Saturday, June 06, 2009

NM Dairies, Environment Dept. Disagree

The New Mexico Environment Department and dairy producers disagree on how dangerous dairies are to groundwater and what should be done to prevent pollution. In this year’s legislative session, a bill passed requiring the state to enact statutes specifying what dairies must do to protect the environment. Now, the Environment Department requires various practices to prevent pollution. But there is no set common standard. “What the dairies are looking for is sound science,” said Alva Carter Jr., whose family owns a dairy south of Portales and one near Muleshoe. “We are not asking to be deregulated.” Carter, a member of Dairy Industry for a Cleaner Environment, said his industry believes dairies cause 2 percent or less of all water contamination in New Mexico. “And that’s not a number we’re proud of either, but it’s a far cry from saying we have a big problem,” he said. NMED Ground Water Quality Bureau Chief William C. Olson said 65 percent of New Mexico dairies have caused groundwater contamination. Olson said the main pollutant dairies may put out is nitrate from manure and organic waste. In infants, nitrate can reduce the ability of blood to carry oxygen, and the resulting oxygen starvation can kill the child, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site...Clovis News-Journal

NMSU rodeo team finishes season on top

The New Mexico State University men’s and women’s rodeo teams are National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Grand Canyon regional champions after an exciting year of competition.

Wyatt Althoff, of Gilbert, Ariz., finished the season as reserve men’s all-around champion. Johnny Salvo, of Horse Springs, N.M., placed third in the men’s all-around.

Aztec, N.M., native Kelsi Elkins was the women’s all-around champion. Jordan Bassett, of Dewey, Ariz., was reserve champion and Brittany Striegel, also of Aztec, N.M., received third.

In the saddle bronc riding event, Dean Daly, of Belen, N.M., finished third, with teammate Daniel Orris, of Durango, Colo., receiving fourth.

Clay Geronimo, of Mescalero, N.M., placed second in the bareback riding.

In the bull riding, Ryan Gibson, of Casa Grande, Ariz., received fourth.
Salvo was the tie down roping regional champion. Rylan Edgmon, of Black Canyon City, Ariz., received second. Althoff and Bryce Runyan, of Silver City, N.M., received third and fourth, respectively.

Team roping header Rodee Walraven, of Datil, N.M., placed second, with Althoff placing third. Salvo also placed third as heeler.

Elkins placed second in the barrel racing event. Bassett placed fourth.

Megan Wilkerson, of Sonoita, Ariz., was the regional breakaway roping champion.

In the goat tying, Bassett, Striegel and Elkins placed second, third and fourth, respectively.

Althoff and former rodeo team member Bailey Gow, of Roseburg, Ore., were honored after the April NMSU NIRA rodeo for their achievements throughout the 2007-08 season. Althoff received the DuBois award for All-Around Cowboy, and Gow was given the DuBois award for All-Around Cowgirl. Each received an original Curtis Fort bronze sculpture.

The DuBois award is given to the NMSU rodeo athletes who have scored the most NIRA points in more than one event during the season. The awards are presented by Frank DuBois, former secretary/director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

NMSU will send 11 of its top rodeo athletes to compete in the College National Finals Rodeo, June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo.


NMSU rodeo team wins final rodeo of the season

The New Mexico State University rodeo team swept the competition during the final rodeo of the year, the NMSU National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) rodeo, held April 24-25 in Las Cruces, N.M.

“We had a great rodeo to end a great season! The student athletes really shined this weekend at their home rodeo, winning six of the events plus both all-arounds and both teams,” said Jim Dewey Brown, NMSU coach. “I am especially pleased with the community and campus support we received from the grandstands.”

For the women’s team, Megan Wilkerson, of Sonoita, Ariz., won first in the breakaway roping event.

Aztec, N.M., native Brittany Striegel won first in the goat tying, with teammate Jessica Silva, of Tularosa, N.M., placing second.

Kelsi Elkins, of Aztec, N.M., and Striegel placed second and third, respectively, in the barrel racing.

Clay Geronimo, of Mescalero, N.M., won first in the bareback riding event.

In the saddlebronc event, Daniel Orris, of Durango, Colo., won first. Dean Daly, of Belen, N.M., received third.

Ryan Gibson, of Casa Grande, Ariz., placed first in the bull riding.

Rylan Edgmon, of Black Canyon City, Ariz., won first in the tie-down roping. Johnny Salvo, of Horse Springs, N.M., placed second, and Wyatt Althoff, of Gilbert, Ariz., placed third.

Althoff received second in the steer wrestling.

The team of Clinton Hiett, of El Paso, Texas, and Logan Milliorn, of Santa Fe, N.M., won second in the team roping. Header Justin Mascarenas, from New Mexico Highlands University, and heeler Jared Gonzales, of Las Vegas, N.M., placed third.

Althoff received the men’s all-around for the weekend, and Striegel received the women’s all-around.


Former and current NMSU rodeo team members hold their own at Frank DuBois Saddle Bronc and Calf Roping event

New Mexico State University students and members of the rodeo team competed at the Frank DuBois Bronc Riding and Calf Roping April 4 at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Las Cruces, N.M.

Olan Borg, of Camp Verde, Ariz., a former NMSU student and rodeo team member, was the overall winner of the saddle bronc riding event. Borg won both the first round and the short-go with a score of 77. He earned more than $1,500 for his first-place rides. A current team member, Dean Daly, of Belen, N.M., tied for fourth place in the saddle bronc, with a score of 73.

Wacey Walraven, of Datil, N.M., was the overall winner for the tie-down roping, winning the showdown round and $1,500 with a time of 9.8 seconds. Walraven is an NMSU student and a former rodeo team member.

Current rodeo team member JoDan Mirabal, of Grants, N.M., won the second round of the tie-down roping with a time of 10.1 seconds.

Former rodeo team member John Pete Etcheverry, of Carlsbad, N.M., won the first round of the calf roping with a time of 10 seconds. Casey Wilson, from Arizona, won rounds three and five with times of 8.6 and 9.1 seconds, respectively. Beau Marshall, of Truth or Consequences, N.M., won round four with a time of 8.5 seconds.

There were 15 calf ropers who competed. Of those, four were current members of the NMSU rodeo team and five were former members. Nineteen riders competed in the saddle bronc event, with three current members, one former member and a future member participating.

The saddle bronc riders competed in one round, with the top five riders going on to compete in a short-go round. The total pay-out was $2,900. The tie-down roping had five elimination rounds and a showdown, with each round paying $150 and the final round paying $1,500 to the winner.

Competitors came from as far away as Nebraska and Montana to participate in the event.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Plan would aid salmon, reduce water for people

Federal regulators prescribed sweeping changes Thursday to the dams, reservoirs and pumps that supply water to two-thirds of California in an effort to restore a salmon population whose steep decline has sounded an environmental alarm and led to the cancellation of two consecutive commercial fishing seasons. While the measures could save the chinook salmon and other species from extinction, critics argue the plans reduce the water supply to people and farms at a time when the water system is strained by earlier environmental rules, drought, population growth and crumbling infrastructure. On Thursday, an 800-page biological opinion released by the National Marine Fisheries Service found that operations of the state and federal water systems had jeopardized the state's spring-run chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and Southern Resident killer whales. Moving water from one area of the delta to another and exporting increased supplies to cities and farms slashed flows for fish and boosted water temperatures, the report found. State officials, however, issued a stinging rebuke of the opinion. "This federal biological opinion puts fish above the needs of millions of Californians and the health and security of the world's eighth-largest economy," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "The piling on of one federal court decision after another in a species-by-species approach is killing our economy and undermining the integrity of the Endangered Species Act."...SFChronicle

No Climate Change Fix Without New Land Use, Farming Policies

The world cannot effectively address climate change without altering our relationship with soil, the world’s third largest carbon pool, according to a new report. Changing the way we manage land and produce food can offset 25 percent of worldwide fossil fuel emissions, putting agriculture and land use near the center of the climate change fight, a report from Worldwatch Institute and Ecoagriculture Partners concluded. “Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use” estimates the two sectors are responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions, yet the international science and policy communities have lagged in embracing efforts in these areas. That’s despite the fact that existing practices and innovations can sequester greenhouse gases now present in the atmosphere, while other remedies, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, may only reduce future emissions. "While these initiatives are integral in the transition to a low-carbon economy, any strategy that seeks to mitigate global climate change without reducing emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses is doomed to fail," Co-author Sara Scherr of Ecoagriculture Partners, said in a statement...GreenBiz

Listen to me again: Global Warming = Land Use Controls.

They've been trying to get federal land use planning every since Henry "Scoop" Jackson introduced The National Land Use Policy Act in 1970. That bill passed the Senate twice, but never passed the House. Jackson was also the author of NEPA, and they were meant to work together. The public lands section of the 1970 legislation eventually became FLPMA.

The ESA, CWA and the CAA have been used to impose land use restrictions, but now they hope the global warming scare will give them the rationale and political boost to go all the way.

If the economic "crisis" results in the feds owning 70 percent of General Motors, what makes you think a global warming "crisis" won't result in a government "plan" for your farm or ranch?

And don't forget to send in your Premises Registration...

Here's the summary of the livestock section of their report:

Climate-friendly livestock production. Rapid growth in demand for livestock products has triggered a huge rise in the number of animals, the concentration of wastes in feedlots and dairies, and the clearing of natural grasslands and forests for grazing. Livestock-related emissions of carbon and methane now account for 14.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions—more than the transport sector. A reduction in livestock numbers may be needed but production innovations can help, including rotational grazing systems, manure management, methane capture for biogas production, and improved feeds and feed additives.

New suit filed in delta smelt dispute

A conservative legal organization waded into the delta smelt controversy Thursday, claiming in a lawsuit that the federal government has no constitutional authority to oversee the endangered fish. The lawsuit -- filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of three San Joaquin Valley farming operations -- claims that the smelt has no commercial value and is not involved in interstate commerce. Because of that, managing the smelt and placing it under the protection of the Endangered Species Act violates the U.S. Constitution, which limits federal domestic authority to things involved in interstate commerce. The Sacramento-based foundation's suit also argues that a smelt management plan issued in December -- which has resulted in a reduction of water deliveries to west side farmers and urban users in the Bay Area and Southern California -- fails to show how the pumping reductions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would benefit the smelt, and did not take into account the economic effects of the ruling...FresnoBee

Rare Bird Threatened by San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge Population Control Proposal

Today the Center for Biological Diversity filed a scientific petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the western gull-billed tern as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The western gull-billed tern has only two breeding sites in the United States. At one of them, San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it is immediately threatened by a Fish and Wildlife Service plan to reduce its population by destroying eggs. The control effort is intended to protect two other endangered seabirds: the western snowy plover and the California least tern. “The Center strongly supports the conservation of all three of these endangered birds,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The western gull-billed tern is endangered and needs the same protections afforded the plover and least tern.”...CBD

Build it and they...will take it

You may remember City Utilities announced it's considering using eminent domain to build a new bus terminal where the Arbor Inn used to be in downtown Springfield. The owner of that land is fighting back. On Wednesday, CU announced it's willing to renew discussions with Becky Spence. Her dream is to build a luxury hotel that would be the tallest building in Springfield. Spence says when CU made it known it wanted to take her land, she tried to compromise. She says she met with CU managers, offering a portion of the land for the bus terminal. The rest would be for her hotel. Spence says City Utilities rejected the offer. She says she was surprised when CU brought up eminent domain because a study commissioned by CU to find an ideal piece of land ranked her property pretty low on the list. That's because the land sits 22 feet below street level. The bus station is required to be on street level. Spence says she declared bankruptcy as a last resort, knowing that eminent domain cannot touch a land protected by bankruptcy...KOLR-TV

It's a sad situation when a person has to declare bankruptcy to protect their property.

Hat Tip: OpenMarket

Clotheslines Stage a Comeback - "Right To Dry"

According to Alexander Lee of Project Laundry List, a group that supports hang-drying laundry over using an energy-intensive machine, a law went into effect last week in Vermont that prevents groups like homeowners associations from banning clotheslines. Colorado also approved “right-to-dry” provisions last year, said Mr. Lee, and Maine is currently voting on similar legislation. In Hawaii, a bill that would allow homeowners to hang their laundry on clotheslines — albeit with some limitations — is awaiting action by Gov. Linda Lingle — although she vetoed a similar bill last year. Florida has the oldest right-to-dry law in the country, according to Mr. Lee. “A clothesline is not a solar panel or a Prius — it’s something that everyone can afford,” Mr. Lee — who hauls his own wet clothes back from the laundromat in order to dry them on a line — told my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal last year, when she reported on Ontario’s right-to-dry debate...NYTimes

I sure hope I they don't bring back those damned old metal jean stretchers. I hated those things.

Tre Arrow says Oregon halfway house next stop

One of the last environmental activists convicted of arson as a protest tactic across the West says he is being released from federal prison to a halfway house in Oregon. Tre Arrow says on his Web site that he is due to be released Monday from a federal prison in California to serve the remaining six months of his term at a halfway house in Portland. The 35-year-old environmental activist was sentenced last year to 78 months in prison after pleading guilty to setting fire to cement and logging trucks in the Portland area in 2001. But Arrow was given credit for about four years of time served in jails awaiting extradition from Canada to Oregon after his arrest in British Columbia in 2004. The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Dec. 4 from the Herlong medium security prison near Susanville, Calif...AP

Animal Rights Terrorism on the Rise in U.S

In what law enforcement officials are calling a wave of militancy, groups like the Animal Liberation Front and another called The Justice Department are going after scientists personally, both at work and at home, and threatening the safety of their families. "There is an upswing," said Laura Eimiller, a FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles. "What's really concerning is the tactics that are being used. Previously it was non-violent, mostly harassment or vandalism. Now we're seeing the increased use of incendiary devices to target individuals." Over the past 18 months, there have been at least 39 criminal actions undertaken in the name of animal rights, according to data compiled by the Foundation for Biomedical Research, an advocacy group for researchers. That represents a significant rise from 2006 and 2007, when there were only 25 incidents. Much of the recent activity has been focused in California, which has seen labs destroyed, scientists' cars firebombed, public officials' cars vandalized and animals kidnapped and then released into the wild. Activists have claimed to have sabotaged the cars of UCLA football players, and six masked activists burst into the home of a researcher at the University of California-Santa Cruz. "A lot of activists are frustrated. They've exhausted the legal means, and they've decided to take it to the next level," said Jason Miller, a press officer with the North American Animal Liberation Front, which acts as a mouthpiece for the militant animal liberation movement but claims no direct affiliation with the groups themselves...Fox News

Restaurant Now Serving Animal Welfare Approved Texas Longhorn Burgers

Hut’s Hamburgers, an Austin tradition since 1939, has added that iconic symbol of Texas-the Longhorn-to its menu. Animal Welfare Approved Bandera Grassland of Tarpley, Texas is supplying the restaurant with pure Texas Longhorn beef from cattle that are direct descendants of the Iberian cattle brought by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The Animal Welfare Approved seal is an assurance to consumers that cattle from Bandera Grassland have been treated according to the highest welfare standards. “We were interested in the beef because of its unique history and strong identification with Texas, but what sold us on the burger was the spectacular taste,” said Michael Hutchinson, the owner of Hut’s, which is regularly voted as having the best burgers in Austin and is known nationwide for its innovative menu. “Our customers love it. It tastes like the beef you used to be able to get 150 years ago-like the beef you might have eaten on cattle drives. It’s got big, authentic Texas flavor. Having the beef come from an Animal Welfare Approved ranch is an added bonus, because Austin is a town that cares about sustainable agriculture and animal welfare.”...Animal Welfare Approved
Hat Tip Blogriculture

New Mexico boy dies of plague, sister recovering

An 8-year-old New Mexico boy has died and his 10-year-old sister was hospitalized after both contracted bubonic plague, the first recorded human plague cases in the nation so far this year. New Mexico health officials did not immediately say Thursday how the brother and sister contracted the infectious disease, but they are conducting an investigation at the family's residence to determine if there is any risk to other people. Plague is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but also can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets. The Health Department, citing privacy concerns, would not release the name of the siblings or give a location for their home, other than saying it was in Santa Fe County. Fleas collected from the area are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. Health workers also canvassed the neighborhood to tell other residents that plague had been confirmed in the area...AP

Song Of The Day #053

Let's have Jim Reeves get you started for a wild weekend. Here's a link to his available CDs.

Yes, this should get you ready, Jim Reeves singing Drinking Tequila.

Judge halts suits over NSA wiretapping

A federal judge in San Francisco has tossed out a slew of lawsuits filed against AT&T and other telecommunications companies alleged to have illegally opened their networks to the National Security Agency. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday ruled that, thanks to a 2008 federal law retroactively immunizing those companies, approximately 46 lawsuits brought by civil liberties groups and class action lawyers will be dismissed. Congress has created a "'focused immunity' for private entities who assisted the government with activities that allegedly violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights," Walker wrote in a 46-page opinion. That has not, he said, "affected plaintiffs' underlying constitutional rights." Wednesday's ruling is a bitter defeat to groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which are coordinating the lawsuits over warrantless wiretapping. They had hoped to convince the judge that the law improperly infringed upon the separation of powers described in the U.S. Constitution and handed too much power to the executive branch. The 2008 law, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, was approved by a Democratic-controlled Congress last summer. As a senator, President Obama voted for the measure even though he had previously pledged to oppose it. It says that no "civil action" may take place in state or federal court "against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community"--and will be automatically dismissed as long as the attorney general claims the surveillance was authorized. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey sent the court a letter saying the surveillance was authorized, but without offering any further information. The Justice Department under President Obama has not changed its position...cnetnews

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Colo. governor blocks Army expansion on ranchland

The Army's plan to expand a southeast Colorado training site is facing another obstacle now that Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a measure barring the use of state land for the project that is opposed by ranchers. Ritter approved legislation Tuesday that prevents the state from selling or leasing land to the Army to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver site. About 20 percent of the land the Army wants for the site is state-owned. The Army first announced its plans more than three years ago, saying it needed to expand the 370-square-mile site to about 525 square miles to accommodate new weapons, tactics and soldiers. But neighboring ranchers united to fight the effort, picking up support from state lawmakers and members of Congress. They also filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Army of not carefully considering the environmental impact of the expansion on the arid, short-grass prairie landscape. Judge Richard Matsch is scheduled to hear arguments in that case in Denver on Wednesday. Ritter said the bill was not anti-military, as Colorado's two Republican congressmen suggested. He said it doesn't resolve the issue but will provide farmers and ranchers with a safety net while negotiations continue with the Army...AP

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Logging Near Rio Grande Headwaters

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging a logging project on national forest lands in southwestern Colorado that they claim would impact the headwaters of the Rio Grande river. Colorado Wild and WildEarth Guardians filed suit challenging the Handkerchief Mesa timber sale on the Rio Grande National Forest, represented by the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The U.S. Forest Service proposes to manage timber and road resources in the Handkerchief Mesa Landscape, with various treatments including harvesting of 10 to 13 million board feet of timber, prescribed burning, and road management. The plaintiffs say that soils in the Handkerchief Mesa area are prone to erosion and landslide, and, as a result, area streams continue to be impacted by excess sediment from past logging and road construction. The Handkerchief Mesa timber sale threatens the soil health and hydrology of this already fragile area, they say...ENS

The War over Eco-Certified Wood

The year was 2007, and this ad was among the first shots fired in a high-stakes PR war that continues to play out across North America today. The combatants are the two largest rival forestry certification non profit organizations in the world: the industry-created Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which was conceived by a coalition of North American environmental activists. At stake, then and now, is a multi-billion dollar international market for eco-certified wood products, which rewards environmentally-responsible forestry companies with improved access to retail and business-to-business customers. What both certification programs have in common is that their respective logos -- appearing on books and 2x4s and everything between -- carry a promise of "sustainability;" both indicate that eco-conscious buyers can relax and know they are buying a product that they can feel good about. What the rivals do not share, is a common vision of what sustainability looks like on the forest floor, and whether the differences between certification standards matter at all...TheTyee

Clean Energy Funding Trumps Fossil Fuels

Global investors spent about $250 billion building new power capacity in 2008, and for the first time the lion’s share of that money went to renewable sources, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Renewable sources accounted for 56 percent of investment dollars, worth $140 billion, while investment in fossil fuel technologies was $110 billion, the U.N. program said in a report, Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009, released on Wednesday and produced in collaboration with New Energy Finance, a research company based in London. Large hydropower projects, wind, solar and geothermal were among renewable sources covered by the report. Fossil fuels included projects like building new coal plants in China. Even so, the long life of power plants meant it would be “some time” before renewable energy dominated the generation mix...NYTimes

Cabin owners meet on fee hike

Forest cabin owners will meet today to discuss huge increases in Forest Service fees and to solicit congressional support for rolling them back. Pete and Barb Bailey, cabin owners and representatives from the National Forest Homeowners, will talk about two of the challenges facing cabin owners —— annual fee increases and changes to the 20-year permit. Recent changes to the Cabin User Fee Fairness Act resulted in increases of up to 500 percent in annual fees cabin owners must pay the Forest Service. The new arrangement set permit fees at 5 percent of the raw land value as decided by local market information from 2008 appraisals. These appraisals were determined by comparing lots with "typical lots" in other locations. Nationwide, the fees range from a low of $300 to a high of $76,000 annually. Bailey said the entire process was flawed and didn't take into account the usability of the cabins or the owners' ability to pay. "Some cabin users in Oregon can't get up to their cabin eight months of the year and are being compared to year-around recreational residences," he said. "That's not fair...MailTribune

Livestock eating bear shot, killed

Caught in the act, a poultry house marauding black bear was shot and killed by a rancher east of Granite Monday evening. The bear did not have an ear tag and was not previously known to wildlife officials as a problem bear. Randy Hancock, Colorado Division of Wildlife district wildlife manager, said the 2- to 3-year-old boar weighed 175 pounds and had made raids on the ranch for the past three weeks. The rancher did everything possible to get rid of attractants such as properly stowing seed, feed and a barbecue grill, Hancock said. Earlier wildlife officials set a bear trap to no avail and recommended the rancher shoot the bear to protect their livestock. "It wiped out a flock of chickens and ripped through the barn door," Hancock said Tuesday. "This week the bear got into the turkeys, killing 14 of 16." The bear plagued the rancher by beating on doors and windows at the ranch house during the night. A relative of the ranch owner, using a shotgun loaded with slugs and a clear 20-yard line of fire, put the bear down, Hancock said...Mountain Mail

Mine That Bird's Registration Papers Reported Stolen

Trainer Chip Woolley Jr., who trains Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, woke up the morning of June 2 to find his truck had been broken into at the Louisville hotel where he was staying. The registration papers for Mine That Bird were missing, along with the conditioner's GPS (global positioning system). Woolley contacted Churchill Downs and The Jockey Club and the papers were replaced. Mine That Bird, who is scheduled to run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, will leave Louisville June 3. "They smashed out the passenger's side window and ruffled through a few things," Woolley told Daily Racing Form. "I'm guessing they were after the GPS. Why they'd want to take the papers, I don't know. The lady there at Churchill, she took care of everything already, so we're good to go." TheHorse

Wilson Co. Livestock Market Closes

The Wilson County Livestock Market - a fixture in Lebanon for generations - has shut its doors. The final auction was held Wednesday, ending almost three-quarters of a century of cattle-auctioning in Lebanon. The livestock market is located on Lebanon's West Main Street near Rocky Road. 90 year-old Alvin McKee has seen a lot of cattle pass through since taking over the market in 1984. Wednesday, he watched for the final time. "I hate to see it close - it helped a lot of people around, I hope," said McKee. Tough times led to a tough call, one the McKee family had hoped to avoid. Market operator William McKee said, "Probably about a year or so ago, I guess it kind of looked like it might have been heading this direction, and we were hoping things might get turned around, and it just kind of became a reality to us, though." "We really weren't making any money - we haven't been getting enough cattle to make it pay off," said Alvin McKee...WZTV

There is also a video report at the link.

Brandings all about friendship, fun, support

At this time of year you’re bound to see photos of ranchers branding cattle, along with all those newspaper pictures of graduations and proms. And why not? A photographer can find a picture waiting everywhere, of neighbors helping neighbors, handsome cowboy types with spurs and coiled lariats, little kids wearing Wranglers and big hats. There’s smoke and dust rising above corral fences and cattle, and gorgeous girls sporting tighter-than-tight jeans. It’s that movie-magic West. That’s the way it was at our place on a recent Saturday. One more time, our friends and family rallied to help with the one ranch job we can’t do by ourselves - gathering, sorting, roping and branding several hundred calves in a single day. In Wyoming and the other Western states where ranching still hangs on, there’s a reason for livestock branding. A registered brand is a calf’s passport and its legal proof of ownership. It allows cattle to be identified wherever they roam. “Put ‘er on right,” I was taught. “She’ll wear it all her life.” A good “one-iron” livestock brand is highly sought after; it’s a simple mark that requires only one tool and a single quick touch of the hot iron to the hide...CodyEnterprise

Orlando-area Cowboy Church is at home on the range

Yippee-ki-yay, praise the Lord, and pass the feed bucket. The Cowboy Church — bringing Jesus to rodeo riders, barrel racers, ranchers, farmers and Western wannabes — is spreading across Florida and the Southeast in a growing effort to bring religion to those who don't much care for church. "We are seeing a lot of people come into the cowboy-church movement who don't normally go to church," said Jay Avant, pastor of Milltown Cowboy Church near Davenport. Meeting in barns, horse arenas and pastures, the Cowboy Church appeals to the unpretentious, the plain-spoken and the keepers of the culture of saddles, Stetsons and pointy-toed boots. There are baptisms in horse troughs, a Cowboy Bible and the Ten Commandments translated into the language of John Wayne: No foolin' around with another fellow's gal; don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff; honor yer Ma and Pa. "They don't want it sugarcoated," Avant said. "They want the plain truth, and they want it to where they can understand it." Avant's two churches — one that meets on a ranch near Davenport and another that congregates in a St. Cloud open-air barn — belong to the Cowboy Church Network of North America, which has grown to more than 60 churches in the Southeast and Canada since its founding in 2004...OrlandoSentinel

Horse and buggy chase ends in suspect’s arrest

The driver of a horse and buggy led Cattaraugus County sheriff’s deputies on a three-mile pursuit through fields and woods early Monday morning, eventually abandoning the buggy and fleeing on foot. It happened on Frank Road in Napoli, where deputies were investigating underage drinking. Deputies reported they tried to stop the driver of the horse and buggy, but he drove the rig through fields and into the woods before jumping down and taking off on foot. After searching without success for the driver, deputies took the horse and buggy back to a nearby home, and a young man was taken into custody. Jonas J. Hershberger, 20, of Frank Road, was charged with overdriving of animals, reckless endangerment and obstructing governmental administration. Following arraignment in Little Valley Town Court, he was sent to the county jail in lieu of $250 bail. BuffaloNews

Song Of The Day #052

I think I'm in the mood for some Homer & Jethro this morning. Let's listen while they tell the truth about women in their 1957 tune The West Virginny Hills.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

7 myths about green jobs

The basis for the green jobs program is simple: Carbon emissions are causing global warming, so emissions need to be reduced. A way to do this is to encourage non-carbon sources of energy, such as wind turbines and solar power. The result of government action will be many new jobs and a healthier environment. A two-for-one deal! This policy series, by two PERC senior fellows and two of their colleagues, is a summary of a larger study analyzing green jobs claims made by various special interest groups. The authors find that the claims are based on myths. Fundamental questions about what is at stake in this massive program need to be addressed before billions in additional deficit spending can be justified. The authors discuss the economic defects in the green jobs proposals and show that not only is the price tag of the programs unjustified, but that the costly implications to society could be even greater...PERC

The 7 myths are:

Myth 1: Everyone knows what a “green job” is.

Myth 2: Creating green jobs will boost productive

Myth 3: Green jobs forecasts are reliable.

Myth 4: Green jobs promote employment growth.

Myth 5: The world economy can be remade
by reducing trade, relying on local
production, and lowering consumption
without decreasing our standard of living.

Myth 6: Government mandates are a substitute for
free markets.

Myth 7: Wishing for technological progress is

The entire report is here. (pdf

Wyoming, environmentalists sue over wolf delisting

The state of Wyoming on Tuesday sued the federal government over its recent decision to leave gray wolves in the state on the endangered species list while delisting them elsewhere in the Northern Rockies. The state's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, marks only the latest chapter in a long-running battle between state and federal officials over how to manage wolves since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the animals in Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. Many ranchers and sportsmen in Wyoming complain that the wolf population is taking an unacceptable toll on livestock and other wildlife. Rep. Colin Simpson, R-Cody and speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives, said Wyoming has no choice but to sue over wolf management. "We have to attempt to protect our wildlife and our livestock in the face of really no help from the federal government," Simpson said. "If the only way to do that is through litigation, then that's how we'll have to proceed." The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups announced Tuesday that they were filing a separate federal lawsuit in Missoula, Mont. The groups are challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho, saying they're opposed to plans in those states to allow wolf hunting and have other concerns about wolf management...AP

Apocalypse Sun?

It's the sort of news that makes one's eyes glaze over. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," said Doug Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center. Yes, space has weather, in the form of solar radiation that varies with solar activity in the form of sunspots and solar flares. Biesecker heads an NOAA panel that keeps an eye on such things and released this latest report. But this dry statistic has more significance for the earth and its climate than all of Al Gore's gloom and doom about tailpipe emissions and rising sea levels. Whether the warm-mongers like it or not, the sun rules earth's climate — always has and always will...IBD

NASA Research Could Help Policymakers Restrict Carbon Emissions

A senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass., says new data retrieved from a NASA satellite could help scientists advise world governments on how to regulate carbon emissions. And one day, he says, it might even lead to a method of seeding iron into the oceans in order to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. “We can develop better models to tell policymakers how much carbon can be admitted into the atmosphere, because that amount will be removed by the oceans; or say, ‘You need to emit less carbon into the atmosphere, because the ocean won’t continue to remove carbon as it has been,’” geophysicist Scott Doney said...CNSNews

National Parks Plan 3 Free Summer Weekends

The National Park Service is looking to stimulate summer vacations at national parks. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday that entrance fees at 147 national parks and monuments - including the Grand Canyon and Yosemite - will be waived on three weekends this summer. The weekends are June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16. "During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families," Salazar said at a news conference at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. "I encourage everyone to visit one of our nation's crown jewels this summer and especially to take advantage of the three free-admission weekends." Most Americans live less than a day's drive from a national park, Salazar said. For the Park Service, the free weekends will mean a loss of an estimated half-million dollars a day from entrance fees that range from $3 to $25. A total of 147 parks and monuments charge entrance fees; the nation's other 244 parks are already free...AP

Reckon any other fees will be waived? I doubt it.

Either visitation to the Parks are down, like they are for the Forest Service, or some Politically Superior Ones wanted this done.

Forest Service to get $228 million to fix roads, bridges

National forest roads and bridges in 31 states, including Oregon, will get long-needed repairs under an economic stimulus spending plan announced by the Obama administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that $228 million in economic stimulus money will be used for road maintenance and decommissioning and watershed restoration in dozens of national forests. A total of 106 projects in 31 states will be paid for as part of the $1.15 billion in economic stimulus funding awarded to the Forest Service, Vilsack said, adding that the projects should improve access to forest lands, boost public health and safety and preserve natural resources throughout the nation. "The rehabilitation of roads will improve water quality by reducing sediments in nearby streams and help to restore natural resources and habitats for fish in areas impacted by deterioration and erosion of road surfaces," he said. The projects announced today make up a small fraction of the estimated $10 billion road maintenance backlog the agency faces...AP

Where are the funds for "new" roads? ha! If the Forest Circus can't maintain these lands they should sell them to someone who can.

Congress Ponders National Climate Service

A significant shakeup may soon take place within the federal government's weather and climate programs, as the House Science and Technology Committee is scheduled to consider legislation on June 3 that would establish a "National Climate Service" within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Climate Service would head up the government's efforts to provide policy-relevant information about climate and climate change to decision makers and the public, something which outside reviews have found to be lacking in the country's multibillion dollar climate research programs to date. As the deliberations on the proposal have made clear, the issue isn't so much whether to create a new climate entity of some kind, but rather how to go about doing so...WPost

Senate Advances Bill to Regulate Tobacco

The Senate took a step Tuesday toward giving the government some controls over the tobacco industry, bolstering the chances that a long-sought goal of anti-smoking advocates will finally be realized. The 84-11 Senate vote to consider the bill came a month after the House overwhelmingly passed a similar measure giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products. Sixty votes were needed to advance the legislation, and the success in reaching that threshold increase the likelihood that the Senate will move to a final vote by the end of the week. If the House concurs with the Senate measure, it would go to President Barack Obama, who is ready to sign it into law...AP

Damn. The FDA is already keeping off the market drugs that would be beneficial to me and now they are gonna regulate my snuff? Will tobacco grow in southern NM?

Boulder man shoots, kills mountain lion in backyard

A resident shot and killed a mountain lion in the back yard of his home in the foothills northwest of Boulder on Sunday afternoon after the cougar attacked his dog, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office. State wildlife officials said they won’t take action against the man, who declined to be identified, because “he felt very threatened” by the proximity of the mountain lion. "We believe he acted appropriately," said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. "It's really a wrong place, wrong time kind of situation." Boulder sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Dimond said the female mountain lion bit the man’s beagle in the shoulder in the back yard of a home in the 100 block of Valley View Way. The lion ran when the resident came outside, but returned within an hour, which is when the man shot the animal...Boulder Daily Camera

Give agriculture a shot at carbon credits

U.S. agriculture should be allowed, as part of a climate-change bill being drafted in the U.S. House, to earn money for carbon offsets, a spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday. At present, the bill is silent on a role for farms and forests in controlling emissions of greenhouse gases. Under House rules, the Agriculture Committee and seven other committees now have a chance to modify the bill. Vilsack believes agriculture and forestry should be included in an offsets program and the Agriculture Department should play a role in overseeing any such program, spokeswoman Chris Mather said in an email...Reuters

Mexican Truckers File $6 Billion Claim Against U.S. in Nafta Spat

A Mexican trade association representing more than 4,500 trucking companies is seeking $6 billion in damages from the U.S. government because of Washington's refusal to allow Mexican trucks to carry cargo over U.S. roads. The group, Canacar, filed a demand for arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. State Department in April, but didn't publicize the move until Monday. "We want reciprocity," said Pedro Ojeda, a lawyer for Canacar. "The U.S. has notoriously not kept its commitments." Mr. Ojeda said the complaint is the largest such demand made under Nafta, as the 1993 pact is known. Deborah Mesloh, a spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, said Monday that, "We take our trade obligations very seriously and this is an issue we've been working on for a couple months." A State Department spokesman said the claim is "being studied."...WSJ

CEM Investigation Finds 21 Positive Stallions

The ongoing investigation into venereal disease contagious equine metritis (CEM) has now located 21 stallions--one of which is now a gelding--positive for causative organism Taylorella equigenitalis. According to the USDA, the 21 positive stallions were found in seven states: one in Georgia, three in Illinois, three in Indiana, one in Iowa, four in Kentucky, one in Texas, and eight in Wisconsin. Overall, the investigation now includes 939 exposed or positive horses. The origin of the outbreak remains unknown. The investigation began in mid-December 2008, when a Quarter Horse stallion on a Kentucky farm tested positive during routine screening for international semen shipment. According to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as of June 2 the positive horses include 21 stallions and five mares. In addition to these horses, they have confirmed the locations of 913 horses exposed to Taylorella equigenitalis. The 939 horses are located in 48 states (only Hawaii and Rhode Island do not have at least one exposed or positive horse). There are 272 exposed or positive stallions in 29 states and 667 exposed or positive mares in 46 states. An exposed horse is one that was bred to a positive horse, either naturally or via artificial insemination, or one that is otherwise epidemiologically linked to a positive horse, as determined by animal health officials. All positive horses, and all exposed horses that have been located, are currently under quarantine or hold order...TheHorse

Song Of The Day #051

Here we are on song 51 and I haven't played anything by the man with the sharpest name in country music, Webb Pierce. His music is readily available, with the most complete being the Bear Family 4CD The Wondering Boy (1951-1958). A more economical selection would be 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Webb Pierce .

Today's selection is Webb Pierce singing his 1953 release It's Been So Long.

Chicago Law Banning Handguns in City Upheld by Court

A Chicago ordinance banning handguns and automatic weapons within city limits was upheld by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel, which rejected a challenge by the National Rifle Association. The unanimous three-judge panel ruled today that a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year, which recognized an individual right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, didn’t apply to states and municipalities. “The Supreme Court has rebuffed requests to apply the second amendment to the states,” U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote, upholding lower court decisions last year to throw out suits against Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. The Fairfax, Virginia-based NRA sued the municipalities in June 2008, one day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller struck down a hand-gun ban in the U.S. capital district encompassing Washington...Bloomberg

Police can forcibly take DNA samples during arrests, judge rules

In the first case of its type, a federal judge in California has ruled that police can forcibly take DNA samples, including drawing blood with a needle, from Americans who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows ruled on Thursday that a federal law allowing DNA samples upon arrest for a felony was constitutional and did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures." Hollows, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, said the procedure was no more invasive or worrisome than fingerprinting or a photograph. "The court agrees that DNA sampling is analogous to taking fingerprints as part of the routine booking process upon arrest," he wrote, calling it "a law enforcement tool that is a technological progression from photographs and fingerprints." A bill that President Bush signed in January 2006 said any federal police agency could "collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested." Anyone who fails to cooperate is, under federal law, guilty of an additional crime. In addition, federal law and subsequent regulations from the Department of Justice authorize any means "reasonably necessary to detain, restrain, and collect a DNA sample from an individual who refuses to cooperate in the collection of the sample." The cheek swab or blood tests can be outsourced to "private entities.". The list of possible federal felony charges includes ones you might expect, including counterfeiting and kidnapping. But it also includes some forms of peer-to-peer piracy, circumventing e-book protection, or using innocent words like "Barbie" on a sexually-explicit Web site...cnet news

A cybersecurity quiz: Can you tell Obama from Bush?

The U.S. president has announced a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for the federal government, saying Internet-based threats have risen "dramatically" and the country "must act to reduce our vulnerabilities." A 76-page White House document calls for a new way of looking at Internet and computer security, saying that private-public partnerships are necessary, collaboration with international organizations will be vital, and privacy and civil liberties must be respected in the process. Sound familiar? The year was 2003, and the president was George W. Bush, who wrote the introduction to what he called a "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace." On Friday, President Obama announced his 76-page "Cyberspace Policy Review"--with precisely the same number of pages as his predecessor's--at an event at the White House. While the Bush document discusses centralizing cybersecurity responsibilities in the Department of Homeland Security and the Obama document shifts them to the White House, the two reports are remarkably similar. Perhaps this should be no surprise: Obama selected Melissa Hathaway, who worked for the director of national intelligence in the Bush administration and was director of an Bush-era "Cyber Task Force," to conduct the review. To test your political acumen, we've taken excerpts from both and placed them side by side in the following chart. Can you tell which quotations come from which administration? (An answer key is at the end.)...cnet news

Disabled Vet Charged With First-Degree Murder for Shooting Masked Holdup Man--Six Times--at Drugstore

Confronted by two holdup men, pharmacist Jerome Ersland pulled a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. Then, in a scene recorded by the drugstore's security camera, he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into the wounded teenager as he lay on the floor. Now Ersland has been charged with first-degree murder in a case that has stirred a furious debate over vigilante justice and self-defense and turned the pharmacist into something of a folk hero. Ersland, 57, is free on $100,000 bail, courtesy of an anonymous donor. He has won praise from the pharmacy's owner, received an outpouring of cards, letters and checks from supporters, and become the darling of conservative talk radio...CNSNews

Charity Poker Game Raided By Police

Buxton police raided a building where people were trying to raise money to give free food to the needy. It happened at the Narragansett Pythian Sisters Temple on Route 22 where people were playing the card game Texas Hold'em to benefit the Buxton Community Food Co-op. But state police said the game was illegal. That's because whenever a gambling tournament is held to raise money for a group and takes place at its headquarters, a permit is needed and the co-op didn't have one. So, state police seized cards, poker chips and $500 in cash -- money the food co-op desperately needed...WMTW-TV

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Simplot plans to lay off 114 mine, plant workers

J.R. Simplot Co. plans to issue layoff notices to 114 employees at a phosphate mine and a fertilizer plant, blaming legal challenges from environmental groups trying to halt the agricultural conglomerate's proposed expansion of the mine near the Idaho-Wyoming border. The 36 layoffs at the Smoky Canyon mine are set to take place Saturday, with 78 job reductions at the Don fertilizer plant near Pocatello slated for July 11. In late May, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the company from preparing for the expansion, with the judges saying they needed more time to review all the issues. Garrett Lofto, president of Simplot's AgriBusiness Group, said Monday the company could shutter Smoky Canyon and the fertilizer plant completely in 18 months if the situation isn't resolved. The mine is the only supplier of the Don plant, shipping phosphate beneath three counties in an underground pipeline. "The delays caused by special interest groups over the past nine months have placed us in a no-win situation," said Lofto in a news release, adding Simplot has released 199 contracting company workers, and has not filled 22 vacant positions...Olympian

Lawmaker joins push to up cost of drilling

A powerful congressional chairman has joined a growing number of Democrats who want to sharply increase the cost of drilling leases that the government provides on federal lands, a move vigorously opposed by Big Oil and Republicans. Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has proposed a plan to boost royalty rates by 50 percent and to cut the lease periods to five years from the current 10 years or more. His recommendation would be part of a sweeping overhaul of the $22 billion, scandal-tarred oil and gas drilling program that the Interior Department oversees. The plan also appears in line with the broader energy goals of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is conducting a review of the Interior Department's handling of oil and gas leases and royalties as the House prepares to push through a bill to address climate change and the Senate works on its own energy legislation. Mr. Rahall's plan fits neatly into the broader efforts of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to make a "dramatic shift" in energy production toward green sources, said Sharon Buccino, director of land and wildlife programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council...WTimes

Forest Service stonewalling is shameful

During last summer's wildfire season, the worst in recent memory, crews struggling to contain blazes resorted to extraordinary steps, including the widespread use of backburns to keep flames in check. We're not second-guessing firefighters who took what looked like the best available steps in the middle of a dire emergency. Once the fires are out, though, it's not too much to ask for the government to help clean up the messes it made, and especially to compensate private property owners who suffered severe losses when their land was abused to protect the general public. It's not too much to ask - unless you're asking the U.S. Forest Service, which has denied claims for compensation related to burnouts including that of William Heinrici, a Junction City-area resident who's had to haul water to his home since a burnout destroyed his water lines...Instead, nearly a year after the fire and a full six months after Rep. Wally Herger's office intervened with the Forest Service, the Heinrici family is still trucking water in drums. In Herger's correspondence with the Forest Service, the agency said it was waiting until all fire-related claims were received or the two-year statute of limitations passed before processing any of them. This might make sense in the Magical Kingdom of Bureaucratia, but it is simply insane when we're discussing human lives. Two years to process the claim? The central-office functionaries who made that call should spend two weeks living without running water and then see how important prompt action is. It's easy to imagine disputes over whether damage was caused by the wildfire or by the fire crews themselves - but there is no question in this case. Even the district ranger agrees Forest Service crews started the backburn and has verified the damage, according to Herger. Yet the Forest Service is still stonewalling Heinrici. It's shameful.RecordSearchlight

Property Owners Get 'Consolation Prize' on Eminent Domain Reform

The passage of House Joint Resolution 14 by State Rep. Frank Corte, Jr. (R- San Antonio) in the closing hours of the 81st Texas Legislature accomplished some of the eminent domain reform sought by Texas Farm Bureau, but does not go nearly far enough, the organization's president said today. "The constitutional amendment authorized by HJR 14 is very welcome and if passed by voters will provide protections from the abuses opened up by the Kelo case," said TFB President Kenneth Dierschke. "But the job of reforming Texas' terrible eminent domain law is not even half done." Senate Bill 18 was one of dozens of bills that did not come up for a vote due to the controversy over the Voter ID bill. Dierschke said SB 18 was the ultimate fix for unfair eminent domain treatment of property owners that is rampant across the state. Among the issues addressed in SB 18 was a provision requiring all condemning entities to provide property owners with improved notice and disclosure before proceedings begin. It also provided for relocation assistance for displaced property owners. It would have enacted a previously approved constitutional amendment that allows owners to buy back their property in 10 years if not used for a public purpose. SB 18 called for an accounting of all entities in Texas which have eminent domain authority. This is a number that no one seems to know. Dierschke said that Texas property owners are "deeply disappointed" by the Legislature's failure to get eminent domain reform enacted...PressRelease


GM's bankruptcy pushes bondholders aside in favor of the U.S. government and the UAW. Though bondholders hold $27 billion in debt, they'll get just 10% of stock. How's that compare with the other "stakeholders?" For spending $50 billion to bail out GM, the government will get 60% of the equity in the new GM; the UAW, which along with other unions gave millions to Democrats, will be repaid for its loyalty with 17.5% of the stock for $10 billion of unsecured debts. So the government, with roughly two times what private bondholders have on the table, gets a stake five times bigger. And the union, with about a third as much "invested," gets a 70% bigger stake. Even the Canadian government, with its $9.5 billion "invested," ends up with 12%. They call it "restructuring." We call it theft...IBD

Jim Risch, Mark Rey leave Idaho roadless legacy

Rey came up with the idea of letting states write their own plan for managing the roadless national forest lands. The idea bombed everywhere but Idaho and Colorado, in part because most states were happy with Clinton's 2001 roadless rule. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne jumped at the chance to write his own plan and put former Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Jim Caswell to work on one before he left to become Interior Secretary. County officials loved the process and it appeared it was going to provide predictable results, a plan that would have allowed logging in the few areas it could be done economically but without any environmental groups buying in. Then Jim Risch became governor and he had a different vision and arguably a changed reality. The day he announced his initial plan without environmental support a federal judge re-instituted Clinton's rule. Rey and Caswell quickly shifted to make Idaho's plan a separate rule. But for it to really work, they needed the support of the national panel of environmentalists, off-road recreationists, local officials and the timber industry...IdahoStatesman

Montana governor fights Oregon's request for more water

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is pressing the Obama administration to back hydroelectric dam operations that favor Montana rivers and reservoirs but face continuous challenges from downstream interests. Specifically, Oregon and the National Wildlife Federation continue to press for more Montana water in the summer than what is provided in the 2008 Biological Opinion for the Columbia River Power System. The "BiOp" was developed through a collaboration of states, federal agencies and tribes, after years of disagreement and litigation. A federal judge has backed it so far, but Schweitzer is seeking additional support from the Obama administration's Council on Environmental Quality. "You may hear that the current BiOp is a product of the Bush administration and that it should be rejected as legally and technically flawed," Schweitzer wrote. "While the court will make judgments on the legal merits of the BiOp, this hearsay does not provide an accurate portrayal of the current BiOp." Schweitzer asserts that the 2008 BiOp is far superior to previous opinions...DailyInterLake

A Colorado Watershed

Constituents had been complaining, state senator Jim Isgar says. Water shortages are chronic throughout most of Colorado, so that municipal delivery systems have trouble satisfying demand. Yet collecting the storm water running off your roof to irrigate a garden or supplement the household supply made you a criminal. Enforcement personnel weren't seeking out offenders, Isgar insists, but if you were cited, a rain barrel set beneath your downspout could earn you a $500 fine. Two barrels, two fines. As chair of the Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee and a rancher, Isgar has experienced both the public and private aspects of this issue. He concluded that such a blanket ban on storm water harvesting didn't make sense. Legislation he sponsored and helped to pass this spring, Senate Bill #80, will make collecting storm water legal, at least in some situations. With carefully defined limitations, residential users who do not have access to a public water supply may now supplement or substitute such harvested water for the amount that state regulations would allow them to draw from a private well. This may seem like a minor victory, but it is one environmental activists have been demanding for some time. They've ridiculed the ban as evidence of entrenched greed and bureaucratic backwardness...HuffingtonPost

Company eyes 700 million-barrel potential in oil shale tract

A subsidiary of a Boston-based company plans to test oil shale development technology on private land in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin. General Synfuels International said in a recent news release it has obtained access to about 500 acres with the near-term potential to recover about 700 million barrels of oil or oil equivalents. GSI said it plans to pursue what it considers to be a breakthrough technology that has low environmental impacts and is “energy-self-sustainable.” The technology is a gasification process that would be applied to oil shale still underground. GSI officials could not be reached for comment Friday for specifics on the acreage location or the company’s gasification process. GSI also said it has reached an exploration agreement with a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in Wyoming. The agreement covers about 160 acres on a Union Pacific Railroad section near Rock Springs. Together, the two agreements will let the company test and develop its technology to recover fuels from oil shale, oil sands and heavy oil...GJ Sentinel

Ten sea lions killed near Bonneville Dam this season

Government officials killed 10 California sea lions captured near Bonneville dam, released six and relocated four this spring, the first season the government was allowed to euthanize sea lions with a record of eating Columbia River salmon. Early indications are that the program reduced the numbers of California sea lions congregating below the dam's fish ladders, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers status report. The sea lions have now left to return to their southern breeding grounds. But the number of protected Steller sea lions visiting the dam increased, the report said. And the amount of fish consumed by sea lions at the dam, including an estimated 2,633 spring chinook, is still likely to be the second or third highest in the past eight years when final numbers are tallied...Oregonian

Nez Perce Tribe pulling out of bighorn work group

The Nez Perce Tribe is pulling out of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s collaborative bighorn sheep panel because legislation passed by Idaho lawmakers undermines the process, the tribe’s chairman says. Samuel N. Penney said the legislation ends any collaborative effort and the tribe will no longer take part in the Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group. The goal of the group – made up of state officials, sheep ranchers, sportsmen and environmental organizations – had been to protect the sheep ranching industry while seeking a way for bighorn sheep to avoid contacting domestic sheep, which have been blamed for spreading deadly diseases to bighorns. But Republican state Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a sheep rancher from Terreton, introduced a series of bills during the last legislative session aimed at protecting sheep producers. Otter signed into law a bill to require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to work with producers to develop a plan to keep bighorns away from domestic sheep while preserving domestic sheep grazing on federal land. The law requires the plan and methods to be completed by Aug. 6. It also calls for Fish and Game to certify as acceptable any risk of disease transfer to bighorns remaining after the plan is put in place...NativeAmericanTimes

Groups ask EPA to ban lead tire weights

The federal government should ban the use of lead weights, those fingertip-size chunks of metal that balance the tires of cars and trucks, says a petition filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week. While the federal government has banned lead in paint, gasoline and plumbing, among other products, the EPA has ignored an estimated 3.5 million pounds of lead weights that drop off tire rims and onto U.S. roads every year, according to a coalition of environmental groups that filed the petition. Once the lead weights hit the road, they can be picked up by children or eaten by wildlife. They are run over by other vehicles and broken down into dust, which can be inhaled or end up in runoff that taints water and wetlands, the groups say...SFChronicle

Groups Challenge Snowmobile Trails

Environmentalists say the U.S. Forest Service illegally approved the "grooming" of 158 miles of snowmobile trails in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, without public notice or comment or environmental analysis. Plaintiffs claim, among other things, that the snowmobiles will devastate wolverines. Wildlands CPR and Friends of the Bitterroot are represented in Federal Court by Sarah McMillan with the Western Environmental Law Center. CourthouseNewsServive

Ranchers driving wind revolution + Video

Texan cattle rancher Mike Baca seems an unlikely evangelist for the American green revolution. When he voices a visceral dislike of the "Washington liberals" there seems to be little hint of the environmentalist beneath the cowboy hat and saucer-sized belt-buckle. But Mike is proof that renewable energy now unites the partisan debate on climate change. Many Republicans sceptical of climate science support a major expansion of renewables to ease their nation's dependence on foreign oil. In Mike's case, the tantalising prospect of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from wind turbines on his ranch proves an extra incentive. The sprawling ranch lies in the Texas panhandle on the high plains near Amarillo. Mike will not say how much land he owns but it stretches way beyond the horizon in all directions...BBC

Here's the video of the Baca interview. There is a 30 second commercial at the beginning.

Soybeans - The House That Soy Built

The researcher and his wife, Vaishali, are building a new home in Brookings, and they want their contractors to use as many soy-based products as possible. The couple's house will be lined with energy-efficient soy-based spray foam insulation. Underneath their carpeting will be padding made from Urethane Soy System's products. Patel is even working with a countertop manufacturer to make a product based on — you guessed it — soy materials. "The countertops are a fairly new project. I'm going to work with our customer on that and see if we can have something in time for our home." Patel, a five-year employee of Urethane Soy Systems, says the company converts soybean oil into a polyol, which is a chemical used in the polyurethane industry to make polyurethane plastic. Polyol has traditionally been made from petroleum-based oil. "With our technology, we can convert soybean oil into a polyol that could be used for any of those applications," he said. Patel said USS researchers are working on a wide range of products because polyurethane is a versatile polymer. "It's a really good plastic, and you can make various applications from that," he said. "If you consider polyurethane itself, you can make coatings, paints, and a major use is foam, like the cushioning you sit on every day...USNews

An Auction of ‘Nature’s Sculpture’: Rare Dinosaur Skulls

Just in time for the new “Night at the Museum” film, two rare dinosaur skulls, one belonging to a 65 million-year-old Triceratops and the other to a smaller relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex, were auctioned on Monday afternoon at Bonhams & Butterfields in Manhattan. The Triceratops’s skull, which is more than 80 percent intact, sold for $242,000, and the other skull, from a dinosaur known as a Tyrannosaurid, sold for $206,000 — both sums far greater than what the auction house had expected. Bonhams is helping a private collector liquidate his collection of “dinosauria” — the umbrella term for dinosaur eggs, teeth, bone fragments and fossils. The auction house would not identify the buyers. Known collectors of dinosauria include Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicolas Cage, Ron Howard and Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former chief technology officer. Competition can get quite frantic. In 2007, Mr. Cage and Mr. DiCaprio got into a bidding war over of a Tyrannosaurus bataar. Before the 1970s, the dinosauria market had been rather moribund, as few realized that dinosaur specimens could be owned by anything other than a museum. Then the private collecting heated up (not just because of “Jurassic Park”). American private-property laws allow ranchers to buy and sell bones excavated from their properties. Ranch owners call up private companies like the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research to help remove them, a practice that has drawn criticism from paleontologists and other scholars who say the companies are more interested in profit than science...NYTimes

Paleontologist's sentence includes jail time

Amateur paleontologist Nate Murphy has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and fined $2,500 for stealing a raptor fossil from a ranch near Malta. Phillips County District Judge John McKeon imposed the sentence last week in Malta, even though a plea agreement recommended no jail time. The jail term is one of the conditions of a five-year deferred sentence ordered by McKeon, during which time Murphy is to be on probation. That means that if he fails to live up to the terms and conditions imposed by the judge, his probation could be revoked and he could go to prison for five years. Murphy, 51, pleaded guilty to the felony theft charge in March, and he is to be sentenced July 9 on a separate charge of stealing fossils from federal land, to which he also pleaded guilty. Billings Gazette

Heading to Texas, Hudson’s Toxic Mud Stirs Town (Eunice, NM)

There are not many towns in America that would welcome the 2.5 million cubic yards of toxic sludge being dredged from the bottom of the Hudson River in New York, but to hear Mayor Matt White tell it, Eunice is one of them. Storing waste nobody else wants means more jobs, Mr. White said, and the oil workers here are used to living with hazards. After all, there are several oil wells in the town itself. One of them is a block from City Hall. “We have deadly gases in the oil fields,” he said. “It’s more deadly than any of the stuff they are going to put in the ground out here.” From the edge of town, one can see huge berms at the landfill where General Electric plans to bury the dried sludge that is tainted with 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls. They flowed into the upper Hudson from two G. E. factories for three decades before they were banned, in 1977. In high doses, the chemicals have been shown to cause cancer in animals and are considered a probable carcinogen in people. The landfill lies five miles away in Texas, right across the state line, and belongs to Harold C. Simmons, a Dallas billionaire who was a large campaign contributor to former President George W. Bush and Gov. Rick Perry. Some environmentalists warn that the landfill is too near the giant Ogallala aquifer to store such hazardous materials, an assertion the company says is a lie. The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s office in Dallas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have sided with the company in the debate over the aquifer. But some confusion remains, and three state environmental officials have resigned in protest over granting the company permits for the radioactive waste. A little closer to Eunice, just inside New Mexico, an international consortium is building a uranium enrichment plant, with the blessing of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission...NYTimes

Pioneer Days Rodeo moves indoors

An increase in competitors, partially thanks to a new venue, has Curry County Mounted Patrol members excited about the event they sponsor every year. And that’s despite the 39th annual Pioneer Days Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo moving away from the facility that bears the group’s name. This is the first year for the Pioneer Day’s rodeo at the indoor Curry County Special Events Center. The Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena was the previous home for the event. Mounted Patrol President Richard Hadley may wax sentimental about the feel of an outdoor rodeo, but he also believes the new structure has helped lead to a big increase in this year’s competitors. And that’s a good enough reason to be happy about the rodeo, which begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday...ClovisNewsJournal

Song Of The Day #050

For our fiftieth song here is some early Porter Wagoner singing Itchin' For My Baby.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Energy Bill on Track to Pass in Senate

After months of on-again, off-again markups, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee appears on the verge of passing an energy bill that makes good on Democrats’ pledge to tilt the energy balance heavily in favor of renewables. But the regional nature of the energy debate will be on full display when the bill moves to the Senate floor, where the key fights will include a controversial first-time national renewable energy mandate as well as provisions to expand nuclear power, and onshore and offshore drilling of oil and natural gas. Energy Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) before Memorial Day was able to coax enough support from committee Democrats and a lone Republican — Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) — to push through the inclusion of a renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2021 that is the centerpiece of the bill. Bingaman, a five-term Senator from an oil- and gas-producing state, has been the top Democrat on the panel since 1999 and knows his way around energy issues...Another unresolved issue that will likely drag out on the floor is the yet-to-be revealed oil and gas title of the bill. A Bingaman spokesman said the centerpiece of the section will be a “robust” inventory of oil, gas and renewable energy resources in the Outer Continental Shelf. But committee Republicans, as well as some Democrats, have made clear that they would like to see expanded production included in the bill as well. The timing of the Senate floor debate remains unclear. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said only that the Senate will wait to move on energy until after the House passes its bill, which could occur this month...RollCall

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Through the Ages By Paul Jenks

President Thomas Jefferson negotiates the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and ushers in a long political saga over how to manage the great new expanses of land.

Congress creates the Public Lands Committee, and Ohio Sen. Jeremiah Morrow (Democratic Republican) becomes its first chairman. It is one of the Senate’s original standing committees. For the next 193 years, only two Senators from Eastern Seaboard states will serve as chairman of the committee or its successors.

Alabama Sen. William Rufus King (Jacksonian), who later served as vice president under President Franklin Pierce, leads the committee as a debate between how to distribute public lands roils 19th-century politics. Eastern Seaboard lawmakers favor selling the land to raise money to pay debts, while Western lawmakers favor generous land grants to settlers...

It continues with similar summaries and ends with:

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) becomes chairman of the committee for the first time and alternates the chairmanship with fellow New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici (R) until 2007, when Democrats retake control of the Senate and Bingaman takes over the gavel. The committee is recognized for its collegial and relatively nonpartisan processes.

Obama Administration Proposes Text for New Global Warming Treaty That Would Impose Stricter Rules on U.S. Than on China or Saudi Arabia

The U.S. State Department has provided the United Nations with proposed text for a new global warming treaty that would require the United States to comply with stricter carbon emissions standards than most other countries in the world--including, for example, China and Saudi Arabia--and that anticipates that U.S. taxpayers will provide foreign aid to support efforts to control carbon emissions in developing nations. The text, obtained by, was submitted in early May to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is developing a new international global warming treaty that is expected to be finalized at an international conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. The treaty will reduce carbon emissions from the U.S. and other "developed" countries while allowing "developing" countries--which include the world's largest polluter, China, and oil-rich nations such as Saudi Arabia--to avoid equal restrictions...CNSNews