in the state hailed the vote as proof of consumers’ increasing interest in where their food comes from, the proposition’s passage has angry farmers and their allies wanting to put the issue of secession to a vote, perhaps as soon as 2012...NY Times

Colo reps: Army ignoring Congress on training site

U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey accused the Army on Friday of ignoring the wishes of Congress by pushing ahead with plans to expand a southeast Colorado training site. The Colorado Democrats asked a House oversight committee to investigate why the Army was still trying to buy or lease more land for the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site despite a moratorium imposed by Congress on spending for the project. Markey accused the Army of showing a "blatant disregard" for Congress and an "apparent willingness to violate the trust of the people of southern Colorado." Army Assistant Secretary Keith Eastin said earlier Friday that the military wants to sign long-term leases to expand the site, rather than buying more land. Leasing might keep the land on the tax rolls because the land would remain in private hands. "We are talking to a number of landowners about their concerns and how we might work together to meet those concerns," Eastin said during a visit to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, where he was inspecting construction projects. He said he thinks some ranchers are ready to make a deal. "If my read is correct, there is a general interest in lowering the volume and making this a win-win," he said. Eastin said the military would expect to lease the land for decades rather than months. "Not 99 years, but long term," he said. "Long enough to amortize our investment." Salazar said Army officials asked him to endorse a lease agreement for the land, but he declined. Rancher Lon Robertson, president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, said leasing is just as bad as buying....Denver Post

Parks to ban lead bullets, tackle

The National Park Service has set a goal of eliminating lead from fishing and hunting gear by 2010. Acting Park Service director Dan Wenk announced the goal Wednesday in Washington. Fragments of lead bullets are suspected to contaminate scavenger birds, like ravens and eagles, and lead used as fishing weights could poison waterfowl and other species. Lead is a toxin and studies — some from Jackson Hole — have associated bullet fragments with increased lead in the blood of predatory and scavenging birds. California and Arizona have recently implemented mandatory and voluntary bans, respectively, on lead ammunition to help California condor recovery, Wenk said. A firearms group was quick to condemn the action. “The National Park Service’s decision is arbitrary, over-reactive and not based on science,” Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in a statement. His group is a trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. “Studies show that traditional ammunition does not pose a health risk to humans, or wildlife populations as a whole,” he said. The Park Service is grappling with another firearms issue — whether to allow parks visitors to carry concealed weapons as allowed by permit elsewhere. While the Bush administration implemented new rules allowing concealed weapons, the Obama team is reviewing those in a growing skirmish pitting Second Amendment advocates against conservationists...Jackson Hole Daily Guide

Friday, March 13, 2009

Texas health agencies ban travel to Mexico

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has banned workers in five state agencies from traveling to Mexico to conduct research or work on binational health programs because of fears of kidnappings and other drug cartel-fueled violence. New Mexico health officials also have reduced travel to Mexico because of safety and budget concerns, a spokeswoman said. The Texas commission informed employees of the state’s health and human services system in late February after the U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert that advised federal employees not to travel to Mexico without a supervisor’s approval. The state agencies oversee a variety of binational health programs, including tuberculosis treatment, health education and disease data sharing. The travel restriction could be a hurdle, at least initially, for some health professionals. Much of the communication between the two countries is already done electronically, but testing and treatment of tuberculosis patients among other tasks could become more challenging...Houston Chronicle

Lawmakers offer bill to block state land sale to Army

State Reps. Sal Pace and Wes McKinley plan to offer a bill next week to prevent the State Land Board from selling any of its lands to the Army for expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad. The two Democrats are opposed to the proposed expansion and said the 238,000-acre training site has many parcels of state land around it, including land inside the 70,000-acre ranch owned by Denver businessman Craig Walker directly south of Pinon Canyon. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., confirmed this week that Army officials want to acquire or lease that property, although Walker has insisted he is not negotiating with the Army and does not want to sell. When Colorado was established as a state, the land was plotted into 36-square mile "townships." In each township, two sections of a square-mile each, were set aside as state land for supporting public schools. The State Land Board oversees those lands, among others. According to the most recent state maps, there are roughly 20,000 acres of State Board Land in the region south of Pinon Canyon that the Army has targeted for expansion. Pace, elected in November to Pueblo's House District 46, said that if the Army acquires the Walker property or other land around Pinon Canyon, the State Land Board would have to consider selling its holdings. That's what the state did in the 1980s when the Army created Pinon Canyon. "We want to make sure they don't sell that land to the Army for Pinon Canyon," Pace said Wednesday. He noted that a second part of the legislation would require the Colorado attorney general's office to contest any attempt by the Army to condemn those sections of state land...Pueblo Chieftain

And for those who may have missed it, here is a comment from "Anonymous" that was posted yesterday:

Sounds like the RangeMan been sippin’ a little too much of that there left over DEE-CAM koolaid!

Seriously, at the end of the day, in this new era of transparency perhaps the American taxpaying public will finally learn the truth as to who actually masterminded the proposal to expand this under-utilized training facility. In 1983, Army agreed they wouldn’t come back for more after the first eminent domain condemnation a “Treaty” of sorts and this rogue Warren has always known that was the agreement.

In 2003, less than 20 years later, he sets this expansion plan in motion behind closed doors and sells his conceptual plan through the bubba-network to the Army powers that be without involving or considering all of the affected adjacent landowners.

If the Army can justify its needs for more space to conduct multi-force “real world” training, I hear tell Navy has a 45 square mile piece of real estate off the coast of Florida with an ocean view they won’t be needing anymore. Comes complete with a Treaty in place, buildings, a “potable” water supply and a wider variety of terrain to simulate real world multi-force training applications! According to the new administration, it should be available within a year! Plenty of room for expansion there!

I invite "Anonymous" to email me with more info and details that I could publish. If he's not comfortable with that, post more in the comments section. We would love to hear from you. Educate me and the readers of this blog.

Has Obama Killed Carbon Cap and Trade?

President Obama has driven a stake in the heart of his carbon cap-and-trade program. By transforming it from a relatively cost-effective environmental program into a cash cow to finance his ambitious health and social welfare agenda, he has encumbered it with very expensive baggage. Blue Dog Democrats and conservation-minded Republicans will gag on its cost to an economy now racked by recession. In broadening the goal of cap-and-trade legislation from the paramount goal of reducing Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), primarily carbon, and mitigating climate change, to that of raising, conservatively, well over $600 billion in revenue for his social programs, the President has raised the ante on this ambitious proposal. He has guaranteed a contentious fight in Congress, strong Democratic majorities notwithstanding. A clear sign of what is to come was a February 3rd statement by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN): "I believe there is a growing bipartisan agreement that all of the revenues generated from a cap-and-trade tax should be returned to the American people." Evidently, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both of which supported the President's stimulus package, are drawing a line in the sand over the proposed cap-and-trade program...American Spectator

The author discusses several options which are available and then closes with the following:

The Obama administration has decided not to pursue this more cost-effective response to carbon reduction. It intends to sell carbon allowances and pocket the proceeds to carry out its ambitious social agenda. It views the proposed carbon cap-and-trade program as a means to generate more federal tax revenues rather than simply an environmental program to be implemented in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Fish Tales: How Sustainable is That Tuna in the Window?

Enviro sushi lovers in the U.S should be celebrating—a Japanese company is now selling farm-raised bluefin tuna offering all the “buttery texture” without savaging threatened wild tuna stocks. So why are so many environmentalists still so upset? Fifty years ago, fish farming wasn’t an issue for anybody. Today, fish farming accounts for about half of all the fish consumed in the world. That’s only going to grow, because global fish stocks, for Pacific tuna, Atlantic hake, or Patagonian toothfish, are in terrible shape. The UN estimates 70% of global fish stocks are at or beyond their limits already and urges even more fish farming as a way out of the mess. That drives a lot of environmental groups crazy. Greenpeace, for instance, rails against all sorts of nasty side effects from intensive fish farming, like nutrient run-off that fouls local water supplies. But the biggest problem, Greenpeace says, is bad math...WSJ

Bad math? Greenpeace says it takes more fish to feed the farmed fish than you get back in fish weight. I'd call this an "Ethanol of The Sea" situation.

Interior speeds efforts on renewable energy

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday said he has created a special task force to boost the development of solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy projects on federal lands. The task force will identify specific zones on public lands where the agency can speed up the permit process for renewable-energy projects. "More so than ever, with job losses continuing to mount, we need to steer the country onto a new energy path," Salazar said. "We will assign a high priority to identifying renewable-energy zones and completing the permitting and appropriate environmental review of transmission rights-of-way applications that are necessary to deliver renewable-energy generation to consumers. "We have to connect the sun of the deserts and the wind of the plains with the places where people live." Salazar said the department has a backlog of 20 wind- and 200 solar- project permits pending from the previous administration. "It's clear with no permits, there can be no job," he said...Denver Post

Salazar's energy policy is becoming clear: slow down oil & gas and speed up wind & solar.

Gallup Pole - Increased Number Think Global Warming Is “Exaggerated”

Although a majority of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject...Gallup

30% felt it was exaggerated in 2006, so that's quite an increase.


Hat Tip: Blogriculture

Bingaman spokesman: Land bill is "certainly alive"

An omnibus lands bill that included a controversial land exchange in CaƱoncito east of Santa Fe failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives by two votes Wednesday. The massive bill also included a measure approving a critical Navajo water rights settlement, a measure to establish the new, 17,000-acre Sabinoso wilderness in San Miguel County, and money for a water pipeline to serve eastern New Mexico communities. The House voted 282 to 141 in favor of the omnibus bill, but it failed because it didn't receive the required two-thirds majority to pass. The bill passed the Senate by a 73-21 vote in January. Jude McCartin, spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the bill's sponsor, said the House could revote on the measure, but could also send it back to committees for further hearings. "This bill is certainly alive," she said...Santa Fe New Mexican

Dry start to 2009 sets U.S. record

The first two months of 2009 are the driest start of any year since the USA began keeping records over a century ago, leading to severe drought in Texas, dipping reservoir levels in Florida and a surge in wildfires across the nation. Farmers, cattlemen, firefighters and others worry that the dry start may be a harbinger of a bleak summer that could lead to increasing risk of fire and poor crop conditions. Cattle rancher Jim Selman of Gonzales, Texas, has sold all but 30 of his 300 to 400 breeding cows because his pasture is too dry to feed them. "It might take me 10 years or more to get back where I was," he says. "It's so dry." Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, said the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895. So far this year, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has logged 11,814 wildfires, the most for any two-month period in a decade and almost 3,700 more than the average. The dry spell extends a drought that has hammered Central Texas since 2007 and California and the Southeast since 2006...USA Today

An Overview of Water Scarcity and Water Market Development

Water scarcity is one of the most complex and pressing issues facing the arid western US. Compared with other economic sectors, irrigated agriculture remains the largest user of freshwater accounting for approximately between 70 and 95 percent of total water withdrawals. Demand for water is growing and increasingly represents urban interest whose priorities for water use are divided among recreation, protection of wildlife and habitat, and human consumption. Farmers are named as defendants in a number of lawsuits in the west, including Nevada, where the competition for water is fierce and occasionally volatile. Water shortages and quality issues are likely to worsen over time. Water crisis management is not the answer, nor is the use of collaborative processes with no definable endpoint. The U.S. Department of Interior in their report titled, Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West (1998) outline several options for addressing anticipated water conflict. These include more efficient water uses, cut back and/or eliminate existing water uses, develop alternative water resources (cloud seeding and desalinization) and transfer water between existing and new uses through market-based mechanisms such as water banking...Reno Gazette-Journal

League Of Conservation Voters Petition to GOP Leaders - "With Us Or With Rush"

The LCV has started their "With Us Or With Rush" petition drive. The petition is to GOP leaders McConnel in the Senate and Boehner in the House and concerns global warming and clean energy issues. It asks the leaders to follow the example of Gov's Crist and Schwartzenegger and ends by saying "Stand With Us, Not With Rush!"

You can see the petition and an accompanying video by going here.

Rush is getting whacked by everyone.

Hat Tip: Red Green and Blue

PETA's Star Gimmick : Clooney-Flavored Tofu

Just when we thought we'd seen it all from PETA -- the animal rights organization known for high-profile celebrity ads -- President Ingrid Newkirk has come up with this: George Clooney-flavored tofu. In a letter sent to the actor, Newkirk said that PETA has been offered his gym towel (obtained right here in D.C.!) and wants to use his sweat to create Clooney tofu that will "spare animals from being killed for the table." She went on to explain that the science is pretty simple, like "making artificial chicken flavor for instant gravy." Newkirk, a big fan of Clooney, told us yesterday that the towel was offered by a PETA supporter with the idea of auctioning it off, but she immediately thought of using his perspiration for bean curd: "I thought, 'What would make tofu more attractive to people?' ... I can see people having parties to try CloFu." Clooney's not biting. "As a mammal, I'm offended," he told us yesterday through his rep. Washington Post

Update on State Slaughter Resolutions; Idaho Joins Debate

Idaho has joined the list of states pondering legislation aimed at maintaining control of equine transport and re-establishing the horse processing industry in the United States.

Introduced into Idaho's House State Affairs Committee this week by State Rep. Thomas F. Loertscher, HJM 005 instructs Idaho's congressional delegation to vote against the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (HR 503). The federal measure would impose a nationwide ban on the transport of horses for slaughter.

Resolutions similar to Idaho's have passed in:

* Kansas (HCR 5004)
* South Dakota (SCR 2)
* Utah (HJR 7)
* Wyoming (HJR 8)

Similar resolutions are pending in:

* Arizona (SCM 1001)
* Minnesota (SF 133)
* North Dakota (HB 1496)
* Arkansas (HCR 1004)
* Missouri (House, HCR 19; Senate, SCR 8)

Meanwhile, legislators in the following states are considering bills that would amend current state laws to promote the development of horse slaughter plants by private investors:

* Illinois (HB 0583)
* Montana (HB 418)
* Tennessee (HB 1361)

From The Horse.

Canadian BSE class action suit focused on settlement

If the federal government wants to flow aid to Canada's punch-drunk beef cattle sector, it couldn't do much better than to settle with the ranchers now suing it. That's how Toronto lawyer Cameron Pallett, the lawyer for Niagara Falls-area cattle producer Bill Sauer, plans to press his case with officials in Ottawa to settle Sauer's class-action suit out of court. Sauer is the representative plaintiff for a class that includes all Canadian cattle producers (outside Quebec, that is, where a related and certified class action suit by producer Donald Berneche continues). The two suits claim negligence within the government led directly to the BSE-related closure of the U.S. border and other foreign ports. If successful, Pallett said, the suits stand to benefit about 135,000 producers in all. Justice Joan Lax of the Ontario Superior Court, in certifying Sauer's suit as a class action last fall, said Ridley's settlement "focuses the litigation on the party that is capable of providing meaningful compensation to class members." The lawsuits' allegations against the government and individual federal bureaucrats have not yet been proven in court...Grainews

State law: farmers' rights vs. Monsanto

Rodney Nelson says he’s tried to forget the “living hell” Monsanto unleashed on his family nine years ago. In 2000, Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, sued Nelson and his family for allegedly infringing its seed patents – meaning illegally saving patented seed – on their North Dakota farm. Monsanto’s case was based on samples the company’s hired investigators claimed they took from the Nelson’s fields. The North Dakota Seed Arbitration Board called the evidence against the Nelsons insubstantial, but Monsanto continued its aggressive legal pursuit to take what would have amounted to three times the entire gross value of the Nelson’s crop, plus punitive damages and attorney fees. And the company sent letters to more than 250 seed distributors in a three-state region instructing them not to sell its products to the Nelsons, effectively painting the family as criminals overnight. Eventually Monsanto and the Nelson family dismissed their cases against each other. The Nelsons’ fight with Monsanto left scars, yet it also left legislation that protects farmers from enduring similar intrusive investigations. North Dakota legislators passed a law that established a crop sampling protocol that patent holders must follow to level the playing field for farmers who face patent infringement allegations. It’s dubbed the “Nelson Bill.”...New West

Roundabout cattle drive set to ride its way through Rifle, Colorado roundabouts

Gary Russell is going to drive cattle right down the middle of Rifle’s roundabouts at the Interstate 70 interchange and Airport Road. But it won't be the kind of cattle drive you normally see in this neck of the woods. Russell, owner of The Iron Gallery just west of Rifle on U.S. Highway 6&24, was commissioned by the city to create iron sculptures of a cattle drive to adorn the center of the roundabouts. The city was presented with several choices from architects for a landscape design and chose the cattle drive theme because "cattle are a part of the heritage of our community," as Mayor Keith Lambert explained. Using a hand-held flame cutting torch, Russell has been busy working on the statues of two cowboys and one cowgirl, each on horseback, along with some dogs and cattle. He anticipates that some real cowboys will drive through the roundabouts and scrutinize the work, so he's done his homework and asked for advice from some of the ranchers and cowboys he knows to ensure it's realistic. "I’m also going to use some old brands from this area on the cows and calves," he said. "I think it would be really cool if people could drive by and say, 'hey, that's my grandpa's brand'!"...Citizen Telegram

Bob Welch's Steer Tie-Down Video



Editor's Note: Hey Guys. This was my second attempt at a video blog and I think I owe you as viewers a couple explanations. First, this method of laying a steer down is pretty common, nothing new, but I hadn't seen it much so thought I'd share it. You'll notice a couple edit points in the video, I'm not trying to hide anything, just trying to keep you from having to watch some boring footage. Sometimes it takes a while for a steer to let you ride all the way around him to lay that rope down--especially in a pen where they can get up against a fence and prevent you from riding around them. Still, I think it's a better way than jerking them down. I think it's easier on the steer and the horse. Also in the interest of full disclosure, I had laid him down one other time that day, but didn't have the camera rolling.

Second, just a little about that horse. This is his four-year-old year. I'm pretty proud of how he handles himself. You'll notice I'm riding in a bosal. I normally don't do that, but he's got some warts or something on his lip that we're treating and I don't want a bit in his mouth to aggravate it. Guess that's about it. I hope this video was interesting. I'd love to know what you thought, so drop me a line or make a comment if you have a question or something to say.

Thanks,
Bob

You might want to check out Bob's other posts at MyHorse.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gov't Forcing Wildlife Group to Identify Who Leaked Controversial Draft Rules

The inspector general for the Commerce Department is trying to force a prominent environmental group to reveal who leaked the Bush administration's plans to weaken the Endangered Species Act just weeks before President Barack Obama took office. The investigation was triggered by Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, senior Republican on the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The case suggests that, under at least certain circumstances, the government will continue to pursue and identify federal employees who disclose sensitive documents about controversial U.S. policies -- a common practice under the Bush administration. The Obama administration last week put the disputed environmental plans on hold, and Obama said previously he opposed the move, which limits scientific reviews of projects that might harm endangered wildlife and plants. But that hasn't stopped the Commerce Department's inspector general, Todd Zinser, who in a highly unusual move sent an administrative subpoena to the National Wildlife Federation. The subpoena demanded documents that would identify who leaked the draft environmental rules, which were not marked sensitive, secret or otherwise confidential or classified...CNS News

PROPERTY RIGHTS LINKED TO ECONOMIC SECURITY?

Countries that protect the physical and intellectual property of their people enjoy nearly nine times higher gross domestic product per capita than countries ranking lowest in property rights protections, according to the "2009 International Property Rights Index (IPRI). The study compared the protections of physical and intellectual property to economic stability in 115 countries representing 96 per cent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

The 2009 IPRI is a composite ranking of three comprehensive areas of property rights: Legal and Political Environment, Physical Property Rights, and Intellectual Property Rights:

* Of the 115 countries included, the top quartile averaged $39,991 in GDP per capita while the average in the bottom twenty per cent was only $4,341 per capita.
* The second, third and fourth quartiles averaged $23,982, $11,748, and $4,891 respectively.
* The nearly linear data trend shows that countries placing a high priority on property rights see increased economic security.

"With regard to private property rights, PRA continues to champion the idea that physical and intellectual property are equally important in nature, and must be protected" states Kelsey Zahourek, PRA executive director. "Property rights contribute to increased levels of stability and provide people with the knowledge and comfort that their property will remain theirs."

Hernando De Soto said this year's results "continue to point out the relationship between a strong property rights system and a country's economic well-being, revealing that much still needs to be done to extend property rights to more people, especially the poor."

Source: Anne Chandima Dedigama et al., "International Property Rights Index: 2009 Report," Property Rights Alliance, February 24, 2009.

For text:

http://internationalpropertyrights.org/atr_Final1.pdf

NCPA

Pelosi's Carbon Footprint With Military Aircraft

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the Jennifer Lopez of congressional travel—fickle, demanding and notoriously insensitive to the time, costs and energy needed to accommodate her endless demands. On Tuesday, the indispensable government watchdog Judicial Watch released a trove of public records through the Freedom of Information Act on Pelosi’s travel arrangements with the U.S. military. As speaker of the House, Pelosi is entitled to a reasonable level of military protection and transport. But it’s the size of the planes, the frequency of requests and last-minute cancellations, and the political nature of many of her trips that scream out for accountability. And, of course, it’s the double-barreled hypocrisy. There’s the eco-hypocrisy of the Democratic leader who wags her finger at the rest of us for our too-big carbon footprints, and crusades for massive taxes and regulation to reduce global warming. Another official pointed out the “hidden costs” associated with the speaker’s last-minute changes and cancellations. “We have … folks prepping the jets and crews driving in (not a short drive for some), cooking meals and preflighting the jets etc.” Upset that a specific type of aircraft was not available to her boss, a Pelosi staffer carped to the DoD coordinators: “This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset speaker.”...Michelle Malkin

The Politically Superior Ones don't worry about their carbon footprint, they are just gonna force you to lessen yours.

I do hope someone will tote hers up.

U.S. House of Representatives Quietly Scraps Plan to Become ‘Carbon Neutral’

It was a bold promise: the House would "lead by example" to fight global warming, becoming the first legislative body in the world to zero out its carbon impact on the planet. But the promise may have been too bold. The House quietly shelved the idea late last month, the word delivered in an e-mail to a couple of reporters. It turned out that the House's goal to become carbon neutral -- by removing as much carbon dioxide from the air as it releases -- could not be guaranteed. The House already had spent $89,000 to cancel out 24,000 tons of emissions that it couldn't erase by turning out lights, buying better light bulbs and making the Capitol's power plant burn more natural gas. The money bought "offsets," which fund projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as capturing methane from farm manure ponds, that supposedly wouldn't have happened without the investment. It also bought bragging rights for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional leaders. "The House must lead by example and it is time for Congress to act on its own carbon footprint," Pelosi said in April 2007, when she announced the "Green the Capitol" initiative. "Today, we announce our intention to operate the House in a carbon-neutral manner at the earliest possible date, with a deadline of the end of this Congress" in December 2008...CNS News

The Politically Superior Ones say, "Do as we say, not as we do."

Hunters lose dogs to wolves

Darby lion hunters Paul Converse and Luke Bush thought they had done everything right when they let Suzy and Jody free on the mountain lion track early Sunday afternoon. The two men spent most of the morning looking for wolf signs around Bertie Lord Creek in the East Fork of the Bitterroot. They hadn’t seen a single track. “If I see a wolf track, I don’t turn out my dogs,” Bush said. “We don’t turn out on old tracks either. We do what we can to make sure the dogs don’t run far. We’ve made adjustments to help protect our dogs.” Both men had lost dogs to wolves before. At about noon, the men released their Walker hounds on a fresh mountain lion track at Jennings Camp. They knew the lion was close and the chase would be short. An hour later, both dogs were dead. The dogs were wearing radio transmitter collars that allowed the men to track them. A mercury switch in the transmitter also let the men know when the dogs turned their heads upward toward a treed lion. “I know they treed the lion,” Converse said. “And then I beeped both dogs again and they weren’t moving. I knew right then what had happened. I knew it was over.” Using headlamps to light the way, Converse and his son found his dog dead close to midnight. “She was chomped top to bottom,” Converse said. “There were wolf tracks everywhere.” About a third of a mile away, they found Bush’s dog dead...Ravalli Republic (Montana)

MIT Researchers Identify Potent New Greenhouse Gas

The unintended law of consequences strikes again. The 20-year old campaign to save the ozone layer has led to the widespread industrial use of a greenhouse gas 4,800 times more potent than carbon dioxide. How did we get here? The 1987 Montreal Protocol was established to limit emissions of chlorofluorocarbons and other gases that deplete the ozone layer, the big worry in the 1980s. One of the targeted compounds was methyl bromide, which was widely used in fumigation to kill weevils and mice and other pests that threaten food supplies. Methyl bromide was phased out in 2005. Dow Chemical’s AgroSciences unit came to the rescue, dusting off research on an old compound called sulfuryl fluoride, which has now become the standard fumigant. Just one problem, say researchers at MIT: Sulfuryl fluoride lasts a lot longer in the atmosphere than expected and is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide...WSJ

AT&T will spend $565 million on alternative-fuel vehicles

AT&T is making the largest ever commitment by an American company to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles, CEO Randall Stephenson told the Economic Club of Washington on Wednesday. "My No. 1 job is long-term growth," he said. "I only know of one way to do that and that's by investing in areas that drive sustainable growth." The company plans to make two investments amounting to $565 million to increase the number of alternative-fuel vehicles it uses from 100 to 15,000 by 2020. Over the next five years, AT&T will spend $350 million to purchase 8,000 vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. The new vehicles AT&T will buy will be built by the U.S. auto industry and should produce 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional vehicles, Stephenson said. AT&T will also spend $215 million to replace nearly all of its 7,100 passenger vehicles over the next 10 years with alternative-fuel vehicles, starting with electric hybrids. With these two investments, AT&T expects to reduce its gasoline consumption over the next 10 years by 49 million gallons...CNET News

Rain or Shine, Environmentalists Want to Control Us

...It’s not the planet that’s running out of time — it’s the environmentalists. The warming of the earth has flatlined like Tom Daschle’s political career. In fact, now the theme –- even from the global warming camp is … (drum roll, please) we could have up to three decades of cooling. Michael Reilly, of Discovery News, summed it up well: “Earth’s climate continues to confound scientists.” He quoted a new study by Kyle Swanson of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, saying “global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades.” Just as the global warming reality is cooling, the opposition is heating up. This week marked the second annual “International Conference on Climate Change” in New York, sponsored by The Heartland Institute. It brought together hundreds of climate skeptics from around the world and was headlined by European Union President Vaclav Klaus. Klaus got to the heart of the matter during his opening night address. The climate debate isn’t just about temperature, he told the gathering of scientists and public policy experts. He said “environmentalists want to change us and our behavior” because “their mission is control.”...Fox News

Cattle grazing allowed to continue, but criticized for endangered species impacts, by federal court in Idaho

Western Watersheds Project v. Dyer

SUMMARY: Western Watersheds Project, an environmental group, brought this lawsuit to ban livestock grazing in certain areas of the Jarbidge Field Office, 1.4 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Western Watersheds Project (WWP) alleges that continued grazing destroys what little habitat remains for imperiled species like the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and slickspot peppergrass...

RULING: The Court held ten days of evidentiary hearings, listening to testimony and examining thousands of pages of documents. In these Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the Court finds (1) that three sensitive species in the JFO--the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and slickspot peppergrass--are in serious decline; (2) that livestock grazing is an important factor in that decline; (3) that the current management plan (known as a Resource Management Plan or RMP) governing the JFO is currently being revised by the BLM through the preparation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) designed to describe the ecological status of the JFO and identify the environmental impacts of activities, including grazing; (4) that the BLM has committed to preparing new grazing permits across the JFO when the new RMP is completed; (5) that in its 2008 grazing authorizations, the BLM misinterpreted the existing RMP, especially by viewing the RMP's requirements for protection of sensitive species as mere suggestions; (6) that the existing RMP is more protective of sensitive species than it has previously been interpreted by the BLM; (7) that the BLM is directed to correct its interpretation as it considers authorizing grazing for the 2009 grazing season and beyond; (8) that a ban on grazing is not required by law at this point as the Court is confident in the BLM's ability to modify the grazing to be authorized in the 2009 grazing season to accord with the Court's interpretation of the existing RMP; (9) that environmental studies in addition to the ongoing EIS are not required by law at this time; and (10) that the BLM's fencing and closure criteria decisions were consistent with legal requirements.

From the ESA Blawg

Time proves ranchers and ecologists can agree on the Vina Plains

The conservancy obtained a conservation easement on the Vina Plains in 1982 and began managing it with the intent to protect it from the ravages of cattle ranching. Soon, visitors arriving to the land about 12 miles north of Chico, mistakenly headed for the private cattle ranch on the preserve's north boundary. From beyond the fence they could see thriving wildflowers. Problem was, they were already standing on the preserve that had been "protected" from grazing. Up until about 10 years ago, Reiner explained, ecologists thought grazed land was damaged land, that wildflowers got trampled and pristine vernal pools got spoiled. In the past decade, that thinking has changed — and with good evidence to back it up. Reiner, who holds a doctorate in range management, said ecologists have found that wildflowers do best when growing in spots with low grasses, those native to the Northern California plains. High grasses brought in by pioneers through planting and animal feed tend to grow too high to allow for wildflowers — among them Goldfields, Shooting Star, Meadow Foam — to get enough sun. Grazing cattle go for the high grasses. "Livestock performs the service of weed control," Reiner said...Chico Enterprise-Record

Oklahoma Equine Dentist Faces Felony Charges

Professional rodeo rider Bobby Griswold is facing felony charges in Oklahoma for practicing equine dentistry without a veterinary medical license. Griswold is not a veterinarian, but he graduated from an equine dental school. He was arrested March 4 in Oklahoma City by an Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners investigator and Oklahoma City Police. The charge carries penalties of between $1,000 and $10,000 in fines, one to four years' imprisonment, or both. He is free on bond, and no court date has been set. Griswold is the first person charged under a 2008 law that amended Oklahoma's Veterinary Practice Act to allow felony charges against equine dentists who do not hold a veterinary license. "AAEP's position is that equine dentistry is the practice of equine medicine, and it should be performed by a veterinarian," said AAEP Director of Industry Relations Keith Kleine. But not all veterinarians agree that equine dentistry should be left solely to graduates of veterinary school. Tom Allen, DVM, who's also certified through the International Association of Equine Dentistry, argues that nonveterinarians who complete equine dental school programs master specific skills some veterinary school graduates never acquire."Graduates of equine dentistry schools put in hundreds of hours studying dental technique," he said. "Veterinarians are not required to demonstrate any proficiency in equine dentistry in order to be licensed."...The Horse

Rounding up rattlesnakes - 123 tons so far

Long before Sweetwater made its name as the “Wind Energy Capital,” there was the Jaycee’s World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up. It’s a safe bet that both the wind and rattlesnakes will be around long enough for Sweetwater to keep a firm grip on both titles. The 51st annual rattlesnake roundup gets under way today with a parade at 4:30 p.m., followed by the 50th annual Miss Snake Charmer Pageant. Special guest will be the winner of the first-ever Miss Snake Charmer title, Nelda Smith Hedges of North Carolina. She also will serve as grand marshal of the parade. Even if cool, rainy weather cuts down on the haul of Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, area hotels and restaurants are sure to profit from the annual event that draws up to 30,000 visitors from all 50 states and several foreign countries. "It almost triples the size of Sweetwater on that weekend," said Riley Sawyers, publicity chairman. Hunters get paid for their catch, Sawyers said, but in order to control the number of snakes caught, the per-pound payment drops incrementally from $5 for the first 2,000 pounds of snakes down to $1.50. Hunters are conservationists, Sawyers said, and don't want to deplete the snake population by over-hunting. Apparently the strategy works because the average total poundage has remained about the same year after year. Since 1958, about 123 tons of snakes have been caught...Abilene Reporter-News

President may send Guard to Mexican border

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he is considering new border security measures, including the possibility of National Guard deployments, to combat the spillover of violence by Mexican drug cartels. While saying that he wanted to avoid "militarizing'' the nation's long southern border, Mr. Obama said: "We're going to examine whether, and if, National Guard deployments would make sense and in what circumstances they would make sense as part of this overall review of our border situation. "I haven't drawn any conclusions yet. I don't have a particular tipping point in mind," he added."I think it's unacceptable if you've got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing our citizens."...Post-Gazette

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

'Virtual fence' gets second chance on border

The Homeland Security Department is accelerating plans to build a costly and long-troubled "virtual fence" of sensors and cameras along the U.S.-Mexican border, aided by $100 million from the economic stimulus package. The government already has spent $600 million and built a failed prototype of the high-tech network that would be used by border agents to try to catch illegal immigrants and drug runners. A 28-mile test patch built in Arizona over the past two years had so many problems that it was scrapped. The department is now embarking on what its officials and members of Congress are calling a "do-over" on the same land near Tucson and another along 30 miles in Ajo, Ariz. Some question whether Boeing, the government contractor for the job, should be allowed to continue with the multiyear, $6.7 billion project after botching the first effort. Its pole cameras and radar and communications systems didn't work well and couldn't be used effectively by border agents...USA Today

Terrorist watch list hits 1 million, up 32%

The government's terrorist watch list has hit 1 million entries, up 32% since 2007. Federal data show the rise comes despite the removal of 33,000 entries last year by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center in an effort to purge the list of outdated information and remove people cleared in investigations. It's unclear how many individuals those 33,000 records represent — the center often uses multiple entries, or "identities," for a person to reflect variances in name spellings or other identifying information. The remaining million entries represent about 400,000 individuals, according to the center. People put on the watch list by intelligence and law enforcement agencies can be blocked from flying, stopped at borders or subjected to other scrutiny. About 95% of the people on the list are foreigners, the FBI says, but it's a source of frequent complaints from U.S. travelers. In the past two years, 51,000 people have filed "redress" requests claiming they were wrongly included on the watch list, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In the vast majority of cases reviewed so far, it has turned out that the petitioners were not actually on the list, with most having been misidentified at airports because their names resembled others on it...USA Today

Drug Smugglers Using Ultralights to Cross Border

Smugglers facing strengthened border defenses have turned to an old and risky tactic -- using single-seat ultralight aircraft to fly marijuana loads into the country. Officials know of at least three such attempts in recent months -- all of which ended badly for the smugglers -- but they don't know how many others have been made or whether any have been successful. The incidents are worrisome to federal officials. They believe more such attempts are happening or will be, though there's no agreement on whether use of the small aluminum tubing aircraft represents a trend or a novelty. "If the cartels feel they're successful, they'll go with it," said Rick Crocker, deputy special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tucson. "If we can shut it down, they'll go with other means." The recent flights all came late at night at different points along the Arizona-Mexico border, the busiest region for smugglers...AP

‘Undeclared War’ on Mexican Border Greater Challenge than Afghanistan, Congressmen Say

The violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is the biggest threat to the nation’s security, members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security said at back-to-back hearings on Tuesday. The two back-to-back hearings on border security and the drug cartel-induced violence along the U.S. Mexico border, which lasted four hours, revealed details about the ongoing violence in Mexico as the drug cartels battle the police and military for access to smuggling routes that bring drugs into the United States and money and guns into Mexico. Witnesses said drug dealers use gliders and a massive network of tunnels to surpass border security, including the 610 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing that’s been constructed along the border. The hearing included discussion on a wide range of issues, including the progress and funding of the 2005 Secure Border Initiative and the treatment of women and children who are detained for illegally entering the country. But Culberson said the answer to the border question has already been found in the Del Rio section of Texas where a “zero tolerance” operation, dubbed Operation Streamline, has resulted in approximately 80 percent of people who cross into the country illegally being arrested. “It’s a great success story,” Culberson said. “This is, Mr. Chairman, the win-win situation we are looking for.”...CNS News

Public Lands Bill Defeated in House

For now, the mega-public lands bill that would have greatly expanded public wilderness areas, parks and miles and miles of public trails, is stalled. House Republicans managed to maintain enough opposition to the omnibus measure to defeat the measure earlier today in a vote requiring two-thirds of the House members, by 282-144. House Democratic leaders had brought the bill to the floor under suspension of the rules, as a way to keep the opposition from altering the legislation through amendments. But getting two-thirds remained dicey. Democrats tried to persuade Republicans (and conservative Democrats) that the bills were gun-friendly by the insertion of an amendment that would have prohibited any effort to close lands in the omnibus to hunting and fishing, but many Republicans still believed the legislation did not include enough gun rights protections (see below). Three Democrats voted no; 34 Republicans voted with Democrats; and six did not vote. It fell two votes short of passage. Beyond guns, the House Republican leadership had complained all along that the total size of the bill was extraordinary, and would cost billions of dollars. It also opposed the legislation on the grounds that many pieces of the omnibus, totaling more than 150 bills that would have created new national parks, expanded the boundaries of existing one, created monuments or “heritage areas” and nationalized trails, had never been thoroughly examined in the House. A senior Democratic aide in the House said the best option under consideration would be to have the Senate shoehorn it onto another bill and ship it back. House Democratic leaders have not definitively ruled out a floor vote using a simpler rule, needing only a majority for passage, but that move would leave the measure wide open for amendments. As for the ever-present gun lobby, an amendment by Democrat Jason Altmire, Democrat of Pennsylvania, was meant to assuage those concerned about hunting and fishing rights. And Democrats’ pointed to the N.R.A.’s satisfaction with that amendment. But Gun Owners of America sent out a letter this week objecting to the overall omnibus on many grounds, and urged House members to vote against it...NY Times

Lawmakers, ranchers warn Army on Pinon Canyon lease

News that Army officials were preparing to announce a lease agreement to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site rankled key Colorado lawmakers Tuesday as well as surrounding landowners. They say the Pentagon still has not justified the proposed expansion and is defying Congress in pursuing any acquisition in the face of a federal budget moratorium on the expansion. Rep. John Salazar, whose 3rd Congressional District includes Pinon Canyon, said he will oppose the Army acquiring additional land around the 238,000-acre training site - through purchase or lease - until Army officials guarantee that eminent domain will not be used against any landowner, a step Army officials have said they cannot legally offer. Salazar said he repeated his opposition to Keith Eastin, the Army's assistant secretary for installations, a week ago when Eastin asked him to support a lease agreement with Denver businessman Craig Walker, which would give the Army access to Walker's 70,000 acres south of the training area. "Those of us in Congress cannot limit what Craig Walker wants to do with his property, but we can decide how the Defense Department spends its money," said Salazar, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee...Pueblo Chieftain

I don't understand why the Army "cannot legally offer" to forgo eminent domain. Is it against the law to NOT use eminent domain? Show me that statute. If there is no such law, then the Army can "legally offer" to only deal with willing sellers. They may not want to limit their authority, but they can certainly "legally" do so.

I don't believe the Army needs this land, which I addressed in this previous post:


"The Base Structure Report(pdf) for FY 2008 contains the land profile for the Department of Defense. The introduction to the report states, "The Depart of Defense remains one of the world's largest 'landlords' with a physical plant consisting of more than 545,700 facilities (buildings, structures and linear structures) located on more than 5400 sites, on approximately 30 million acres."

The land profile further refines that to 29.8 million acres owned or controlled by DOD. More than 98% of the land is in the US, with the Army managing 52% and the Air Force 33%.

29.8 million acres equals 46,562.5 square miles. How do you put that in perspective? Let's try this: Of the Thirteen Original Colonies, six of them (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire & Massachusetts) would fit into the land mass controlled by DOD, with 8359 square miles or 5.3 million acres left over. In other words, you could add another New Jersey.

29.8 million acres and they don't have enough land to practice? They may have a turf problem or a setting of priorities problem, but they don't have a lack of land problem."

EPA Wants Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reports

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to require companies for the first time to disclose how much greenhouse gases they're releasing. "Our efforts to confront climate change must be guided by the best possible information," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said Tuesday. "This is a critical step toward helping us better protect our health and environment –- all without placing an onerous burden on our nation’s small businesses.” EPA is proposing mandatory reporting of the gases blamed for global warming at approximately 13,000 facilities nationwide which account for about 85-90 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. The facilities include refineries, automobile manufacturers, power plants, coal mines and large manure ponds at farms. The information EPA gathers will be needed if it decides to control greenhouse gases or if Congress passes a law limiting the pollution. EPA said the expected costs to the private sector to comply with the reporting requirements be $160 million for the first year and about $127 million annually in subsequent years...Internet Broadcasting Systems

Federal land agencies: Planning for damage from climate change

The government needs a comprehensive plan to address the potential damage of climate change on forests, parks and other federal lands, experts agree. Land-holding agencies such as the Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management have begun assessing the impact of climate change on public lands, but no comprehensive strategy exists for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or mitigating the harm of rising global temperatures. Interior would receive $40 million in the Obama administration’s 2010 budget to assess the impact of climate change on the nation’s lands, fish and wildlife. Armstrong said the funding request is an important endorsement of the need for scientific analysis to understand and address climate change. Some ecosystems adapt rapidly enough to react to climate change, while others cannot. Those differences make it difficult to predict the impact from climate change on public lands overall, said Abigail Kimbell, chief of the Agriculture Department’s Forest Service. Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy and president-elect of the Society for Conservation Biology, said Congress needs to set an aggressive national goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to specify agency steps to manage the impact of climate change on public lands. Subcommittee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said he will hold additional hearings and ensure that federal lands are included in climate change legislation. “I feel strongly that while our public lands are threatened by climate change, they are also critical in finding solutions to combat climate change,” Grijalva said...Federal Times

Here they come, polar bear or no polar bear.

DOE made a $500 million "math error"

The Energy Department made a $500 million math error a year ago when it withdrew its support from a “near-zero emissions” coal plant in Illinois, Congressional auditors will say in a report to be released Wednesday. The error led the department to say mistakenly that the project, known as FutureGen, had nearly doubled in cost — an increase the Bush administration deemed too expensive. At the time, FutureGen was the leading effort to capture and sequester carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. If the project were resumed and proved successful, it could provide a model for curbing the carbon dioxide that coal adds to the atmosphere. The new energy secretary, Steven Chu, has said that he will consider renewing support for FutureGen but that changes will be needed. He did not specify what those might be...NY Times

Salazar names Coloradan to Interior deputy post

A Colorado conservationist and former congressional candidate has been named the Interior Department’s deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Will Shafroth’s appointment Tuesday. Shafroth was a founding director of the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, which distributes Colorado Lottery proceeds for wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open space. Salazar, a former Colorado senator, worked with Shafroth on Great Outdoors Colorado. Shafroth served as GOCO’s executive director from 1994 to 2000. Shafroth was also a founding director of the Colorado Conservation Trust...Summit Daily News

Gun Alert On Omnibus Lands Bill

Gun Owners of America does not sound the "Emergency alarm" often -- and when we do, we mean it. Remember the massive land bill, S. 22, that passed out of the Senate last month? It was expected to pass quickly in the House, but your opposition to an expansion of gun control contained in the bill forced it to be pulled from the floor. GOA has just learned that after some backroom deals, the bill is headed to the floor WEDNESDAY MORNING, without any amendments to truly protect your Second Amendment rights on National Park Service (NPS) land. You have fought the battle over the NPS gun ban for a long time. Unlike U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which allow for state and local law to govern firearms possession, NPS land is subject to a complete gun ban for any citizen who does not hold a concealed carry permit. The bill coming to the floor March 11 greatly expands NPS land, thus spreading the agency's anti-gun regulations into more areas. S. 22 is actually a compilation of over 190 bills, many of which were never even debated on their own merits...GOA

Trinidad, Colo. rancher finds mutilated cow

A cattle rancher made a horrific and mysterious discovery Sunday when he found the carcass of one of his cattle that was missing its udders and other female parts. No one is sure what killed the cow on a pasture near the Purgatoire River, but Trinidad rancher Mike Duran said he definitely finds the death unusual. Duran, 49, said Monday that after the cow had been missing for two days, he went to look for it in a pasture where he runs cattle a mile west of the town of Weston near Colorado 12. "I last saw her Friday. She's an older cow so I thought she may have died. "On Sunday, I spotted her near the (Purgatoire) river bottom and went and looked at her. She was on her side and it looked a little odd. "When I took a closer look I saw that her udders had been removed," Duran said. The cow had its udders cleanly cut off with no blood on or around the carcass, Duran said. "It was a perfect circle almost like a laser cut," he said. "It's not like a knife. it seemed to be cut and sealed at the same time," he said. This is not the first time Duran has found a mutilated cow on his ranch. In 1995, Duran said he found a cow that had been mutilated the exact same way on the same pasture. "The other cow's udders were snipped off the same way. It's hard to imagine what or who could have done this to me again," Duran said. The mutilation in 1995 never has been solved. Duran, who operates a 30-head cattle ranch, said that in both occurrences, there were no animal or human tracks around the carcasses. "There was no blood around either and if you cut off an udder there would be a whole lot of blood," Duran said. Duran said he has notified the Las Animas County Sheriff's Department about the mutilated cattle...Pueblo Chieftain

PETA Gives Oprah The Person Of The Year Award

The National Institute of Canine Experts is confused and dismayed by Oprah Winfrey's acceptance of PETA's Person of the Year Award for 2008. By accepting this award, it appears to NICE, The National Institute of Canine Experts, that Oprah Winfrey sends the message that she agrees with PETA's mission and actions. Oprah, 'Do you support eliminating medical research for American children who suffer from diseases such as cancer and AIDS? PETA does. PETA's president has said that 'even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it.' And PETA has repeatedly attacked many well-respected medical research foundations such as the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, solely because they support animal-based research. Oprah, 'Do you support organizations that kill 90% of their shelter animals?' PETA does just that. According to government documents, PETA employees have killed more than 19,200 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens since 1998. In 2005, two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty each, after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter into a Dumpster. PETA puts to death over 90 percent of the animals it accepts from members of the public who expect the group to make a reasonable attempt to find them adoptive homes. PETA spends part of its $32 million annual income on a contract with a crematory service to periodically empty hundreds of animal bodies from its large walk-in freezer...PR-Inside

NM fairgrounds future uncertain as Downs delays move

Warped plywood is all that keeps the dirt horse track at the state fairgrounds from crumbling over the path to the old grandstands. The owner of the Downs at Albuquerque Racetrack and Casino announced plans last year to move his operation from the fairgrounds to Moriarty so he can offer his customers a nicer, cleaner location. But he's now asking for an extension of his lease through 2012. Owner Paul Blanchard says Moriarty hasn't been able to fund the infrastructure to support the complex and a private company with a gas pipeline running under the proposed development has concerns. The delay has thrown off all fairgrounds redevelopment plans. A consultant's report on redevelopment options at the fairgrounds is due out by the end of March. AP

Bounty hunting for feral hogs

Hunting feral hogs from the air has been grounded. Importing alligators from Florida to control the population fell flat, but the latest idea to elminate the pests may work - bounty hunting. Coryell County officials are considering paying hunters and ranchers cash rewards for each feral hog shot dead. While the county hasn't estimated the exact price yet, County Judge John Firth said Tuesday the problem needs immediate action. "This is a real burden," he said...KXXV-TV

I'm sure we can't import alligators either, but we should sure consider importing these county officials.

West Texas Trail Ride to teach school kids about state’s pioneer roots

Thirty youngsters from three north and west Texas school districts will spend their Spring Break rolling through the rugged expanses of West Texas in covered wagons to get a taste of what their pioneering forebears experienced some 150 years ago. The youth outreach trail ride, sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association, will cover roughly 75 miles from Marfa to Big Bend Ranch State Park outside Presidio. Trail riders will gather March 14 at the Marfa Fairgrounds, and depart the next morning for the MacGuire Ranch and points south. The trail ride concludes March 21 after several days of exploring local ranches and camping out at Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ largest state park. “We want to provide an educational program that gives youngsters a chance to experience what pioneer life might have looked like years ago from the confines of a wagon,” said trail ride boss Karl Cloninger, TPWD’s director of the Parrie Haynes Ranch in central Texas. “We’ll be teaching the children about the cultural resources of the Alamito Creek watershed and the history of ranching in the Big Bend. A top-notch educational team supported by numerous local ranchers and speakers will make this an experience not to be forgotten.”...North Texas E-News

AQHA Reviews Cloning; Delays Vote Until 2010

On Monday, March 9, the Board of Directors of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) voted that action on a member proposal to approve the registration of foals produced by cloning be postponed until the 2010 AQHA Annual Convention. In the interim, the committee recommended the appointment of a task force to continue to seek information and input from informed sources regarding cloning, and to conduct further study of, among other things, parentage verification issues, the implications of cloning on the registration process, sentiment of the general membership, the impact of cloning with respect to genetic diseases, and to continue the effort to educate the general membership regarding cloning and its potential effect on the breed, the Association, and its members. Within the past couple of years, commercial cloning of a number of horses, including American Quarter Horses, has been well publicized. However, under Rule 227(a) of the AQHA Official Handbook, a rule that became effective in 2004, American Quarter Horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration. The proposed change would allow a live foal produced via a particular type of cloning to be registered if its DNA matches that of a registered American Quarter Horse...The Horse.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Dulce Base: Fact or Fiction?

According to Hayakawa, Dulce, New Mexico, a sleepy little town of less than 4000 (inhabited by the Jicarilla Apache nation), has attracted quite a number of UFO and conspiracy buffs ever since rumors surfaced in the mid-80s that a U.S./alien joint biological laboratory and base exists a mile under the town's Archuleta Mesa. "This rumor has become so well known among UFO buffs around the world that anyone doing a Yahoo or Google search on Dulce, New Mexico would find the bulk of over 300,000 search results related to the alleged underground base," Hayakawa said. Skeptical of such claims, Hayakawa, a retired funeral director, visited the town of Dulce in 1990 with the crew of a Japanese television program to attempt to document the existence of such an alien base. Although he was unsuccessful in locating it, Hayakawa claims that he and the television crew were inexplicably detained by the police chief while interviewing the citizens on the street about UFOs and cattle mutilations. Now, almost 19 years later, Hayakawa and a few UFO enthusiasts from New Mexico, California and Arizona, would like to clear these unfounded rumors. They are planning to have a one-day public conference in the town of Dulce next March. It will be appropriately titled: "The Dulce Base: Fact or Fiction?" Hayakawa likes to separate fact from fiction. "There has not been any physical evidence whatsoever that there is such a base in or near Dulce," Hayakawa asserted. "However, when it comes to UFOs, many of the residents there are believers, since beginning around the mid-1970s and lasting till the mid-1980s, the entire town of Dulce was buzzed by frequent sightings of strange lights in the sky." This is fact, according to Hayakawa. Another fact is that many ranchers in the nearby communities began to report mysterious cattle mutilations and frequent sightings of military helicopters during that time. Some Dulce officials, concerned about these incidents, attended the first Cattle Mutilations conference in Albuquerque in 1979, including Raleigh Tafoya, who was the chief at the time. This also is fact, not fiction...UFO Digest

Enviro Orgs Looking To Add Diversity

When Jerome C. Ringo joined the board of the National Wildlife Federation in 1995, he was the only African-American at the meetings. Mr. Ringo, now president of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of environmental, labor and business groups, says that even today, he is often the only environmentalist in the room who is not white. “We’re not where we were, but we’re not where we want to be,” Mr. Ringo said of the environmental movement’s efforts to diversify. National environmental organizations have traditionally drawn their membership from the white and affluent, and have faced criticism for focusing more on protecting resources than protecting people. But with a black president committed to environmental issues in the White House and a need to achieve broader public support for initiatives like federal legislation to address global warming, many environmentalists say they feel pressure to diversify the movement further, both in membership and at higher levels of leadership. “Our groups are not as diverse as we’d like, but every one of the major groups has diversity as a top priority,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There’s great commitment to making the environmental movement representative of what the country is.”...NY Times

While you're at it, how about adding some diversity of ideas.

The Bush court sets back environmental litigation

The Bush environmental legacy won one and lost one on March 3. It lost when President Barack Obama scrapped last-minute regulations that had threatened to undercut the Endangered Species Act. The new Bush rules exempted any federal agency contemplating action that might jeopardize the recovery of an endangered species from consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service, arguing that the requirement consumed too much time. Consultation had been the rule before, and it is the rule again. Chalk one up for the tree huggers. But Bush’s legacy triumphed when his Supreme Court appointees joined for a 5-4 ruling against environmentalists who had challenged Forest Service regulations for small salvage logging projects in northern California and elsewhere. In Summers v. Earth Island Institute, the Court decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue, limiting the opportunity for environmentalists to challenge government actions in the future. How great a blow to environmental litigants will this be? “My suspicion is it will be raised in countless cases,” says Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles. “The other side will say this is the end of environmental law as we know it.” Boyles doesn’t buy that. The Supreme Court ruled on Constitutional grounds. The ruling doesn’t undercut statutory provisions for citizen suits under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, or other laws. And even the Constitutional concepts aren’t really new. The court has simply required more specificity. In the future, environmental plaintiffs can respond by getting more specific. Instead of saying they plan to visit a particular forest sometime in the future; they may name specific GPS coordinates and specific dates...Crosscut

Czech president gives keynote address to climate change doubters

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, addressed an audience of doubters of the manmade climate change theory at the second International Conference on Climate Change yesterday. The two-and-a-half day conference titled, "Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?” features a number of speakers from the political and scientific communities and is billed as ‘the world’s largest-ever gathering of global warming skeptics.’ See the organization's video below for more on the event. Dr. Klaus, an economist by education, has been a very outspoken voice in expressing his doubts and is known not to mince words. At the conference, he had strong words for those he called ‘alarmists’ saying they, "are interested neither in temperature, carbon dioxide, competing scientific hypotheses and their testing, nor in freedom or markets. They are interested in their businesses and their profits--made with the help of politicians." Continuing, Klaus cast doubt on the very science that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bases its predictions of global climate disaster on. He said they are, "not able to explain why the global temperature increased from 1918 to 1940, decreased from 1940 to 1976, increased from 1976 to 1998, and decreased from 1998 to the present, irrespective of the fact that the people have been adding increasing amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere."...The Examiner

Among the Global Warming Skeptics

"Global warming alarmism has always been a political movement," declared Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Richard Lindzen during his keynote address at the second International Conference on Climate Change. Organized by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free market think tank, the conference has 700 registered participants who are attending the three day meeting in New York. Lindzen offered a few simple truths that "our side" often forgets. For example, skepticism about man-made global warming does not, by itself, make a good scientist. Nor does accepting global warming make one a poor scientist. Lindzen acknowledged that most of the atmospheric scientists he respects do endorse man-made global warming. He added, however, that most of their science is not actually about global warming. Lindzen decried what he sees as the intellectual corruption that global warming alarmism has brought to climatology. He noted that many climatologists are happy to issue ambiguous statements that are then spun by activists into alarms. The result is increased funding for climate research, so no one publicly complains about the spinning. Most of the funding for climate research would not be there were it not for the global warming issue. Lindzen added, "Most science funded under the rubric of climate does not actually deal with climate, but rather with the alleged impact of arbitrarily assumed climate change."...Reason

A decade after Headwaters deal, truce comes to Northern California redwood country

Ten years ago this week, the state and federal government spent $480 million to buy 7,472 acres from Pacific Lumber and other landowners to create the Headwaters Forest Reserve six miles south of Eureka. The deal ended one of the most bitter environmental conflicts in California history, pitting blue-collar loggers against tree-sitters in dreadlocks, and establishing Pacific Lumber owner Charles Hurwitz as the greatest eco-villain for U.S. environmental groups since the Exxon Valdez's Capt. Joseph Hazelwood. Today, the misty forest is a national preserve. Some of its trees are more than 320 feet tall — higher than the Statue of Liberty — and were growing during the Roman empire. But because of concerns over endangered species, the federal government has sharply limited public access, with only one year-round public trail into the forest. There is no visitor center and last year just 10,300 pilgrims came to this wooden cathedral, a fraction of the amount who visit Bay Area beaches on a single sunny weekend. Now the immense forest, 250 miles north of the Bay Area, is beginning a rebirth of sorts...Mercury News

Valles Caldera: A turning point

Joan Kavanau would love to see more of the green valleys and forests in the Valles Caldera National Preserve near Los Alamos. The Santa Fe resident has driven along the edge of the 88,900-acre preserve in the Jemez Mountains on N.M. 4, but never through the ancient collapsed volcano. Kavanau, 75, can't hike and there's no place to park a car and take a short walk or sit and have a picnic in the preserve's interior. Two years ago she joined a line of 1,500 cars trying to drive into the preserve on the first, and only, open access day. The line was so long she gave up. "It would be nice if they could open access more," Kavanau said. "Even to be given the opportunity to call and make an appointment to go see it. Right now it's inaccessible really except under their terms." Public access remains one of the biggest bones of contention between the Valles Caldera Trust that manages the preserve and the people who want to experience it. Congress bought the former ranch for $101 million in 2000 and established the preserve as an experiment in land management, with a 15-year initial timeline to meet a difficult set of goals: protect the natural resources, allow public access, maintain a working ranch and be financially self-sufficient...Santa Fe New Mexican

Conservation groups will challenge the removal of essential federal protections

Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, will send the Fish and Wildlife Service a notice that the delisting violates the Endangered Species Act when the government formally submits the rule to the Federal Register, presumably next week. If the agency does not reconsider the delisting rule, the conservation groups will again ask a federal court to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the northern Rockies until wolf numbers are stronger and the states pledge to responsibly manage wolves. Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife: "Nothing about this rule has changed since it was rejected and deemed unlawful in federal court. It still fails to adequately address biological concerns about the lack of genetic exchange among wolf populations and it still fails to address the concerns with the states' wolf management plans. If this rule is allowed to stand, nearly two-thirds of the wolves in the northern Rockies could be killed. We had hoped for a new delisting plan, based on current science that provides for a healthy, well connected wolf population in the region. Instead we are forced to, once again, challenge a bad rule forcing the expenditure of time and money that would have been much better served towards developing responsible state management plans." Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: "Today's announcement means wolves will lose their federal protections before recovery is complete. And, as we saw last year before a federal judge reversed a Bush administration delisting rule, that will result in an unconstrained and unconscionable slaughter of these animals. It is disappointing that the Obama administration is choosing to follow a bad Bush policy to piecemeal wolf conservation efforts instead of prioritizing the development of a national wolf recovery plan. Setting up a system in which wolves in a population are both endangered and not endangered was not contemplated and is not supported by the Endangered Species Act."...Media-Newswire

Tools That Leave Wildlife Unbothered Widen Research Horizons

You may remember Senator John McCain’s criticism of a study of grizzly bear DNA as wasteful spending. And you may have wondered how the scientists got the DNA from the grizzlies. The answer is hair. The study, which Mr. McCain referred to during his run for president, was a large one, and it provided an estimate of the population of threatened grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, in and around Glacier National Park. The researchers did not trap the bears or shoot them with tranquilizers. Instead, they prepared 100 55-gallon drums with a mixture of whole fish and cattle blood that was allowed to ferment until it had the aroma of grizzly bear candy. They built 2,400 hair corrals — 100 feet of barbed wire around five or six trees — and placed the fish and blood mix in the center. When bears went under the wire to check it out they left hair behind. The team collected 34,000 hair samples in 14 weeks this way. And the population estimate from the study, announced late last year, was 765, a figure 2.5 times the estimate based on sightings of females and cubs, the previously used method. “Hair snaring has given us a much more precise number,” said Katherine C. Kendall, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey who designed and implemented the study. The results were just published in The Journal of Wildlife Management. It also gives a glimpse of a growing trend in wildlife biology toward research methods that are gentler — and cheaper — than the classic “capture, mark, recapture.” In that process researchers trap an animal, sometimes drug it and fasten on a radio collar or implant or attach a transmitter. Then they follow the radio signal or catch the animal again to see where it goes...NY Times

American Horse Council Urges Land Managers to Use Stimulus Funding for Equestrian Trails

The American Horse Council (AHC) has asked the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to use stimulus funding for trails. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed into law on February 17 appropriates over $1.7 billion for the NPS, USFS, and BLM that can be used for the maintenance and construction of trails and other infrastructure improvements on public lands. The AHC recently wrote to NPS Acting Director Dan Wenk, Chief of USFS Gail Kimbell, and BLM Acting Director Mike Pool urging the agencies to allocate a significant portion of stimulus funding to address the current backlog of needed infrastructure improvements on public lands, including maintenance and construction of trails and other facilities that are open to equestrians. The AHC cited the importance of public lands and trails to recreational riders around the country and the economic impact of the recreational riding community on the national economy...Industry News

Sharpshooters kill 5 coyotes in Broomfield, Colo.

Five coyotes in Broomfield were shot by the Colorado Division of Wildlife last week following the most recent coyote attack. Sharpshooters killed the animals after earlier attempts failed to locate the coyote that bit a 38-year-old Broomfield man Feb. 23. The man was bitten while walking his dogs near Trails Park in the city's Westlake neighborhood. He was playing fetch with one of his dogs, which spotted a coyote and chased it. A second coyote bit the man in the arm. The coyote involved in the incident could not be identified, so all were killed as a precautionary measure, wildlife officials said. "Since this coyote seemed to be an especially aggressive coyote, we wanted to do everything we could to remove an aggressive animal," said Larry Rogstad, an area wildlife manager with the division. The coyotes were living near the Tom Frost Reservoir in Broomfield County Commons Park. Wildlife officers determined the pack used public trails to move through the city. Coyotes also bit a 9-year-old Erie boy in December and a 26-year-old Broomfield resident in the Anthem neighborhood in January...Denver Post

Ornery owl attacks late-night skiers in Maine

Cross-country skiers who set out on a crisp, moonlit night for a peaceful outing in Bangor's city forest are being targeted by a least one ornery and territorial owl. Over the past three weeks, at least eight skiers and a few romping dogs apparently have fallen victim to a great horned owl that swoops down from a tree with talons outstretched and smacks them on the head. Jim Allen of Bangor said he was skiing in the dark on East Trail in the Rolland F. Perry City Forest when he got hit. "I've got my headlamp on, and all of a sudden, I felt a whack in the back of my head and this stinging, and I understood what everybody was talking about," said Allen, who said he screamed and waved his poles. His thick winter hat protected him from scratches. Others haven't been so lucky. Dr. Dan Cassidy, a local physician and avid night skier, said three skiers suffered small lacerations, but none needed stitches to close their wounds. Cassidy has been documenting owl attacks after one of the noctural birds swooped down on him in nearby Orono in January. He was able to identify it as a great horned owl, and he and others suspect that one or more of those owls are the culprits in the Bangor attacks...AP

Ike’s salty floods leach ranches of life

The two brothers are the sixth generation of their family to oversee one of the state’s oldest ranches, dating back to 1819. But Steven and Bill White could never have imagined their 60,000-acre spread in Chambers County would look the way it does, today. Patches of salt encrust the soil where rice should have been planted this month. Most of the pasture, which should be feeding 2,500 head of cattle, is so dead that thebrothers’boots crunch when they walk across it. “Look at that,” said Bill White, squatting to pick up dead baby crabs. Further proof, he noted, that for 12 days after Hurricane Ike’s surge, their ranch became part of the Gulf of Mexico. The water has receded eight miles back into the Gulf, but it left behind a salty residue that continues to threaten the ranchers and farmers who live in the surge zone east of Houston in Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties. About 4,800 cows and 5,600 calves drowned in the three-county surge zone, the Farm Service Agency estimates. Bill Wilson, a rancher and farmer from Beaumont, lost more than half his herd in the Sept. 13 storm. His soybean fields also were underwater, and afterward his 16.000 acres looked like “somebody had sprayed it with Roundup,” he said. Most ranchers have had to relocate their herds as much as 400 miles outside the surge zone and pay for grazing rights ($15 each month per head). Others, including Ralph Leggett and Leroy Ezer in southern Chambers County, opted to sell their herds at discounted prices because they had nowhere to keep them. All the fences keeping cattle penned in the surge zone — 1,700 miles’ worth — had been blown down...Houston Chronicle