Friday, November 20, 2009

The EPA's Paranoid Style

Dr. Alan Carlin, a 37-year agency veteran, was muzzled earlier this spring. Dr. Carlin offered a report poking holes in the science underlying the theory of manmade global warming. His superior, Al McGartland, complained the paper did "not help the legal or policy case" for Team Obama's decision to regulate carbon, told him to "move on to other issues," and forbade him from discussing it outside the office. Now come Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, married, and each with more than 20 years tenure at the EPA. They too are dismayed by Democrats' approach to climate, though for different reasons. Dedicated environmentalists, they created a 10-minute YouTube video arguing Congress's convoluted cap-and-trade bill was a "big lie" that is too weak. They instead propose imposing taxes, lots of them, on fossil fuels. Their views aren't new. Earlier this year the duo sent a letter to Congress making the same case. The video has been out for some time, and the pair got clearance from the EPA before they ran it. Mr. Zabel in the opening notes that "nothing in this video is intended to represent the views of EPA or the Obama Administration." It wasn't until the couple ran a high-profile op-ed in the Washington Post in October that the agency nerved out. Meet the Obama EPA, and its new suppressing, paranoid style. It was the president who once ripped the Bush administration for silencing scientific critics, and it was EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson who began her tenure promising the agency would operate like a "fishbowl." But that was before EPA realized how vastly unpopular is its plan to usurp Congress and regulate the economy on its own, based on its bizarre finding that CO2 is a danger to health. Faced with unhappy members of Congress, dissenting employees, an opposition business community, and a backlash on the science, Mrs. Jackson is no longer a fan of open government. The goal now is to rush the agency regulations through as quickly as possible, squashing threatening dissent and deflecting troublesome more

EPA Workers Question Obama Gag Order - Video

Lawsuit Abuse Charge by Western Lawmakers Enrages Enviro Groups

Poor government oversight has allowed advocacy groups to squander taxpayer money on frivolous lawsuits that drain the budgets of federal land management agencies without the knowledge of the public or Congress, a group of Western lawmakers told Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter released this week. Specifically, members of the Congressional Western Caucus charge that environmental groups have used the Equal Access to Justice Act to win back millions of dollars in attorney fees for lawsuits filed against the Forest Service and other federal agencies. But environmental groups, while endorsing recommendations for greater public access to EAJA records, said the research supporting the claims, done by a Wyoming lawyer and former Interior special assistant in the Reagan administration, is spurious and greatly misrepresents the share of funding they receive under the act and a similar program called the Justice Fund. Budd-Falen's research, however, remains posted on the Web site of the Idaho-based Western Legacy Alliance, which helped fund her work and lobbied the Congressional Western Caucus to investigate. Alliance member Jeff Faulkner, in a statement, went so far as to accuse environmentalists of "shaking down federal government programs so they can access taxpayer dollars to fund their radical agendas." But Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of eight groups targeted by Budd-Falen and the Congressional Western Caucus, said the claims against the nonprofit groups are outrageous. Among other things, Suckling said the letter's claim of EAJA abuse by environmental groups "is sheer nonsense, as it fails to cite even a single example of abuse." more

Go here to view the lawmakers' letter.

Should private cattle graze on public lands?

It's a battle that has ranchers pitted against environmentalists. An ongoing legal dispute over grazing practices in the Malheur National Forest has many Eastern Oregon ranchers worried about their livelihoods and the future of their ranches. Environmentalists are concerned grazing on certain parts of the public forest is degrading habitat for threatened fish. The dispute was sparked by a lawsuit filed by the Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association against the U.S. Forest Service. ONDA would like to see the Forest Service remove grazing in certain areas along Forest Service land along the John Day River, an area important for steelhead habitat. The ranchers found out the only way to have a voice in the debate was to file a lawsuit. So, they are also suing the Forest Service, whose representatives did not return calls for comment. Brent Fenty, the executive director of ONDA, said grazing ruins riparian areas, kills cover that shades streams and keeps the water temperatures low, which fish need to survive. “For us, it's straightforward,” Fenty said. “Our expectation in the short term is we want the U.S. Forest Service, charged with managing grazing, to comply with their own laws and regulations to protect stream health and native fish. In the long term, we hope to protect the most important areas of fish habitat.” more

A Leviathan of Land

...With this reinvigorated discussion of how big is too big, it is worthwhile to remind Americans of just how massive the Federal government already was before our current woes began. There are few more striking measures of the government’s size than the land mass of the Federal estate. The vast majority of federal lands fall within one of four agencies: the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture’s US Forest Service. At over 258 million acres, the Bureau of Land Management alone is bigger than France and Germany combined. When combined with the other aforementioned agencies, the land area is equal that of ten European nations as shown in the accompanying graph...The Foundry

Pine Beetles Not a Good Reason for Climate Change Legislation

Last week Senator Max Baucus joined several mainstream environmentalists in adding pine beetle outbreaks to a long list of things that can be blamed on climate change. Baucus is referring to the recent breakout of pine beetles in Montana. These insects bore their way into pine tress and lay their eggs inside the tree; the larvae of the beetles feed off the bark and this eventually kills the trees. The beetles thrive in climates that are dryer and warmer than usual for that region, and this has led environmentalists to link the outbreaks in the Western United States and Canada to climate change; many have called it a climate change catastrophe. However if we look at the history of outbreaks in the western mountain states, the climate change argument is on very shaky ground. Montana has been hit by pine beetle outbreaks on and off since the 1920s so this is nothing new for the state. An even earlier outbreak is documented from 1894 to 1908 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Since Co2 concentrations were considerably lower around the turn of the century, it does not follow that a reduction in Co2 will eliminate the pine beetle problem. According to a recent study done by the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, these outbreaks should not be regarded as a crisis: “There is no evidence to support the idea that current levels of bark beetle or defoliator activity in Colorado’s lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests are unnaturally high” and that “Historic photos and tree-ring evidence also document extensive insect outbreaks prior to the 20th century.” Furthermore, there are more factors than just temperature which cause outbreaks of pine beetles. According to Dave Thom, a natural resources specialist with the Black Hills National Forest, the density of the forest is a major contributor, “As the trees get more dense, they are less able to resist bark-beetle infestations. When you take increasingly dense trees and add the drought, the intersection causes weakened trees that are more susceptible to beetle attack. That phenomenon can happen regardless of a few degrees of change in climate, measured on a global scale.” more

And why are our Forests so dense? Because of environmental lawsuits and policies instigated by the same environmentalists who are now blaming the infestation on global warming.

Seas Grow Less Effective at Absorbing Emissions

The Earth’s oceans, which have absorbed carbon dioxide from fuel emissions since the dawn of the industrial era, have recently grown less efficient at sopping it up, new research suggests. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels began soaring in the 1950s, and oceans largely kept up, scientists say. But the growth in the intake rate has slowed since the 1980s, and markedly so since 2000, the authors of a study write in a report in Thursday’s issue of Nature. The research suggests that the seas cannot indefinitely be considered a reliable “carbon sink” as humans generate heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. The slowdown in the rise of the absorption rate resulted from a gradual change in the oceans’ chemistry, the study found. “The more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs, the more acidic it becomes and the less carbon dioxide it can absorb,” said the study’s lead author, Samar Khatiwala, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and a professor at the Georgia Institute of more

A climate threat, rising from the soil

Across a patch of pineapples shrouded in smoke, Idris Hadrianyani battled a menace that has left his family sleepless and sick -- and has wrought as much damage on the planet as has exhaust from all the cars and trucks in the United States. Against the advancing flames, he waved a hose with a handmade nozzle confected from a plastic soda bottle. The lopsided struggle is part of a battle against one of the biggest, and most overlooked, causes of global climate change: a vast and often smoldering layer of coal-black peat that has made Indonesia the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. Peat, formed over thousands of years from decomposed trees, grass and scrub, contains gigantic quantities of carbon dioxide, which used to stay locked in the ground. It is now drying and disintegrating, as once-soggy swamps are shorn of trees and drained by canals, and when it burns, carbon dioxide gushes into the atmosphere. Amid often-acrimonious debate over how to curb global warming ahead of a critical U.N. conference next month in Copenhagen, "peat is the big elephant in the room," said Agus Purnomo, head of Indonesia's National Council on Climate more

Fight Climate Change With Free Condoms, U.N. Population Fund Says

The battle against global warming could be helped if the world slowed population growth by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available, the U.N. Population Fund said Wednesday. The agency did not recommend countries set limits on how many children people should have, but said: "Women with access to reproductive health services ... have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse gas emissions." "As the growth of population, economies and consumption outpaces the Earth's capacity to adjust, climate change could become much more extreme and conceivably catastrophic," the report said. On Wednesday, one analyst criticized the U.N. Population Fund's pronouncements as alarmist and unhelpful. "It requires a major leap of imagination to believe that free condoms will cool down the climate," said Caroline Boin, a policy analyst at International Policy Network, a London-based think tank. She also questioned earlier efforts by the agency to control the world's more

Corn-based ethanol producer says it will soon compete with gasoline

The nation's largest producer of corn-based ethanol said it has slashed the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs and that it will be able to compete with gasoline in two years. POET, which currently produces 1.5 billion gallons a year of ethanol from corn, said its one-year old pilot plant has reduced the cost of making ethanol from corn cobs from $4.13 a gallon to $2.35 a gallon by cutting capital costs and using an improved "cocktail" of enzymes. Moreover the company said that it can use a byproduct called lignin as fuel and that it would provide all the energy needed for the cellulosic plant as well as 80 percent of the energy that would be needed by a conventional corn-based distillery making twice the amount of ethanol. "Two years ago I would have told you this was a long shot," said POET chief executive Jeff Broin. "Now I'll tell you that we will produce cellulosic ethanol commercially in two years." POET launched the cellulosic ethanol pilot plant one year ago in Scotland, South Dakota and Broin said that the plant had figured out how to cut capital costs by 40 percent, cut the amount of energy used in pre-treatment stages and lowered enzyme more

Studying Fertilizers To Cut Greenhouse Gases

gricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found that using alternative types of fertilizers can cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, at least in one part of the country. They are currently examining whether the alternatives offer similar benefits nationwide. Nitrogen fertilizers are often a necessity for ensuring sufficient crop yields, but their use leads to release of nitrous oxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Fertilizer use is one reason an estimated 78 percent of the nation's nitrous oxide emissions come from agriculture, according to Ardell Halvorson, a soil scientist at the ARS Soil Plant Nutrient Research Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colo. Halvorson compared nitrous oxide emissions from corn fields treated with either a conventional nitrogen fertilizer (urea) or either of two specially formulated urea fertilizers-one with "controlled release" polymer-coated pellets, and the other with inhibitors added to "stabilize" the urea to keep more of it in the soil as ammonium for a longer period. In a two-year experiment at Fort Collins, he collected the emissions using static vented chambers, similar to small "pillbox" structures placed over the soil. He chose a no-till cropping system because it's known to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He found that the controlled-release fertilizer cut nitrous oxide emissions by a third, and that the stabilized fertilizer cut them almost in more

Fed court upholds Maine's trapping regulations concerning Canada lynx species

A federal court ruling on Tuesday upheld Maine's trapping regulations by denying a request from two animal welfare organizations for a permanent injunction because they failed to prove Canada lynx as a species is irreparably harmed under the regulations. The ruling from U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. came nearly 15 months after the Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine filed the case against Roland D. Martin, commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "The department and the Office of the Maine Attorney General are pleased that Chief Judge Woodcock let stand Maine trapping regulations, and rejected claims that trapping is detrimental to the Canada lynx species," department spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte wrote in a report Thursday more

‘The Light of Day’ Exposes the Green Movement’s Roots in Tyranny

This book, by emerging author James Byrd, paints a telling portrait of the true agenda of the Green Movement. It successfully exposes the underlying agenda of collective power in the hands of the State; at the expense of the individual. Mr. Byrd creates a world of dynamic characters, their interrelations, and the societies in which they are cast. It is a powerful first book, by an author who has a firm grasp of the way in which an oppressive government uses propaganda and fear to control the general population. The Light of Day is the story of Jeff O’Hara and his struggle for personal freedom and the realization that the things most worth having sometimes require the greatest sacrifice. The Light of Day is a must read for anyone who is concerned with the veracity and motives of the modern environmental movement. The reader will find themselves cast into a world that may not be far off, where the needs of the individual are superseded by the ‘virtues’ of nature. It is a gripping first novel and a testament to the integrity of the human more

U.S. food safety likely to get overhaul in 2010

A U.S. Senate committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to increase government oversight of food safety but the first significant overhaul in 50 years may not happen until 2010. Pressure to overhaul the food safety system has grown following several high-profile outbreaks involving lettuce, peppers, peanuts and spinach since 2006 that have sickened thousands and killed several. The Senate bill would expand U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight of the food supply and shift its focus toward preventing, rather than reacting, to foodborne outbreaks. FDA would have the power to order recalls, increase inspection rates and require all facilities to have a food safety plan. The Senate bill is similar to legislation passed by the House in July in many key areas. One area where they differ is the Senate bill does not include a yearly fee to help pay for the increased more

Idaho Power's cloud seeding efforts keep water flowing over dams

Cloud seeding once was seen similar to well divining, medicine shows and miracle healers. But today Idaho Power Co. is investing up to $1 million to seed the clouds above Idaho's mountains - in hopes of increasing the snowpack that holds the water that will drive the hydroelectric turbines to produce the cheapest power the company can get. The Boise utility is not alone. Eastern Idaho counties and businesses have put together a coalition to pay for cloud seeding in the Upper Snake River Basin. They estimate their limited efforts already have increased the snowpack there by 7 percent - about half as much as Idaho Power hopes for. "I feel really good about it," said Paul Romrell, a Fremont County commissioner who heads the coalition. "Our reservoirs levels are in better condition than they've been in for years." The basic technology has been around for a while. Silver iodide is sprayed into the clouds, pulling the moisture out to form ice crystals that drop and fall on the earth as snow or more

Mad Science? Growing Meat Without Animals

Winston Churchill once predicted that it would be possible to grow chicken breasts and wings more efficiently without having to keep an actual chicken. And in fact scientists have since figured out how to grow tiny nuggets of lab meat and say it will one day be possible to produce steaks in vats, sans any livestock. Pork chops or burgers cultivated in labs could eliminate contamination problems that regularly generate headlines these days, as well as address environmental concerns that come with industrial livestock farms. To grow meat in labs from satellite cells, the researchers suggested current tissue-engineering techniques, where stem cells are often embedded in synthetic three-dimensional biodegradable matrixes that can present the chemical and physical environments that cells need to develop properly. Other key factors would involve electrically stimulating and mechanically stretching the muscles to exercise them, helping them mature properly, and perhaps growing other cells alongside the satellite cells to provide necessary molecular cues. So far past scientists have grown only small nuggets of skeletal muscle, about half the size of a thumbnail. Such tidbits could be used in sauces or pizzas, Post and colleagues explained recently in the online edition of the journal Trends in Food Science & Technology, but creating a steak would demand larger-scale more

Song Of The Day #185

This morning on Ranch Radio is Ernest Tubb & Red Foley and their 1952 recording of Too Old To Cut The Mustard.

It's available on the 4 disc box set Texas Troubadour (99 songs and a booklet for $25.98).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Albert Perez 1922-2009

ALBUQUERQUE — And the Lord said, “Good job, my shepherd — now come on home.” Friday, Nov. 13, 2009.
It is a sad day for the Albert Perez family — but what a great day in Heaven. There, it’s just breaking daylight. The sky is magenta, pickup engines are being revved, helicopter blades are starting their roll, cowboys are saddled up on fresh horses. Laughter and raucous conversation fill the chilly air. This could be the best coyote hunt ever. And life will continue on here, as it should, but not without dear memories held closely and safely to our hearts. Albert Perez had many loves — family, friends, sheep, ranching, rain (damn, it’s dry), sheep, hunting, fishing, sports (let’s go Aggies!), sheep, a good day’s work, bologna on white bread (again, Albert?), Corinne’s roast leg of lamb, sheep; and one deep, abiding hate most worthy of mention — any live coyote.
Albert was born in Flagstaff, Ariz., on May 28, 1922, to parents Ramon and Ysaura Perez. The family moved to New Mexico in 1927, where they began assembling ranches near Yeso, Pastura, and Pintada. Here Albert’s siblings, Anna, Carmen, Ramon, and Alice were born. At the age of seven, Albert was already camping with sheep bands. He attended school in a one-room schoolhouse in Buchanan and in Vaughn, where he graduated from high school in 1941, then joined uncles, Narciso and Manuel, and a couple other hired hands in fencing the entire ranch. He left the ranch to attend New Mexico A&M (now NMSU) for a short time, but returned when World War II began. Albert met Corinne Ribera, the light of his life, when his sister brought her out to the ranch from Albuquerque to ride horses. They married on Aug. 30, 1947, and continued with a partnership, friendship, and love that lasted 62 years. After living in Flagstaff for a short time, the couple moved to the ranch at Pintada, and proceeded to raise their family. Eventually they moved to Vaughn, where Albert was a longtime member of the Vaughn School Board. In addition, Albert was chairman of the Guadalupe County Soil and Water Conservation District for 30 years, and was honored with the New Mexico Wool Growers’ 2000 Sheepman of the Year. Albert was the consummate rancher and steward of the land. As with any good shepherd, the care of his livestock and family came first, his pasture and water shortly behind. He led by example — his life, his hearty laugh (AhhOOOF!), his honor and love are all the lessons we need carry on. Adios y a Dios, Alberto.
Albert is survived by his wife of 62 years, Corinne; son Albert (Tibo) Perez, and wife, Robin, of Taos; son, Narciso Perez, of Albuquerque; daughter, Cambria Masci, and husband, Greg, of Gallup; daughter, Pier, and husband, Lane, of San Diego; grandchildren, Cassidy Nunn, and husband, James, of Montrose, Colo., Kendall Perez, of Greeley, Colo., Sean Perez, of Las Cruces, and Giuliano Masci, of Gallup; sisters, Anna Osle, of Albuquerque, and Alice Perez, of Vaughn; and numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws, out-laws, and other beautiful friends he thought of as family. In addition to his parents, Ramon and Ysaura, Albert was preceded in death by his brother, Ramon, and a sister, Carmen.
Pallbearers will be Vincent Perez, Dominic Perez, Bruce Dereta, Frank Perez, John Spensieri and Carlos Armendariz. Honorary pallbearers are Mannie Aguilar, Alfredo Flores, Charlie Serrano, Butch Del Curto, Gino Lujan, Jack Achen, Jim Sachse, Earl Sena, Sec Rivera, Brahaim Hindi Sr., Alex Gazolas, Norbert Archibeque, Andy Cordova, Charles Schoolcraft, Johnny Madril and Ernest Perez. Rosary will be Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, at 7 p.m., at French Mortuary, 10500 Lomas Blvd., Albuquerque. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20, 2009, at 10 a.m., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Vaughn. Please visit our online guestbook for Albert at

Feds buy green cars, auction rejects

If you missed out on Washington's cash incentive program to trade in your old clunker, Uncle Sam still has a deal for you: The government will sell you rejects from its own fleet, even as it makes dealers scrap all those old cars that were collected from the public. The sale of the federal castoffs at auction is nothing new; deals for the consumer mean income for the government. But in swapping out old government cars for new models under the economic stimulus package, officials also are claiming environmental benefits that don't add up. The General Services Administration used stimulus money to buy 17,246 new vehicles, including more than 3,000 hybrids, for an impressive 40 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the old models, the agency says. It said that translates into a decline of 334 million pounds of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the next seven years, the difference between the emission levels of the old cars and their replacements. There's no question the federal fleet is greener. But the environmental claim doesn't take into account that most of the old wheels still will be on the roads, driven by people who bought them at more

What a nice image this provides: Feds drive around in shiny new vehicles while the public makes due with old clunkers.

I'd say mighty typical of what's happening today.

EPA, BLM dispute slows progress on Superfund site

Bureaucratic snags threaten to slow cleanup of the state's dirtiest abandoned mine, a Superfund site in southern Oregon that leaches 5 million gallons of fish-killing, acid rock drainage into nearby creeks each year. The Formosa mine, a source of copper and zinc until 1993, is on a mix of private and public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about 25 miles south of Roseburg. The BLM says none of the contamination comes from its land, which includes thousands of feet of mine tunnels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, overseeing the site under the federal Superfund cleanup program, says it's clear that a significant portion does. The EPA won't go forward with the testing needed to begin cleanup on the BLM's portion of the land without the BLM agreeing to pay for it. But the BLM won't agree to pay, saying doing so could set a precedent and put the agency on the hook for cleanup costs estimated to run up to $50 million. The impasse looks likely to delay testing on the BLM land and related cleanup work by at least two years, said Larry Tuttle, an activist who helped put Formosa on the Superfund list in 2007 after a 13-year battle to get it cleaned more

We certainly can't set a precedent that a federal agency must pay to clean up it's own mess. No, no, that money is for those shiny new cars.

Forest Service should change firefighting policies, report says

Sharply questioning the U.S. Forest Service's aggressiveness, the Los Angeles County Fire Department says in a report on the deadly Station fire that the federal agency should change its policies to allow night flying by water-dropping helicopters and make greater use of local reinforcements to attack any blaze in the Angeles National Forest. In the report, a review of the first five days of the Station fire, County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman urges the Board of Supervisors to lobby the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress to alter the Forest Service's practices to ensure "a timely appropriate response to wildfires" in the Angeles. The report suggests that a fiercer air assault by the Forest Service -- and by the county at one crucial point -- might have kept the Station fire small. It says the Forest Service must change its approach from "taking what the fire will give us" -- a defensive posture -- to "hitting the fire early and hard." Unlike the county and Los Angeles city fire departments, the Forest Service does not deploy water-dropping aircraft at night, because of safety worries. County helicopters helped contain the Station fire to 15 acres during its first day, after it broke out at the edge of the forest above La CaƱada Flintridge. Because the fire was burning on federal land, the Forest Service later took control and the choppers were sent home. After Forest Service commanders rolled back their response, the fire began to spread overnight, and no helicopters returned until about two hours after first light on the critical second day, The Times has more

Area politicians support recommendations in county's Station Fire report

The day after the county in a report on the Station Fire called for a "vastly different approach" in the way the U.S. Forest Service fights fires, the agency announced it will reconsider its policies. Area politicians supported taking legislative action to enact the recommendations. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, lauded the report for bringing up questions about the way the Forest Service handles wildfires, especially after what he called the "fairly superficial" report released by the Forest Service on Friday. "I thought the county did a very good analysis and raised some important issues," Schiff said. "We may need to take action to implement some of the recommendations that they made." The Forest Service may consider reviewing one of the report's key recommendations: the agency's 20-year ban on overnight aerial water drops, said Jim Hubbard, deputy chief for the Forest Service. "We're looking at safety factors," Hubbard said. "We're looking at whether the technology has advanced enough that we feel comfortable." The Forest Service used to allow helicopters to make drops at night, but the agency banned the practice shortly after an accident in the Angeles National Forest in which two helicopters collided during a night operation, Hubbard said. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a critic of the Forest Service's policies, said in a statement that night drops "would have prevented the Station Fire's rapid growth and mitigated its catastrophic toll." The county Fire Department allows night drops and has staff prepared to fly at all more

Idaho to pay $50K to settle grazing lease lawsuit

Idaho agreed Tuesday to pay $50,000 and pledged to follow anti-discrimination rules to settle a federal lawsuit against state officials who awarded grazing leases to ranchers, not the environmentalist who had offered more money. The Idaho Board of Land has also committed to revising its rules to allow conservation groups to lease state endowment trust lands, a big change after years of fierce litigation. The board's five members are the governor, state controller, secretary of state, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction. In 2006, Washington state businessman and environmentalist Gordon Younger was the high bidder on seven Idaho grazing leases, but lost when the Board of Land with then-Gov. Jim Risch gave the leases to livestock owners. Younger, who planned to manage the lands to restore what he called "their degraded streams and wildlife habitats," sued in U.S. District Court on grounds he was the victim of more

Dust Up About Dust

A federal regulatory proposal, that is being “fast tracked” to adoption, poses a new threat to the survivability of businesses in Montana, most especially agriculture, according to the Western Business Roundtable (WBRT). The new regulations will reduce the allowable level of dust particles in the air to one-tenth current standards – levels lower than those normally recorded in natural areas, such as Yellowstone National Park. If the regulations being proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are implemented, “It would bring economic development and growth to a halt,” said Jim Sims, President and CEO of WBRT, a coalition of companies and industry associations throughout the western states focused on encouraging investment, growth, and job creation in all economic sectors. The proposed regulation is based on a “flawed” study, according to Sims, one that broadens the definition of what is considered dust and raises the specter of health concerns. Since health is ostensibly at issue, regulatory solutions are considered “absolute” – in other words, economic impacts or technical feasibilities are not allowed to be considered in deciding whether a regulation should be adopted. The regulations could have a strong impact on a wide variety of industry, most particularly upon agriculture and cattle producers, said Sims, adding that it will take a concerted effort on the part of all industry throughout the western states to mitigate the proposal. The issue of dust is not as significant to less arid and windy eastern more

Grizzly Bear Defenders Fight Logging Projects

Environmentalists say the U.S. Forest Service is paving the way to grizzly bear deaths by opening one of America's five remaining grizzly bear habitats to road construction and logging. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies says the Forest Service's approval of three new projects will hurt the 45 grizzlies that remain in the region. Grizzly bears produce small litters at older ages than other bears; they are "hard to grow, but easy to kill" and have one of "the slowest reproductive rates of North American mammals," according to the federal complaint. A single grizzly bear's range may cover hundreds of square miles. And the Alliance says that 69 percent of grizzly bear deaths are caused by humans. It adds that roads "literally pave the way for these mortalities" by giving humans access to the bears. These projects authorize construction of more than 14 miles of new roads, reconstruction of 2.4 miles of roads, temporary reopening of 5 miles of closed roads and permanent reopening of 3.5 miles of roads. The projects will open up 3,988 acres of the endangered grizzly bears' habitat to commercial logging. The Alliance disputes the Forest Service's conclusion that the projects will not hurt the grizzly more

Forest Service says trees can slow climate change

National forests can be used as a carbon "sink" with vast numbers of trees absorbing carbon dioxide to help slow global warming, the Forest Service chief said Wednesday, but that goal must be balanced. He's also concerned about the risk of catastrophic wildfires that produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said his agency is trying to manage forests to combat climate change while still easing the risk of wildfires that have increased in frequency and intensity, in part because of global warming. Forests now store enough carbon to offset about 16 percent of the nation's fossil fuel emissions, but that number could be reduced or even reversed if wildfires and insect infestation continue to increase, Tidwell said. "Disturbances such as fire and insects and disease could dramatically change the role of forests, thereby emitting more carbon than currently sequestered" by tree stands across the country, Tidwell told the Senate Public Lands and Forestry Subcommittee. Elaine O'Neil, a research scientist at the University of Washington's School of Forestry, said wildfires in California alone released emissions equivalent to that of seven million cars a year from 2001 to more

Researchers studying link between climate change and cattle nutritional stress

The lab measured the amount of crude protein and digestible organic matter retained by cattle in the different regions. The pattern of forage quality observed across regions suggests that a warmer climate would limit protein availability to grazing animals, Craine said. "This study assumes nothing about patterns of future climate change; it's just a what if," Olson said. "What if there was significant atmosphere enrichment of carbon dioxide? What would it likely do to plant phenology? If there is atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment, the length of time between when a plant begins to grow and when it reaches physiological maturity may be condensed." Currently, cattle obtain more than 80 percent of their energy from rangeland, pastureland and other sources of roughage. With projected scenarios of climate warming, plant protein concentrations will diminish in the future. If weight gain isn't to drop, ranchers are likely going to have to manage their herds differently or provide supplemental protein, Craine said. Any future increases in precipitation would be unlikely to compensate for the declines in forage quality that accompany projected temperature increases. As a result, cattle are likely to experience greater nutritional stress in the future if these geographic patterns hold as a actual example of future climates, Craine more

Smiths produce quality horses in Wyoming

When a world champion bronc rider marries a collegiate national all-around cowgirl, it's pretty easy to assume that horses will remain a vital part of their lives. That's exactly what happened for Bill and Carole Smith. The former rodeo champions have turned their love of horses into a thriving business, even during tough economic times. The Smiths own the WYO Quarter Horse Ranch and this past year they held their 26th annual spring performance and production sale. September marked the ninth year they have also held a fall production sale in order to keep up with demand. “It's a family operation, not an open consignment sale,” said Carole. There are five family members and one close friend involved in the bi-annual sales. Their success over the years has been due to their ability to find a market for their horses. There seems to be two basic performance horses in the United States: the backyard horse or the specialty horse. The price of the specialty horse often makes it unattainable for many buyers and the lack of training, conformation and breeding on the backyard horse often makes it undesirable. The Smiths knew there was an overlooked market in between. Bill, who won the title of World Champion Bronc Rider in 1969, 1971 and 1973, retired from rodeo in 1979. “He always had horses and knew he wanted to start raising them,” said Carole. Married by then, Bill would train geldings and take them to different sales. After a few years of spending money to haul his horses to different sales and paying consignment fees, they decided they could make more money by holding their own sale. When the couple settled in Thermopolis, Wyo., in 1983, they made the commitment and held their first WYO performance and production sale. “It was a family sale then and it is now,” said more

Song Of The Day #184

Ranch Radio brings you Take An Old Cold Tater And Wait by Little Jimmy Dickens.

The tune was recorded in 1949 and is available on his The Hits: 16 Biggest Hits and also on I'm Little, But I'm Loud: The Little Jimmy Dickens Collection.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Washington, D.C Leads The STD's

Washington, D.C., had the dubious distinction of beating all 50 states to post the highest rates in the nation for the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta...CNS

That's what happens when you screw so many people.

DOJ supoenas news site's readers list and issues gag order

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization. The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on. Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, replied to the Justice Department on behalf of his client in a February 2009 letter (PDF) outlining what he described as a series of problems with the subpoena, including that it was not personally served, that a judge-issued court order would be required for the full logs, and that Indymedia did not store logs in the first place. Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost." more

Whatever happened to the first amendment?

Mexico's gang wars spawn vigilante justice

The bodies of four alleged gangsters, stuffed into a parked car near President Felipe Calderon's compound in this capital city, carried a message of divine retribution: “The wicked are denied their light, and the upraised arm is broken,” proclaimed the biblical passage, Job 38:15. Scrawled with a marker on the backs of three of the bodies, a single word — “Kidnapper.” The discovery of the dead men two weeks ago suggests to many Mexicans that despairing private citizens or even local officials may be exacting their own raw justice amid the unbridled crime sweeping the country. Last Tuesday, thousands of people in a village near Mexico City threatened to lynch four alleged kidnappers. The men, two of whom authorities say may be federal policemen, were rescued by state police who rushed to the town of Juchitepec. Earlier this month, human rights activists in Sinaloa state, cradle of most of Mexico's narcotics smuggling syndicates, claimed that death squads, possibly composed of police officers, might be behind a string of recent killings targeting suspected car thieves. And, following the July murders of two American church leaders who had challenged a local kidnapping, a fundamentalist Mormon farm community southwest of Ciudad Juarez requested and temporarily received permission to form a militia. A group dubbed the “Citizens' Command” early this year announced it would begin killing gangsters in bloody Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso. Several subsequent killings suggested that the victims were targeted by such a more

Bush aide urges weapons ban to slow Mexican drug war

The former head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection called Monday for the U.S. to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons and take other measures to rein in the war between Mexico and its drug cartels, saying the violence has the potential to bring down legitimate rule in that country. Former CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner also called for the United States to more aggressively investigate U.S. gun sellers and tighten security along its side of the border, describing the situation as "critical" to the safety of people in both countries, whether they live near the border or more

Another example of how prohibition leads to gun control, and how one government intervention creates a problem which is then proposed to be "fixed" by another government intervention.

Also a good example why Bush-type republicans are so unpopular.

TSA bans snowglobes

The TSA says you can't carry a snow-globe onto a plane, even if it fits in your freedom baggie, because they can't measure how much liquid it contains, and therefore it must contain more than three oz of potential explosive, um, water. "Snow globes are not permitted to be carried through security checkpoints," said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Dwayne Baird. The reason is that the globes contain liquids, and TSA rules say that only liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of three ounces or less are allowed through security in carry-on more

The post points out that Archimedes figured out how to measure volume over 2,000 years ago.

Army drops appeal of Pinon Canyon ruling

The Army has dropped its appeal of a federal court ruling in September that rejected a 2007 environmental study intended to justify sending more troops, more often to train at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad. The motion to dismiss was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Justice Department lawyers handling the case refused to comment on the decision. Not 1 More Acre!, the rancher group that filed the lawsuit over the 2007 environmental study, wasn't as reserved Tuesday. "We knew we had a good case to start with so it surprised us the Army was even appealing the district court decision," Mack Louden, a board member of the group said Tuesday. "We keep winning all the battles (with the Army) but it's the war over Pinon Canyon that we're worried about." In September, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch set aside the 2007 environmental study, calling it severely inadequate for justifying the Army's plan to send even more troops, more often to train at the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon range. While the Army's long-term plan is to expand Pinon Canyon, they had conducted the 2007 study to look at the impact of training more troops on the current site. Matsch vacated the study and the Army's "Record of Decision" to boost the training schedule for Pinon Canyon. Matsch said the Army's own reports, which were uncovered by the lawsuit, showed Pinon Canyon had suffered environmental damage in the past after more modest training exercises. Matsch said the Army's contention it could mitigate damage from even heavier use of the land at Pinon Canyon was contradicted by its own more

Bishop: Environmental rules impeding border security

Rep. Rob Bishop charges that environmental laws are delaying the effort to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and hindering law enforcement officials from pursuing drug smugglers. The Utah Republican, the ranking GOP member on the House Natural Resources subcommittee over public lands, says that documents he obtained show Homeland Security officials are hitting environmental roadblocks in trying to erect a virtual fence near troublesome crossing areas. In one e-mail the congressman highlighted, a Denver-based National Park Service official informed Homeland Security that placing a surveillance tower in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona is problematic because it would violate federal wilderness laws. All but 5 percent of that monument is designated as wilderness. In another case, a Bureau of Land Management official gave border security permission to test drill near a wilderness area only if no endangered Sonoran Pronghorn animals were nearby and that a biologist must accompany the drillers. Bishop contends that immigrants are scarring wilderness on their own and the inability of border agents to use motorized vehicles in some areas has led to drug smugglers controlling a vast region of American wilderness. "We're putting a higher priority on wilderness than we are on border security," Bishop says. "What is the primary goal down there? Is it border security or is it wilderness that we can't control?" more

In Senate, coal fuels climate deals

Forget the debate over green jobs, wind farms and solar power. In the Senate, all deals on climate change run through coal country. Black gold has maintained a tight hold over the climate bill — despite a damaging lobbying scandal this summer, growing public health concerns and a destructive toxic coal ash spill that smothered 300 acres in eastern Tennessee last December. “They don’t have a deal until they get the coal-state senators, and they are a long way from doing it,” said Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). “They’re going to need us to pass a bill.” And coal-state senators haven’t been shy about their needs. On Thursday, a group of 14 coal-state members, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), urged Senate Democrats to offer more protection in the climate bill for coal-dependent utilities. “You’ve got to have the coal states,” said Peter Gray, chairman of the environmental law practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge. “If Democrats want a climate change bill, they are going to have to accept concessions to the coal industry.” Even the Senate’s most liberal Democrats recognize the stronghold coal has in the more

100 Things Blamed on Global Warming

Late for a party? Miss a meeting? Forget to pay your rent? Blame climate change; everyone else is doing it. From an increase in severe acne to all societal collapses since the beginning of time, just about everything gone wrong in the world today can be attributed to climate change. Here’s a list of 100 storylines blaming climate change as the more

It's all there, from insomnia in children and UFO sitings to increases in crime.

Forest Service Open to Allowing Mountain Bikes on Continental Divide Trail

Along its 3,100 miles that wind from the Canadian border down to Mexico, the Continental Divide Trail is one of the most rugged, and in parts one of the most visually spectacular, hiking trails in the country. Now the U.S. Forest Service says the route could be opened in places to mountain bikes, a move that raises a question or two regarding possible impacts to national parks. From north to south the trail runs through portions of Glacier, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain national parks, as well as El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico. In places you need the skills of a mountain goat to negotiate the route, which, by the way, is not entirely in place. Early in October the Forest Service published its proposed rule changes to the trail's comprehensive management plan in the Federal Register. They took effect November 4. The updated management plan does not magically open the entire Continental Divide National Scenic Trail to mountain biking, but rather provides "that bicycle use may be allowed on the CDNST if the use is consistent with the applicable land and resource management plan and will not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the CDNST." more

Idaho Gov. Otter objects to ESA listing

Gov. Butch Otter said the federal government has let down the ranchers and others in Idaho who stepped forward to help a rare flowering bush that grows in the Foothills and in wet areas of Southwest Idaho's desert - even though it was not protected under the Endangered Species Act. "Frankly I feel betrayed by the feds," said Ted Hoffman, an Owyhee County rancher who worked with the state Office of Species Conservation to develop the "candidate species conservation plan" that was approved by the federal government. Slickspot peppergrass (Lepidium papilliferum) has been found on more than 20,000 acres in Ada, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee and Payette counties. The listing, which would be finalized Dec. 7, could place new restrictions on ranchers and the U.S. Air Force, which use large portions of the core remaining habitat of the plant in Owyhee County. Ranchers may be subject to environmental lawsuits aimed at removing their cattle from federal grazing lands in the spring. Hoffman said ranchers helped researchers find even more of the bushes when they were working under the state plan. David Hensley, Otter's attorney, said the decision is more ominous because the state is working on similar species plans for the sage grouse, and it could make it harder to persuade rural residents to join in. The key difference, though, is that the Idahoans agreeing to the sage grouse plans are making changes on private land, so they have more protections if the species is ever listed. The public land grazers affected by the peppergrass decision would be immediately subject to any new federal rules. The peppergrass listing also could limit energy development, military training on the Orchard Training Area southeast of Boise, and even residential more

Wolverine settles in Colorado

State wildlife biologists say they think M56, the solo male wolverine that migrated more than 500 miles to Colorado from Wyoming last spring, appears to have settled in at the snowy edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, raising hopes for the survival of the species and other threatened carnivores. Climate change appears to be shrinking nationwide the snowy habitat needed to sustain predators including wolves, wolverines and lynx, wildlife experts said Monday at a conference on climate change put on by the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife. Colorado, with its abundant federal lands at elevations higher than 12,000 feet, increasingly is seen as a prime refuge where threatened and endangered species could be reintroduced. "We have to focus on areas that are most resistant to climate change, and Colorado is one of them," said David Gaillard, northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife. "We'd love to help the state raise money" for a project. Colorado biologists who successfully reintroduced lynx in high-mountain terrain now are beginning to talk about the more

Critics Say UN Food Summit Wasteful, Ineffective

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, blamed for plunging his people into starvation, used his platform as Tuesday's opening speaker at the U.N. anti-hunger summit to decry what he called his neocolonialist foes. Another longtime African strongman, Moammar Gadhafi, held another nightly soiree at a villa in the Italian capital in the company of hundreds of young ladies selected by a "hostess" agency. Tunisia's first lady and her bodyguards blocked traffic on roads leading to Via Condotti, a glamorous street of designer boutiques near the Spanish Steps. Rome daily Il Messaggero ran a photo of Leila Zine in front of luxury jewelry store Bulgari. The images bolstered criticism that the summit called by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is long on rhetoric and extravagance and short on solutions for the world's 1 billion more

Fielder promotes new book “Ranches of Colorado”

Tucked into every corner of the Colorado landscape are places where legends still live. The ranches of the West, and the ranchers who run them, embody what is true about America, and what Americans want to be true: self sufficiency, determination, independence, competence, fearlessness, and an abiding reverence for the land that has blessed us with abundance and opportunity. In 2007 and 2008 John Fielder traveled to photograph 50 of Colorado's most beautiful multi-generational working cattle ranches, most already protected from development. The resulting book “Ranches of Colorado” will play a part in the protection of other ranches. The project is a partnership of Fielder, Colorado's preeiminent outdoor photographer, and the Colorado land trust community including Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust, Colorado Open Lands, and the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. These organizations earn royalties from each copy of the book more

"The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana"

A century ago, Montana was vast and untamed. Without irrigation, drought was devastating. Harsh winters killed entire cattle herds. Considering the conditions, the book title, "The Weak Ones Turned Back, The Cowards Never Started: A Century of Ranching in Montana," may be even a bit understated. The book compiles the stories of 142 ranches that remain working livestock operations run by the same family in the same location 100 or more years after they were first established. "Great ranches are not made of the dirt, water, wind and grass that comprise their environment," wrote Charles P. Schroeder, executive director of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. "They are formed and sustained by the character of the people attached to them." The ranches date back to 1871, when the Berg Ranch Co. was first created in more

Seabiscuit and Woolf immortalized

Cardston jockey George Woolf and Seabiscuit — the horse he rode to victory in 1938 — will soon be immortalized in bronze, more than likely on the grounds of the Remington Carriage Museum, in Woolf’s home town. The sculpture, commissioned by Cardston-area rancher Jack Lowe for $130,000, will be completed by Lethbridge artist Don Toney and is to be unveiled in June, a month after what would have been Woolf’s 100th birthday. For Howard Snyder, manager of the Carriage Museum, it’s recognition that’s long overdue. “This monumental bronze will stand in tribute to the ‘Iceman,’ George Woolf, and his rise from small-town beginnings to lasting fame in the world of sporting achievement,” said Snyder...“He wasn’t particularly known to be a very handsome thoroughbred,” said Toney of the race horse. “He was almost what we might think of as a running quarter horse these days. Some people described him as a cow pony, but I think that’s something of an exaggeration. I know horses, and he was not a stretchy-looking thoroughbred type, but he was a handsome horse, maybe a little stockier and maybe not as tall. “He was over in one knee a bit, which really didn’t harm him in any way. The fact that he didn’t really look the part, and he had a rough beginning — he didn’t really want to run — is a real interesting part of the story. Then he got a new trainer that really turned things around.” Snyder said the Seabiscuit story is one of the great inspirational stories in American history, in which an unappreciated horse, a disappointed millionaire, a displaced Colorado cowboy and a young Canadian jockey in decline came together in an astounding combination of circumstance and more

Song Of The Day #183

Ranch Radio presents Faron Young's 1955 recording of It's A Great Life (If You Don't Weaken).

It's available on his The Complete Capitol Hits of Faron Young and several other of his collections.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Binding climate treaty may slip far into 2010

A binding international treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions will slip to mid-2010 or beyond and a summit in Copenhagen next month will fall short of its ambitions, the United Nations and Denmark said on Monday. The United Nations' top climate official said a treaty could be wrapped up at talks in Bonn by mid-2010. Denmark, host of next month's meeting, said it might take longer - until Mexico in December. Negotiations on a deal, initially due to be reached at the December 7-18 summit in Copenhagen, have stalled. A prominent member of the U.S. Congress also acknowledged it could be months before the Senate gets around to passing a domestic climate bill. Senator John Kerry, who is leading Senate negotiations on a compromise U.S. measure to tackle global warming, said he and other Democrats were working toward "trying to see if we can get this to the (Senate) floor sometime in the early spring, as early as possible." more

Environmental laws put gaps in Mexico border security

In the battle on the U.S.-Mexico border, the fight against illegal immigration often loses out to environmental laws that have blocked construction of parts of the "virtual fence" and that threaten to create places where agents can't easily track illegal immigrants. Documents obtained by Rep. Rob Bishop and shared with The Washington Times show National Park Service staffers have tried to stop the U.S. Border Patrol from placing some towers associated with the virtual fence, known as the Secure Border Initiative or SBInet, on wilderness lands in parks along the border. In a remarkably candid letter to members of Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department could have to delay pursuits of illegal immigrants while waiting for horses to be brought in so agents don't trample protected lands, and warns that illegal immigrants will increasingly make use of remote, protected areas to avoid being caught. The documents also show the Interior Department has charged the Homeland Security Department $10 million over the past two years as a "mitigation" penalty to pay for damage to public lands that agencies say has been caused by Border Patrol agents chasing illegal immigrants. "I want this resolved so border security has the precedence down there. If wilderness designation gets in the way of a secure southern border, I want the designation changed," said Mr. Bishop, Utah Republican, who requested the documents. "If it means you lose a couple of acres of wilderness, I don't think God will blame us at the judgment bar for doing that." A major problem is wilderness - lands deemed so pristine that they should be maintained in that condition, free of man-made structures. Wilderness is governed under a 1964 law that imposed strict rules that tie Border Patrol agents' hands, and there is a lot of that land along the border. According to the Congressional Research Service, California has 1.8 million acres of wilderness within 100 miles of the border, and Arizona has 2.5 million acres. New Mexico and Texas have smaller plots. According to e-mails obtained by Mr. Bishop, Park Service officials at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and at the Denver office that oversees the park said they will not allow the Border Patrol to place electronic surveillance towers on parts of the park that are designated more

And yet Senator Bingaman continues to push S.1689 which would create 560 square miles of wilderness on our southern border.

Western Legacy Alliance Applauds Efforts of the Western Caucus to Bring Attention to EAJA Abuse

In an open letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), dated November 2, 2009, members of the Congressional Western Caucus expressed great concern to Attorney General Holder regarding the ongoing and apparent abuse of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) by certain organizations including environmental and special interest groups. The Caucus highlights the complete lack of oversight, accountability, and transparency in the overall process and allocation of funds under EAJA, which appears to have contributed to the egregious abuse. “Environmental groups have been working to deny grazing rights to America’s ranchers for decades. They do so by claiming violations of environmental policy, suing federal environmental agencies and ultimately, tying up ranchers’ time and resources in costly, and often baseless, court battles,” said Jeff Faulkner, Western Legacy Alliance (WLA) member. “What makes this situation worse is the fact that these environmental groups such as Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity are shaking down federal government programs so they can access taxpayer dollars to fund their radical agendas.” Two of the federal programs that are seemingly handing out millions, and possibly billions, to environmental groups are the EAJA and the Judgment Fund. The EAJA was established approximately 30 years ago by Congress to ensure that individuals, small businesses and/or public interest groups with limited financial capacity could seek judicial redress from unreasonable government actions that threatened their rights, privileges or interests. EAJA accomplishes this by allowing small businesses and individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford a court battle to obtain reimbursement of attorney’s fees if they are found to prevail in a case over a government agency such as the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service...Press Release

I guess its time I fess up to being in on the ground floor of creating EAJA.

It all started with a coin broker in Portales, NM. He had ordered some gold coins for a customer. The coins had made it to El Paso when they were confiscated by treasury agents who had received info the coins were illegally imported. Then the treasury dept. dumped a bunch of gold bullion on the market which drove down the price of gold. On Monday or Tuesday of the next week, the treasury agents said oops, they were wrong and the coins were perfectly legal, and they released them to the coin dealer. However the customer, due to the hefty drop in the price of gold, declared bankruptcy and refused delivery. This then forced the coin dealer into bankruptcy.

The timing was such that the coins would have passed to the customer prior to the dumping if the federal agents hadn't confiscated them. So one NM businessman was down the drain as a result of the gov't confiscating private property based on faulty information. I was an aide to Senator Domenici at the time and approached him about the situation and convinced him the feds should compensate individuals in cases such as this. Domenici introduced legislation, which was amended and watered down and eventually became EAJA.

This whole thing reminds me of a recent essay by Dr. Robert Higgs, Can the Rampaging Leviathan Be Stopped or Slowed?, in which he claims all attempts to limit the size of government will fail and the beast will continue to grow until it implodes.

Anyway, all you cowboys can cuss me and all you enviros can thank me for having the original idea that has become so distorted in EAJA.

You see, it all started with a coin dealer in Portales, NM...

Wolf hunt shut down in Montana after quota filled

Montana is shutting down its first public hunt for gray wolves since their removal from the endangered species list after state officials said they expected to meet the season's quota of 75 by Monday evening. The quota was met two weeks before the season's scheduled close. The 75 killed equals about 15 percent of a statewide wolf population estimated at 500. Yet even with the success among hunters, the number of wolves in Montana is expected to increase this year by 20 percent or more because wolves are such prolific breeders. Whether a hunt will be repeated next year is uncertain: A lawsuit to return the predator to the endangered list is pending before Judge Donald Molloy in U.S. District Court in Missoula. State wildlife commissioner Bob Ream of Helena -- a wildlife biologist who spent 20 years studying the animals -- declared the 2009 hunt a success. "For a first try, the state did very well," Ream said Monday. "It happened quicker than a lot of us thought it would, but all in all, the geographic distribution of the harvest was good." Because the wolves killed were scattered across the state, Ream said the hunt might begin to put a dent in the number of livestock killed every year by the animals. That's become an increasing problem in recent years as wolves expanded into areas inhabited by people and more

Australia exempts agriculture from cap & trade

Australia's opposition expressed confidence on Tuesday that it would reach a deal with the government to pass laws for a domestic carbon trade scheme, with a final government offer on negotiations due next week. The opposition's climate change negotiator, Ian Macfarlane, told Australian media he was optimistic he would secure a deal despite divisions within his own party on the issue. The government has bowed to a key opposition demand to permanently exclude agriculture, which accounts for around 16 percent of Australian emissions, from the scheme, but the opposition also wants more concessions for coal more

Britain cuts down forests to keep ‘green’ power stations burning

Britain is set to plunder the lungs of the world to feed its growing hunger for wood to burn in power stations. A series of biomass-fired plants are being built in the UK that will trigger a 150 per cent surge in timber imports from 20 million tonnes today to 50 million tonnes by 2015, according to the Forestry Commission. British power plants are already shipping wood from Canada, Brazil, Scandinavia and South Korea. Just one of the new biomass plants at Port Talbot, South Wales, will consume three million tonnes of wood per year — equivalent to 30 per cent of the UK’s domestic annual wood harvest of ten million tonnes. But the plant, which is due to open in 2012, will generate only 300 megawatt hours of electricity, or about 0.4 per cent of the UK's current power-generating capacity...environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the carbon emissions involved in shipping the wood such large distances, while to meet UK pest control laws the timber will need to be baked before it can be shipped to the more

Groups file suit to stop Grand Canyon uranium mine

Environmental groups are suing the federal Bureau of Land Management over its decision to allow a uranium mine to reopen north of the Grand Canyon. Canadian mining firm Denison Mines Corp. received the final state permit needed to move forward on its Arizona 1 Mine in September. The BLM says Denison has an approved mine plan and should be allowed to resume operations. The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit Monday. They argue that the mine plan has expired, an environmental analysis is outdated and Denison has not proven its more

Feds to buy 5,000 acres for conservation

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday their agencies are buying seven parcels totaling 5,026 acres in Colorado, Montana and Nevada - including 4,573 in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument - as high-value conservation land. The acquisitions, private holdings surrounded by or adjacent to federal land, were authorized by the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000. The act provides funds to buy land in Western states from willing sellers. The government paid $11.7 million for the seven parcels, it was announced more

Mustang roundup moratorium rejected

Wild horse advocates say they have no recourse but the courts after federal land managers rejected their request for an immediate moratorium on mustang roundups. The Bureau of Land Management plans to remove more than 30,000 horses from Western rangelands over the next three years to deal with soaring numbers of the animals and the cost to manage them. The Equine Welfare Alliance, which represents more than 60 organizations, is considering its legal options after the BLM rejected its request to halt the roundups, said John Holland, its president. The Chicago-based coalition opposes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's proposal to move thousands of mustangs to preserves in the Midwest and East to protect horse herds and the rangelands that support them. Salazar has said his plan unveiled last month would avoid the slaughter of some of the 69,000 wild horses and burros under federal control to halt the rising cost of maintaining more

Food summit turns down UN funding appeal

Pope Benedict XVI decried the steadily worsening tragedy of world hunger on Monday after a global summit rebuffed a U.N. call to commit billions of dollars a year for a new strategy to help poor countries feed themselves. The meeting at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization did unite nearly 200 countries behind a pledge to increase aid to farmers in poor countries to help the developing world lessen its dependence on foreign food aid. Only hours after the three-day summit began, some 60 heads of state and dozens of ministers rejected the U.N.'s call to commit $44 billion annually for agricultural development in these nations. The final declaration also omitted a pledge, sought by the United Nations, to eradicate hunger by more

Boy,11, shoots bear on family's porch

An 11-year-old boy killed a bear at point-blank range last Wednesday night after it wouldn’t leave his family’s porch. The boy was at home with his younger sisters and after seeing the bear on the front porch and not being able to get it to leave, the boy retrieved a gun and killed the animal. Fish and Game Conservation Officer Doug Peterson said the black bear had been a problem in the area near the county transfer station, and he and Fish and Game Officer Lauren Wednt had set up a trap earlier in the week. The boy and his family are not in any trouble, and Peterson said he issued them a permit to keep the bear. Usually when a bear is put down by Fish and Game they sell the hide at a state auction, Peterson more

HT: Outdoor Pressroom

Turkey on turnpike causes havoc

Authorities have stopped trying to capture a wild turkey that calls Interchange 14B on the New Jersey Turnpike home. The bird has been causing havoc for toll collectors and motorists as it runs across toll booths, plays in traffic, and sits atop toll collectors' parked cars. Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said efforts over the weekend to catch the turkey were unsuccessful, and for the time being, the bird will be left alone. Collectors will have to continue putting cones on their parked cars because the turkey likes to jump on the cars, and motorists will continue dodging the bird. [link]

Building community in Two Dot

After 82 years, residents of Two Dot still chuckle over the March 29, 1927, fire that destroyed the Congregational Church and parsonage. Not that it was particularly funny at the time. Loss of the church undoubtedly resonated as a tragedy in the little ranching town within viewing distance of the Crazy, Snowy and Belt mountains. But over time, the community developed a sense of humor about the disaster and the small boys who ignited it. Now it’s everyone’s favorite piece of Two Dot lore. It was branding time and all the adults were busy with hot irons and terrified calves, the story goes. Little boys were shooed out of the way as the adults concentrated on the serious business at hand. Nobody paid much attention to the children, who had been busily capturing gophers all morning for a branding party of their own. They’d sneaked upstairs to a room in the empty parsonage and started a fire in a collection plate aiming to mark their captives with irons they’d made out of more

I'll bet there were some Ewings at that gopher brandin'.

Two Dot (population: 76) hangs on long after heyday

Not much remains of Two Dot, one of the many Montana pioneering communities that thrived in the homestead years in the early 1900s and then faltered in the farm crisis of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s. The census in 2000 put the number of residents at 76, and locals say the population seems to have stabilized. Almost everyone is involved in ranching — the reason most settlers found their way to Wheatland County in the early years. “A lot were displaced Southerners who came after the Civil War,” said rancher and local historian John Whelan. “There were a lot of family groups that came from Missouri.” Two Dot took its name from George “Two Dot” Wilson, Whelan said, who got his nickname from his brand — two horizontal dots. Wilson fashioned his brand from the only thing handy, a king pin out of a trail wagon. (A two-wheeled trail wagon was attached behind a four-wheeled wagon with the king pin.) more

Boot communication

Hey, Answer Girl -- Why do some fence posts around Casper have old cowboy boots on them? -- Liz Much like with shoefiti (the art of throwing tied-together shoes over light poles), a few rumors exist as to why cowboys would put boots on their fence posts. 1. In the time before cell phones, ranchers used a cowboy boot sitting on top of a fence post at the end of the driveway to signal that the rancher/homeowner was at home. That way, visitors didn't have to drive all the way up the driveway (which could be miles long) just to find out if the rancher was home. 2. In a variation on the first rumor, a boot is always left at the end of the driveway. If the boot faces outward, toward the open road, the rancher has gone to town for the day. If the boot faces inward, up the drive, toward home, the rancher is home. That sounds a little complicated to me, and an easy way to accidentally leave false signals. 3. It's a sign that a well-respected rancher died. Trying to verify any one of these rumors, I called the only real cowboy I know -- Rob Hendry, chairman of the Natrona County Board of Commissioners and a ranch owner in rural Natrona County. He had no more

On the edge of common sense: Using swine to eradicate waste is a 'no-brainer' idea

I had deja vu when I saw a photo of goats walking through garbage on an Egyptian street. The headline read: "A Little Late, Egypt discovers the Flaw in Killing all its Pigs." Apparently, swine were a major factor in Egypt's garbage disposal industry. Goats were a poor substitute. The whole mess is the result of the government's decision to eradicate all the nation's pigs to protect people from the swine flu. It must have seemed like a "no-brainer" for the "no-brains" in charge. There are plenty of examples of "no-brains" enacting "no-brainers." Hawaiians importing mongooses to kill the rats and ending up wreaking havoc on the native birds. Nobody looked to see that mongooses were diurnal and rats were nocturnal. Or how 'bout the "no-brains" who imported kudzu and starlings? Or the "no-brains" trying to protect some endangered plant or insect or snail, not caring if it eviscerated whole towns and communities. But who knew that pigs were a part of Egypt's ecosystem? What a wonderful example of the recycling cycle! People eat pigs ... pigs eat garbage ... people eat pigs! I'm wondering if this is something we could incorporate into our own "green movement." more

Song Of The Day #182

Ranch Radio brings you Eddy Arnold this morning, and his 1953 recording of The Missouri Waltz.

It's available on his 5 disc box set The Tennessee Plowboy & His Guitar.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deal on Mexican Gray Wolf

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service and environmentalists reached an agreement Friday that scraps a rule the agency had used to kill or permanently remove any wolf that killed three head of livestock in a year. A spokesman for the agency, Tom Buckley, said the three-strikes rule would “no longer stand.” The agency has other ways to deal with livestock kills “and remains committed to assisting the local livestock operators in any negative impacts they may have related to wolves,” Mr. Buckley said. Environmentalists argued that the rule favored the ranching industry and was a major roadblock to the population recovery effort for the Mexican gray wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf. Ranchers said the policy was aimed at wolves that grow accustomed to preying on cattle. Several environmental groups sued in May 2008, asking a federal court in Arizona to stop the removal policy. Mr. Buckley said agency officials hoped a judge would sign the settlement this more

The Center For Biological Diversity press release is here and the Arizona Game & Fish Department's response says:

The press release sent by the plaintiff organizations is misleading in that AMOC is not and never has been the deciding authority on whether or not a wolf stays in the wild. AMOC reviews situations in which management response is needed and when removal is one of the options considered makes recommendations based on an approved procedure and forwards those recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Prior to 2008 the USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, per the 1998 final rule, made the final decision on removal. Since then, the Region 2 director of the USFWS has consulted on such recommendations with the directors of the other five lead agencies participating in AMOC, but ultimately is the sole deciding authority on wolf removal.

Obama, world leaders back delay to final climate deal

U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders on Sunday supported delaying a legally binding climate pact until 2010 or even later, but European negotiators said the move did not imply weaker action. Some argued that legal technicalities might otherwise distract the talks in Copenhagen and it was better to focus on the core issue of cutting climate-warming emissions. "Given the time factor and the situation of individual countries we must, in the coming weeks, focus on what is possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not possible," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the leaders. Rasmussen said the December 7-18 talks should still agree key elements such as cuts in greenhouse gases for industrialised nations and funds to help developing nations. Copenhagen would also set a deadline for writing them into a legal more

Netherlands to levy "green" road tax by the kilometer

The Dutch government plans to bring the polluter-pays principle into the home garage. Rather than an annual road tax for their cars, drivers will soon pay a few cents for every kilometer (mile) on the road, in a plan aimed at breaking chronic traffic jams and cutting carbon emissions, the Cabinet decided Friday. The GPS monitoring system could be a test case for other countries weighing options for easing crowded roads. Some cities like London have created congestion charges to control traffic in downtown areas, but only Singapore has a similar scheme for charging according to the amount of travel. When the plan takes effect in 2012, new car prices will drop as much as 25 percent with the abolition of a purchase tax and the road tax, which now totals more than euro600 ($900) per year for a mid-sized car. Instead, an average passenger car will pay euro0.03 per 1 kilometer ($0.07 per mile), with higher charges levied during rush hour and for traveling on congested roads. Trucks, commercial vehicles and bigger cars emitting more carbon dioxide will be assessed at a higher rate, the Transport Ministry said. The GPS devices installed in cars will track the time, hour and place each car moves and send the data to a billing more

Soon to be coming our way...

Report: Terrain, brush to blame in huge wildfire

The largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history raged out of control because it jumped into inaccessible terrain, not because the U.S. Forest Service scaled back firefighters and aircraft attacking the flames, a federal review found Friday. The U.S. Forest Service study of decision-making during the Station Fire's first three days concluded that commanders used "best professional practices" while trying to knock down the fire that began Aug. 26 in Angeles National Forest. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell ordered the review in September after residents and other critics said firefighters bungled the initial response. Government documents show the number of firefighters had been reduced on the first night of the fire, opening questions about whether commanders misread the threat of a blaze that ultimately killed two firefighters, destroyed 89 homes and blackened 250 square miles on the edge of Los Angeles. But a five-member review group said the challenge corralling the fire was its location - steep, rugged slopes thick with highly flammable brush - not decisions made by firefighters. As the blaze jumped into inaccessible areas, using aircraft to dump water or retardant without ground crews to help out would have been ineffective, the report found. "Additional resources during the evening of Aug. 26 and morning of Aug. 27 would not have improved the effectiveness of operations during that operational period and would have resulted in needless exposure of firefighters to the hazards of wildland fire," the report said. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich challenged the findings, insisting the Forest Service erred by not calling in more aircraft to drop water and fire retardant in the early hours of the fire. Had more aircraft been used, "the fire would not have spread," Antonovich said in a statement more

Clean Water Act 'fix' has major ramifications for state

Can Nevada water wars get any worse? Unfortunately, yes. We don't have endless streams, rivers and estuaries across the desert plain, so our water wars are legendary. At least, though, the fights are within our own borders given that Nevada is the sole authority over how our water is managed, allocated and distributed. But that may not last. The Clean Water Restoration Act pending in Congress right now would institute sweeping new changes to the federal Clean Water Act. Proponents say the changes are needed to "clarify the intent" of the law, but in removing just a single word from the text of the act, advocates of this plan will effectively force the Environmental Protection Agency to claim jurisdiction over every pond, tributary and ditch (that's dry ditches to us) nationwide. As we know, controlling water is controlling land in Nevada. The act has already been introduced and passed through committee on the fast track to the president's desk. If signed into law, the Clean Water Act would be amended to exclude the term "navigable" from the line of the law that gives the EPA regulatory authority over all "navigable waters." Take away that word and what is left is the EPA beginning to regulate all waters of the United more

Surprise: biz group sues to Upgrade a species listing

It’s not every day that a group run by former Bush Administration Interior Department honcho Craig Manson files suit to get the status of a threatened species upgraded to endangered. It’s also not every day that such a group piggybacks on an earlier petition filed by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. But that’s what’s transpiring in the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region in northern California in the ongoing drama over the tiny, threatened Delta smelt. A federal judge in that area has been turning the screws on water pumping in the Delta by farmers to insure more reliable water for the smelt, which has suffered significant declines in recent years. The limits on pumping have reduced supplies by 30 to 50 percent to farmers and also threatened higher water rates for some consumers living in that area. The cutbacks have also pared state water deliveries to already parched Southern California. Now, a group calling itself the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability has filed a suit to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the smelt as endangered instead of threatened. So why the litigation? Manson said in interviews that he would like to see the service go beyond what he calls its “Casablanca approach: Round up the usual suspects” — i.e. — water pumping — in fingering blame for the smelt’s declines. If the smelt is uplisted, the service will have to a new analysis of five factors listed in the ESA, and the analysis must be based on new rather than old data, Manson more

New national park could save high plains in Kansas

In 1987, two Rutgers’ University researchers ignited a prairie fire by suggesting much of the high plains, including a large swath of Kansas farmland, should be returned to its natural state — what they called a Buffalo Commons. The idea, which envisioned parts of 10 prairie states being transformed into a massive short-grass prairie national park, was derided as impractical, impossible and un-American. It was called city-logic. Farmers questioned why the Easterners hadn’t suggested returning New York City to its wild roots. “The idea offended me,” said former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden, once a harsh Buffalo Commons critic. But in the decades since, the population decline that spurred the plan not only continued, but accelerated. The already-stressed Ogallala Aquifer, the sole source of water for much of the region, has dried up faster than anticipated. Irrigated farmland has become dry, low-production farmland. Local economies of the high plains have dwindled. Today, Buffalo Commons — far from threatening an iconic American lifestyle — may instead be a savior to the region. “How do we bring a vital economy to life in northwest Kansas?” Hayden asked recently from his office as Kansas Secretary of Wildlife and Parks. “The model we’re now following has failed. Buffalo Commons makes more sense every year.” more

Adapting to Climate Change - A Short Course for Land Managers

The U.S. Forest Service’s western research stations have released an interactive short course that presents current scientific knowledge on adapting to climate variability in wildland management. Titled “Adapting to Climate Change: A Short Course for Land Managers,” the course is available as a DVD or online at the Climate Change Resource Center ( “It seems especially appropriate that a course on climate change is offered as a Web-based, distance-learning package, which minimizes the carbon costs of connecting scientists and experts with managers,” said Michael Furniss, a PNW Research Station hydrologist who produced and directed the course along with colleagues from the Pacific Southwest and Rocky Mountain Research Stations.

Suspended UI prof repeats sheep claims in journal

A University of Idaho professor suspended from sheep research duties since June has repeated claims that wild bighorns don't catch fatal diseases from domestic sheep, despite pledging not to disseminate information on the issue until the school completes an inquiry into her work. An August interview with Marie Bulgin, head of the UI's Caine Veterinary Teaching and Research Center in Caldwell, appeared in October's edition of The Shepherd: A Guide for Sheep and Farm Life, an industry journal based in New Washington, Ohio. In the story, Bulgin insists there's no proof bighorns die after catching diseases from domestic sheep on the range. "It's the bighorns' own pathogens that are killing them - not something they are picking up from domestic sheep or goats," she is quoted as saying. Wildlife advocates said her comments are virtually identical to those that helped lead to the UI inquiry. It was launched five months ago after environmentalists produced documents showing her research center had gathered evidence that bighorns get deadly disease from domestic sheep on the range since 1994 - a period in which Bulgin had been testifying for the ranching industry in federal court and at the Idaho Legislature that no such documentation more