Saturday, September 19, 2009

In hundreds of cities, parking spaces become parks

Activists across the nation parked themselves curbside Friday, taking up spaces reserved for cars and transforming them into mini parks with sod, potted plants, lawn chairs and even barbecues to raise awareness about how the auto has won the battle over public space in big cities. On a busy street in Los Angeles, a neighborhood association took up seven parking spots and set up a hangout with a grill, a kiddie pool and a gardening workshop to teach people how to grow drought-tolerant plants. In Chicago, an architecture firm turned two parking spaces into a pit stop where bicyclists can chill out on a grassy knoll and refuel on drinks and snacks. In New York City, theater students from Fordham University staged a "Shakespeare in the Parking Spot" festival. The setting was one of the pocket parks created for "Park(ing) Day." The movement started as a single installation four years ago in San Francisco and has become a worldwide event reaching more than 100 cities on four continents...AP

Salazar Launches DOI Climate Change Response Strategy

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today launched the Department of the Interior’s first-ever coordinated strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on America’s land, water, ocean, fish, wildlife, and cultural resources. The secretarial order signed today at Interior’s command center establishes a framework through which Interior bureaus will coordinate climate change science and resource management strategies. Under the framework: * A new Climate Change Response Council, led by the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Counselor, will coordinate DOI’s response to the impacts of climate change within and among the Interior bureaus and will work to improve the sharing and communication of climate change impact science, including through; * Eight DOI regional Climate Change Response Centers, serving Alaska, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Southwest, the Midwest, the West, Northwest, and Pacific regions – will synthesize existing climate change impact data and management strategies, help resource managers put them into action on the ground, and engage the public through education initiatives; and * A network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will engage DOI and federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public to craft practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change impacts within the eight regions. The cooperatives will focus on impacts such as the effects of climate change on wildlife migration patterns, wildfire risk, drought, or invasive species that typically extend beyond the borders of any single National Wildlife Refuge, BLM unit, or National Park...PressRelease

First Lady Goes Organic Food Shopping

The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens. Then, and only then, could Obama purchase her leafy greens. "Now it's time to buy some food," she told several hundred people who came to watch. "Let's shop!"...WPost

Familiar Issues Vex Climate Pact

Delegates from the world's economic powers convened in Washington for a new round of climate talks this week, searching for a way to improve the chances of securing a new global warming pact in a time of intense economic and political uncertainty. The meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate -- which includes the world's 17 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases -- marked the start of three weeks of negotiations that could help determine whether the international community can reach a meaningful agreement by the end of the year to curb climate change. The key questions that have dominated the talks from the beginning remain unresolved: What level of emissions cuts are both industrialized and major developing countries willing to embrace? What sort of financing will developed countries provide to help vulnerable nations adapt to climate change and to help emerging economies embark on a more environmentally sustainable growth trajectory?...WPost

Friday, September 18, 2009

First Annual Hidalgo County Cowboy Dinner & Dance

Honoring Rural Families, Rural Traditions—Preserving Our Rural Heritage

Music by The Delk Band, Bucky Allred, Dee Ford with Special Guest Performances by Kip Calahan-Young, Kyli Rose Moore, Junior Gomez

Saturday, September 19, 2009
Animas Community Building, Animas, NM
Cowboy Dinner: 6:00 PM
Dessert will be potluck—please bring your favorite dessert dish!
Dance: 8:00 PM

This is a Fundraising Event

All are welcome. There will be no admission charge. However, your contribution will be appreciated and will serve as your admission to the Cowboy Dinner and Dance. Fifteen percent of the net proceeds will go to the Hidalgo County Fair Association and the balance will benefi t the litigation and media outreach funds of the Gila Livestock Grower’s Association and the Americans for the Preservation of Western Environment ( as they prepare for potential litigation and reach out to inform our urban friends and neighbors of the devastating impact of the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program ( on the people who are forced to live with wolves on their ranches, in their yards and in their communities. Please make checks payable to Gila Livestock Growers Association, a 501(c)3 corporation. Credit card contributions can also be made online at

Congrats again to Joe Delk and his compatriots for the wonderful job they are doing in helping our rural citizens. Let's hope they have another great turnout!

Senators Udall and Bingaman outline plan for wilderness, Organ Mountains & My Response

New Mexico's U.S. senators on Thursday announced a plan to create thousands of acres of federally designated wilderness in Do a Ana County, including protection for the Organ Mountains. U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both D-N.M., introduced a bill that would designate 259,000 acres of land as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection. Also, the bill would place another 100,000 acres into a national conservation area, a type of protection that varies depending on the specific conditions set by Congress. The bill was applauded by several groups that have advocated the creation of wilderness in the county since late 2005. However, it was met with skepticism by a pro-ranching organization that has criticized similar proposals in the past...LasCrucesSunNews

I'm quoted in the article by Diana Alba. I'm sure Ms. Alba was under a deadline and had a limited amount of space for her article.

So here are the notes I prepared for the interview, listing the five points I made to the reporter:

--Surprised and disappointed that he would ignore the concerns of over 800 businesses and organizations in Dona Ana county

--Surprised he ignored the Stakeholder group put together by city and county that voted for 54,000 acres in wilderness and 300,000 acres other than wilderness. Bingaman's bill has 5 times as much wilderness.

--Disappointed he refused to consider new and innovative land designations that would better fit the needs of dona ana county. Congress has taken new and innovative approaches to banking, housing, auto and a myriad other issues and it’s time for a new approach to land use.

--Based on recent reports from Arizona we believe there are important homeland security issues that can’t be fixed by a small corridor

--No indication in the press release he included language to protect grazing in nca’s as recommended by our group, but will reserve any additional comment until we have read the bill and reviewed the final maps

Ms. Alba, like others in the local media, continues to refer to PFPOWH as "a group of ranchers." It's true the group was started by ranchers, but it has since expanded into a broad based coalition with over 800 members containing businesses of all stripes, sportsmen, campers, mountain bikers, local organizations interested in the issue, two former Presidents of NMSU, etc. It's current Chairman is the Dean Emeritus of the CAHE at NMSU who is not a public lands rancher. It has grown well beyond "a group of ranchers."

More to come on my other points later, plus other facets of this important issue.

New Protection Plan Unveiled for Rocky Mountain Front

A new plan that’s been three years in the making would add new protections to 394,000 acres along the Rocky Mountain Front and help protect the embattled wilderness from additional road building and oil and gas development, a grassroots coalition says. Members of the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front unveiled the proposed legislation yesterday and are seeking a congressional sponsor for it. The Coalition’s main goal is to use a new designation—Conservation Management Area—for 307,000 acres of public lands along the Front. The CMA, the coalition says, would follow regulations set down by the U.S. Forest Service in 2007. According to the Coalition (and taken verbatim from its website), the 2007 plan is “an extremely popular Forest Service decision developed over many years of public participation. By using this planning document as the basis for travel management decisions we protect access to our public lands as it exists now for hikers, stock users, mountain bikers, and motorized users.” Under the CMA, the Forest Service could choose to decrease motorized use but could not expand it; it could authorize new road construction only for safety or emergency measures; and it would allow logging and wood cutting, among other things. The new designation would ensure that the Front is protected far into the future, the group says...NewWest

You can read their draft legislation here.

A Dona Ana County coalition has also proposed a new designation, Rangeland Preservation Area, that would protect the land from disposal by sale or lease, mining, mineral leasing and would limit off-road vehicle travel. You can read their proposed legislation here.

Clearly it's time for a new land use designation for areas where a wilderness designation just doesn't work. Best of luck to the Rocky Mtn. Front group and let's hope their Senators are more forward looking than our Senator Bingaman who refuses to consider anything other than the same old and out of date designations.

Jets may get more room to roam at Mountain Home Air Force Base

Pilots would get 29 percent more elbow room and the base’s airspace would edge farther into Oregon and Nevada. If approved by federal officials, the expansion could pave the way for state-of-the-art aircraft like the F-35 at the base. More importantly, according to 366th Fighter Wing commander Col. John Bird, the expansion would double the effectiveness of the airspace and the training offered in Idaho. “We are starting to get customers,” Bird said. “It’s the perfect practice ground.” An expansion would make Mountain Home comparable to Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, Bird said. A military study of the environmental impact of F-15 fighter jets going supersonic and dropping fake bombs is wrapped up. Mountain Home officials said they were able to assuage the fears of some ranchers in Nevada’s Humboldt County who feared low-flying planes would harry their cattle. The proposed expansion, Bird said, is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration, which typically takes a little less than a year to approve or kill such proposals...IdahoStatesman

The Mountain Home range complex covers more than 187 square miles in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. If approved, the expansion would increase its air space by nearly 30 percent...AirForceTimes

I wonder what the total airspace is controlled by the feds? Other users are excluded from these areas. We know the DOD owns or controls 30 million acres of land but how much airspace do they control?

Five grizzlies snared on Montana ranch

State bear managers set foot snares at a cow carcass at a ranch 2 miles south of Dupuyer on Sunday, hoping to nab the grizzly that killed it. They did — along with four other grizzlies. "That was really a surprise," said Mike Madel, a Choteau-based Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks grizzly bear management specialist. The five grizzlies captured at a single site are the most bears managers have ever caught along the Rocky Mountain Front, Madel said. The record previously was four, but that involved a female and three cubs. Madel suspects the most recent capture features a family of three bears and two other unrelated bears. On Saturday, rancher Ron Jones reported an 800- to 1,000-pound cow was killed by a grizzly. Jones ranches 2 miles south of Dupuyer. On Sunday, four foot snares were set near the carcass to try to capture the offending bear or bears. It's common to set multiple snares if females with cubs are known to be area, Madel said, noting a female with cubs had been spotted near the ranch. When authorities returned at daybreak Monday, they were surprised to find a 430-pound male, a two-year-old male, an adult female and one of her cubs in snares — a fifth bear, a second cub of the snared female, was freely roaming the area. The cub running free was darted and captured...GreatFallsTribune

Feds to study Western river basins

The Bureau of Reclamation announced plans Thursday to study three large river basins in the West to get a better handle on future supplies, projected demands and the potential impacts of climate change on water resources. Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor made the announcement while in New Mexico for a meeting of stakeholders from throughout the Colorado River basin, which is one of the basins that will be studied over the next two years as part of the agency's conservation initiative. Studies also will be done on the Yakima River basin in Washington and the Milk and St. Mary River systems in Montana. "We recognize that we need to get a better understanding of how climate change may impact water resources," Connor told The Associated Press during a telephone interview. "Really this is the first stage of gathering this information." As part of the studies, the agency will develop projections for supply and demand throughout the basins and analyze how each basin's existing infrastructure and operations will perform in the face of changing conditions, including shifting precipitation patterns, temperature increases and growing demand. Connor said endangered species will also be considered as the agency plans for future water needs...AP

Actually they are using global warming as a tool to get more money out of Congress.

One of the primary findings of the studies will be...we need to spend more money.

Who knows? The Westerner knows.

Suit challenges state engineer's SNWA ruling

A Douglas County judge will be in Ely next week to review a controversial ruling that could send 6.1 billion gallons of groundwater flowing each year from three rural valleys to Las Vegas. The Sept. 25 evidentiary hearing will focus on a legal challenge of Nevada State Engineer Tracy Taylor's July 2008 ruling that gave the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) the right to pump 18,755 acre-feet of groundwater annually from Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys. The Las Vegas Valley Water District initially filed applications for the rights to more than 11 billion gallons of groundwater from the three valleys in Lincoln County. (A portion of Cave Valley extends into White Pine County.) But Taylor limited the SNWA to 3.8 billion gallons per year from Dry Lake Valley, 1.5 billion gallons from Cave Valley and 800 million gallons from Delamar Valley. Aside from its conditions on the SNWA, Taylor's ruling defines the perennial yield from each valley, or the maximum amount of groundwater that can be pumped in a given year without depleting an aquifer. Herskovits argues that Taylor's findings regarding the perennial yields from Cave and Dry Lake valleys are flawed. He told White Pine County commissioners Sept. 9 that he fears groundwater from the two basins would be "seriously over-appropriated" if Taylor's ruling were allowed to stand as is. Moreover, he said that Nevada law requires the state engineer's office to reject an application if it would have negative impacts on future economic development. In this instance, reduced groundwater flows from Cave Valley could affect existing agricultural users in White River Valley, he said...ElyTimes

Joe Hansen: A real cowboy and a life on the ranch

He has two artificial hips and he's 89 years old. But that doesn't stop Joe Hansen from riding a horse — something he's done all his life. Hansen, who now lives at the senior housing on East Fifth Street in Rifle, was born and raised on a 160-acre ranch his family homesteaded on Divide Creek south of Silt and 13 miles up Dry Hollow Road, which to this day is called “Hansen Hill.” The family was one of the original homesteaders in the Divide Creek area in 1903 and raised alfalfa-grass hay, wheat, potatoes and ran about 200 head of Hereford cattle. Hansen was the oldest of five children. Ranching has been in Hansen's family for generations. His father, Dick, grew up on a ranch as did his grandfather. Hansen has been a cowboy all his life. “I started riding when I was four,” Hansen remembered. “All of us kids did. I started cowboying for my dad when I was eight. My dad and his dad were cowboys before we were.” Hansen was active in 4-H and attended the rodeo at the Garfield County Fair every year. In 1952, he won champion in calf roping with the Silt Roping Club and received a large silver belt buckle with his name engraved on it...CitizenTelegram

A Ballet About Rodeo?

Scene one: The curtain opens on a cowgirl in a pasture. She's struggling to break a wild horse that bucks frantically, eventually throwing her to the ground. How, exactly, is that performed in a ballet? "It's not balletic in the classical sense at all," says Sharon Wehner, will play the cowgirl in "Rodeo" (pronounced ro-da'-o), the third and final act of Colorado Ballet's touring production All Pointes West, at the Pikes Peak Center on Sept. 19. Before its 1942 premiere, choreographer Agnes de Mille drew upon horseback riding to create the dance style for "Rodeo." The result: ballerinas galloping, cantering, walking bow-legged. Wehner jokes half-seriously that while bucking in rehearsal, she sometimes gets whiplash. While the choreography is unusual and the setting historical, Wehner says "Rodeo" tells a timeless coming-of-age story most everyone can relate to...ColoradoSpringsIndependent

When it comes to bronc riding ballerinas and pirouettes on ponies, I think I'll pass.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama Supports Extending Patriot Act Provisions

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday. Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law's authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called "lone wolf" terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps. The provision on business records was long criticized by rights groups as giving the government access to citizens' library records, and a coalition of liberal and conservative groups complained that the Patriot Act gives the government too much authority to snoop into Americans' private lives. From 2004 to 2007, the business records provision was used 220 times, officials said. Most often, the business records were requested in combination with requests for phone records. The lone wolf provision was created to conduct surveillance on suspects with no known link to foreign governments or terrorist groups. It has never been used, but the administration says it should still be available for future investigations. The roving wiretaps provision was designed to allow investigators to quickly monitor the communications of a suspects who change their cell phone or communication device, without investigators having to go back to court for a new court authorization. That provision has been used an average of 22 times a year, officials said...AP

Cameras keep track of all cars entering Medina

City signs have a unique way of greeting people. In Issaquah, for instance, motorists are told they're entering "a special place where people care." For years, Bothell invited people to stay "for a day or a lifetime." In Medina, a new sign bears this warning: "You Are Entering a 24 Hour Video Surveillance Area." Cameras have recently been installed at intersections to monitor every vehicle coming into the city. Under the "automatic license plate recognition" project, once a car enters Medina, a camera captures its license-plate number. Within seconds, the number is run through a database. If a hit comes up for a felony — say, the vehicle was reported stolen or is being driven by a homicide suspect — the information is transmitted instantaneously to police, who can "leap into action," said Police Chief Jeffrey Chen...SeattleTimes

At Least 21 Killed in Mexican Border Cities

In Ciudad Juarez, gunmen killed five people at a car wash Tuesday evening, including two brothers who owned the business, said Vladimir Tuexi, a spokesman for the regional attorney general's office. On Monday night, gunmen opened fire inside a Ciudad Juarez hardware store, killing the woman who owned the store and four other people, including a 19-year-old man, the office said. Minutes later, an armed gang killed five men riding in a pickup truck. Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's deadliest city with more than 1,300 killings so far this year. The city is in the midst of an intense turf battle between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels. Officials held a ceremony for 1,200 Mexican army soldiers who were being withdrawn from Ciudad Juarez. The troops were part of a contingent sent there earlier this year to fight crime while the city trained more police officers...AP

Obama administration: Cap and trade could cost families $1,761 a year

The Obama administration has privately concluded that a cap and trade law would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent. A previously unreleased analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Treasury says the total in new taxes would be between $100 billion to $200 billion a year. At the upper end of the administration's estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year. A second memorandum, which was prepared for Obama's transition team after the November election, says this about climate change policies: "Economic costs will likely be on the order of 1 percent of GDP, making them equal in scale to all existing environmental regulation." The documents (PDF) were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute and released on Tuesday...cnetnews

First the Polar Bear, Now Artic Reindeer Proposed for Endangered Species Listing

The International Fund for Animal Welfare on Tuesday filed a petition with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect two North Pole caribou species under the Endangered Species Act. “Currently, the habitat of Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou is threatened by rapid climate change and increased frequency of severe weather patterns which prevent them from foraging for food,” IFAW said in a news release. The group says the overall number of Peary caribou has declined 84 percent, from almost 50,000 in the 1960s to less than 7,800 at the turn of the 21st century. "Climate change has had detrimental effects across the board for arctic animals that rely on sea ice and stable seasonal weather conditions," said Jeff Flocken, director of IFAW’s Washington, D.C., office. "Species such as Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou are in real jeopardy as a result. It is our hope that this petition leads to real protections for this beautiful arctic species." IFAW also noted that in addition to habitat change and global warming, the extinction of Peary and Dolphin-Union caribou populations could be accelerated by threats from predation, over-hunting, lack of genetic diversity, inter-species competition and disease...CNSNews

What's next, Santa or the elves?

Political calculus: Even math class goes green

As part of the ongoing effort to politicize every aspect of our lives, some of our children are now subject to "environmental education" -- in math class. A Bow High School teacher, Marcel Duhaime, has won a grant to "bring environmental studies into typically non-environmental type classes, such as math," as our story put it yesterday. The grant is from the National Environmental Education Foundation and The Weather Channel. The foundation says its goal is that "students will be empowered to take positive action to improve the environment now." The foundation calls this "environmental education." There's another word for it. "Indoctrination." If teaching students to "improve the environment now" is a proper function of math class, then no place is safe from political disputes. If we want to restore civility to public discourse, we can start by limiting, not expanding, the spheres of life in which politics is pervasive...UnionLeader

Wolf hunt a $167K boon to game & fish coffers

Tuesday's expanded wolf hunting season passed without a hunter filling a tag in Montana or Idaho, but wildlife managers in both states made a killing. At $19 apiece, Montana wolf hunters have added more than $167,000 to the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks general license account since wolf tags went on sale Sept. 1. Only about 40 of 8,796 licenses sold went to out-of-state hunters, who paid $350 for the opportunity. Idaho has sold about 14,500 tags. At $11.50 for in-state hunters, that's an over-the-counter windfall of nearly $167,000. Montana has a quota of 75 wolves to be shot by hunters in the 2009 big-game season. Wolf hunting opened Tuesday in four remote, backcountry hunting districts, with the rest of the state closed until the regular season opens Oct. 25. Idaho has a limit of 220 wolves. It opened two remote districts to hunting Sept. 1 and two more Tuesday. The rest of the state opens Oct. 1. License proceeds in both states go into their respective big-game license accounts and are not earmarked or otherwise separated for specific purposes...Missoulian

Hunt for black-footed ferrets in Colo. ends

The last black-footed ferret known to live in the wild in Colorado died more than 50 years ago. Still, under the Endangered Species Act, Eastern Colorado landowners were required to survey their land on the off-chance that a ferret colony somehow survived. No more. In August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended a block clearance for ferrets in black-tailed prairie dog habitat in Colorado, and notified the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The action most likely will translate into dropping the state survey requirement, although the state Wildlife Commission has not yet considered it. “We will no longer require ferret surveys for actions we review in black-tailed prairie dog habitat,” Susan Linner, Colorado field supervisor for the federal agency, said in a letter to state officials. The need for the surveys has been a sore spot for some ranchers, who complain about the expense and paperwork on behalf of an animal they had never seen...PuebloChieftain

Breaching dams could be 'last resort'

Salmon levels would have to drop to mid-1990s levels - when some runs came close to winking out - before the federal government would even study breaching dams under the plan announced by the Obama administration Tuesday. "Breaching of the Snake River dams remains on the table in this plan, but it is considered a contingency of last resort," said Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. The plan would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start planning next year how to study breaching four dams in Washington's lower Snake River and drawing down the reservoir behind John Day Dam. But the actual studies wouldn't be triggered unless the four-year running average of populations of some specific salmon runs dropped to within 10 percent of the lowest year since 1980. A separate "rapid response" contingency plan would be triggered when salmon population levels dropped to close to what they were when the fish were first listed on the Endangered Species Act in 1991. This would require actions like increased spilling of water over dams, increased predator controls and reduced harvest...IdahoStatesman

House Considers Funding Green Vehicle Research

Targeting more spending toward the auto industry, the House on Wednesday considered expanding government-led research into how to make cars more fuel-efficient. The House was debating a bill that could allow the Energy Department to spend up to $200 million more per year on research and development for advanced-technology vehicles and auto parts. Aides said it could lead Congress to increase annual spending on the research to as much as $550 million. It represents the latest move by Congress and the Obama administration to aid the auto industry. The White House stepped in with billions of dollars to rescue General Motors and Chrysler and lead the companies through bankruptcy last summer, and Congress approved $25 billion last year to help the industry retool assembly plants to meet tougher fuel economy standards. Congress also created a $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program of incentives to encourage consumers to buy new cars...AP Launches Poster Campaign Spotlighting USCAP CEOs today launched a "WANTED" poster advertisement campaign alerting the public to be on the lookout for "carbon criminal" CEOs who are lobbying for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation now being considered by Congress. "These conscienceless CEOs are armed with lobbyists and are dangerous to America," says Steve Milloy, publisher of and author of the Best-selling book "Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them." "American workers, taxpayers, consumers, families, and businesses are all gravely threatened by Waxman-Markey," says Milloy. "As explained in the WANTED posters, these CEOs have teamed up with America-hating green groups to lobby for legislation that would make energy dramatically more expensive and eviscerate the American dream and standard of living, while not accomplishing any positive for the environment," Milloy added. The CEOs featured in the campaign are executives with companies belonging to the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP,, a gang of large corporations and Park Avenue environmental groups that have joined forces to lobby for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-tax bill...JunkScience

Eyes Turn to Mexico as Drought Drags On

The Southwest drought has reached the point where even drain water is coveted. Beginning nearly 40 years ago, the briny runoff from the “salad bowl” of southern Arizona, some of the most productive farmland in the nation, has been channeled into an arid plain of the Sonoran desert in Mexico. It is an engineered solution to the vexing problem of keeping the nearby Colorado River free of agricultural wastewater too heavy in salt compounds for drinking water and other uses. An accidental result south of the border has been a thriving man-made wetland, the largest in the river’s delta, a key stopover for migratory birds and home to a bounty of endangered and threatened species. But now the protracted drought in the Southwest has led water managers to rethink the possibilities for the wastewater, placing the preservation of the wetland, the CiĆ©nega de Santa Clara, at the center of a delicate balancing act between the growing thirst of California, Nevada and Arizona and the delta’s ecology. The biggest challenge involves a plan to take some of the wastewater, purify it at a desalination plant and direct it to other uses under a treaty that proportions the Colorado River among the Western states and Mexico...NYTimes

Enviro Groups Threaten to Sue EPA Over Coal Plant Discharge Regs

A coalition of environmental groups says U.S. EPA is 26 years tardy in limiting toxic metal discharges from coal-fired power plants and is threatening to sue the agency if it does produce the rules. Existing federal rules do not limit releases of arsenic, mercury, selenium and lead, pollutants that can leach into local water supplies and contaminate waterways, the groups say. EPA's own data show coal plants release millions of pounds of such pollutants each year. But while federal law requires EPA to review its power-plant discharge rules each year and decide whether to revise them, the agency has not issued a decision since 1982, according to a notice sent today to Administrator Lisa Jackson from the Environmental Integrity Project, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club...NYTimes

ELF website says car dealer vandalism was eco-saboteurs

The Earth Liberation Front press office has posted news of this week's vandalism at a Northeast Portland auto dealership, saying the attack appears to be the work of eco-saboteurs. As many as 15 vehicles -- most of them Hummers -- were damaged in the incident. But so far, the vandals who poured acid on the vehicles at Vic Alfonso Cadillac Hummer have yet to claim responsibility. Typically in such an attack, underground saboteurs strike out at enterprises they accuse of profiting from despoiling the natural world, such as auto dealerships that sell large sport utility vehicles and trucks that produce more air pollution than smaller cars. They then send a message to the Earth Liberation Front press office, which publishes the so-called "communiques." Sometimes, vandals tag the scene of the crime with "ELF" or other graffiti...Oregonian

"Moving Beyond Animal Rights" wins award

The American Agricultural Law Association has announced the 2009 winner of its Professional Scholarship Award. Richard L. Cupp, Jr.'s article, Moving Beyond Animal Rights: A Legal/Contractualist Critique 46 San Diego Law Review 27 (2009), was chosen for the award. Cupp's article critiques the analogy made by some animal rights theorists between granting rights to animals and granting rights to corporations and to mentally incapable humans. The article documents the rapid expansion of "Animal Law" in United States law schools, and argues that both humans and animals are better served by courts and legislatures focusing on human responsibility for humane treatment of animals than by distorting the concept of legal rights to include animals.

The article may be downloaded without charge at:

PETA Wants to Turn Va. Prison Into Chicken Empathy Museum

An animal rights group wants to rent a prison building the state plans to close and turn it into the nation's first chicken empathy museum. A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals official sent a letter Monday to Gov. Tim Kaine asking to rent the Botetourt Correctional Center building in Troutville. Kaine spokeswoman Lynda Tran said the state doesn't lease to private entities except for cases grandfathered in when it purchases buildings. PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne said the Norfolk-based group thinks a former prison is the ideal setting for exhibits on what it contends is mistreatment of chickens raised for slaughter. Reiman said the museum also would have displays detailing chickens' habits and intelligence. AP

I thought Supreme Court Nominees were the only ones who must have empathy.

A real chicken museum would have to be large enough to house 90% of the Republicans in Congress.

Song Of The Day #134

Time for a little Skeets McDonald this morning. Today's selection is his 1954 recording Smoke Comes Out My Chimney Just The Same.

It's available on his 5 disc box set Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes and on the 33 track CD Heart Breakin' Mama, both from Bear Family Records.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

White House Is Prepared to Set First National Limits on Greenhouse Gases

The Obama administration on Tuesday formally proposed new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, a move that signals the first federal limits on greenhouse-gas pollution. Tuesday's announcement marks progress on one piece of the Obama administration's agenda for fighting climate change. While the administration is simultaneously pressing for a bill to cap U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and for a global climate pact, it is encountering resistance to those efforts both at home and abroad. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate may not act on climate legislation until next year. The move could bolster the U.S. negotiating position at the upcoming international climate talks in Copenhagen, said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), because "the Obama administration is taking steps to reduce our emissions. It sends a message, 'We're going to do this across our economy in a way that makes sense.' "...

Grizzly mauls sheepherder; kills dogs, sheep

After what could be the first grizzly bear attack on a human in the Upper Green, a 46-year-old sheepherder was life-flighted to Idaho Falls early Monday morning after being seriously mauled. The grizzly began its rampage in the early hours in a sheep herd grazing near Forest Road 617, at the eastern edge of the Gros Ventre Wilderness near Tosi Creek. The herd is tended by Marcello Tejeda, of Rock Springs, and Jorge Mesa, both of whom were awakened by what they thought was a black bear in the sheep, according to their employer, rancher Mary Thoman of Fontenelle. “We have had a nightmare,” she said of the W&M Thoman Ranches’ forest allotments on the Upper Green. “Nothing but grizzlies and wolves all summer long.” “Once they found out a bear was in the sheep the sheepherder (Tejeda) sent his (guard) dog in and the bear killed that one,” Bardin related . Tejeda then sent in another guard dog and apparently was attacked by the bear when he tried to save the second dog, which was killed, he said. The sheepherder received a seven-inch gash on top of his head, two punctures to the left side of his chest, three claw wounds to the right side of his abdomen and a puncture wound to his right wrist, early reports stated...SubletteExaminer

Rancher fined for killing grizzly

A Cut Bank rancher has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for illegally shooting a protected grizzly bear on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation last year, while authorities continue to investigate three additional grizzly deaths in northwest Montana. Special Agent Brian Lakes of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who investigated the Blackfeet Indian Reservation case, said the agreement was reached between U.S. Attorney's Office in Missoula and rancher Jim Seewald. Seewald, 34, said he came upon the bear feeding on a cow carcass as he reached a hilltop on his all-terrain vehicle May 28, 2008, east of the Port of Del Bonita near the Canadian border. He was checking on his cattle at the time. He was frightened and surprised because he had never seen a grizzly that far east, he said. Seewald, who said he came within 10 yards of the bear, called the shooting "straight up self- defense." "I'm not ecstatic about getting a fine, because I didn't think I did anything wrong," he said. "But I can see why I got a fine ... returning with a larger rifle to finish the bear off." Seewald first shot the bear with a .22, injuring it, then returned later with his rifle and killed it, Lakes said. He reported the shooting to fish and game authorities on the reservation the next morning...GreatFallsTribune

Ranchers and Opposition Speak Out About Wolf Hunt

For many ranchers, the start of wolf hunting season means some protection for their herds. But others say it's a sad day in Montana. Rancher Ed Jonas says, "if they had a business and somebody came in and devoured most of their inventory, their assets. I would like to see their reaction." Ed Jonas has lost two of his cattle to confirmed wolf killings... Rancher John Herman has lost another 7. The ranchers get reinbursement because of the Gray Wolves Livestock Loss Mitigation Act. But, they tell me that doesn't cover their costs. Jonas says, "we still spend hours and hours replacing our animals and trying to find the animals that will compare with what we lost." Herman says, "all of the unconfirmed kills which is probably 80% of the kills on all the ranches, i would guess... They don't get paid for." That is why Ed Jonas and John Herman say they are happy wolf hunting season has started, but not everyone feels the same. Ben Griffin says, "I think it is killing just to kill." Some people protesting the wolf hunt say there are alternatives to killing the animals. Lizzie Sinclair tells the News Channel, "I think its really sad. I think we should try to relocate them maybe to a different place. Its really not a good idea." The wolf hunt began Tuesday in some areas, but for both sides, the fight to protect what they care for will continue...KECI-TV

Video: Coyote Gets Jessica Simpson's Pooch

Doesn't she know what coyotes do to little dogs? She better hope she DOESN'T find Daisy.

US planning to weaken Copenhagen climate deal, Europe warns

Europe has clashed with the US Obama administration over climate change in a potentially damaging split that comes ahead of crucial political negotiations on a new global deal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian understands that key differences have emerged between the US and Europe over the structure of a new worldwide treaty on global warming. Sources on the European side say the US approach could undermine the new treaty and weaken the world's ability to cut carbon emissions. The treaty will be negotiated in December at a UN meeting in Copenhagen and is widely billed as the last chance to save the planet from a temperature rise of 2C or higher, which the EU considers dangerous. "If we end up with a weaker framework with less stringent compliance, then that is not so good for the chances of hitting 2C," a source close to the EU negotiating team said. News of the split comes amid mounting concern that the Copenhagen talks will not make the necessary progress. Ban Ki-moon, the UN general secretary, told the Guardian last night that negotiations had stalled and need to "get moving"...Guardian

Red Snow Warning: The End of Welfare Water and the Drying of the West

Pink snow is turning red in Colorado. Here on the Great American Desert -- specifically Utah's slickrock portion of it where I live -- hot 'n' dry means dust. When frequent high winds sweep across our increasingly arid landscape, redrock powder is lifted up and carried hundreds of miles eastward until it settles on the broad shoulders of Colorado's majestic mountains, giving the snowpack there a pink hue. Some call it watermelon snow. Friends who ski into the backcountry of the San Juan and La Plata mountain ranges in western Colorado tell me that the pink-snow phenomenon has lately been giving way to redder hues, so thick and frequent are the dust storms that roll in these days. A cross-section of a typical Colorado snowbank last winter revealed alternating dirt and snow layers that looked like a weird wilderness version of our flag, red and white stripes alternating against the sky's blue field. Here in the lowlands, we, too, are experiencing the drying of the West in new dusty ways. Our landscapes are often covered with what we jokingly refer to as "adobe rain" -- when rain falls through dust, spattering windows or laundry hung out to dry with brown stains. All of this is more than a mere smudge on our postcard-pretty scenery: Colorado's red snow is a warning that the climatological dynamic in the arid West is changing dramatically. Think of it as a harbinger -- and of more than simply a continuing version of the epic drought we've been experiencing these past several years...CommonDreams

Unique partnership promotes conservation

A group of respected ranching and conservation organizations have come together to form a unique broad based coalition to enhance ranching practices that consider important conservation issues throughout the West. The Coalition for Conservation through Ranching is a new multi-stakeholder partnership between national conservation-minded groups that share an interest in promoting open space for ranching and healthy landscapes. The recently signed agreement marks the beginning of the unique relationship. Steering committee members of the coalition include the Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Family Farm Alliance (FFA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Other organizations that have joined the coalition at this time are the American Farmland Trust, the American Forage and Grassland Council, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Society for Rangeland Management, the Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Wilderness Society. The Bureau of Land Management serves as an advisor to the group. The coalition formed by six leading ranching and conservation organizations will support ranching on public and private lands in the West that is conducted in an ecologically sustainable way...DroversJournal

Scientific Integrity Lost on America's Parks

During the Bush era, allegations of scientific misconduct rocked the Interior Department. Though Secretary Ken Salazar has vowed to clean up the mess, his selection for director of the National Park Service only compounds it. Jon Jarvis--whose nomination is poised for Senate approval today--has demonstrated contempt for truth, transparency and scientific integrity in his current role as head of the Pacific West regional office. In an effort to expand wilderness in Point Reyes National Seashore, Jarvis's subordinates misrepresented science to portray an oyster farm as an ecological menace. When locals challenged the accusation, Senator Dianne Feinstein stepped in, along with Jarvis's boss, Mary Bomar. Jarvis was instructed to settle the dispute through an independent review; instead, he inflamed it. Since 2007 he has misled federal investigators, deceived the public and undermined scientific process to defend his subordinates' wrongdoing. Jarvis's actions are punishable under federal laws governing scientific misconduct. In July an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences filed an official charge against him, yet Salazar turned a blind eye and the Interior Department's inspector general refused to investigate (shunting a federal mandate to do so). If Congress approves Jarvis's nomination without unraveling the regional director's record, it will defeat the hope that in the Obama era science would be driven by facts--not by politics...TheNation

S. Utah county considers Cedar Breaks changes

A southern Utah county is trying to decide whether to try to get Cedar Breaks National Monument designated as a national park. The Iron County Commission on Monday held a public hearing about the possibility of seeking national park status for the monument — sometimes referred to as a miniature Grand Canyon — to boost tourism. "It will help us get on the map as a major Utah destination," said Maria Twitchell, director of the Cedar City/Brian Head Bureau of Tourism. But some at the hearing argued giving it the national park designation would close it off to anyone who wants to do anything there but "backpack in." "The use that people can get out of this is entirely different if it is park status," said Allen Nielsen. "Where now, people can get some use out of it as a wilderness area. If you put that under the park designation, you're just closing it up to all of us that want to use it." One Parowan rancher, David Burton, said the change could eliminate grazing and ruin his livelihood. "You can maybe grandfather it in, but by regulations it will make it so prohibitive it won't be feasible," Burton said. Other issues that came up included public access, private property rights and Cedar City's watershed...AP

Ranchers criticize plans for bison herds at BLM meeting

Ranching interests sharply criticized a private grassland preserve in northeastern Montana as well as a new federal initiative in which new free-roaming bison herds could be established in the West. The criticism came Tuesday at a meeting of the Bureau of Land Management's Central Montana Resource Advisory Committee. The 60,000-acre American Prairie Reserve in Phillips County, launched by the not-for-profit American Prairie Foundation in 2006, includes about 100 bison. The reserve consists of private land and property leased from the BLM for grazing. In a separate bison project, last year the U.S. Department of the Interior, under the Bush administration, called for federal agencies to coordinate management of existing bison herds on federal land, research bison genetics and disease, and study partnerships to increase existing herds or establish new ones. Both bison efforts were discussed for 90 minutes Tuesday in Havre, with ranchers and some RAC members raising concerns over the spread of disease, loss of public lands for cattle grazing and lack of local input. "People shouldn't have to drive five hours to testify for three minutes," Malta rancher Dale Veseth said, adding he believed the meeting should have been conducted in Malta, where most of the people affected by bison live. Veseth, citing the economic importance of cattle ranching, alleged that the American Prairie Foundation was in violation of the Taylor Grazing Act, which provides for the "sustainability of western livestock industry," and urged the BLM to reallocate its grazing allotment...GreatFallsTribune

Mexican Nationals fleeing into the United States

Mexican Nationals are fleeing into the United States in record numbers many fearing for their lives. Most because of the Mexican civil war that is raging between the Mexican Government, the Mexican Drug Cartels (MDC’s) and the cartels fighting among themselves over lucrative drug and human smuggling routes in both Mexico and the U.S. Many believe they are safer here than in Mexico. Many of these refugees are Mexican business people, ranchers, police, politicians and even cartel members who fear for their lives. Still others were victims being shaken down for protection money by the cartels similar to the American mafia tactics of the twenty’s and thirty’s. Many of them fear retaliation for not paying the cash or are just not welling to pay anymore. Shopkeepers along the U.S. Mexican border recite the list of "protection" fees they pay to the MDC’s to just stay in business: 100 pesos a month for a stall in a street market, 30,000 pesos for an auto dealership or construction-supply firm. First offense for nonpayment: a severe beating. Those who keep ignoring the fees - or try to charge their own - may pay with their lives...Examiner

Reopened Deming stockyards to benefit local ranchers

The trail ends, again, in Deming for the region's cattle and dairy ranchers. Southwestern Regional Stockyards opens today, off Tapia Road SE, at 10 a.m., today. Bill Matney is auctioneer. "The last year and a half," said Kevin Wilbeck, who operates the stockyard, ranchers here have "faced going to Roswell, Belen or Wilcox (Ariz.)." Moving a herd that far cuts profits. Deming Cattle Sales/Stockyard closed about 18 months ago, says Wilbeck, and ranchers had to move herds to other yards for sales. Crossing the state line to Wilcox with livestock presented other issues. "There's good quality here," Wilbeck says of available stock. "The numbers are down, because of the drought, but there is still adequate numbers to run a business here. I've visited with Gary Shiflett, in Nutt Valley. He indicated he's going to give it a try." Other dairy farmers and cattle ranchers are also on the trailhead to Deming...TMCNews

What’s Your Definition of Cowboy?

Everyone has a different idea of who or what a cowboy is. While most definitions vary widely, there is one thing that they all have in common: pride in American agriculture and dedication to get the job done right. Recently, I ran across an article titled, “Who Cares About Cowboys Anymore?” and it discussed how the average American consumer doesn’t care or understand where their food comes from. Today, I’m asking each and every single AgWired reader out there to share their definition of the American cowboy. Leave it in the comments section here, as well as on the article. It’s time we connect with our urban customers once again. It’s time they understand the people behind the products in the grocery stores. It’s time we stand up and speak out before our story gets told by someone else. Remember to share the facts and your personal story to deliver the most effective message...AgWired

The article linked to then links to this article by Elmer Kelton where he sets the record strait. There are 55 comments here, better get yours in too.

It's all Trew: From gunslingers to skunks, varmints took toll on Dodge City

Of all the wild Western towns established on the early American frontier, Dodge City, Kan., was probably the wildest and the woolliest. Almost any description imagined or written about the town might well be true. The fact the town has survived and thrived could be the most astonishing story of all. An old myth states Dodge City got its name because so many of the early residents were "on the dodge" from the law. Actually, the site was named for Col. Richard I. Dodge, a military commander of nearby Fort Dodge and one of the few respectful facts of the town's early history. Dodge City did not just happen. Odd circumstances made it an "end-of-track" town where the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway track ended coming from the east. When Texas cattlemen learned they could sell their overstocked herds by driving them to Dodge, the site also became an "end-of-trail" town. Locals laughed stating, "the end-of-track" was where the locomotives let off steam. When the Texas cowboys reached the "end-of-trail," they let off steam also. The pair of ends made for a steamy wild place where anything could and usually did happen. A third anomaly contributing to the growth of the area was the fact Dodge was located in the center of the domain of the Republican herd of Plains buffalo. With millions of the critters free for the taking, the Civil War leftovers spilled into the city to join in the hide and meat harvest. It seems the locals didn't like cowboys, the railroads didn't like the soldiers, the buffalo hunters didn't like anybody, and no one liked to be told what to do. This resulted in the filling of two cemeteries, one for the respectable deceased with coffins and flowers and the other for the less respectable who were buried in Boot Hill, wrapped in horse blankets and with their boots

Song Of The Day #133

Today's selection is Blue Ridge Mountain Blues by Bill Clifton & His Dixie Pals.

This tune was on one of the first bluegrass LPs I owned. I got into bluegrass because bluegrass LPs were only 99 cents, whereas regular country LPs were $2.99. So it was bluegrass for me. I'm thankful that those albums were so cheap, or that I was so broke, because I became a real fan of the music.

This particular song was cut in March of 1958 in Nashville at the RCA studio. It's available on the 18 track CD Bill Clifton - The Early Years (1957-1958). And look who was backing him up: In addition to Clifton on guitar and lead vocals, there was Ralph Stanley [banjo], Benny Martin [fiddle], Tommy Jackson [fiddle], Curley Lambert [mandolin, tenor vocals], John Duffey [dobro, mandolin, high baritone vocals], and Junior Huskey [bass]. Bluegrass and country fans will have no problem recognizing those names.

Give it a listen and turn that volume up so all your neighbors can enjoy it too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Climate bill politics are heating up

After months of promoting President Obama's climate plan as a vehicle to create millions of clean-energy jobs, supporters of the legislation are increasingly pushing another strategy -- its benefits for national security. It's a deliberate, anxiety-themed effort to press a handful of fence-sitting moderates to support a bill that will probably be the administration's next great legislative push after healthcare. A coalition backing the energy and climate bill pending before the Senate has enlisted war veterans to pressure senators in person. In television advertisements, the coalition calls dependence on foreign oil a threat to national security and fuel for terrorists. Other new ads feature pictures of angry Middle Eastern crowds and impoverished "climate refugees," many apparently African...LATimes

National Security Not a Good Argument for Global Warming Legislation

The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill has engendered tremendous controversy. Concerns abound about the legislation's adverse economic consequences as well as skepticism of its affects on world climate trends. Faced with mounting opposition, the bill's supporters are increasingly making the case that creating a new law is a national security imperative. They are wrong. Indeed, passing the bill would create far more severe, dangerous, and imminent global crises. The problem is that the catastrophic predictions--such as massive sea-level increases and declining food production that would lead to global unrest--are poorly supported by the evidence. To make the national security arguments, global warming legislation advocates must embrace the most alarmist scenarios. Nonetheless, connecting the dots between human-caused global warming and global conflict has become a popular theme as proponents prepare to take up the bill in the Senate. Arguing that the law will make the world safer is deeply flawed. First, there are significant doubts that the cap-and-trade system described in the 1,500-plus-page bill will even have a significant and positive impact on global climate trends. According to climatologist Chip Knappenberger, Waxman-Markey would moderate temperatures by only hundredths of a degree after being in effect for the next 40 years and no more than two-tenths of a degree at the end of the century.[2] EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson concurred, recently saying, "U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels."[3]...Heritage

World celebrities sing to stop global warming

British rock group Duran Duran and heavy metal band Scorpions are among 55 world celebrities who have joined in recording a song to draw attention to the global warming crisis, organisers said on Monday. The song is part of a mass media campaign on the threats of climate change organised by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The song entitled "Beds'r Burning", which was originally recorded by the Australian group Midnight Oil in the 1980s, can be downloaded from the Internet for free and will be presented to the public at a launch in Paris on October 1. "If we do not stop the (greenhouse gas) emissions today, global warming will be still be with us in 40 to 50 years," warned Walter Fust, director of the Forum, at a press conference in Geneva. The media campaign featuring the song is aimed at putting pressure on world leaders to reach an agreement on tackling climate change at a UN-sponsored conference in Copenhagen in December...AFP

Carbon-trading market hit as UN suspends clean-energy auditor

The legitimacy of the $100 billion (£60 billion) carbon-trading market has been called into question after the world’s largest auditor of clean-energy projects was suspended by United Nations inspectors. SGS UK had its accreditation suspended last week after it was unable to prove its staff had properly vetted projects that were then approved for the carbon-trading scheme, or even that they were qualified to do so. The episode will be embarrassing for European lawmakers in the run-up to the global climate summit in Copenhagen, where they will attempt to lure big polluters such as America and China into a binding agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. SGS is the second such company to be suspended – Norway’s DNV was penalised last November for similar infractions. The EU’s carbon-trading system, which puts a price on pollution through carbon permits that can be bought and sold, is the key element in Europe’s fight against climate change...SundayTimes

"Scientific consensus" should be put on the stand

Just this year came a series of inconvenient developments for the promoters of man-made global warming fears. A small sampling of developments include: New peer-reviewed studies, real world data, a growing chorus of scientists dissenting (including more UN IPCC scientists), open revolts in scientific societies, more evidence that rising CO2 is a boon for the atmosphere, and the Earth's failure to warm. Those are just the broad strokes. What about the specifics? As the climate fear activists point fingers and regress into amusing rants, the global warming fear movement is collapsing. There has been no significant global warming since 1995, no warming since 1998 and global cooling for the past few years. This follows a peer-reviewed analysis showing that the 20th century was not unusually warm. In addition, a global temperature analysis on April 24, 2009 found that "no continents have set a record high temperature since 1974." On May 1, 2009, the American Physical Society (APS) Council decided to review its current climate statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. The decision was prompted after a group of over 80 prominent physicists petitioned the APS revise its global warming position. The physicists wrote to APS governing board: "Measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th-21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today."...Examiner

California renewables push could drive up prices in Oregon

California's push to supersize its renewable energy standards could drive electricity rates higher for Northwest consumers, strain the West's transmission and hydroelectric systems, and create a host of thorny policy issues. The California Assembly passed a pair of bills Friday to create the nation's most aggressive renewable energy mandate. It would require utilities to meet one-third of customers' needs with green energy such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2020. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to veto the bills because they limit how much renewable power utilities can import from neighboring states, a limit he believes will restrict electricity supplies and drive up prices. Schwarzenegger hopes to issue an executive order this week establishing the 33 percent standard without any import limits. Either way, California's outsized energy demand, coupled with any enlarged renewables standard, would drive major new demand in the Northwest. "This is an important and sensitive issue for the entire West," said Elliot Mainzer, head of strategic planning at the Bonneville Power Administration...Oregonian

EPA to scrutinize dozens of mining permits

Dozens of coal-mining permits proposed across Appalachia need much more scrutiny because of concerns they will illegally damage water quality, the Obama administration said Friday. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials announced that they would conduct more detailed reviews of 79 permit applications that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had proposed to approve in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. The move won strong praise from environmental groups, who have hoped President Obama would end a more than decade-long battle by banning mountaintop removal altogether. In all, the EPA put the brakes on nearly 60 square miles of permits that would bury more than 170 miles of streams to get at about 290 million tons of coal, the rough equivalent of two years' worth of West Virginia's annual production. Forty-nine of the permits are in Kentucky, 23 in West Virginia, six in Ohio and one in Tennessee...CharlestonGazette

Wind Power: An Expensive and Inefficient Way to Reduce CO2

In a speech in May, President Obama pushed for our nation to transition to renewable energy and pointed to Denmark as an example of proof it can be done. But according to a new study from the Danish Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS), the road to increased wind power is less traveled for a reason. The study refutes the claim that Denmark generates 20 percent of its power from wind stating that its high intermittency not only leads to new challenges to balance the supply and demand of electricity, but also provides less electricity consumption than assumed. The new study says, “wind power has recently (2006) met as little as 5% of Denmark’s annual electricity consumption with an average over the last five years of 9.7%.” Furthermore, the wind energy Denmark exports to its northern neighbors, Sweden and Norway, does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the energy it replaces is carbon neutral. The study goes on to say that the only reason wind power exists in Denmark is “through substantial subsidies supporting the wind turbine owners. Exactly how the subsidies have been shared between land, wind turbine owners, labor, capital and its shareholders is opaque, but it is fair to assess that no Danish wind industry to speak of would exist if it had to compete on market terms.” But there’s a cost involved. When government spends more money, it necessarily diverts labor, capital and materials from the private sector. Just like promises are made in the United States about green jobs creation, the heavily subsidized Danish program created 28,400 jobs. But “this does not, however, constitute the net employment effect of the wind mill subsidy. In the long run, creating additional employment in one sector through subsidies will detract labor from other sectors, resulting in no increase in net employment but only in a shift from the non-subsidized sectors to the subsidized sector.”...TheFoundry

Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering

Almost four decades ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to force polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways and to give regulators the power to fine or jail offenders. States have passed pollution statutes of their own. But in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation, an extensive review of water pollution records by The New York Times found. In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses. However, the vast majority of those polluters have escaped punishment. State officials have repeatedly ignored obvious illegal dumping, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which can prosecute polluters when states fail to act, has often declined to intervene...NYTimes

Collaborative timber harvest crafted on Pinchot

A Vancouver-based environmental group, long accustomed to blocking timber sales in national forests, recently embarked on a novel concept: Designing a logging project of its own. If it's accepted by Gifford Pinchot National Forest managers, Platt and other members of the so-called Pinchot Partnership expect the restoration project on the north end of the forest will generate 11 million board feet of timber, two to three years of local employment and the decommissioning of 22 miles of crumbling logging roads. The environmental group collaborated with conservation, union, tribal and local residents to design the plan and draft a formal environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The collaborative group, which formed in 2002, is the oldest among three relatively new organizations thinking about new ways to break through long-simmering disputes between loggers and environmentalists. The forest thinning project near Packwood represents the first time one of the collaborative groups has delivered a full environmental analysis on a suggestion. The group did marshal several federal and foundation grants to underwrite much of the specialized research and writing required to produce a NEPA-quality assessment. Platt estimated the total cost of creating the 110-page document at $140,000...Columbian

Report: Gov't agency waives rules for shippers

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration — which regulates more than 1 million daily shipments of potentially dangerous cargo by land, sea and air — has routinely granted or renewed waivers of rules without attempting to find out whether shippers had been involved in accidents or were cited for violations, according to investigations by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Transportation Department's inspector general. Calvin Scovel, the inspector general, told the committee he warned Obama administration officials in late July that an investigation by his office had uncovered significant concerns regarding the handling of waivers. He cited a company that was granted a waiver in 2004 despite having 321 prior safety incidents and five prior enforcement violations. He said the waiver was renewed two years later despite the fact that the firm had an additional 26 incidents and five more enforcement violations. The public has "little assurance that hazmat materials will be safely transported," Scovel said. PHMSA is part of the Transportation Department...AP

Clean Trumps Coal for Jobs, Advocates Say

Campaign groups said Monday that global leaders could raise the total number of jobs in the power sector by 2.7 million over the next 20 years if their nations switched to renewable forms of electricity generation and phased out coal. The groups, Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, released the report, “Working for the Climate,” ahead of the coming Group of 20 meeting of major industrialized and developing economies in Pittsburgh next week. The aim, the groups said, was to show that stimulating the growth of green power industries is an effective way of raising employment. The report is likely to add to debate about whether the transition to a low-carbon economy will create more jobs than it would destroy at a time when countries are slowly showing signs of recovery from the worst economic slowdown in decades...NYTimes

Environmental Groups Spar Over Certifications of Wood and Paper Products

For more than a decade, the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council generally has been viewed as the premier judge of whether a wood or paper product should be labeled as environmentally friendly. But to the dismay of major environmental groups, that label, known as F.S.C., is facing a stiff challenge from a rival certification system supported by the paper and timber industry. At stake is the trust of consumers in the ever-expanding market for “green” products. This week lawyers for ForestEthics, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting forests, filed administrative complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service challenging the credibility of the rival label, known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or S.F.I. The complaints, which challenge S.F.I.’s nonprofit status, accuse the certification program of lax standards and deceptive marketing intended to obscure the standards and the S.F.I.’s financial ties to the forest industry...NYTimes

NASA Rocket to Create Clouds Tuesday

A rocket experiment set to launch Tuesday aims to create artificial clouds at the outermost layers of Earth's atmosphere. The project, called the Charged Aerosol Release Experiment (CARE), plans to trigger cloud formation around the rocket's exhaust particles. The clouds are intended to simulate naturally-occurring phenomena called noctilucent clouds, which are the highest clouds in the atmosphere. "This is really essentially at the boundary of space," said Wayne Scales, a scientist at Virginia Tech who will use computer models to study the physics of the artificial dust cloud as it's released. "Nothing like this has been done before and that's why everybody's really excited about it." The experiment is the first attempt to create artificial noctilucent clouds. A previous spacecraft, called Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM), launched in 2007 to observe the natural clouds from space...LiveScience

HT: OzoneSky

EPA Puts Limits on 3 Pesticides to Protect Salmon

The Environmental Protection Agency is placing new limits on three pesticides common on farms and orchards to protect endangered and threatened Pacific salmon. The limits announced Friday apply to the use of three chemicals - chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion - in Washington, California, Oregon and Idaho. Federal biologists say the chemicals interfere with salmon's sense of smell, making it harder for them to find food and avoid predators. The EPA is requiring buffer zones and limits on the pesticide use in certain wind, soil and weather conditions. The new EPA restrictions stem from recommendations made by federal biologists, under a lawsuit brought by anti-pesticide groups. AP

To save his pets, man brawls with bobcat

Gary Lucia of Hermantown suffered minor injuries after what he described as an attack by a bobcat in his garage late Friday night. Lucia was working on his laptop computer and hanging out with his pet ducks and goose when a bobcat entered his garage at about 11 p.m. Friday. The ducks and goose “started quacking really loud and getting really nervous,” Lucia, 52, said of his 11 ducks and one goose. “I looked down and saw it. The bobcat was really long and on a prowl. “He started to go after the ducks, and they scattered,” said Lucia, who described the cat as about 80 pounds, muscular, gray and brown in coat and with a short tail. “He pinned a few [ducks] in a corner, and that is when I went after the cat. I came in from the side, and that is when he came after me. Then we chased each other and he climbed on the walls and onto the overhead door. I don’t know if he bit me in the head or clawed me, but I was bleeding pretty good.”...DuluthNewsTribune

In the foreground of the flames

To the outside world, the Indian Trail wildfire hung this week like an amorphous smokescreen in the background of their daily lives. But to those inside the fire lines, it was an all-too-familiar high-stakes game of chicken. It was Mother Nature challenging man, each testing boundaries the other set. Those involved - the firefighters and the flames - continually chose whether to make a stand or run. Greg Archie initially handled the strategy, overseeing more than 100 paid and volunteer firefighters. He's the fire program manager for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. He and his crews had a single-minded mission: To snuff out the 4,300-acre fire of unknown origin that started Wednesday near the trailers at Indian Trails Marina. That was good news to Scott Blackman, who owns the ranch that's burning. He was surprisingly calm watching the flames consume grass he needs for grazing his cattle and trees he could sell for lumber. One reason for the fifth-generation rancher's stoicism might be that he's been through this before, with major blazes in 1990 and 2007, and a few smaller ones in between. Another reason is that Archie and others include him in the decision-making process, asking him where the best spots are to cut in dozer lines as fire breaks, and where they might best make a stand. "This crew is good. They want to work with you, get to know the lay of the land," Blackman said...HelenaIndependentRecord

'Last great roundup' in Alberta

English chef Arthur Harwood enjoyed his adventures on the wild Canadian frontier. Cowboys in leather, Indians in buckskin, remittance men in fading Saville Row finery, gamblers and drummers: this was frontier Pincher Creek on a Saturday night in 1905 as cattlemen drank, gambled and danced away a week's dust and sweat. For all of their wild dress and language, few could compete with Arthur Harwood's new employer, old Fred Kanouse, for colour. The young English cook was spellbound by tales of his employer's adventures as a fur trader, whisky peddler, cattleman, gambler and guide, and soon learned the reason for his Kanouse's maimed left arm -- the result of an Indian's musket ball. Even Kanouse's pretentiously named Waldorf Hotel added to the heady atmosphere of wild frontier with its swinging doors, spittoons and rustic bar. Another throwback from history was Kanouse's best friend, Kootenai Brown. With his long, flowing hair, bushy white moustache, buckskins and spurs, the leathery old plainsman could have passed for Buffalo Bill. And the resemblance went deeper, Mr. Harwood soon learned, for Kootenai had known almost every kind of adventure in a lifetime on the

Song Of The Day #132

Today's tune is Laurie's Waltz by mandolin picker Buddy Merriam and his bluegrass group Back Roads. The song is available on Buddy Merriam & Back Roads - It's Blue Grass Time.

Ranch Radio sends this song out to Laura Schneberger for all she does to assist the livestock industry on many issues and for her informative blog Wolf Crossing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Forest fire funds aid D.C. festivals

Even with forest fires raging out West, the U.S. Forest Service this week announced it will spend nearly $2.8 million in forest-fire-fighting money in Washington — a city with no national forests and where the last major fire was probably lit by British troops in 1814. The D.C. aid is going to two programs: $90,000 is slated for a green summer job corps, but the vast majority of the money — $2.7 million — is going to Washington Parks & People, which sponsors park festivals and refurbishes urban parks in the Washington area. Forest Service officials didn't return messages left seeking comment on why they spent money from their "wildland fire mitigation" stimulus fund in Washington, but members of Congress said city parks don't deserve the money while fires are scorching millions of acres of land and owners are losing homes. "As catastrophic wildfires continue to burn throughout the West, destroying people's homes and businesses in the process, funds that should be used to thin our overgrown forests and protect the public are being frivolously spent on park restoration," said Rep. Wally Herger, a California Republican whose district has seen some of the worst fires. "While the administration is spending millions of taxpayer dollars on improving picnic grounds, communities and citizens' lives tragically remain at risk."...WashingtonTimes

Water Measured From the Sky

Water management is serious business in the American West, where precipitation is scarce, irrigated agriculture is a major industry, new housing subdivisions spread across arid landscapes and water rights are allocated in a complicated seniority system. "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," water officials are fond of saying. But measurement -- trying to determine how much water is diverted from rivers and how much is pumped from hundreds of thousands of wells -- has been an inexact and expensive science. Now a tool developed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the University of Idaho is changing the face of water management and conservation by efficiently offering specific measurements of the water consumed across a large region or single field. Using surface temperature readings from government satellites, air temperature and a system of algorithms, the new method lets officials measure how much water is "consumed" on a certain piece of land through evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is a combination of the evaporation of water into the atmosphere and the water vapor released by plants through respiration -- basically, a measurement of the water that leaves the land for the atmosphere, not water that is diverted or pumped onto land but then returned quickly to the water table or river for other users. Water resource management agencies in Idaho and other states see this as the best way to measure water consumption, since it is a more exact definition of how much water is being removed from the system by a given individual or entity...WPost

Power lines planned from the plains to the Pacific, but not without resistance

Idaho Power Co. and Rocky Mountain Power, who want to snake a $7 billion network of 190-foot transmission towers across the West, face a tangled matrix of state and local barriers as challenging as the hardships faced by the pioneers who traveled much the same route on the Oregon Trail a century and a half ago. The 1,500-mile route between Boardman, Ore., and Windstar station in Wyoming would connect power plants to energy users for decades to come. "These are projects everybody needs and nobody wants," said Lisa Grow, Idaho Power's vice president for transmission. The opposition - which rose to a fever pitch in places like Parma and Kuna and sparked a regional response along Idaho's southern border - has been a wake-up call for Idaho Power, which has not built a major transmission line in more than 20 years...IdahoStatesman

Preservationist: More must be done to save lands

Public lands protected by legal designations such as "national monument" aren't necessarily fully protected, a recognized conservation expert said Thursday in Great Falls. "Satan never sleeps," said Edward M. Norton, a senior environmental adviser to TPG Capital, L.P., a private equity firm in San Francisco. "Somebody always has a bad idea and wants to do something." Norton was the keynote speaker Thursday at the 7th Annual Statewide Preservation Workshop sponsored by the Montana Preservation Alliance, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and the Great Falls-Cascade County Historic Preservation Commission. Norton, 67, spent three decades working to protect areas from development for groups such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Wilderness Society. He currently is chairman of the National Conservation System Foundation. The foundation is designed to protect, restore and expand National Landscape Conservation System Lands, a class of 27 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management...GreatFallsTribune

Oil firm plans to halt water delivery to Pavillion-area rancher

A Pavillion-area resident says he's been put on notice by EnCana Oil & Gas USA that it will cease delivering drinking water to his home on Monday. Louis Meeks, and several of his neighbors, for years have suspected that their drinking water wells might be contaminated from deep natural-gas wells interspersed throughout the rural ranching and farming community in Fremont County. EnCana contends that after multiple rounds of testing and several years of analysis, there's been no evidence that the residential water wells pose a health risk or that its oil and gas activities are to blame for any contamination. In fact, after bringing a lawsuit against EnCana, Meeks entered into a mediation agreement in which EnCana would deliver drinking water to his home. EnCana spokesman Randy Teeuwen said the agreement also stipulated that EnCana could stop providing drinking water on Sept. 15, 2009. Meanwhile, the drinking water concern in Pavillion has attracted national attention in a movement to restrict the oil and gas industry's practice of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is the process of pumping fluids - sometimes oil and diesel - under extremely high pressure in order to crack gas-bearing rock deep below the surface. "Fracking" and other advanced drilling and well-stimulation technologies are credited for boosting the nation's technically recoverable natural gas reserve by more than 35 percent in just two years. But others see it as a threat to water resources, and particularly a threat to human health in areas where there are drinking water wells. In fact, legislation has been introduced in Congress to bring hydraulic fracturing under the federal authority of the Clean Drinking Water Act...BillingsGazette

Wyo official: Ferret listing attempt frivolous

A petition to list black-footed ferret populations in three states as endangered is frivolous and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should ignore it, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department official said Friday. Ferret numbers have rebounded in southeastern Wyoming's Shirley Basin thanks in no small measure to cooperation from private landowners who have allowed the critters on their property. Now, those ranchers worry that an endangered species listing could restrict how they may use their land, said Bob Oakleaf, nongame species coordinator for the department. He called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reject the environmentalists' request. "They've done the damage," Oakleaf said. "They've created a doubt with the landowners and created a worry and a concern, and it's a legitimate concern." The groups WildEarth Guardians, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and Center for Native Ecosystems filed the petition Tuesday to list black-footed ferret populations in Arizona, South Dakota and Wyoming as endangered. The three ferret populations are at risk because of widespread shooting and poisoning of prairie dogs, which are the ferrets' only prey, the petition says...AP

Trial Over What Constitutes a "Road" In Canyonlands National

There long have been pockets of disgust over federal land ownership in the West, and perhaps nowhere is that stronger than in Utah, where roughly two-thirds of the landscape is federally managed. While the "Sagebrush Rebellion" mightily reared its head some three decades ago, its waning vestiges are on trial this week over whether a creek bed constitutes a road in Canyonlands National Park. The poster child of the rebellion rose up on July 4, 1980, when several hundred people gathered in Moab, Utah, on the doorstep of both Canyonlands and Arches national parks, to celebrate the nation's birthday...and decry federal land-management policies. From atop a Caterpillar bulldozer, one carrying a few "Sagebrush Rebel" stickers and spouting a U.S. flag from its smokestack, county officials complained about federal land managers. After firing up the crowd, the politicians fired up the bulldozer and, while following the scant traces of an abandoned mining road, worked to scrape a path into a nearby Wilderness Study Area on U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands. Litigation, not bulldozers, has littered the landscape in Canyonlands these past 11 years over whether Salt Creek should be open to off-road vehicles. The case returns to a U.S. District Courthouse in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 14, when the government squares off against the state of Utah and one of its counties over the question of whether Salt Creek is a road...ParksTraveler

Battle to save America’s mustangs as government rounds up wild horses

For the first two hours of the bone-jarring drive into the Pryor Mountains you do not see much but rocks, scrubland and tree stumps charred by a recent forest fire. It is only when you reach the subalpine meadows at 8,000ft (2,400m) looking over the vast, red rock deserts of Wyoming below that the creatures begin to emerge slowly. They are a magnificent sight: wild horses, their lineage unbroken from the horses that arrived with Spanish conquistadors about 500 years earlier. This particular herd has even greater historical significance: its ancestors were tamed by the pioneering Lewis and Clark Expedition across the West but were stolen by the Crow tribe, who set them free. They have been living in almost complete isolation ever since, protected by a 1971 Act of Congress which declared that wild horses, or mustangs, be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West”. Last week, however, the US federal government’s Bureau of Land Management began to round up the horses using a helicopter in an effort to reduce their numbers. It is part of a scheme that has resulted in 33,000 mustangs being caught, with only about 26,000 left to roam. Some of the horses will be put up for adoption. Others will be released, but only after the mares have been given contraceptives...LondonTimes

I'll let others comment on the historical accuracy and the objectivity of this article.

In Texas, Seeing the West as It Was

A VISIT to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a vivid reminder that not all of the West was won and an illustration of why that’s a very good thing. The untamed West in all its cranky, craggy, dusty, arid majesty seems to have been frozen in amber in this park, a windswept wedge of 86,000 acres of West Texas mountain desert on the border with New Mexico. For the latter-day pioneer willing to find and make peace with this remote and inhospitable place, the rewards stimulate the senses and challenge the imagination. The park is a repository of Texas superlatives that even most Texans are not aware of: the state’s highest point, Guadalupe Peak, at a challenging but climbable 8,749 feet; what is commonly referred to as its most beautiful single spot, postcard-picturesque McKittrick Canyon; and one of the most striking geological formations anywhere, an imposing slab of limestone known (like its more famous granite cousin at Yosemite National Park) as El Capitan. The one amenity that Guadalupe does have is a variety of hiking experiences. On our first day, we took the tame trek through McKittrick Canyon, a two-and-a-half-mile loop. The turning point was at a modest stone lodge built by the oilman Wallace Pratt, who bought 16,000 acres of this land in the early 20th century. Pratt’s holdings, along with those of a rancher named J. C. Hunter, eventually formed the basis of the national park...NYTimes