Saturday, April 11, 2009

Professor Picked for Indian Affairs

A Native American who served as the attorney general of Idaho was nominated yesterday to become the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. President Obama nominated Larry EchoHawk, a law professor at Brigham Young University in Utah and a member of the Pawnee tribe, to the post. As well as being a former attorney general, EchoHawk ran for Idaho governor in 1994, losing to Republican Phil Batt by fewer than 35,000 votes. Had he been elected, he would have been the nation's first Native American governor. He became the first American Indian elected to a constitutional statewide office when he assumed the post of attorney general in the early 1990s, the White House said...AP

Friday, April 10, 2009

Note to readers

This will be a shortened version of The Westerner.

My computer keeps shutting down. My son thought he had fixed it earlier this evening but it's doing it again.

I'm typing this on my wife's laptop, which is not very user-friendly for a person with ms.

Hope to be back soon.

Science Chief Discusses Climate Strategy

The Obama administration might agree to auction only a portion of the emissions allowances granted at first under a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas pollution, White House science adviser John P. Holdren said yesterday, a move that would please electric utilities and manufacturers but could anger environmentalists. For weeks the president's assistant on energy and climate change, Carol M. Browner, has convened regular meetings with roughly a dozen key administration officials to develop national energy and climate policy. They include Holdren; the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, energy, housing and urban development, interior, and transportation; and the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisers and Office of Management and Budget. The group, whose deputies meet at least once a week, has explored questions such as how to pursue offshore wind energy, agricultural practices and a new national greenhouse gas emissions standard for vehicles...Washington Post

Save the Climate, Share the Wealth

For several years, Peter Barnes has been peddling a Big Idea about how to design climate change legislation so that it might actually be popular. Now he might finally get his day in the sun. The idea is simple: Make companies pay for greenhouse gas emissions by auctioning off allowances -- then send Americans equal checks for their share of the amount collected. He calls it "cap and dividend," and it resembles the plan Alaska uses for sharing oil royalties with residents by sending them annual checks. An indication that Barnes's idea could become popular came last Wednesday: A version of it was introduced as legislation by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), co-chairman of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. His plan would force the first sellers of fossil fuels -- about a thousand companies such as coal mining firms or oil companies -- to pay for carbon emissions. Those capturing and safely storing carbon dioxide emissions, something coal plants are looking at, would get credits. Not everyone would come out whole. "Those who burn more carbon will pay more than those who burn less," Barnes wrote. "If you drive a sports-utility vehicle, you'll use more sky than if you ride a bus; hence you'll pay more scarcity rent. Since your dividend is the same no matter what, you'll come out ahead if you conserve [energy] and lose money if you don't." With Obama and leading Democrats pushing for climate change this year, Barnes's ideas have suddenly moved from written theory to political reality...Wash. Post

Climate Change Legislation: Suing Citizens

Over the next few days, EPW PolicyBeat will focus on the Waxman-Markey draft climate change legislation and several of the most interesting provisions therein. In our view, Section 336 is far and away the most interesting in the 648-page bill. Here the authors amend the citizen suit provision in Section 304 of the Clean Air Act. The Waxman-Markey bill authorizes a “person” to “commence an action” who has “suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part, to a violation or failure to act referred to in subsection (a).” Sounds innocuous enough…until one reads on. For then one discovers how “harm” is defined: “For purposes of this section, the term ‘harm’ includes any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring, and the incremental exacerbation of any such effect or risk that is associated with a small incremental emission of any air pollutant (including any greenhouse gas defined in Title VII), whether or not the risk is widely shared.” In other words, should the unfortunate happen and Waxman-Markey become law, courts could conceivably be flooded with lawsuits filed by environmental groups who perceive some risk—and they undoubtedly will perceive it—that is “associated with a small incremental emission” of a greenhouse gas—whether from a coal-fired power plant, a manufacturing facility, or some other entity covered by the bill. This provision will further empower the eco-trial bar to fight the ravages of climate change and the businesses it dislikes, with no effect on the former and disastrous consequences for the latter...Matt Dempsey

Conservation group asks Salazar to lift rules to protect endangered species

Conservationists have asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to lift two rules they say weaken the Endangered Species Act, including one that affects protected polar bears. The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday delivered 50,000 petitions to Salazar, requesting he rescind rules put in place by the Bush administration. On March 10, Congress gave Salazar the power to rescind the rules during the following 60 days or until May 9. More than 40 congressional members on Monday urged Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to rescind the rules. Under the Bush rules, federal agencies determine for themselves whether their actions might harm endangered species rather than seek independent review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Services. Federal projects also are exempt from considering the impact of their greenhouse gas emissions on threatened or endangered species like the polar bear...The Oregonian

Wildlife managers study big rise in grizzly deaths

A significant rise in the number of grizzly bear deaths last year will be a principal topic as bear managers from around the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem gather next week in Bozeman. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team reported 48 known and probable grizzly deaths, 37 of which could be attributed to human causes. Twenty of those human-caused deaths, or 54 percent, were due to hunter conflicts. The number is up slightly from an ecosystem count last fall, when wildlife managers reported 44 deaths. The numbers exceeded both male and female mortality management limits. If female deaths exceed the 15 percent threshold for one more year, wildlife managers could decide to return the grizzly to federal Endangered Species Act protection. Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem were delisted two years ago...AP

Ethanol policies fuel food-price rise

Federal ethanol-fuel policies forced consumers to pay an extra 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent in increased food prices in 2008, and the government itself could end up paying nearly $1 billion more this year for food stamps because of ethanol use, according to a new government report. The report by the Congressional Budget Office helps answer questions raised by Congress last year as food prices shot up, and some lawmakers questioned the effects of government policies, such as the ethanol mandate. “Producing ethanol for use in motor fuels increases the demand for corn, which ultimately raises the prices that consumers pay for a wide variety of foods at the grocery store, ranging from corn-syrup sweeteners found in soft drinks to meat, dairy and poultry products,” the CBO said. Also, government-sponsored subsidies and mandates for ethanol to be mixed with gasoline are supposed to help foster U.S. energy independence and to cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions, but only have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by less than one-third of 1 percent...Washington Times

Trojan Horse “Food Safety” Law

A misguided bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, may shut down farmer’s markets and “drive out of business local farmers and artisanal, small-scale producers of berries, herbs, cheese, and countless other wares, even when there is in fact nothing unsafe in their methods of production,” warns Walter Olson at Overlawyered. Ignorance about the law’s broad reach (and how it will be construed by the courts) has thwarted opposition to the bill, which will likely pass Congress. For example, a newspaper claims the bill “doesn’t regulate home gardens.” The newspaper probably assumed that was true because the bill, like most federal laws, only purports to reach activities that affect “interstate commerce.” To an uninformed layperson or journalist, that “sounds as if it might not reach local and mom-and-pop operators at all.” (The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, has sought to forestall opposition to her bill by falsely claiming that that “the Constitution’s commerce clause prevents the federal government from regulating commerce that doesn’t cross state lines.”) But lawyers familiar with our capricious legal system know better. The Supreme Court ruled in Wickard v. Filburn (1942) that even home gardens (in that case, a farmer’s growing wheat for his own consumption) are subject to federal laws that regulate interstate commerce. Economists and scholars have criticized this decision, but it continues to be cited and followed in Supreme Court rulings, such as those applying federal anti-drug laws to consumption of even home-grown medical marijuana. Indeed, many court decisions allow Congress to define as “interstate commerce” even non-commercial conduct that doesn’t cross state lines — something directly at odds with Rep. DeLauro’s claims...Open Market

Environmentalists win battle over pesticide spraying near water

Conservationists applauded the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to move ahead with implementing the Clean Water Act after a court battle over a Bush administration rule that exempted pesticide spraying around waterways. In January, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an EPA decision that spraying pesticides near waterways shouldn't be regulated by the Clean Water Act. The court ruled that pesticides constituted pollutants under federal law and had to be regulated to protect human health and the environment...The Oregonian

Montana House Rejects Slaughter Bill Amendments

The Montana House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected gubernatorial amendments to a bill that would facilitate the establishment of privately owned horse processing plants in that state. In its original form, HB 418 prohibited state courts from granting injunctions to stop or delay construction of horse slaughter or processing facilities based on permit or licensing challenges or on environmental grounds. The measure also required anyone challenging permits to submit a surety bond representing 20% of the facility's estimated building cost. The bill awarded attorney and court fees to plaintiffs in cases District Courts deem harassing or without merit. The bill passed both houses of Montana's legislature and was presented to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who on April 3 vetoed the measure, removed provisions concerning licensing and court challenges, and sent his amended version back to the House for review. Lawmakers rejected the governor's amendments 59-41 and returned the bill to its original form. HB 418 sponsor Rep. Ed Butcher said the proposed amendments gutted the legislation. "No company is going to invest $5 or $6 million in a plant unless there is something here to protect it against licensing and court challenges," he said. The bill now returns to the state's senate for review...The Horse

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case

A federal judge focused scrutiny yesterday on a small Justice Department unit assigned to root out corruption when he dismissed the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens and appointed an outside lawyer to investigate allegations of misconduct by prosecutors. The rare move to turn the investigation on the prosecutors themselves puts six federal lawyers, accused of mishandling evidence and witnesses, in the awkward position of becoming potential defendants in a criminal trial. It also creates a challenge for the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who must put a tainted prosecution behind him as he tries to remake the reputation of his department, which has been troubled in recent years. The Justice Department would usually examine such accusations internally. But U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said yesterday that he has no faith in such an investigation after seeing so much "shocking and disturbing" behavior by the government. "In 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I have seen in this case," he said...Washington Post

Obama's Sheriff

As top officials in the Obama administration settle into their new offices, they are just now beginning to uncover some of the worst abuses committed by their predecessors. And of all the corruption that characterized the Bush years, none is more shocking — and more responsible for lasting damage — than the pervasive scandals and cronyism at the federal agency charged with managing one-fifth of America's land. But unlike some Democrats in Washington who insist that it's time to "turn the page" on past misdeeds, newly appointed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is already showing a determination to hold the Bush administration accountable for its wrongdoing. Sporting his signature Stetson, the secretary casts himself as the man in the white hat — a new sheriff in town, come to restore law and order. In his first two months in office, Salazar has done more than simply reverse many of the Bush administration's worst moves, including the authorization of gas drilling within sight of Utah's national parks. He and his top deputy, Tom Strickland — both of whom served as attorney general of Colorado — have also initiated a top-to-bottom investigation of what Salazar calls the "blatant and criminal conflicts of interest and self-dealing" that took place in Interior. "We've got to make sure this mess gets cleaned up," Salazar tells Rolling Stone, revealing that he has already referred evidence of wrongdoing to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. According to the secretary, he's looking at "criminal behavior that extended to the very highest levels. The 'anything goes' era is over."...Rolling Stone

U.S. exploring all options on climate

The president's new science adviser said yesterday that global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth's air. In his first interview since being confirmed last month, John Holdren said officials have talked about the idea of geoengineering the climate. One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort. "We don't have the luxury of taking any approach off the table," Holdren said. At talks in Bonn, Germany, meantime, the U.N.'s climate chief said industrial countries are falling short on pledging to slash their carbon emissions over the next decade while the chief U.S. delegate urged negotiators to adopt a more long-term strategy. The contrasting visions of the fight against global warming emerged in the first appearance of the U.S. delegation sent by President Obama, which nonetheless was warmly welcomed at a two-week negotiating session attended by 175 nations. Ending his first round of talks as chief U.S. delegate, Jonathan Pershing said he found a "wide divergence" of positions, and "implausible" demands of some developing countries on wealthier nations...AP

In Areas Fueled by Coal, Climate Bill Sends Chill

From the wheat fields of the north-central region to Kansas City’s necklace of industrial parks to the brick street fronts of St. Louis, Missouri’s reliance on cheap electricity is deeply ingrained. But few pay attention to the origin of their little-noticed savings: 21 coal-fired power plants that emit more than 75 million tons of carbon dioxide annually and generate 80 percent of Missouri’s electricity. Even residents who endorse wind and solar energy have grown accustomed to the benefits of state policies that favor coal by putting a premium on low-cost electricity. So the idea of federal climate legislation that could increase electricity bills by putting a price on emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide is unsettling. For Missourians, said Robert Clayton, chairman of the state’s Public Service Commission, “the consequence of using more power hasn’t been great.” Missouri is hardly alone. Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa are also states where coal turns on most of the lights. That is why, even before Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, proposed legislation that would put a price on carbon-dioxide emissions, Senate and House Democrats from coal-using states began to push back...NY Times

Fire And Ice

The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a 25-mile bridge that once covered about 6,000 square miles, has split off from the Antarctic coast. Floating untethered, the Connecticut-size ledge — a mere 0.39% of all Antarctic ice — could eventually melt as it drifts northward toward warmer waters. Naturally, activists both in and out of the scientific community, the media and political figures on the left blame human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide for warming the Earth, particularly the Antarctic peninsula, where temperatures have increased 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. Before we panic, there are a few things we should remember that will help us to put this less-than-catastrophic event in perspective. First, the melting of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, or any other ice shelf, will not raise ocean levels. Antarctica has lost seven shelves in the last two decades and there have been no disastrous effects. Ice displaces more volume than water because water expands when it freezes. There is no net gain in water when an ice shelf or iceberg melts, or, in other words, contracts. Second, much of Antarctica, particularly near the South Pole, has been through a recent cooling trend...Third, there's an active volcano beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. A little more than a year ago, the British Antarctic Survey noted, "Heat from the volcano creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow toward the sea."...IBD

Bill to fund healthier forests

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo) has introduced an amendment in the Senate to fully fund the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA). The amendment will authorize an additional $200 million in funding for Hazardous Fuel Reduction on Federal land, in order to fully fund the HFRA, which would also provide jobs thinning overstocked forests in rural communities and reduce the threat of wildfires. “Rural communities will finally get the resources they have been promised. The HRFA funds will help communities prevent wildfires and help create forest based jobs,” Barrasso said. Barrasso was joined by his Western Caucus senate colleagues, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo), Crapo (R – ID), Bob Bennett (R – UT), John Kyl (R-NC), Orin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D.Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Funding for the Hazardous Fuel Reduction Program has historically been provided at less than half the authorized amount of $760 million...Little Chicago Review

Here's what we need to do: Put some big banks, some insurance companies and some automakers on federal land next to these rural communities. That will ensure adequate funding for these thinning projects. Finally some of that "bail out" money would be wisely spent.

Helicopter operators lobby against using Nat'l Guard to fight forest fires

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1404, the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act, "Flame Fund," on Thursday, March 26 by a vote of 412-3. A dangerous amendment see page two highlighted in yellow) was added to this bill to require that the wildland fire management strategy include a plan, developed in coordination with the National Guard Bureau, to maximize the use of National Guard resources to fight wildfires. The amendment was originally to be offered by Congressman Jim Matheson (D-Utah), however, at the eleventh hour, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Nick J. Rahall (D-West Virginia) offered the National Guard amendment instead. Passage of the Flame Fund legislation (H.R. 1404) has been a priority for Chairman Rahall, especially since the House passed similar legislation last year and the bill never came up in the U.S. Senate. This is a critical firefighting issue that affects all helicopter operators, especially those under contract to the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. Should the National Guard language be added to the Senate bill and the final legislation signed by President Obama direct the maximum use of National Guard resources to fight wildfires, firefighting operators will be significantly affected by this action which could limit the use of commercial firefighting resources...HAI

Wolf controversy spurs a House bill that makes introducing non-native species a felony

The Idaho House voted 46-24 on Tuesday for House Bill 138, which applies to species threatening the safety of people, livestock, pets or property. The measure also allows civil lawsuits should such an animal injure or kill a person. The bill now goes to the Senate. It was prompted by hostility to the federal government's reintroduction of wolves in Idaho. An estimated 850 wolves are now in the state, though the state has had no reports of attacks on humans. President Barack Obama proposes removing Idaho wolves from the Endangered Species List, clearing the way for state management and hunting. GOP Rep. Lynn Luker, a Boise lawyer, said the bill would have no impact on the federal government or its agents because of sovereign immunity. "This causes more problems than it solves," Luker said. But the bill's author, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, said it would discourage introduction of dangerous animals. "This causes more problems than it solves," Luker said. But the bill's author, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, said it would discourage introduction of dangerous animals. "This is an attempt by the state to try to, if not prosecute somebody - maybe put them on warning," Hart said. Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, acknowledged the bill is flawed but said it is a worthwhile effort to protest the damage wolves have done to wildlife and livestock. "The wolf is a decimating, destroying machine," she said. Idaho Statesman

Report: NM Now #1 in Oil and Gas, but Challenges Persist

New Mexico is number one in the Intermountain West when it comes to oil and gas production, according to a new report, and being on top comes with certain challenges. Report author Ben Alexander of Headwaters Economics says the state has surpassed Wyoming in production, and is doing a pretty good job of capturing that energy revenue. However, he says, Santa Fe seems to be relying too much on those oil and gas dollars, contributing to the state's current big budget deficit. He says one other finding that came as a surprise was that New Mexico is at the bottom of the heap in the Rockies when it comes to returning some of that energy revenue to the local governments where energy development is actually taking place. "That can mean that local jurisdictions can have a very difficult time handling the impacts on basic government services, and also providing the infrastructure and sustaining the infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges." The study goes on to say that policy makers should look for ways to lessen the state's dependence on volatile oil and gas revenue to fund essential public services...Public News Service

The study also looks at Otero Mesa. Go here for the study.

New Climate Change Web Site Promises to be ‘Eco-News on Steroids’

An environmental news Web site that creators say will be “the most comprehensive information center for climate and energy news and information,” launched Wednesday.,” which is owned by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), is intended to an information clearinghouse featuring investigative reports alongside policy briefs aimed at lawmakers, teachers, parents, and the general public, according to its managing editor, Marc Morano. “The purpose is to provide the American people and, frankly, the international community with an alternative to the mainstream media and the environmental pablum they serve up to their viewers and readers every single day,” Morano told Morano said that the Web site wouldn’t be “just another home” for climate change skeptics – it would expose readers to the entire spectrum of climate change debate.” The Web site will feature links to former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming blog, as well as to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the world’s premier proponent of “anthropogenic” (man-made) global warming. “What we’re trying to do is offer people a counter (weight),” he said. “The site will also offer research and environmental news that questions the theory of man-made “global warming.”...CNS News

So far there's not much there, but it may be worth bookmarking.

Ocean panel urges federal action to protect coasts, marine resources

A blue-ribbon panel is urging Congress and the Obama administration today to toughen federal coastal protections in the face of rising climate threats and increased pressure from offshore energy producers. The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative outlined a short-term agenda calling for a new White House-level ocean policy coordinator and the long-stalled ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty. Commissioners presented their 44-page report to lawmakers and the Obama administration. The report says a "lack of a rational management strategy" and weakened ocean science have resulted in sharp declines in the goods and services that the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes have provided. Declining coastal resources are creating a "sense of urgency" because of the impact on communities, the economy and quality of life, the report says...NY Times

Oregon coast commercial salmon season curtailed again

Salmon boats will have to sit idle or try their luck with other species off the Oregon coast again this year. Federal fisheries managers voted Wednesday to severely limit the upcoming commercial salmon season much like they did last year. "Looks like I'm going to be doing something else again this summer," said David Bitts, a salmon fisherman from Eureka who is president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. Like last year, the restrictions approved at a meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council stem from declining runs in California's Sacramento River. The spring Chinook that leave that river system and pass under the Golden Gate bridge make up most of the salmon caught off the Oregon coast. There was some good news for Oregon fishers in the council's decision: sport fisherman will be able to catch Coho salmon this summer, and there will be a brief commercial Coho season in September...The Oregonian

Forest Service assists in pot raid on private property

A Carmel Valley man was arrested and police are searching for his brother after a drug raid on their homes Wednesday. Seaside police Sgt. Bruno Dias said narcotics investigators began a probe about three months ago into an operation that used a Seaside parcel service to ship marijuana out of state after a package bound for Louisiana was intercepted. A UPS clerk smelled marijuana in the package, and the company alerted police, Dias said. The package was traced to Randolph Siino, 57, of Carmel Valley, using a shipping label that hadn't been removed, police said. Seaside officers, Monterey County Sheriff's deputies, and agents from the state's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the U.S. Forest Service participated in the raid on Siino's home at 37452 Nason Road. Siino was arrested and booked into county jail after the 9 a.m. raid. Officers searched the Carmel Valley home of his brother, Andrew Siino, 59, at 39600 Laurel Springs Road. He was not there when police arrived and is being sought...The Herald

This involved local law enforcement, a private shipping company and two private residences. So why are Forest Service employees involved?

It's appropriation time again and we'll soon be seeing the annual media campaign howling that the federal land mgt. agencies need more law enforcement personnel to protect the federal lands.

If they are so short-handed, why are they involved in pot raids on private property?

Remember that when you hear their cries for more money.

Livestock fences draw federal scrutiny along New Mexico border

The director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture's Office of Agricultural Biosecurity will meet with a committee Friday to discuss fencing needs along the New Mexico-Mexico border. Jeff Witte will join members of the committee from the Border Security Task Force who have been looking at what ranchers and farmers say is an issue badly in need of address. The meeting, as previously announced, is Friday, from 9 to 11 a.m., at the Mimbres Valley Learning Center. It is open to the public. Ranchers and farmers on the border are concerned diseased animals might wander into New Mexico from Mexico, infecting livestock here. Judy Keeler, with family ranches south of Animas and east of Hachita, presented a report at the Border Security Task Force's meeting in March the to illustrate border fencing. While New Mexico has some of the best protections in the United States for livestock, Keeler said, livestock fences are badly needed. "We have to get a fence up along the border to prevent disease from coming up from South of the border," she said. Fences along the border transition from one type to another to another, from bigger, better barriers to lower fences and less-restrictive fences. "What we've got is a hodge-podge of fencing, and it's beginning to show some wear," said Keeler. She and Joe Delk, the latter of the New Mexico Livestock Board, are also to meet with the committee...Las Cruces Sun-News

I'll have more on this Saturday, including pictures.

Dramatic Image Shows Mount Redoubt Lightning

For the first time, scientists have been able to “see” and trace lightning inside a plume of ash spewing from an actively erupting volcano...Fox News

Forest Service closes trail because of crafty bear

You know that bringing food inside your tent in bear country is a big no-no and since you're so responsible, BACKPACKER reader, you also are well-versed in the skills necessary to hang a bear bag, right? Well, if you're hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, all this outdoor know-how may not be enough to deter a certain hungry bear. Numerous AT hikers have reported a black bear that will stop at nothing to get a good ol' human meal, including chewing through ropes suspending bear bags and stealing backpacks full of tasty treats. It's become such a problem that the Forest Service has closed a 6-mile stretch of the AT between Neels Gap and Tesnatee Gap to overnight camping in order to discourage the bear. Rangers hope that by taking away the bear's food supply, it'll eventually get hungry and move on to getting dinner the old fashioned way, leaving hikers and their grub alone. Two years ago, rangers had to resort to euthanasia for a bear that was approaching hikers on the AT and trying to scare them into dropping their treat-laden packs. In order to assure this doesn't happen to the current hungry bear, hikers should keep in mind several things about hiking in bear country...Backpacker

Surge in Abandoned Horses Renews Debate Over Slaughterhouses

Emaciated horses eating bark off trees. Abandoned horses tied to telephone poles. Horses subsisting on feces, walking among carcasses. As the economy continues to falter, law enforcement officers in Kentucky and throughout the country are seeing major increases in the number of unwanted and neglected horses, some abandoned on public land, others left to starve by their owners. The situation has renewed the debate over whether reopening slaughterhouses in the United States — the last ones closed in 2007 — would help address the problem. Some states, Missouri, Montana and North and South Dakota, for example, are looking at ways to bring slaughterhouses back. An estimated 100,000 horses a year are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, prompting Congress to consider a bill that would ban the sale and transport of horses for human consumption outside the country. But Arkansas, Georgia and eight other states are against such a ban, saying owners need affordable options for unwanted horses...NY Times

PETA to Club Baby Seals in 'World of Warcraft'

Ever want to club a baby seal? On Saturday, April 11, you can, at least virtually — and you'll have People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to thank. As part of its campaign against the annual fur-seal, um, hunt currently beginning in the Canadian Arctic, PETA is staging a battle in "World of Warcraft," the online role-playing gaming sensation...Fox News

Leader-author calls for 'major' animal rights counter-movement

You could say Patti Strand of Portland, Oregon wrote the book on the animal rights movement. Strand, who is the founder and chairperson of the National Animal Interest Alliance, authored a book 17 years ago entitled “The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism”. Strand has been battling the animal rights movement ever since and she says it’s not going away. “So I would say that the people who imagine that they can just keep doing their own thing and the bad guys will disappear are living in a bit of a fantasy land at this point,” says Strand. “They’re not going to go away. This is how these groups earn their living. They’re conflict fund-raising groups. They need conflict in order to make money.” Strand’s group—the NAIA—includes dog breeders, research scientists, hunters, farmers, ranchers and others. She says she would like to see agriculture get more involved in their counter-movement...Brownfield

Song Of The Day #015

Mildred "Millie" and Dorothy "Dolly" Good were born in 1913 & 1915 respectively. There is some disagreement on where they were actually born, but they claimed to be from Muleshoe, Texas. Their stage name was Girls Of The Golden West. When Dolly was only 14 they got their first radio gig on WIL in St. Louis. In 1933 they became regulars on the WLS Barn Dance, which led to guest appearances on the syndicated Rudy Vallee show, which in turn led to their recording contract with Bluebird. They were very popular during the 30's & 40's and were one of the few female acts in country music at that time.

While not containing today's selection, a good sampling of their mid-thirties recordings for Bluebird & Vocalion can be found on their cd Roll Along Prairie Moon.

Today's selection is My Love Is A Rider, Bluebird 5752.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ

When Congress immunized telecoms last August for their illegal participation in Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program, Senate Democratic apologists for telecom immunity repeatedly justified that action by pointing out that Bush officials who broke the law were not immunized -- only the telecoms. Taking them at their word, EFF -- which was the lead counsel in the lawsuits against the telecoms -- thereafter filed suit, in October, 2008, against the Bush administration and various Bush officials for illegally spying on the communications of Americans. But late Friday afternoon, the Obama DOJ filed the government's first response to EFF's lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush's NSA program. But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim of breathtaking scope -- never before advanced even by the Bush administration -- that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications. In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad "state secrets" privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they "willfully disclose" to the public what they have learned...Glenn Greenwald

U.N. Climate Talks Stall Over Emissions Cuts by Rich Nations

Negotiators at U.N. climate talks, buoyed by U.S. promises to lead the fight against global warming, are demanding that industrial countries pledge deeper cuts in greenhouse gases over the next decade. Environmental activists said Monday the talks in Bonn, Germany, have made little progress on two key issues: the carbon emissions targets to be adopted by the rich countries and how to raise an estimated $100 billion a year needed to help poor countries adapt to climate change. The two-week round of talks conclude Wednesday and are to reconvene in June. But delegates from 175 countries are likely to decide to add more sessions to an already hectic calendar of negotiations leading up to a decisive meeting in December in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is to adopt a new international climate change accord. Developing countries want industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Some countries said even that cut won't eliminate the threat of rising sea levels and disastrous weather shifts affecting agriculture and water supplies, and suggested a 45 percent cut...AP

Emissions bill fuels fight in Congress

Democrats are already wrangling over how to spend the windfall — potentially hundreds of billions of dollars — raised by the new system. The bill would create a cap-and-trade system, with a cap on industrial emissions of greenhouse gases and a market for companies to trade their pollution allowances. The way that the government distributes the allowances will have a significant impact on companies forced to buy, sell and collect the permits starting in 2012. The draft bill was purposely vague on the issue, but the sponsors — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — support giving away some free allowances to industries that are most vulnerable to international competition, such as steel, glass and paper. That type of approach is favored by lawmakers from manufacturing states, who fear that costly compliance with a cap-and-trade system could force fossil-fuel burning industries to buy overseas from cheaper, less-regulated countries like China and India. Their votes, particularly in the Senate, are critical to passing any significant climate change legislation. But members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all revenue provisions, have voiced support for the “cap and dividend” approach to tackling carbon emissions and climate change. Cap and dividend, popularized by California entrepreneur Peter Barnes, regulates the first sellers of fossil fuels, such as the producers of coal, crude oil and natural gas. That’s a shift from cap and trade, which targets electrical utilities, factories and other “downstream” consumers...Politico

An Environmental Brain Drain to D.C.

During the Bush administration, environmentalists wandered in the wilderness. Now that Washington has suddenly become the promised land, many are leaving their groups and heading to jobs in policy. Among the moves: # Jonathan Pershing, formerly the director of the Climate, Energy and Pollution Program at the World Resources Institute, has been tapped to become the State Department’s deputy special envoy for climate change. # Van Jones, the green jobs guru and founder from Green for All, was named last month as special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. # Cathy Zoi, the former chief executive of the Alliance for Climate Protection, is moving to the Department of Energy to become assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. # Cynthia Giles, the vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center, is headed to the E.P.A., where she will serve as the assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance. # Finally, our colleagues at Greenwire reported last month that “the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the country’s most influential environmental groups, has sent at least a half-dozen former employees into prime government positions tasked with writing U.S. climate and energy policies.”...NY Times

Army's eye on Piñon stirs hot debate

A bill making state land off- limits to the U.S. Army's proposed expansion of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeast Colorado scrambled party lines Tuesday, as Democrats and Republicans joined together both for and against the bill in a head-spinning rhetorical free-for-all. At the end of the debate, the House passed House Bill 1317 on an unrecorded voice vote, in which the side that shouts the loudest wins and the true support for the measure often remains muddy. The bill must still pass on a recorded vote before heading to the Senate. "To me, this bill is ultimately about the authority of the military in this country," said Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison. ". . . The military in this situation is violating the trust of the state. And we as a state need to maintain our autonomy and our values and take a stand whether the military should be able to expand on our lands." Bill sponsor Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, said state lands pepper the area around the Piñon Canyon site and taking them off the table would hamstring the proposed expansion. The Army argues that it needs to expand to overcome a shortage of adequate training land. Rep. Joe Rice, a Littleton Democrat and a colonel in the Army Reserve, said the current Piñon Canyon site isn't big enough to train soldiers for the distances they would have to cover and exhaustion they would face in combat...Denver Post

Archer Daniels Midland project aims to bury carbon dioxide

The drillers have gnawed through a mile of rock here, almost down to a 600-million-year-old layer of sandstone where they hope to bury about 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide -- equal to the annual emissions of 220,000 automobiles. The $84-million project, of which $66.7 million comes from the Energy Department, will help determine whether storing greenhouse gases underground, so-called sequestration, is a viable solution for global warming. The project by Archer Daniels Midland Co., in which greenhouses gases from a corn mill will be buried beneath shale, is important because it's the furthest along of the seven federally sponsored partnerships nationwide to study the matter. The idea is that by burying emissions, coal power plants and factories would cause less damage to the environment...LA Times

Public Land Mismanagement

"This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments and wilderness areas for granted, but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share. That's something all Americans can support." Those were the words of President Barack Obama on March 30 when he signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that placed an additional 2 million acres of public land under the federal government's most stringent use restrictions. To anyone who knows the record of public land management, however, these words of preservation and unanimous support ring hollow. If we used a measure like our stock indexes as a public land management barometer, it would be lower than the Dow Jones. Consider three measures of public land stewardship. Environmental Irresponsibility--Decades of fire suppression by the Forest Service have disrupted natural fire cycles and turned many western forests into tinderboxes waiting to burn. Dense stands of spindly deadfall and underbrush now occupy land once characterized by open savannahs and large, widely spaced trees. One result is larger, more intense fires that burn the publicly owned forests to the ground. Indeed, by the Forest Service's own estimates, 90 to 200 million acres of federal forests are at high risk of burning in catastrophic fire events. Bans on thinning and salvage harvesting have not only exacerbated the fire danger in public forests but it has also left them more susceptible to disease, insects and high winds. Not only do the fires put enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, the fact that the forests are dead or dying means that they are not sequestering carbon, as healthy ones do. Fiscal Irresponsibility--What makes the ecological mismanagement of federal lands even more difficult to swallow is the price tag that comes with it...Establishing the 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System will only add more red ink to the BLM's hemorrhaging budget. Fretwell notes that less money is available to maintain federal lands as the percentage of wilderness land increases. This is partly due to the fact that wilderness designation results in more litigation than productivity. For example, as wilderness and endangered species issues forced the Forest Service to reduce timber harvests in Washington and Oregon from more than 6 billion board feet in the late 1980s to one-tenth that amount in 2006, its cost of offering 1,000 board feet of lumber for sale increased to $182 from $53. Jack Ward Thomas, President Bill Clinton's chief of the forest service, says litigation has tied land management agencies in a giant "Gordian knot," one which the legislation just signed by the president is likely to pull tighter...Forbes

Cows create homes for tadpole shrimp

Endangered tadpole shrimp are flourishing this week in massive mud puddles on a flat-top foothill -- and they owe their good time to a bunch of grass-munching cows. Well-timed rain and a cool spring have set the stage for the shrimp to reproduce in abundance, but nothing much would have happened here without those visiting cows. Over several years, state officials have brought in the cows to clear out the grass that was stealing water from the huge temporary pools that form in winter and spring - vernal pools - where the shrimp live. Biologists say bovine intervention has actually nurtured a swath of nature on the Big Table Mountain Ecological Preserve northeast of Fresno where wildflowers, tadpole shrimp and many other creatures needed help. Though the effort won't get the shrimp off the endangered-species list, it is a step in the right direction, state biologists say. And it took courage. State officials got opposition from environmentalists who knew poorly timed grazing could lead to trampled pastures and streams. The table top had been privately owned in the past, and cattle had grazed on it for many years, officials said. Officials didn't realize the cows were thinning out the invasive grass that had been introduced by European settlers more than a century before. After acquiring the property, state officials tried to return it to a more natural state by removing cows in the early 1990s. But the elegant ecosystem was overrun with grasses that are not native to California...Fresno Bee

Bill would prohibit bighorns in sheep grazing areas

A Senate committee has voted to require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to kill or remove bighorns that enter domestic sheep allotments on federal, state or private land. The Senate Natural Resources Committee voted 7-2 on a bill Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway of Terreton said would protect private-property rights and Idaho livestock producers. Siddoway, a sheepherder and elk rancher, wants the state to kill or remove bighorns in grazing areas or certify that the risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep to wild sheep is acceptable. That would also apply to bighorns moved into areas with existing sheep or livestock operations, according to the Spokesman-Review. Several decisions the last several years have gone against domestic sheep producers in Idaho, including a decision by the U.S. Forest Service last year to restrict sheep grazing in some areas of the Payette National Forest. Three environmental groups had sued, arguing that diseases transmitted by domestic sheep could kill bighorns...AP

OIE International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceability

The OIE and its Members move forward on the global implementation of animal identification and product traceability “from the farm to the fork” at the close of the OIE International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceability held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 23 to25 March 2009. “Discrepancies between national identification of live animals and traceability systems of animal products make it difficult to trace products of animal origin throughout the food chain at world level; developing countries risk losing out on market access because of trade barriers that sometimes are put in place as a result of these discrepancies. The best way to prevent this is for all countries to progressively implement international standards, such as those of the OIE and Codex”, Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General, explained at the Conference. Participants also confirmed the need for strengthening the bridge between identification and traceability of live animals and of products of animal origin. “We should aim at establishing traceability throughout the whole food chain from primary production down to consumers. The public health goal can be achieved by seamlessly applying the standards and principles established by the OIE - at the farm level - and by the Codex Alimentarius Commission - at the food processing and distribution level,” Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima , Secretary for the Codex Alimentarius Commission insisted...Press Release

According Wikapedia this is who these folks are:

The Office international des épizooties (OIE, French for "International Epizootic Office"), now known as the World Organisation for Animal Health (Organisation mondiale de la santé animale in French), is an international intergovernmental organization founded in 1924. In March 2009, the OIE had 173 member countries. Its headquarters are in Paris, France.

The OIE's claimed missions are:

* to guarantee the transparency of animal disease status world-wide
* to collect, analyse and disseminate veterinary scientific information
* to provide expertise and promote international solidarity for the control of animal diseases
* to guarantee the sanitary safety of world trade by developing sanitary rules for international trade in animals and animal products.

The organization was created following the rinderpest epizootic in Belgium in 1920. The disease had originated in India and concern over the spread led to an international conference in Paris in March 1921. An agreement was signed on January 25, 1924 by 28 countries.

The Press Release also states:

The Conference benefited from the kind support of the Government of Argentina, the European Commission and the United States Department of Agriculture as well as of several private companies.

So how much did USDA pay to be a supporter of the conference? How many USDA employees attended? What policy positions did they advocate?

Charges to be filed against bison ranch

The Sioux County state's attorney says charges will be filed against the owner of a ranch along the North Dakota-South Dakota border where hundreds of bison broke loose, trampling fences and gobbling other ranchers' hay supplies. Sioux County prosecutor John Gosbee said "multiple" counts charging livestock at large and one count charging neglect of an animal will be filed against the Wilder Ranch, owned by millionaire businessman and real estate developer Maurice Wilder, of Clearwater, Fla. Wilder and Dan O'Brien, who manages Wilder's 200,000 acres of farm and ranch land in eight states, did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press on Tuesday. Eight ranchers have submitted claims totaling more than $60,000 in damage to hay and fences, Gosbee said. Other claims may be pending, he said. Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis said Wilder was billed for the damages a month ago but has not responded. "We sent it certified mail and he did pick it up, but he's dragging his feet," Landeis said. "We've gotten no response whatsoever from him." Hundreds of bison escaped pastures in early January by walking over fences that were covered with deep, dense snow. Once on the loose, some of the bison entered neighboring pastures in search of food. The ranch has about 2,500 bison, 1,100 cattle and seven employees, ranch officials have said. The bison are slaughtered at facilities in North Dakota and Colorado and sold for meat...AP

Riders on the black lava

Becoming a Hawaiian cowboy was as adventuresome and manly as anything could be. Tom Mix appeared in hundreds of cowboy films between 1910 and 1936 and had an enthusiastic audience among “cowboy-crazy” Hawaiians. Our own Ikua Purdy became “The World Champion Cowboy” at a 1908 Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Archie Ka’aua took third place, Jack Low’s flamboyancy thrilled the crowds. The three-man Island team used Wyoming scrub horses no one else wanted, they practiced on them in a deep river to develop affinity between horse and rider. Cattle came to Hawaii in 1793 as a gift to Kamehameha I from Captain Vancouver. John Parker, a New England sailor, befriended the King and became a rancher—yep, that Parker Ranch, one of America’s largest and oldest! By the early 1940s Hawaii Ranching had a colorful international cachet through the works of best-selling novelist Armine von Tempski (her nom de plume), daughter of ranch manager Louis von Tempsy. She described Hawaiian cowboy life on Haleakala Ranch, managed by her father. “Born in Paradise,’ was her girlhood story, she wrote “Pam’s Paradise Ranch,” “Bright Spurs,” among others...Hawaii Reporter

Prineville, Ore., maintains flavor of Old West, American Cowboy magazine says

Prineville, the oldest established city in Central Oregon, still has annual cattle drives through its streets, branding parties, rodeos, local residents who banter at a downtown cafe and an occasional cowboy hat bobbing down Main Street. It also has a 7-Eleven playing new country music, a Starbucks on the far end of town, a business park and modern real estate developments on historic ranchland. Despite the latest amenities, Prineville, which was founded in 1868, has maintained a sense of history and Western authenticity, according to American Cowboy magazine. The magazine recently listed Prineville one of the best 20 places to live in the American West. The rating, in the April/May issue, was based on what makes a community Western -- authentic cowboy culture, celebrations of history and heritage, recreational activities, a strong sense of community, and rugged independence...Press Release

George Strait named ACMA’s Artist of the Decade

After nearly three decades of making music and No. 1 singles, George Strait has been named the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Artist of the Decade. “It’s about damn time,” former reining ACMA Artist of the Decade, Garth Brooks, said. Strait was given the honor Monday night during an elaborate ceremony at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The event will be broadcast on CBS next month. The 56-year-old star joins Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn, Alabama and Garth Brooks as the fifth ACMA Artist of the Decade award winner. “It's kind of ironic to be standing up here getting ready to present this award to the man who’s fully responsible for where I’m at today,” Brooks said. “It is an honor to pass the torch to the man who I believe has carried the torch for country music for the last 30 years,” he said. Fellow country icons Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift were among those who performed during Monday night’s tribute, along with 11 other acts and A-list stars. “He was one of the singers who made me want to move to Nashville,” Jackson said of his country-singing colleague. Jackson, who played a show in Primm on Friday, said Strait has withstood the test of time. Strait has enjoyed 57 number one hits during his more than a quarter century of performing. Thirty-four of his 38 albums have gone platinum or multi-platinum, and the former cattle rancher has been nominated for more Country Music Association and ACMA awards than anyone else...Las Vegas Sun

Song Of The Day #014

I had picked The Girls Of The Golden West to be our artists this morning, but when I came across the article of George Strait being named Artist of The Decade I knew we had to honor him, especially since he keeps the traditional country sound on so many of his songs. Besides that, I've been at ropings where he and Bubba also competed.

So today's selection is Ace In The Whole from his 1989 cd Beyond The Blue Neon.

Listen to them rip it up on this western swing style song.

Turn up the volume so your neighbors can enjoy it too.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Farquhar's Blog

Only 6 posts, but for those interested you can view his NRDC blog here.

Salazar Names Former Richardson Aide, Ned Farquhar, DAS for Land and Minerals Management

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today named Ned Farquhar, a renewable energy and natural resource policy expert and former senior advisor on energy and the environment to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation. “Our mandate from the President is to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, build a clean-energy economy and make wise use of our conventional energy resources,” Secretary Salazar said. “Ned’s extensive natural resource policy experience and expertise with renewable energy production and transmission make him well-qualified to help us create energy-related jobs here in America, protect our national security and confront the dangers of climate change.” Farquhar was most recently senior advocate for Mountain West Energy/Climate with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since 2006, he has developed strategies for the Western Regional Climate Initiative, incorporating seven states and four Canadian provinces, and culminating in the nation’s most comprehensive cap and trade framework in September 2008. The Initiative supports renewable energy development throughout the West. From 2003 to 2006, Farquhar was the senior advisor to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on energy and the environment, providing strategic and tactical direction to Richardson’s nationally recognized clean energy program. Farquhar worked with cabinet members to develop legislation, executive orders and communications on climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, land management, and energy development. He represented Richardson at the Western Governors’ Association, designing and implementing the governor’s clean and diversified energy program for the WGA. Before that Farquhar was program officer for Western Lands at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, California. From 2001 to 2003, he developed and implemented national and regional grant campaigns for transportation policy reform, land protection, habitat conservation, growth management and land use...DOI

Bingaman introduces mining law reform

U.S. Senate and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman has introduced S. 796, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009, which will be reviewed this summer after the committee works on a bipartisan energy bill. The bill eliminates patenting of federal lands, imposes a federal minerals royalty, establishes a Hardrock Minerals Reclamation Fund, and requires a review of certain lands within three years to determine if they will be available for future mining. The bill aims to enact a robust abandoned mine land program for hardrock mining sites. It is estimated that there are as many as 500,000 abandoned hardrock mine sites nationally, most located in the West. Each operator of a hardrock mining on federal, state, tribal or private land would pay a reclamation fee of not less than 0.3%, and not more than 1%, of the value of the production of the hardrock minerals for deposit into the fund. Production of all locatable minerals on public lands would be subject to a royalty to be determined by the U.S. Secretary of Interior through regulations of not less than 2% and not more than 5% of production value, not including "reasonable transportation, beneficiation, and processing costs." The royalty could also vary based on the particular mineral being mined. Permits would be required for all mineral activities on federal lands...Mineweb

PLC Applauds Congressional Letter On The Endangered Species Act

The Public Lands Council (PLC) applauded a letter sent by members of Congress to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, urging commonsense action on the consultation process for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of 19 Representatives, expressed concern with language in the recent omnibus spending bill calling for review of a December 2008 regulation to streamline consultations under the ESA. “We have been working closely with Congress on this issue,” explained Skye Krebs, PLC President and rancher from Ione, Ore. “We appreciate that these 19 legislators joined our effort to ensure that the Endangered Species Act is as efficient and effective as possible.” Under the recently overturned regulation, proposed federal actions that are determined to have no effect on a species listed under the ESA would no longer be required to be approved through consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Relieving the FWS of the duty to be involved in actions unlikely to impact a listed species will free-up its scarce resources to address more of the actions that are likely to harm species. Additionally, the regulation would limit consultation under the ESA on climate change. The ESA was never intended to address greenhouse gas emissions and it should not be used for this purpose...Cattle Network

Forty-four House Democrats Call on Obama Administration to Repeal Harmful Bush Endangered Species Regulations

Forty-four members of the House of Representatives, including seven committee chairman and several other high-ranking leaders, sent a letter Friday calling upon Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to rescind rules passed in the final days of the Bush administration that weaken the Endangered Species Act by exempting thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Endangered Species. Congress passed legislation on March 10 giving Secretary Salazar power until May 9 to rescind the rules with the stroke of a pen. To date, Secretary Salazar has not said whether he will use the power granted by Congress, prompting the letter that strongly urged him to rescind the rules. “This is a major test for the Obama administration,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Bush administration rules are a disaster for the nation’s endangered species and need to be undone.” The letter, which was led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, and signed by among others House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, House Energy Independence and Global Warming Chairman Ed Markey, and House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks, states: “[W]e strongly oppose these regulations because they cut at the heart of the law that has protected and recovered endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years,” adding that “[q]uick withdrawal of these flawed rules is essential,” because “[e]very day they remain in effect places endangered wildlife at greater risk of extinction.”...CBD

Investigating the Death of Macho B, America’s Last Known Wild Jaguar

A criminal investigation has been launched into the capture and death of Macho B, the last known wild jaguar in the United States. He was at least 15 years old, making him the oldest wild jaguar ever reported. He was first captured in a leg-hold snare outside Tucson, Arizona, on February 18. Described as healthy, he was tranquilized and fitted with a radio-collar by which he could be tracked by satellite, and released. On March 2, when wildlife officials decided he was in poor health, they recaptured him with tranquilizing darts and flew him to the Phoenix Zoo. He was euthanized at the zoo the very same day because a veterinarian said Macho B had irreversible kidney failure. Questions were soon raised about the circumstances of the incident. Macho B had been observed by remote cameras, but conservationists had argued that no attempt should be made to snare the animal, especially considering his age. The Arizona Game and Fish Department “did not authorize or condone intentional initial capture of this jaguar,” it said in a statement [The New York Times]. However, a biologist who was working as a consultant to the department, Emil McCain, may have instructed an employee to snare the jaguar. A field technician claims that McCain gave her female jaguar scat in February, and told her to place it at the snare trap site. The scat had been used several times to attract Macho B to come within camera range [The New York Times]. McCain has denied the allegation. Wildlife officials are also investigating whether stress from his capture had caused or exacerbated Macho B’s condition. A necropsy was performed, and [on March 4] Phoenix Zoo Executive Vice President Dr. Dean Rice [said] the capture probably played a key role in the jaguar’s death [Los Angeles Times]...Discover

The desert that breaks Annie Proulx's heart

Annie Proulx does not love the Red Desert in southern Wyoming. That's what she says, anyway, though she's spent the last six years writing and editing a nonfiction book about the place. "I think it's dangerous to love the desert," says the writer, who is known for telling brutal stories about rough, out-on-the-edge places and the people who live in them. "Because it's a heartbreaker to see what's happening to it. You know -- to watch its destruction." The Red Desert, which lies just west of her home, is a 6 million-acre swath of federal, state and private land generally left off lists of the state's scenic highlights. In recent years, a fever for oil and gas drilling has gripped the region. Roughly 5,000 wells have been drilled here, according to conservationists, but in the last four years, the Bureau of Land Management has approved or begun the approval process for 15,000 more. Where once there was wide quiet space and herds of cows and sheep and antelope and elk, now there are three-story drilling rigs and squat well pads, half-dug pipeline ditches snaking off to the horizon, invasive weeds, truck traffic, dust plumes...HCN

Idaho, Cody wolves ‘pair’

Federal biologists tracked a wolf from Idaho to Cody where it has “paired” with a Wyoming mate, providing new information in the debate over whether federal protection of wolves should end. The question of whether state wolf plans for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will ensure genetic diversity that would allow the species to persist is one the federal government has faced as it attempts to turn control of the animals over to local game and fish agencies. Lawsuits and court rulings against plans to end federal endangered species protection of the animal have raised the genetic viability question. But if populations in the three states are connected — something the latest news might confirm — the genetic question may diminish in importance. The exchange of DNA among the populations would enhance the genetic diversity of a population, an important factor in whether it persists in the long run...Jackson Hole Daily

Plan aims to get 1000 wild horses adopted

Animal welfare groups in the United States have joined forces in an ambitious plan to get 1000 wild horses adopted in the first National Wild Horse Adoption Day, to be held September. The aim of groups backing the day is to encourage the American public to consider adoption of a wild horse or burro. The goal of 1000 horses adopted through the National Adoption Day programme could create a savings of more than $US1.5 million for the bureau. State bureau offices, as well as wild horse groups, rescue centres, and volunteers will be engaged in activities leading up to and on the designated day - September 26...Horsetalk

Officials: Arson cause of BLM land fires

Fire officials for the Bureau of Land Management Carlsbad Field Office have determined that at least two grass fires last week on BLM land were acts of arson. Ty Bryson, BLM Carlsbad Field Office fire management officer, said evidence shows that two fires near Werewolf Hill, west of town, and south of town near the airport were deliberately set by a person or persons. "We had a rash of fires last week that kept local fire crews busy with suppression activities," said Bryson. "All of these were human-caused from either welding, trash burning or deliberately ignited." He said the BLM conducts an investigation of any fire on public lands where the source of ignition indicates it was human-caused and there is evidence of negligence or intent. For human-caused fires where negligence or intent can be established, the agency will take action to recover the cost of fire suppression activities, emergency stabilization, rehabilitation of the land and damages to the resources improvements...Carlsbad Current-Argus

Permanent Conservation Easement Incentives

Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have introduced the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 1831. The bill would make permanent an incentive that allows modest-income landowners to receive significant tax deductions for donating conservation easements that permanently protect natural or historic resources on their lands. Specifically, the enhanced tax incentive allows working family ranchers and farmers, to deduct up to 100 percent of their income for as many as 16 years in order to deduct their gift's full value. First passed in 2006 and extended in the 2008 Farm Bill, this incentive is set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year. “We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in the number of conservation easement donations since Congress passed my provisions to enhance these tax benefits on a temporary basis in 2006,” says Thompson. “If current development trends continue in California, another 2 million acres will be paved over by 2050. It’s time we made these protections permanent. By making sure that landowners can count on these enhanced tax benefits, we’ll take a big step forward in preserving our agricultural lands and keeping our environment safe from over development.” Thompson and Cantor are members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all federal tax measures...Pork

Horse problem is man-made and fixable

A local voice has now joined the debate over the closure of equine slaughterhouses in the United States. Cowboy poet Baxter Black of Benson, who is also a large animal veterinarian, is one of the founders of a new webpage,, established to document cases of equine abuse, abandonment and neglect. Wylie Gustafson, another web site founder, said, "Our first and foremost concern is the horse. There is a real and urgent need for change. Our intention is to reduce the horses' suffering and neglect by creating an awareness of the current problem." The current problem he refers to is closure of slaughterhouses in the United States. In 2007, court action closed the Texas plant and in September of the same year, an Illinois state law prohibiting horse slaughter for human consumption closed the last plant in the U.S. At the same time the plants were closing, the economy was headed south. So in 2008 and 2009, horse owners who had lost their jobs and could no longer feed their horses began turning them loose. The result has been herds of abandoned horses starving on rangelands throughout the country...Arizona Range News

Here info from the website:

America's horse-processing industry was effectively outlawed in 2007. Actions taken within the states of Texas and Illinois closed three facilities where unneeded, unwanted, and infirmed horses were processed for human consumption, pet food, and for zoo carnivores.

The year before the plant closures, 102,260(1) horses were processed in America. Since the closings, there has been an up-tick in the reports of neglected, starved, abandoned, and abused horses.

It costs approximately $1,825 annually(2) to provide basic care for a horse, not including veterinary medical or farrier (hoof) care. The average lifespan of a horse is 30 years (30 yrs x $1,825/yr = $54,750).

Current economic conditions are compounding the problem for cash-strapped owners who find it nearly impossible to sell their animals, regardless of age and condition. Few people are buying.

It is not unusual for a horse to sell for as little as $5 (below), if they sell at all. Commission fees charged owners are frequently more than the selling price. The average fee(4) for a veterinarian to chemically euthanize a horse by intravenous injection is $66, which does not include carcass disposal.

Lacking a market for horses that otherwise would have been utilized through processing (102,260 head in 2006), in 10 years time, America could be faced with caring for a million horses.

Cowboys preserve Californio vaquero ranch-style roping

Jack Eary is helping to preserve a style of horsemanship and roping with ancient roots. Dressed in everyday "Buckaroo" garb -- cowboy hat, bandanna, chaps, boots and spurs -- Eary often spends Saturdays at a Cherry Valley ranch teaching protégés the art of Californio vaquero ranch-style roping. Mastering the balance, timing and feel of the roping style takes years of practice, said Cherry Valley rancher Elvin Walt. "It's really a lifelong journey," Walt said. The training takes place at the ranch. The Californio vaquero roots date back some 15 centuries to the Moors of North Africa, said David Matuszak, a Redlands resident and author. When Spaniards began to settle in Southern California in the 1700s, they brought the riding style along with their horses and cattle. Walt and Matuszak are among a group of weekend "vaqueros" who have become passionate about the roping style and using their quarter horses for a task they were bred to do. Cowboys who learn Californio vaquero ranch-style roping come away with a gentler, more humane approach to immobilizing cows as they're being readied for vaccinations and branding, he said. "The idea is not to traumatize the animal," Matuszak said. Unlike roping styles that take seconds for cowboys to perform at rodeos, the Californio vaquero style is more nonchalant, Eary said. It was born out of a need to sometimes singlehandedly doctor and manage cattle roaming the open range...Press Enterprise

Song Of The Day #013

George Morgan was born in Waverly, Tenn. on June 28, 1924. He formed his own band in the mid-forties and was soon invited to be part of Wheeling Jamboree on radio station WWVA. In 1948 he was invited to join the Grand Ol' Opry where he replaced Eddy Arnold. The same year he signed a recording contract with Columbia.

Candy Kisses, which Morgan wrote, was released in 1949 and went to the top of the charts, spending three weeks at #1. 1949 was a great year for Morgan, as seven of his singles placed in the top ten.

One of those was today's selection, Please Don't Let Me Love You. It's available on the Bear Family 8 cd collection Candy Kisses, or you can download the single for 99 cents at

Monday, April 06, 2009

Youth ATV and Motorcycle Ban

Protecting children from exposure to lead, that was the idea behind the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The legislation however, took the All Terrain Vehicle, (ATV) Industry by surprise, because in it, lawmakers ban a whole section of the market. Ashland Cycle Center Owner Rick Keelin says he got the news just days before the ban went into affect. “On the First of February we received a letter from the manufacturers letting us know that by February 10th this ban was to go into affect, and it was to cover all vehicles that were designed for children under the age of 12 that includes ATV’s and motorcycles,” Keelin said. In addition, dealer’s can also no longer sell parts or accessories that were made for these products. “We can't even take them in on trade so the consumer can't trade them back into us, they can't buy parts, they can't buy anything that was designed for a youth under 12 years of age,” Keelin said. The concern is that certain parts of these vehicles contain lead. The Motorcycle Industry Council, (MIC) a non-profit group, predicts that if the ban stands the industry could lose $1 billion dollars annually...WSAZ News

One Small Word Is Tying Up ATV, Motorcycle Industry

The Devil is in the details, they say, and that seems to be the case in the latest episode in the lingering battle between the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the rest of the world. Yesterday (March 11, 2009) the CPSC published a final rule covering lead content in toys designed for children aged 12 and younger that virtually slams the door on industry efforts to avoid the foolish ban on kid’s quads, motorcycles and related parts, accessories and apparel items. The ban on kids' toys started Feb. 10. It all hinges on the three-letter word “any” that appears twice in the wide-ranging Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that became law last August. In the new rule covering exclusions, there are two references that limit CPSC flexibility, the agency says. Here they are: # First, there can’t be “absorption of any lead into the human body.” # The second is: “Nor have any other adverse impact on public health and safety.” The law is very narrowly written, a CPSC spokesman told me. If there is lead absorption into the body, blood lead levels will increase, but whether that has significance from a health standpoint remains a question. However the addition of the word “any” made it explicit that Congress had already made this risk assessment and legislated that ANY absorption of lead, no matter how insignificant, would be unacceptable, he said...Dealernews

Riders rally against CPSIA; Six year old promises not to eat dirtbike

Six-year-old Chase Yentzer stood up on a chair before a crowd at Capitol Hill and promised not to eat his dirtbike. “My name is Chase Yentzer, and I’m 6 years old. I ride dirtbikes with my family. I race dirtbikes. Please give me my dirtbike back. I promise not to eat it,” said the Carlisle, Pa., youth, to thunderous applause. Yentzer was the youngest speaker at the April 1 rally urging the Consumer Product Safety Commission to exempt youth-model motorcycles and ATVs from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Intended to stop the sale of toys containing lead, the CPSIA has also banned the sale of motorcycles and ATVs produced for children 12 years old and younger since Feb. 10. The rally at the Capitol included enthusiasts and powersports dealers, as well as authors, apparel makers and small business owners whose products are also caught under the CPSIA. The CPSA report also agreed with one argument made by the anti-CPSIA contingent, saying the elimination of youth ATV sales is likely to result in children riding adult ATVs and increasing their risk of injury and death. ..Motorcycle

New BLM Director ?

Sources are saying the new BLM Director will be announced this week, and that it will be Bob Abbey, the retired Nevada State BLM Director. Could be the Assistant Secretary over that wing of Interior will be announced too.

Some insiders feel the Abbey pick is a good one, the best you'll get out of the Obama administration.

Others will remember the way he went after Wayne Hage and his family, only being stopped by the county sheriff.

Feds agree to look at jaguar's capture

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will open a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the capture and euthanization of the jaguar Macho B, service officials said Thursday. The federal agency, legally responsible for protecting endangered species such as the jaguar, said it would look into "all aspects of the incident" involving Macho B's capture and death. It said the decision to investigate — previously sought by a congressman and two environmental groups — was based on "new information received in the last 48 hours that called into question the circumstances of the initial capture." The announcement came after the Arizona Daily Star published an article raising the possibility that the Feb. 18 capture of Macho B was deliberate and not accidental, as State Game and Fish officials had said. In an interview, Janay Brun, a field technician for a non-profit jaguar research group, said she was told on Feb. 4 by a biologist for the group, Emil McCain, to place female jaguar scat at the snare trap site where Macho B was later captured. McCain has denied Brun's allegation. A service spokesman said "I can't say that it is one specific thing" that triggered the investigation. "It is the circumstances around the trapping of the jaguar in general," said spokesman Jose Viramontes in Albuquerque...Arizona Daily Star

Navajos want to run river trips at Grand Canyon

The Navajo Nation is lobbying for one of its businessmen to run coveted river trips through the Grand Canyon. With only one American Indian tribe currently doing so, the director of the Navajo Nation's Division of Economic Development says its time to open the door to others. Allan Begay said the Navajo Nation would like for the venture to begin soon, but Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin said that's unlikely. The National Park Service tightly controls the number of people who can set out on the river and a management plan isn't up for review. The 2006 management plan for the Colorado River was the result of years of talks among scientists, National Park Service managers and other professionals, with input from tour operators, Indian tribes and the public. Under the plan, 24,567 people on commercial and noncommercial trips are allowed to travel down the Colorado River each year. Those seeking to raft the river in private boats are selected through a computerized lottery system and are limited to one trip per year...Fresno Bee