Friday, February 11, 2011

The Obamafication of Texas - Is Puppy Profiling Legal?

Motorists are already required to carry auto insurance in Texas, the new health care bill requires that every American carry health insurance, and now there's a new mandate in the works---dog insurance. State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) has introduced a bill that would require any Texan who owns a male dog which weighs 20 pounds or more and is not neutered to have an insurance policy covering injuries or damage caused by that dog when it is off the leash or out of the dog's yard, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports. "Unrestrained un-neutered male dogs over 20 pounds have a higher tendency toward aggression," McClendon said...more

Will you have to carry proof of pooch insurance?

Who will conduct the inspections and issue the castration card? TSA?

I wonder what the doggie decuctible will be.

Will conservatives seek to defund the doggie mandate?

What position will the ASPCA take on this issue?

Surely this will discriminates against peaceful but overweight and unneutered dogs. Will waivers be allowed?

Will some states adopt a no-fault neutering policy?

Does the 5th amendment protection against takings apply to dog nuts? Can we expect an onslaught of Testicle Takings cases?

How will this be enforced: is puppy profiling legal?

Please add to the ever-growing questions about this proposal.

Mexican drug cartels hold 12-year-old for ransom – in New Mexico

Thugs working for Mexican drug cartels kidnapped the 12-year-old daughter of a ranch foreman in New Mexico, holding the girl for ransom until her family and neighbors came up with $80,000 for her release. They didn’t dare call law enforcement for help because of very real fears their calls would be monitored by the kidnappers using sophisticated communications relay stations erected on U.S. public lands. That was one of the most shocking stories four congressmen heard last week while visiting hot spots along the New Mexico, Arizona and Texas border, where specific American law enforcement officers are being targeted for assassination and high levels of violence, vandalism and threats against Americans are increasingly common. One rancher showed the lawmakers a photo she had taken on her property of a camo-clad drug runner brandishing an AK-47. “The town hall meeting we held with ranchers in New Mexico was very lively,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., told The Examiner. “The drug smugglers use scanners, cell phones, GPS systems and other equipment that is better than anything Border Patrol or the local deputy sheriffs have. We could actually see them watching our Border Patrol agents from points on high ground” in Mexico...more

State sovereignty at issue in ‘wild lands’ conflict, proposed bill

A member of the Idaho House is proposing a law in the nullification vein regarding designations of wilderness areas. The proposal from Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, comes on the heels of Gov. Butch Otter in a Feb. 3 letter requesting a meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s new “Wild Lands” policy. “As it stands, this policy is seen by many of us as representing a new “War on the West, which I believe is not your intention,” Otter wrote to Obama. “This new policy has the potential for severe economic consequences. Salazar’s secretarial order issued in December calls for the Bureau of Land Management to “protect wilderness characteristics” and to identify parts of the 245 million acres the agency manages in the West that can be handled as de facto wilderness. Otter argues the order flies in the face of the Federal Land Policy Management Act, which establishes a process for state involvement. “The Secretarial Order destroys this process and threatens school funding and jobs at a time that we can least afford such impacts,” wrote Otter...more

Utah, Western Counties Mull Legal Assault on BLM Wilderness Policy

Utah and Wyoming counties are considering a legal challenge to an Interior Department policy ordering field personnel to inventory roadless lands and consider interim protections. The counties, backed by the state of Utah, are meeting in Salt Lake City today to discuss strategies for opposing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "wild lands" policy issued in late December, which orders the Bureau of Land Management to consider wilderness qualities in its resource planning and project-level analyses. The county strategies, according to a Denver-based attorney whose firm has represented a Utah county, could include an amended complaint to an October 2010 lawsuit by Uintah County alleging that Interior had imposed de facto wilderness that stifled oil and gas development on 385,000 acres. "We are definitely seeing if we can't work on amending our old complaint," said Michael Marinovich, an attorney for C.E. Brooks & Associates PC. Today's meeting in Salt Lake City will include input from the Utah Association of Counties, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association and members of Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert's staff, according to an itinerary obtained by Greenwire. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) will also attend the meeting, and Bishop will address the group by speakerphone, he said. Meanwhile, Wyoming counties are raising funds to help pay for public meetings and legal planning, according to the Sublette Examiner in Pinedale, Wyo...more

Utah Natural Resources director compares wolf to ‘T. rex’

Wolves are making a comeback in Utah, having been spotted, trapped, and even in one instance, killed in the state, and the threat to livestock and wildlife could be severe, according to the state’s director of natural resources. Department of Natural Resources Director Michael Styler told a legislative committee Tuesday that the return of the wolves is comparable to “the resurrection of the T. rex and turning him loose on the landscape.” “They’re devastating the wildlife population and they’re also devastating to the livestock population,” he said. “The goal of our anti-grazing, anti-hunting friends, if you can call them friends, is to end grazing and to end hunting, and they have got the perfect biological weapon and that weapon is wolves because they destroy wildlife and they destroy livestock.” Styler said wolves have been seen in the Chalk Creek area in northeastern Utah. He said one wolf was caught in a coyote trap and died, and another was trapped alive and sent back to Yellowstone...more

Book: Lincoln sought to deport freed slaves

The Great Emancipator was almost the Great Colonizer: Newly released documents show that to a greater degree than historians had previously known, President Lincoln laid the groundwork to ship freed slaves overseas to help prevent racial strife in the U.S. Just after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Lincoln authorized plans to pursue a freedmen’s settlement in present-day Belize and another in Guyana, both colonial possessions of Great Britain at the time, said Phillip W. Magness, one of the researchers who uncovered the new documents. Historians have debated how seriously Lincoln took colonization efforts, but Mr. Magness said the story he uncovered, to be published next week in a book, “Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement,” shows the president didn’t just flirt with the idea, as historians had previously known, but that he personally pursued it for some time. “The way that Lincoln historians have grappled with colonization has always been troublesome. It doesn’t mesh with the whole ‘emancipator,’ ” Mr. Magness said. “The revelation of this story changes the picture on that because a lot of historians have tended to downplay colonization. … What we know now is he did continue the effort for at least a year after the proclamation was signed.”...more

Why the Cowboy Code Is Not Frivolous

The other day the Montana State Senate passed SB 216 sponsored by rancher and Senate President Jim Peterson. The bill is simple and direct and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. SB 216 would adopt The Code of the West from the book "Cowboy Ethics" and make it the official Montana Code. "Cowboy Ethics" was written by James Owen, an investment professional who after Enron and the other Wall Street scandals of a few years ago, decided it was time to take a good look at what we had become as a society and individuals. Like me he has a great deal of respect and admiration for the iconic American cowboy and the cowboy way of life. He came up with his "Code of the West" which states some simple common sense principles that not just cowboys but all of us should try to live by. The code includes admonitions such as "Live each day with courage," "Be tough, but fair," "Ride for the brand," and "Know where to draw the line."...more

Song Of The Day #505

We'll close out this week of Western Swing by modern practitioners with two selections. First we'll hear from Jody Nix as he performs the tune written by his dad Hoyle Nix - Big Balls In Cowtown. We'll then go back to Merle Haggard's Tribute album for the song Misery.

I remember seeing Haggard, I believe it was on the Johnny Carson show. Haggard said after doing the song he turned around and there wasn't a dry eye in the band. One of the Texas Playboys told him "that better have been a good take, 'cause we ain't playin' it again."

You can read all about Jody Nix and order his music by going here.

Political Catch Pen 2/11

CNN reports Conservative conference rolls out presidential hopefuls. Also see Conservatives Launch 2012 Race for President from NewsMax and At CPAC forum, potential GOP candidates must navigate social-fiscal tension from the Washington Post.

CHQ also reports Sen. Rand Paul Asks Conservatives at CPAC to Choose “Bold Leadership” in 2012.

Donald Trump at CPAC? Oh yeah, Trump at CPAC: ‘Who Said I’m Pro-Choice?’ and Donald Trump: ObamaCare Is Unconstitutional, Should Be Repealed .

GOP Governors Seem Too Eager To Set Up ObamaCare Exchanges says Jeffrey Anderson.

Tea Party Express names Sen. Ben Nelson as a 'top target' reports CNN.

Lugar to Tea Party: ‘Get Real'; Tea Pary to Lugar: 'Get Lost' says Fox News and in A tale of two Tea Party targets Salon reports on the two different approaches taken by Hatch and Lugar.

CHQ reports Poll Results: Conservative Activists and Tea Partiers Approve of No Vote Against PATRIOT Act

In Conservative group to get 1st new chief in 27 years the Washington Times reports on Alberto Cardenas taking the reins at The American Conservative Union.

ATR says California Group Looks to End Government-Sector Collective Bargaining

Arizona Republican Sen. Kyl Won't Seek Re-Election reports the Arizona Republic.

The AP reports Arizona Governor to Countersue Federal Government for failing to enforce immigration laws.

And NM Watchdog says The AG’s office comes down against Richardson in records flap.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Artificial floods in the Grand Canyon spawn unwanted trout

An artificial flood in the Grand Canyon aimed at building sandbars to protect the endangered humpback chub has led instead to an eight-fold increase in the nonnative fish that is eating the chub -- the rainbow trout. So now, the federal Bureau of Reclamation is proposing to again kill thousands of trout using electroshock, perhaps annually for a span of a decade, and at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers. But at the same time, the bureau proposes more high-flow releases from Glen Canyon Dam, but this time paying closer attention to more than just how sandbars are built up. The flood of water from Glen Canyon Dam in 2008 was meant to build up sandbars for camping sites, protect archaeological resources and provide critical habitat for plants and animals, including the humpback chub. The unanticipated consequence was that the flood cleared the gravel floor just below the dam where rainbow trout lay their nests. As the fish grew, they found themselves competing for limited food, and some moved downstream to fight for the same resources as the humpback chub at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado rivers, said Melis. The rainbow trout that had been declining in numbers since 2001 in the Colorado River rose by 800 percent between 2007 and 2009, he said. The increase followed efforts to remove more than 23,000 rainbow trout from areas where humpback chub thrive...more

Let's see, they're killing owls to protect owls and now they're killing fish to protect fish.

Ranchers better quit saying they are an endangered species.

Oil-Drilling Boom Under Way

Oil-drilling activity in the U.S. has accelerated to a pace not seen in a generation as energy companies, oilfield contractors and landowners rush to exploit newly profitable sources of crude. The number of rigs aiming for oil in the U.S. is the highest since at least 1987, according to Baker Hughes Inc. The 818 rigs tallied by the oilfield-service company last week are nearly double last year's count and about 10 times the number that were drilling for oil in the late 1990s. While the drilling surge is unlikely to yield enough crude to alter the global oil-supply picture, analysts say the new activity, centered on so-called unconventional reservoirs, could greatly boost domestic oil production and help offset declining output in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. These reservoirs, trapped in tight shale-rock formations, were deemed too hard to crack a decade ago. But in the past two years, breakthroughs in drilling technology, combined with the resilience of high oil prices, have led companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Petrohawk Energy Corp. to switch rigs formerly devoted to drilling for natural gas to emerging oilfields like the Eagle Ford shale formation, which stretches from the outskirts of Houston and San Antonio, Texas, south into Mexico...more

Grey wolf to be delisted within two years, biologist thinks

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson told a crowd of more than 50 Wallowa County ranchers that he thinks the grey wolf will be removed from the federal list of endangered species within a year or two. He and service field supervisor Gary Miller from the La Grande field office drew a roomful of Wallowa County ranchers, and other than Stephenson’s opinion about the delisting of the wolf, had little new information to impart at a recent meeting to discuss interactions between livestock and the growing 16 member Imnaha wolf pack. Agency officials planned the meeting to communicate and prepare for spring calving, the season when ranchers saw a high loss of calves to wolves last year in the east county areas. Several east county ranchers told the agency officials that their cattle businesses are suffering because of the added cost of constant welfare checks on the herds. “I’m spending two to three times for fuel to check on my cattle, and I feel I should double or triple that effort. Financially, I don’t know how long I can afford to do that,” one rancher said. “We’re expecting to have some problems this spring and that’s why we’re here,” Stephenson said...more

Montana ranchers strike back at stream access

Ranchers unhappy with state stream access law are moving a bill through the Legislature that tinkers with irrigation ditch rules despite strong resistance from anglers. The Republican majority in the House mustered up enough votes Wednesday to endorse the measure 55-44. The bill opens up an issue decided by the Supreme Court in 2008 declaring that a slough that runs through the Bitterroot Valley property of 1980s rocker Huey Lewis and others is a public waterway and open to recreational use under the state stream access law. The 16-mile-long Mitchell Slough splits from the Bitterroot River at Corvallis and rejoins it near Stevensville. It has been in dispute for years by anglers who say it is a side channel they have fished for years and landowners who argue it is a private ditch or canal. The state's stream access law says that Montana rivers and streams are open to all if reached from public property, even if they eventually flow through private land. House Bill 309 supporters say they need to make sure such irrigation ditches are not open to public access. They argue the court ruling upset the balance struck with the state's original stream access law 25 years ago. "They are designed to irrigate, not recreate," said Rep. Jeff Welborn, a Republican rancher from Dillon...more

Accused Boston mobster was living as Idaho rancher

An accused Boston mobster posing as a rancher and living under an assumed name in a small Idaho farm town pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to attempted murder, racketeering and a raft of other federal charges, authorities said. Enrico M. Ponzo, 42, was a member of La Cosa Nostra in New England when he fled Boston in 1994 after being accused of drug crimes, according to the FBI. Ponzo on Wednesday waived his right to a federal hearing in Idaho over his identity, admitting he was the fugitive from Boston and not Jeffrey John Shaw, the alias he adopted while living in Idaho, said Christian Nafzger, assistant U.S. attorney in Boise. Ponzo asked a federal judge to allow him to travel to Boston to face charges, Nafzger said. The government will argue in U.S. District Court Friday that Ponzo should remain in custody and be transported by federal marshals to Massachusetts...more

Song Of The Day #505

It's Western Swing Week on Ranch Radio featuring modern renditions.

In 1960-1961 Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan were reunited and cut 47 sides for Liberty Records. Two of my favorites from these sessions are Ida Red and Goodnight Little Sweetheart, Goodnight. Their big hit from these sessions was Heart to Heart Talk which has already been featured on Ranch Radio.

Those 1960-1961 sessions plus a Bob Wills only session from 1963 are on the 3 CD box set Encore.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

BLM denies request to change coal leasing process

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has denied a petition by environmental groups to change its process for selling access to the nation's most productive coal deposits. Since 1990, the government has allowed the coal industry to nominate deposits it wishes to mine in the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana. Such deposits typically are located next to existing strip mines in the basin. At auction, the leases seldom attract more than one bidder apiece — the company that already has been mining next to the leases. In 2009, the groups WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club asked the BLM to change the policy so the BLM alone would decide which coal reserves to sell. Such a change would help create more competition for the leases while improving oversight of coal's contribution to climate change, the groups said...more

What’s Behind Judge Molloy’s Questioning of ‘Experimental’ Status for Wolves?

Late last month, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy asked attorneys for wildlife management agencies and environmental groups to answer this question: Can the Northern Rockies wolf population still be considered an “experimental” population, or has there been enough cross-breeding with Canadian wolves to declare there’s no danger of genetic isolation or inbreeding? The answer may be critically important, because the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-90s was predicated on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling those wolves an “experimental, non-essential species.” This designation not only allowed wolves to be reintroduced to the tri-state region of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, it also gave the FWS the flexibility to essentially consider the wolves a large-scale experiment in reintroduction. Without that designation as experimental, the wolves would have fallen under the full protection of the Endangered Species Act and could not be so readily killed when they got into conflicts with livestock...more

Lawmakers keep aim on wolves

Montana’s congressional delegation is keeping the federally-protected gray wolf in its crosshairs. Sen. Jon Tester fired off a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asking for regulated hunting of wolves to control numbers. Meanwhile, Rep. Denny Rehberg introduced two bills that would remove wolves from Endangered Species Act protection. Tester said in a recent phone interview that it’s a big issue among Montanans. “We hear a lot of different issues but it’s a concern to me because we visited with a number of folks on it,” Tester, who chairs the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, told The Western News. “It’s a concern and a problem that needs to get fixed.” The senator’s letter to Salazar requested the reinstatement of a gray wolf conservation hunt in Montana. “A regulated hunt of wolves is well within the scope of the Endangered Species Act and will enhance the management of wolves in the state and throughout the region,” Tester wrote to Salazar. “It will reduce actual and perceived pressure from this species on Montana’s ecosystem and agricultural economy while honoring our state’s hunting heritage.” Rehberg’s legislation seeks to completely remove federal management of wolves. In one bill – co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) – wolves would be completely removed from federal protection with management authority returning to Montana and Idaho. The other bill would remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act anywhere in the United States. Rehberg said the issue has seen bipartisan support. “The gray wolf isn’t endangered, which is why Republicans and Democrats alike are joining forces to end the misuse of the Endangered Species Act to advance extremist policy agendas,” said Rehberg, a rancher from Billings...more

Killing barred owls considered to help spotted owls

Federal wildlife officials looking to protect the spotted owl will likely recommend shooting the endangered species' biggest threat - a larger, more aggressive type of owl - according to a newspaper report. Along with habitat loss, barred owls are the biggest threat to spotted owls, which are federally protected. That sets up a wrenching decision splitting wildlife biologists and environmentalists. "There's no winner in that debate," said Bob Sallinger, conservation director with the Portland Audubon Society. A draft environmental impact statement to be ready by summer most likely will recommend shooting the larger owls, according to The Oregonian. Over the next year, 1,200 to 1,500 barred owls in three or more study areas from Washington to northern California might be killed under the plan. The 2010 spotted owl recovery plan, to be released in mid-February, concluded "barred owl removal should be initiated as soon as possible."...more

I guess you would expect this from Obama. I mean isn't this wildlife socialism?

A Wildlife Crossing That's Truly Wild

More than a million animals are killed each year trying to cross the road in the United States -- far more than just the proverbial deer in the headlights. Black bears, coyotes, bighorn rams, and panthers are among the frequent victims on American highways, and vehicle crashes are considered a major threat to the survival of 21 threatened and endangered species. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would build something to help, like, say… a football-field-sized overpass covered with trees and other vegetation that would let wildlife safely cross a six-lane highway? That’s exactly what a team of landscape architects, engineers, and ecologists have proposed for a stretch of Interstate 70 between Vail and Denver, Colorado, known as the West Vail Pass. Their wildlife bridge was selected last month in a competition sponsored by the Western Transportation Institute and the Woodcock Foundation to help reduce animal-vehicle collisions. Now it’s up to the Colorado Department of Transportation whether the $8 million project will be incorporated into its future building plans. OnEarth spoke with Robert Rock, a landscape architect with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in New York, about his team’s winning design...more

That crossing looks like it would be a good place to hunt.

Rare ocelot spotted in southern Arizona

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials report that a rare ocelot was observed this morning in the Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona. A man told Game and Fish officers that his dogs began barking at a cat-like animal which quickly climbed a tree. He drew closer and suspected that the small spotted cat might be an ocelot. An ocelot is a rare and endangered species of cat. The man called Game and Fish and an officer responded to the site and confirmed that it was, in fact, an ocelot. The officer did a non-intrusive, visual inspection of the animal from the ground near the tree, and the animal appeared to be healthy. There was no indication that there had been any dog-to-cat direct interaction, as no wounds were visible on any animal. Once the final confirmation was determined, the officer directed that all humans and dogs retreat from the area, and the ocelot, apparently unharmed, was allowed to go on his way...more

Safeguarding Sage Grouse and Their Elaborate Courtship Dance

When permanent settlement began in the West some 16 million greater sage grouse lived on the steppes of the high plains. There may now be as few as 200,000 of these ground-dwelling birds, famous for their elaborate courtship dance, and they are on the decline, hit especially hard by oil and gas development. Their dwindling numbers warrant protection as an endangered species, federal officials say. Because other species need listing first, though, and because protections for endangered species are widely reviled in the West, a unique way of managing the birds is under way. The Sage Grouse Initiative, a project administered by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, targets for protection three-quarters of the birds on about a quarter of total sage grouse habitat. Officials call it a triage approach to conservation — protecting land where habitat is mostly intact and ignoring much of the land that has been degraded by energy development and other things. The effort is also unique because it covers so much land — some 56 million acres across 11 Western states. Nothing near this scale has been done with a species in trouble. The project received $18 million last year and $30 million this year from the conservation service. Last week, the conservation service announced the addition of $23 million to buy conservation easements on core habitat...more

‘Very rare or uncommon' repeal bill stirs debate

Legislation moving through the Wyoming Senate would strip the Environmental Quality Council of its power to give environmental protections to areas of the state that it deems to be “very rare or uncommon.” Supporters of House Bill 152, which passed the House last week, say the designation is out of date and that the EQC has abused its power to designate such areas, which then become off limits to any non-coal surface mining. But opponents say the designation is a needed tool in the fight to preserve important natural and historic landmarks in Wyoming. Since 1973, the EQC has designated 10 sites as “very rare or uncommon,” including Fort Phil Kearny and the Fetterman Battle sites in Sheridan County and Bessemer Mountain in Natrona County. Most of the sites listed are no larger than a few thousand acres. But, in 2007, the EQC controversially gave “very rare or uncommon” status to 180,000 acres of mostly federal land in the Adobe Town area of the Red Desert. Last year, after years of debate, the council denied a petition to give the designation to about 17,000 acres of federal land in the Sand Creek area of Crook County...more

Will illegal Utah trail become legal?

A southeastern Utah ATV trail illegally built by two Blanding men may yet become a legitimate motorized route for people who want to view ancient cliff dwellings. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering a San Juan County application for the right of way in Recapture Canyon. Such a prospect outrages people who prefer to protect archaeological sites by keeping them remote. They can’t understand why the BLM would reward a criminal action that last month resulted in $35,000 in fines to the trail builders. But many residents in Blanding and San Juan County see reopening the illegal trail — and making it legal — as key to unlocking the region’s historic wonders for locals and tourists. The key attractions are the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, well away from the trail, said Bob Turri, a Monticello off-roader who represents the county in occasional negotiations with the BLM and competing groups. He doesn’t see the risk of much looting or vandalism, because few ever climbed to the sites before the government closed the trail in 2007...more

County drawn into midvalley trail dispute

Pitkin County commissioners, drawn into a legal dispute between two midvalley landowners over use of a route to access grazing land on the Crown, on Tuesday urged both parties to settle their disagreement outside a courtroom. The conflict drew both landowners to the commissioners' meeting room Tuesday to explain their positions and, suggested assistant county attorney Chris Seldin, help commissioners decide what stand the county should take as a defendant in the lawsuit spawned by the dispute. The county's position will be determined in a closed session later, he said. Tom Waldeck, owner of Emma Farms, the former Cerise Ranch in Emma, has filed a “quiet title” action in court, claiming a prescriptive easement on about 300 yards of rough road that crosses the neighboring Happy Day Ranch. The road allows him to drive his cattle between his ranch and a grazing allotment on the Crown, a mass of land that separates El Jebel and Mount Sopris. The two ranches are located at the corner of Emma Road and Hooks Lane. Ginny Parker and her family, owners of Happy Day Ranch, say former owners of what is now Emma Farms used the route with the Parkers' permission, which would mean Waldeck has no claim to a prescriptive right to the road — one gained through more than 20 years of repeated use without the owner's consent. The county finds itself involved because its Open Space and Trails program holds a conservation easement on 25 acres of the Happy Day Ranch, as does the Aspen Valley Land Trust...more

Grazing fees announced

The federal grazing fee for 2011 will be $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the Forest Service. The 2011 fee is the same as last year's. An AUM or HM — treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes — is the occupancy and use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly calculated grazing fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service. Under a presidential executive order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year's level.

ND/SD bison ranch owned by Fla. man in trouble again

Authorities have impounded as many as 6,000 bison at a ranch belonging to a millionaire businessman on the North Dakota-South Dakota border after animals died and others were struck by vehicles when they escaped the facility in search of food, a sheriff said Tuesday. Thirteen bison have been found dead at the ranch owned by real estate developer Maurice Wilder, of Clearwater, Fla., sheriffs say. Three animals involved in vehicle collisions in South Dakota have been destroyed, and officials on both sides of the border expect to find more bison carcasses once the snow melts. Corson (S.D.) County Sheriff Keith Gall said passers-by and neighboring ranchers notified authorities that bison at Wilder's ranch could be neglected and starving to death. He said South Dakota authorities have been caring for the bison herd under a court order since Feb. 2. Gall said the county has spent more than $50,000 in the past week tending the bison in harsh winter conditions and will continue to do so until a judge determines the herd's fate. The county has purchased hay and has hired snowplow crews to keep ranch roads open for access to the animals. Wilder, whose ranch spans some 35,000 acres in the Dakotas, did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press on Tuesday...more

National Basque Monument in Rancho San Rafael Park hit by vandals

A monument in Rancho San Rafael Park has been vandalized, and now detectives are calling it a grand larceny case. In 1989, more than 2,000 people gathered in the park to see the unveiling of the National Basque Monument. It's a tribute to the Basque sheep-herders and ranchers who helped settle the area. Now, more than 20 years later, vandals have broken off, and stolen, the five bronze plaques which are part of the monument. It is believed the thieves may be looking to sell the heavy bronze pieces. Washoe County Parks volunteer Mark Mansmith says he is disgusted with the destruction. "This is an important artwork for Nevada's history as well as the Basque sheep-herders history, in addition, this is supposed to be a pristine park for families to come here and they don't want to witness this kind of destruction," said Mansmith...more

Song Of The Day #504

Ranch Radio continues Western Swing Week and highlighting modern performers with steel guitar virtuoso Buddy Emmons and his version of New Road Under My Wheels.

My version is from a 1976 LP but in 2008 Rounder Records issued a 12 track CD of Buddy Emmons sings Bob Wills.

Political Catch Pen 2/9

Ronald Reagan: Father of the Tea Party writes Warner Todd Huston

The Daily Caller reports Move to extend Patriot Act under suspended rules fails in House. A second attempt under different rules is expected before they expire on Feb. 28.

The Tea Party Review, the first national magazine "for, by, and about the Tea Party movement" will make it's debut at CPAC reports the NY Times.

In States to Washington: Follow the Constitution Bob Unruh writes about state legislative reactions to the federal behemoth.

The Hill reports Blue Dog Dems might support Republican budget cuts

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity has a new video: Four Reasons Why Big Government Is Bad Government

A House Committee releases The top five Obama regulations that American businesses hate most.

Ditching unwritten rules for freshmen, Paul does it his way reports The Hill about Senator Rand Paul.

Given Obama's 733 waivers to his political cronies this author asks Are Health-Care Waivers Unconstitutional?

Well, being up for re-election Hatch 'invited himself' to Tea Party town hall.

Is the CPAC Schism Really About Attacking Ron Paul? asks Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative.

Ron Paul is spending time in Iowa.

A conservative coalition is seeking to defund unspent stimulus dollars.

Two legislators introduce The Open Records Access Act which would remove former Gov. Bill Richardson's 8-year seal on his personal and public records. Former legislator John Grubesic says you can't seal the truth.

Human Events says caveat emptor in Beware of the RINO (Reagan In Name Only)

CNN reports on the First Tea Party Town Hall.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bench trial begins in case of boy killed by bear

Lawyers on Monday called on a U.S. District Court judge to award $2 million to the parents of Samuel Ives, who was killed in 2007 by a bear in American Fork Canyon. During the first day of a bench trial in a lawsuit against the U.S. government and the U.S. Forest Service, Allen Young -- an attorney for Ives's parents Kevan Francis and Rebecca Ives -- said that the government had failed to protect the public, and that the 11-year-old boy's death should have been prevented. They said the bear that killed Ives had attacked another camper, who had subsequently warned authorities. And ultimately, they argued, the case was about breached duty and its tragic consequences. "We think this is a fairly straightforward case of negligence," Young said. Defense attorneys countered that the government did not have a duty to warn visitors beyond the signs already posted in the area, and that it was not liable for Ives's death. Young first called to the stand Jake Francom, 30, who was attacked by a bear one day before Ives was killed. Francom said that about four hours after the attack he left American Fork Canyon and called emergency dispatch to report the attack. Later, he said, he learned from a TV news report that Ives had been killed by a bear. He said the bear that killed Ives looked like the one that attacked him...more

Copper Mine Battle Heats Up in Arizona

In a lawsuit filed Monday against the U.S. Forest Service, a coalition of conservation and business groups has asked a federal district court to halt the agency’s “violation of the law” in its preparation of an “environmental impact statement” for the proposed Rosemont Mine in southeast Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains The draft impact statement is expected to be published this month. Copper - used in everything from hybrid vehicles to computers - is the mineral everyone seems to want and multiple new mine projects have been proposed or are at different stages of development in the area. A November 2009 report from Arizona State University concluded that the Rosemont Mine would stimulate a total of $15 billion in new economic output for the region over the life of the mine, including an average of 2,100 jobs annually. According to Rosemont Copper, the project is expected to yield 221 million pounds of copper annually and approximately 15,000 ounces of gold as a by-product over the mine’s 20-year life span. Yesterday’s lawsuit alleges the Forest Service violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires the federal agency be open to public participation. The suit alleges Coronado National Forest allowed representatives of Rosemont Copper to actively participate in closed-door meetings held since early 2009, excluding members of the public. The lawsuit requests that the court force the Forest Service to produce public records of those meetings, requested under the Freedom of Information Act in September 2010 by the Center for Biological Diversity...more

Gov. Herbert: 'Up for the fight' with Salazar on wild lands issue

Gov. Gary Herbert assured a packed room of people representing rural issues that he is "not going to sit still and take" Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's policy shift directing a reinventory of public lands to determine if some are "wild." "This was a real significant blow, mainly because I got blindsided," he told those gathered Friday at the Utah State Capitol for the inaugural Rural Legislative Day. "I'm up for the fight. We have three arrows in our quiver" that are first and foremost negotiation, which he says he prefers, and then legislation such as the Washington County Lands bill that brokered a ground-up, locally driven compromise on wilderness protections, and finally, litigation. "I am not afraid to use all three of them as necessary," Herbert said. Concern over Salazar's December order that state Bureau of Land Management offices begin a reinventory of its lands — particularly with an eye for "wild" characteristics — dominated the discussion during the meeting, underscoring a heightened sense of ambiguity when it comes to what is, and is not, an allowed use on public lands...more

"This was a real significant blow, mainly because I got blindsided,"

What the hell does that mean? If Salazar had told him about it before it was announced to the public would his position have been different?

Come on Guv, how about a little what's right and what's wrong rather than how you feel you've been treated.

Is A Public-Private Wyoming Range Agreement the Future of Conservation Deals?

An agreement struck between private citizens and a Texas-based oil and gas company looking to drill on public land in Wyoming may become a model for other environmentally sensitive areas facing increased drilling across the Rocky Mountain West. While many pieces remain undecided in the proposal to develop 136 wells in the Wyoming Range west of Pinedale, Wyoming, it appears similar agreements reached between private parties—and outside of the public process for approving oil and gas drilling— are becoming more common. These deals, often struck between conservation groups and industry, do not replace the federally mandated public review process, which requires companies interested in drilling on public land to submit a plan to federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. That plan is then evaluated and tweaked through a series of studies, reports and public comments to fit the land and wildlife, as well as users such as wildlife advocates, hunters, ranchers or recreationists. Some see it as sleeping with the enemy, but some environmental organizations are finding ways for more people to get what they want by negotiating with companies directly, making outside deals that run parallel to the stipulations set by federal agencies...more

2 Mexican Wolves Released Into the Wild

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), along with its partners in the Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, White Mountain Apache Tribe, USDA Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services, and with cooperation from Apache and Greenlee counties and other local stakeholders – released an adult male Mexican wolf (M1049) and translocated an adult female (F1105), into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) last week. “This first wolf release of 2011 is just one of the actions we are undertaking to increase the number of Mexican wolves on the ground,” said Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The Service is committed to having a genetically-viable, self-sustaining population of Mexican wolves living in their former range. Our partners share that commitment, and –thanks to their support and the hard work of our Interagency Field Team – we’re moving toward making that vision a reality.” The release and translocation of these two wolves into separate areas of the BRWRA went off without a hitch. They ran off into the snow to begin the next chapter of their lives, hopefully producing many pups over the years...more

Gripes over EPA in responses to Darrell Issa

EPA rules dominated the responses that House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa released Monday from more than 160 companies, industry trade associations and conservative think tanks asked about whether regulations harm jobs. More than 100 responses mention EPA rules, including those controlling greenhouse gas emissions. But also mentioned were a range of other agency rules covering air toxic controls for industrial boilers, Clean Water Act pesticide permits, dust regulation, mountaintop mining, Chesapeake Bay pollution and ground-level ozone, or smog. Thirty respondents targeted EPA's so-called "tailoring rule" targeting large emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, such as power plants and refiners. Twenty-three respondents referred to EPA's overall ability to target greenhouse gas emissions, including from tailpipes. Another 23 targeted EPA's proposed rules for smog; 20 mentioned EPA lead restrictions; eight targeted EPA nitrogen oxide controls and six went after EPA sulfur dioxide regulations. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Jan. 10 response read: “Unfortunately, the list of recent Federal regulatory actions that have had or may have a negative economic impact on the agriculture sector is long.” Among its grievances, the farm bureau mentions instances in which EPA has used unilateral settlement agreements with environmental organizations to achieve policy ends outside the normal rule-making process. “This is a serious matter that deserves the committee’s scrutiny and we would urge that you share your findings with the House Judiciary Committee,” wrote the group’s president, Bob Stallman...more

A contemptuous administration

The Obama administration doesn’t hide its contempt for Congress, independent agencies, watchdog groups, the media and whistle-blowers. Now a federal judge has found the administration in contempt of court. It’s about time. The case, Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Salazar, centers on a company challenging the moratorium on deep-water drilling imposed after the BP oil spill. On June 22, U.S. District Judge Martin L.C.Feldman ordered Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar not to enforce the moratorium because it appeared “arbitrary and capricious and, therefore, unlawful.” The 5thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order. Mr. Salazar got around the injunction by rewording a few technical terms and issuing a second moratorium four days later. Even after that second moratorium was lifted on Oct. 12, no deep-water and only a few shallow-water permits have been issued. Suffering from loss of business, Hornbeck asked Judge Feldman to force the government to pay its attorneys fees, and on Wednesday he agreed on the basis that the administration was in civil contempt. “Each step the government took following the Court‘s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” the judge wrote. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium … provides this Court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt.” When the executive branch is in contempt, it tempts a constitutional confrontation. In this drilling case, more than a balanced separation of powers is at stake; our faltering economy is involved too...more

Protesters march against Forest Service

Unsatisfied with progress being made through government channels, members of the public took matters into their own hands Friday, participating in a protest march against U.S. Forest Service actions on public lands. Carrying picket signs and banners, more than 100 people marched from the intersection of Colorado highways 145 and 184 to the Dolores Public Lands Office, where a short rally was held to express public dissatisfaction with road closures and policy changes on public lands. The event was organized by Doug and Kim Maxwell and Louie and Hellen Edwards. Officers from the Colorado State Patrol and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office monitored the route. “It’s one right after another the government is taking away, and it has got to stop,” Doug Maxwell said before the march began. “We want to possibly get national attention to the issue and get the whole nation to wake up to what is going on.” Public discontent with Forest Service decisions has been growing in the wake of the release of the Mancos-Cortez and Rico-West Dolores travel management plans over the last four years. The fervor reached a new pitch last fall when the Forest Service released the Boggy-Glade travel management plan, which called for the elimination of motorized cross country travel and game retrieval and the closure of 155 miles of Forest Service roads...more

Judge strikes down US Forest Service travel plan

A federal judge has struck down the plan designed to oversee motorized vehicle use on hundreds of miles of trails in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The ruling issued Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush deals a blow for those who use all-terrain vehicles to explore the mountains and backcountry in eastern and central Idaho. The judge determined the plan written by federal forest officials failed to adequately protect natural resources and fully comply with environmental laws. The plan was challenged in court last year by a coalition of environmental groups. They argued the plan gave too much access to ATVs and other vehicles that can cause damage to established trails, wetlands, vegetation and stream banks. AP

ATV-riding hunters want backcountry trail access

Some Idaho hunters who prefer to mount all-terrain vehicles to pursue their big-game quarry are chafing at Department of Fish and Game restrictions on where they can ride. Under current hunting regulations, the state requires armed hunters who head out onto public land in about a third of Idaho's 99 hunting units to stick to established roads, while keeping away from off-road vehicle or jeep trails and areas that are otherwise open to unarmed recreational ATV riders. The agency says this is to protect big-game herds from the advantage afforded hunters aboard swift, powerful ATVs — and because some hunters who don't use them have complained about the disturbance, as well as violations of the "fair chase" ethic. On Monday, angry ATV riders told the combined Senate and House resource committees during a hearing at the Capitol in Boise they see the state agency in cahoots with the federal government to limit their access to public lands. "Idaho Fish and Game has a secret agenda," said Danny Cone, a hunter from Fruitland in western Idaho. "They're basically in a conspiracy with the U.S. Forest Service." The all-terrain vehicle riders are getting help from Mountain Home Republican Sen. Tim Corder, who wants to strip the state wildlife management agency of much of its authority to regulate where hunters can steer their ATVs on state, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management territory...more

Meetings on possible Forest Service firearm hunting ban set

The U.S. Forest Service has rescheduled public meetings to discuss a proposed ban on firearm hunting and snowmobile use in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Detroit-area lawyer Kurt Meister successfully argued before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that officials favored hunters and snowmobilers over hikers, birders and people who enjoy the quiet of the outdoors when they drew up the forest's 2006 management plan. The Forest Service now must revisit the issue. It scheduled hearings for last week but they were canceled because of a winter storm. The meetings will take place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southfield and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Causeway Bay Hotel in Lansing. The forest covers about 1 million acres. AP

Judge reverses Mount Taylor designation

The designation of Mount Taylor as a “traditional cultural property” has been overturned by Fifth Judicial District Court Judge William Shoobridge. “The final order entered is reversed and remanded to the Cultural Properties Review Committee to designate Mount Taylor a Traditional Cultural Property,” Judge Shoobridge concluded in his opinion late last week. The judge heard the case in December as plaintiffs hoped to overturn a ruling by the CPRC that allowed nearly 700 square miles on Mount Taylor to have protection under the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act. Plaintiffs included private landowners on the mountain, several uranium mining companies, Public Lands Commissioner Patrick Lyons and the Cebolleta Land Grant. The defendants were the CPRC and the Pueblo of Acoma. It appears the plaintiffs attorney's argument “size does not matter,” convinced the judge. In December, Micahel Moffett, attorney for the petitioners, argued the Mount Taylor acreage was too large to qualify for TPC designation under the act. Shoobridge said, “The court finds that the sweeping designation of between 660 to 819 square miles of New Mexico raw land cannot reasonably be inspected and maintained by the CPRC as required by state law.” The judge also noted three other problem areas in his ruling: the property designation was “flexible and on-going,” resulting in not having integrity of location; errors in notifying interested parties, specifically mineral owners; and that the Cebolleta Land Grant should not be included as a contributing property...more

Rooster Kills Man Attending Cockfight

A California man attending a cockfight has died after being stabbed in the leg by a bird that had a knife attached to its own limb. The Kern County coroner says 35-year-old Jose Luis Ochoa was declared dead at a hospital about two hours after he suffered the injury in neighboring Tulare County on Jan. 30. An autopsy concluded Ochoa died of an accidental “sharp force injury” to his right calf. Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt says it’s unclear if a delay in seeking medical attention contributed to Ochoa’s death. Tulare officials are investigating, and no arrests were made at the cockfight. Cockfighting is a sport, illegal in the United States, in which specially bred roosters are put into a ring and encouraged to fight until one is incapacitated or killed. AP

Song Of The Day #503

Ranch Radio continues with modern practitioners of Western Swing. Today's selection is Bring It On Down To My House Honey by Asleep At The Wheel.

The tune is on their 18 track CD Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Water shortage grips El Paso: Schools, businesses forced to close again

A water crisis in El Paso continues today, causing schools to close, car washes and other businesses to shut down and authorities mandating that residents curb water use for a third day. El Paso Water Utilities officials are trying to replenish reservoirs to normal levels in the aftermath of a winter storm that paralyzed the city last week. "I think (in) the best possible circumstances, and if we have good cooperation, in 24 hours we should be back in a reasonable situation," John Balliew, vice president of operations and technical services for the water utility, said Sunday. "If people don't cooperate, and they continue using water and watering their lawn and so forth, it can extend for several days." Mayor John Cook on Sunday declared a "water emergency" because of the low reservoir levels caused by a combination of factors following several days of sharply freezing temperatures last week. The mayor's emergency declaration allows El Paso Water Utilities to shut off water to car washes, laundromats and industrial water users (such as garment plants) that do not comply with the mandatory restrictions...more

Report Backs 1900-Mile Canadian Oil Pipeline to Gulf Coast

A proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast could substantially reduce U.S. dependency on oil from the Middle East and other regions, according to a report commissioned by the Obama administration. The study suggests the 1,900-mile pipeline, coupled with a reduction in overall U.S. oil demand, "could essentially eliminate Middle East crude imports longer term." The $7 billion project would carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas. The report, prepared by a Massachusetts firm at the request of the U.S. Energy Department, was completed Dec. 23 and made public this week, as President Barack Obama prepares to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday at the White House. The project's developer, Calgary-based TransCanada, hailed the report by EnSys Energy & Systems Inc. The so-called Keystone XL pipeline -- which doubles the capacity of an existing pipeline from Canada -- is projected to produce more than 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil derived from formations of sand, clay and water in western Canada...more

Mr. President, You’re in Contempt

Anyone who has ever watched Law & Order knows that someone is held in contempt of court when they egregiously disrespect the role of the court and the rule of law. Holding someone in contempt is a powerful sanction in a judge’s arsenal to redress an intentional disregard for the law and the courts. So it is no small matter when yesterday Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman held the Obama Interior Department in contempt of court for dismissively ignoring his ruling to cease the job-killing drilling moratorium imposed by President Obama last year. Feldman wrote: “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this Court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt of this Court’s preliminary injunction order.” President Obama first ordered the halt of offshore drilling in response to the BP oil spill in April 2010. While some reasonable observers concluded that a temporary stoppage was necessary to assess the status of safe drilling operations in the Gulf, nearly nobody has supported the permanent moratorium the Obama administration has since enforced. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) publicly testified against the administration’s needless moratorium, and even the president’s hand-picked drilling commission opposed it. Former EPA Chief and Commission Co-Chair William Reilly said: “If there’s a single point of consensus as we’ve been down here, it’s that the moratorium is doing very significant economic damage to this area.” In fact, Obama’s moratorium isn’t merely hurting a local economy, but the national economy of the United States. Gas prices are rising, jobs are being lost, service industries are suffering and the government is losing much-needed royalty revenue as a result of this capricious act...more

Permitorium: 103 Gulf of Mexico Drilling Plans Await Government Approval

As oil prices continue to climb, a backlog of more than 100 offshore drilling plans for the Gulf of Mexico are awaiting approval from the Obama administration, according to federal data. The federal government has not approved a single new exploratory drilling plan in the Gulf of Mexico since lifting its deepwater drilling moratorium on Oct. 12. There are currently 103 plans awaiting review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. The information reveals that the Obama administration — not the oil industry — is the culprit for the slowdown of drilling activity in the Gulf. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for more than 25 percent of domestic oil production. “These new findings prove that BOEMRE cannot claim it isn’t receiving job-creating plans from oil exploration and production companies,” said Gregory Rusovich, chairman of the Business Council of Greater New Orleans and the River Region. “The plans are there. Until BOEMRE reviews the 103 plans awaiting approval, our economy’s stability remains in jeopardy.”...more

Enviro groups slam legislation blocking EPA regs as 'serious health setback'

When Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this week to block efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon, environmental groups pushed back hard. And this time, the groups stepped up their efforts by attempting to shift the argument from being about climate change science and green jobs to public health safety. In a press release sent out Thursday, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attacked the proposal as a “serious health setback.” When contacted by The Daily Caller, an NRDC spokesperson referred to a 2008 NRDC fact sheet that lists health risks from carbon dioxide that include a more intense “allergenic pollen season” and an increase in droughts and floods. Even Democrats on the Hill have taken up the argument shift to public health. n an interview with TheDC, Joe D’Aleo, a meteorologist and executive director of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project (ICECAP), called the public health argument “nonsense” and “absolutely ludicrous.” “Since we emit 2.7 pounds of CO2 per person per day from respiration, it is clearly not harmful,” said D’Aleo. He also pointed out that in classrooms, auditoriums, and especially submarines, carbon dioxide levels are always higher than they are in the open air. “And they don’t die in submarines from carbon dioxide,” said D’Aleo...more

Anti-Energy Agenda Could Cause More Rolling Blackouts

Although the following examples are not all related to electricity use, the following stories showcase the misguided anti-energy agenda from the Obama Administration.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will start regulating emissions from new power plants and major expansions of large greenhouse-gas-emitting-plants that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. This has led to a contentious battle between the state of Texas and the EPA over new permits that have been issued. A number of states, businesses, and industry groups filed lawsuits, mostly on the grounds that the EPA’s 2009 endangerment finding did not include conclusive evidence that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health and public welfare.
  • The EPA recently revoked a coal-mining permit in West Virginia. Pulling a previously issued clean water permit is a clear affront to the coal industry and sets a dangerous precedent moving forward. Having a regulator that is willing to seemingly arbitrarily obstruct energy development projects will have a drastic negative impact on expanding domestic energy sources. A number of groups—including National Realtors Association, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association—have already expressed concern to the White House after the EPA revoked the permit, writing that “every similarly valid permit held by any entity—businesses, public works agencies and individual citizens—will be in increased regulatory limbo and potentially subject to the same unilateral, after-the-fact revocation.”
  • Shell Oil nixed its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea in 2011, citing the EPA’s egregious regulatory delays. Vice president of Shell Alaska Pete Slaiby said at a press conference, “We’ve been trying to [obtain] an air permit for five years … and now the continuous regulatory delays have forced us to make a decision … to forgo drilling in 2011.”
  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is sitting on 103 exploratory drilling permits.
  • Obama Administration rescinded drilling permits already issued in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska and in December announced that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will not be part of the government’s 2012–2017 Outer Continental Shelf program.
  • On natural gas, the EPA evasively posted a new rule on hydraulic fracturing that requires a company to obtain permits if the company uses diesel when fracking. The EPA ignored the process of posting the rule in the Federal Register and completely forwent the comment period...more

Anatomy of a Gas Well: What Happened When a Well Was Drilled in a National Forest

A new report [1] by the U.S. Forest Service offers one of the most detailed accounts yet of how natural gas drilling can affect a forest – in this case the Fernow Experimental Forest, deep in the mountains of West Virginia. The report traces the construction and drilling of a single well and an accompanying pipeline on a sliver of the 4,700 acre forest that federal scientists have been studying for nearly 80 years. It found that the project felled or killed about 1,000 trees, damaged roads, eroded the land and—perhaps most important—permanently removed a small slice of the forest from future scientific research. The report said the drilling didn’t appear to have a substantial effect on groundwater quality. The scientists did not monitor the forest’s most sensitive ecosystems, including extensive caves, and did not evaluate the operation’s impact on wildlife. The authors also did not test for any of the chemicals added to drilling and hydraulic fracturing fluids. The report, and the well in question, hints at a larger story of the tensions that have emerged as drilling expands across federal lands in the eastern United States...more

USDA: Farmers Can Plant Genetically Modified Beets

The federal government says it will allow farmers to plant genetically modified sugar beets while it finishes work on a full environmental impact statement on the beets' effect on other crops and the environment. Farmers had been waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finish its work and made a decision about deregulation of the beets. They feared if a decision wouldn't come in time for spring planting. The USDA said Friday it will partially deregulate the beets while it finishes the study. It says the beets designed to withstand the weedkiller Roundup won't jeopardize other crops if planted under certain conditions. Paul Atchitoff of Earthjustice says farmers will just do whatever they want after Friday's decision and his group will file a lawsuit to stop the partial deregulation. AP

Ranchers accuse meatpackers of price-fixing

Great herds of elk once grazed the rolling grasslands of California’s coast and Sierra foothills. Today, it is cattle grazing on private ranches that preserves 20 million acres of incomparable landscape. The ranches are under pressure from many directions, including the consolidation of the meatpacking industry that has left few options to slaughter cattle in California. Modern packinghouses and feedlots, concentrated east of the Rocky Mountains, have become a symbol of factory farming and have left California ranchers in a pinch because most of the two-dozen major slaughterhouses that existed in California in the 1980s are gone. “We are seeing the toppling of the last critical mass of infrastructure around the country,” said David Evans of Marin Sun Farms, a fourth-generation rancher at Point Reyes Station. Complaints of price collusion are common. One California rancher who would not speak publicly said that when it comes to selling cattle, meatpackers “all want to drink coffee out of the same cup,” each offering ranchers the same low price for their cattle. Meatpacking today is more concentrated than it was in the heyday of Teddy Roosevelt. Four packers — Tyson Foods, Brazilian giant JBS, Cargill and National Beef — control 84 percent of the beef market. The consolidation mirrors a transformation of American agriculture since 1980 in which industrial operations have displaced small, diversified farms...more

Arkansas cow gives birth to rare set of triplets

Guess it runs in the family: A descendant of an Arkansas cow famed for giving birth to triplets multiple times has birthed her own set of triplets. Rancher David Jones tells the Jonesboro Sun his mixed-breed cow named Nosy Rosy gave birth to the triplets on Jan. 25. According to Oklahoma State University researchers, beef cattle have triplets in one of about 105,000 pregnancies. Jones says he named Nosy Rosy's calves Larry, Curly and Moe. Nosy Rosy is the great-granddaughter of a Charolais-mix cow named Faith who had four sets of triplets. Nosy Rosy was a triplet, as was the calves' father, who descended from the same bloodline. Jones says that almost guaranteed Nosy Rosy would have a multiple birth. AP

Song Of The Day #502

It's Swinging Monday on Ranch Radio and this week we will feature modern versions of Western Swing. We'll start the week with Merle Haggard's fine rendition of Old Fashioned Love from 1970.

The tune is on one of the best Western Swing albums ever produced, Haggard's A Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player In The World: Or, My Salute To Bob Wills.

I wish George "By God" McNaughton was still alive to hear this, as we wore out his 8 track tape of this great album.

The Civil War at 150

Despite its natural overlap with American constitutionalism and a thoroughly classical liberal antislavery tradition, the Civil War can be a treacherous, and even hostile, subject matter for classical liberal historians to navigate. Even a century and a half later the subject remains an emotional one, tied to complex moral and economic questions, iconic historical figures, regional and national identities, and race. The war itself has a legacy among historians of attracting veritable partisans to one of the two belligerents, yet neither side offers a particularly welcoming home for classical liberal purists. While it largely emerged from a tradition of decentralized federalism, secession itself being a logical extension of Jeffersonian states rights, any libertarian inclination of enthusiasm for the Confederacy is inescapably tempered by its expressly pro-slavery designs and the moral abhorrence of the plantation system. The Union makes an equally problematic, if less frequently admitted, cause for libertarians to champion - not for want of its ultimate anti-slavery results but in its highly problematic means of attainment and, perhaps more importantly, its lasting centralizing effects upon the federal government. In the subsequent 150 years, proponents of the income tax, militarized societies and preemptive warfare, military tribunals, protectionism, fluid constitutional constructions, and any number of other similar policies have enlisted the Union as a "virtuous" precedent for their causes. The paradoxical implications of the Civil War as both a liberating and centralizing event have troubled classical liberal thinkers since the cannon fire ceased in 1865...more

Did Tariffs Really Cause the Civil War? The Morrill Act at 150

Did protective tariffs really bring about the Civil War? It's an argument that enthusiasts of the era are bound to encounter at some point, and also among the most contentious and least understood of the many debates surrounding the instigating causes of secession 150 years ago this month. The tariff thesis is contentious because it is often interpreted as an attempt to displace the primacy of slavery as the underlying instigator of events in Civil War causality. In this simplified form, the argument may be easily disposed of by referring to South Carolina's Declaration of Immediate Causes, which attributed their action to "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery." Yet as we will see, the tariff issue cannot be completely discounted from the discussion of Civil War causality...To state that tariffs were not an issue in 1860 is itself "flatly wrong," as my recent article in the Journal of the Early Republic illustrates. Nor was the Tariff of 1857 the source of southern angst, but rather the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which had been the subject of an intense political feud in Congress for some two years prior and an issue in the presidential election of 1860...So where did the tariff issue stand on the eve of the Civil War? Like so many other facets of American politics at the time, it stood in the middle of a complex and heated political fight that fell largely on North-South sectional lines...more

Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday

Sunday was Reagan's 100th birthday. I served in Reagan's first term and offer these two video tributes.

Also check out the Washington Post video Ronald Reagan's memorable moments

Political Catch Pen 2/7

The Daily Caller reports FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express develop new technology, methods to keep grassroots connected

The Hollywood Reporter asks Is 'True Grit' the Perfect Tea Party Movie?

There is a Grassroots effort to recall Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says the AP.

The Koch brothers, funders of conservative and libertarian projects, have hired PR professionals and filed a lawsuit in an effort to protect their image reports Politico in The Kochs fight back.

The Campaign For Liberty says John Boehner is no role model for Republicans and a tabloid is saying the NYTimes is investigating a Boehner sex scandal.

A Canadian is ordered to remove the rifle from a toy soldier before boarding an airplane.

As if things weren't bad enough already the AP is reporting Feds to Let Airport Screeners Gain Union Rights.

On the Centennial of Reagan's birth Lee Edwards writes of The Classical Virtues of Ronald Reagan, Heritage has produced a video and the Washington Post has a Special Section on Reagan where you should check out their video of his memorable moments.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The good ol' days

by Julie Carter

The ranch wife was standing in the corral looking into the storm as the wind blasted the falling snow across the pens. Ranch husband was carrying a bale of hay to the feed bunk.

This classic Jerry Palen cartoon was accompanied by this timeless line from the ranch wife: "Tell me again how we're going to think of this as the good old days."

Across the country where the weather has plummeted into cold, snow and blizzard conditions, this scenario is played out repeatedly.

Al Gore declared that the severe blast of winter weather we are enduring is a "consequence of mad-made global warming."

I can't even begin to use the expletives I hear when the term "global warming" comes up right now, only surpassed by those used while taking Al Gore's name in vain.

With every day of arctic weather in Kansas, the Dakotas, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, etc., the fact is this - no farms or ranches will be closed due to inclement weather.

Subzero temps are no excuse for staying inside by the fire.

Livestock has priority. Plunging mercury on thermometers predicts frozen water lines and iced-over drinking troughs.

The drifting snow adds an extra challenge to mobility, making hauling water not always a second option.

Cold winter stories are endless, depicting the misery with humor or agony.
One old timer tells that when he was a kid, they put their food in the icebox to keep it from freezing.

Ironically, I'm paying for electricity to keep things frozen in the freezer and to keep things from freezing outside of the freezer.

Then there are those half dozen newborn baby calves, unfortunate enough to have been born on a subzero night, thawing out on the back porch.

Space heaters, heat lamps and blow dryers become premium tools in the lifesaving efforts.

Chopping ice and splitting firewood are a few basics in this world that remain timeless in nature and require the ever-handy ax.

The cowboy's bride made her circle which was an all-day event involving many miles to get to and ride through more than a dozen pastures -- breaking ice in the trough in each one.

Dog-tired and with just one more pasture to go, she stepped out to unload her equally tired roan horse. He decided in his weariness to not be in a particular hurry.

Standing on the fender of the trailer and reaching through the slats, she used the handle-end of her ice-breaking ax to snare the reins and encourage the roan to back out.

Just as she was coaxing the horse's exit, a local farmer happened by. She had the business end of the ax in her gloved hands, but all the farmer could see was the ax handle stuck through the slats of the trailer.

He briefly viewed the action and then quickly sped away. Not giving it a thought, she got the horse unloaded and went about her business.

The next morning she stopped by the grain elevator to get a hot cup of coffee and thaw out by the stove. As she came through the door, she got a standing ovation from the crew already there.

Ordinarily a nod and a hello was the extent of their acknowledgment of her arrival. She had to ask, "What's up?"

"Lyndon was by here yesterday and said he saw you hit your good horse in the head with an ax because he wouldn't un-load," said one of them.

"Everybody knows how much you love that roan horse. We figured if you are that tough, we better come to attention when you walk in."

Ah yes, living the good life and getting a little respect along the way.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wilmeth's West

‘It’ and Pocket Knives
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The hot summer days of the years from the mid ‘60s and before were when the seeds were sown for what we now know as our own modern age of agriculture.  It was a time when farm families still relied heavily on labor from within the family, and every boy carried a pocket knife to school.
    Recently, I read from the writings of a farm child of the ‘40s and ‘50s.  That person, now retired, came to the conclusion that he was ready to chronicle his childhood.  It took several months for him to complete the work, and, it is my suspicion, he gained more from making himself systematically work back through that time in his life than he ever expected.
     There remain two types of children of agriculture.  There are those that cannot wait to leave it, and there are those that, from the start, live only to live ‘it’.  What our child of the ‘40s and ‘50s found was that his life was at times in both camps, but his most precious memories and recognizable character traits are allowing him to reclaim his membership in the latter group.  It is now okay for him to reassure himself that ‘it’ has always been part of him.
    ‘It’ has been the dominating characteristic of many outstanding minds.  Whether the phenomenon of American Agriculture came from the immensity of the resource or the character of the American mind, it doesn’t matter.  The combination has created the most efficient system the world has ever known.  Even as our economic system is teetering on calamity, the strength of American Agriculture is the envy of the world.
     What occurred around those farm family tables in the middle third of the 20th Century that set the course for the wonders of today?  What were the forces that brought forth the real green revolution? 
     I maintain that the foundation of the current phenomenon came from conversations and interaction that started around those farm family tables.  ‘It’ was there when breakfast occurred after chores were done and the days started.  ‘It’ was there after the dishes were washed and homework was done on the same table.  ‘It’ was there when that kid sitting in the last seat at the table was brought into the conversation about his responsibilities, and ‘it’ was there when his mama kissed him goodbye before he went off to college to continue his dream of being part of ‘it’.
    Being part of ‘it’ was the culmination of immersion in the process.  For those who have never been around that little kid sitting in the last seat at the table, what a shame.  Those farm kids who came from those circumstances and grew up to be the participants in the industry as we know it were productive citizens long before they were old enough to vote.  They grew up in an environment of opportunity to engage in real issues rather than being constrained by imposed limitations of why they couldn’t.
     Has anybody read a governmental labor order lately? Nobody disagrees with protecting children and confronting abuse, but relegating them to the corner to play with the newest electronic wonder gives pause to anybody who was ushered through our time of innocence with stewards who presented us with real world dilemmas and responsibilities.  Similarly, who of the graying generation recalls with fond memories a visit to an old time school principal?  There were no modern day bureaucratic shields between you and that principal.  It was just you, the school secretary seated outside the door trying not to smile, and that immense authority with his or her split bat with holes drilled in it contemplating your status among the living. The only thing worse was the confrontation that was inevitable when you got home.
     Mentorship, responsibility, and discipline were all influences those farm kids were exposed to on an ongoing basis.  ‘It’ was with them when they went forth and ‘it’ was there when they created the phenomenon of modern agriculture.  It is a culmination of personalities, acquired skills, insight, and talents but it all came from the combination of influences that constitute ‘it’.
     Is there another agriculture age in our future?  If there is, perhaps the first stop should be around those family tables of long ago.  If there is departure from the acceptable and high road, perhaps a visit to the old time principal is in order.  And, just maybe he will conclude his duty with an admonition to all of society wondering why boys, men in training, are not allowed to carry pocket knives to school.  He would be the first to say it isn’t the boys with pocket knives that are our problem.  Rather, it is the departure from ‘it’ that promises our downfall. 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “We are mired in a society that incessantly creates barriers to why we shouldn’t do something rather than portals of opportunities of why we should.” 


Wilmeth sent me this column with a note saying "See if this rings any bells." Well the bells are still ringing...and I can see that table plain as day.

There is another thing we learned at an early age, and that is the time and effort involved in producing something. Crops were planted and calves were born in the spring, were tended to all summer, and harvest didn't occur till the fall. A great deal of time, work and risk happened between sowing and reaping. Compare that with today's "instant gratification" society. Besides, now a days too many people are reaping what other folks have sowed.

There is one thing in Wilmeth's column to which I cannot relate. Having been a near perfect child I really don't understand that principal and paddle thing.